The busy entrepreneur’s 7 minute guide to Google Analytics

Hannah Brice Written by
Hannah Brice

Google Analytics is one of the most useful tools for optimising your sales and marketing efforts, but it’s certainly not the simplest. There is so much you can do on it that it can seem overwhelming to even try anything. Wouldn’t a 7 minute guide to the basics be helpful!

The reality is that it takes very little knowledge and time to start using Google Analytics to understand the behaviour of your visitors, and the success of your marketing efforts. Two things that will make a very big difference to your sales results if acted upon quickly.

For busy entrepreneurs, that’s very important so I’m going to give you a 7 minute guide to Google Analytics. We’ll cover:

Setting up

If you already have Google Analytics set up on your site, you can move on to the next section. If you don’t, then check out this guide from Megalytic. It talks you through the process step by step so there’s no point in us writing it out too. Just come back here when you’re done.

Using Google Analytics day to day

Now you’re set up, you’ll be able to log in to view your dashboard whenever you want to see how your site is performing. As I said earlier, there are THOUSANDS of bits of data here that you can use to help you improve your site, marketing and sales, but you don’t have time for all of that.

So here are the important bits and for these, you need to focus on the menu on the left and the date section on the top right.

How to identify where visitors came from

When I say “where visitors come from”, I don’t mean which country. Although you can see this by clicking on ‘Audience’ in the menu on the left, then ‘Geo’, then ‘Location’.

What’s more important is what drove visitors to your site. I.e. was it Facebook? Did they find you on Google? Did another site drive the visitor to you? To find out this information, on a basic level, go to ‘Acquisition’ in the left menu, then ‘All Traffic’, then ‘Source/Medium’. The dashboard will then show you how many visitors came to your site from twitter, google, Facebook and so on.

Upmarketry Google Analytics

So to use our site over a period of a few days as an example (don’t judge – this site is still very new), you can see that most of the traffic came direct. This roughly means that those visitors entered our web address into search.

There’s also traffic from Twitter (t.co), Facebook, LinkedIn and Google.

Use the date section to select a time period to look at. You can also compare two different periods by selecting the ‘Compare to’ button. This is particularly helpful if you’ve started some offline marketing activities and can’t directly attribute traffic to them. You can look at an uplift here instead.

How to find out how successful each of your marketing efforts have been

It’s helpful to be able to see where your visitors are coming from. But it’s even better to be able to identify exactly which of your marketing efforts are driving all the traffic. This wouldn’t be a helpful guide to Google Analytics if we didn’t cover this off.

This way, you can stop wasting time on the activities that don’t make an impact, and spend more time (and budget) on those that do.

To do this, you need to start using UTMs every time you do any kind of online campaign. That includes PR, ads, social media and so on.

What’s a UTM? It’s a bit of code that is added to a web page link which will enable Google Analytics to track which visitors were driven to you from that link.

So, to give you an example of how it works….. Let’s say you’ve drafted a tweet to promote a blog post on your site. You’re going to promote that blog post on a number of channels, multiple times, because you haven’t quite worked out the best way of promoting your content yet. For that tweet, before you publish it, click on Google’s UTM creator here, and fill in details as follows:

Website URL: Enter the link to the page you want to link to.

Campaign Source: Enter where your traffic will be coming from. For example, twitter, Facebook, email, etc. Only use one word.

Campaign Medium: Enter what it is that will drive the traffic to you. For example, you’re posting on twitter, but is it a tweet in your feed, a direct message, a sponsored tweet from an influencer or an ad?

Campaign Name: Give the blog post or campaign a short name. If it’s a new home campaign for example, maybe put “newhome” and then the date.

Campaign term: If you’re doing a Google adword campaign, put the term here. Otherwise, leave blank.

Campaign content: This isn’t essential to fill in unless you’re A/B testing. In other words, you’re going to promote a page on the same source and medium but you’ll do it at a different time/day or with different wording to measure the variance in impact. If this is the case, call the first one Post1, the second Post2 and so on.

Screenshot of Google's UTM builder

A new web link will automatically display below. This is the link to use in your post and Google Analytics will be able to identify who came to your site from that post.

In the example above, we’ve created a UTM to our Freelance services page. And we’ll be promoting it on LinkedIn via my own personal feed.

It’s recommended that you save those details in a table so that it’s easy to refer back to. Include every term listed above, the original web link and the UTM link and save it somewhere safe.

Then, when you want to see how your different posts and campaigns have performed, go to Google Analytics. Click on ‘Acquisition’, ‘Campaigns’, ‘All Campaigns’ and you’ll see a list of all the different Campaigns you’ve run.

You can then click on each campaign to get a breakdown of the different sources and mediums that generated the traffic.

If you entered a campaign content term into the URL builder because you’re A/B testing, then underneath ‘Primary dimension’, which you’ll find just above the tabled list of campaigns you’ve run, select the dropdown for ‘Secondary dimension’. Click on ‘Advertising’ and then ‘Ad Content’ and the table will break down further into your different posts.

From there you can compare number of users, sessions and length of time on your site. And voila, you can see what’s working and what’s not.

How to find out who your visitors are

By clicking on ‘Audience’ in the left hand side menu, you can see gender, age, location and other demographical data. Some will require you to activate them so I recommend clicking on each option in the menu to see what you need to enable.

Is this info really that valuable? Not really if you’re after a B2B audience. But if you are trying to attract a certain type of consumer, you can look at which blog pages or merchandise pages they’re looking at, and look to promote these to attract more of your target audience.

For B2B businesses, unfortunately, there’s a not a lot of help. While there is a feature to identify which companies visitors have come from – click on ‘Audience’, ‘Technology’ and then ‘Network’ – if the company runs on a mainstream network, you won’t be able to identify them so you won’t learn very much.

How to look at where people go on your site (and where they start and where they finish)

Understanding the behaviour of your visitors is crucial in optimising the customer journey on your site. In other words, converting a brand new visitor to customer in as few clicks as possible.

So what do you need to look at?

If you’re driving lots of traffic to your homepage, but they’re not going anywhere beyond that, and then there’s a Services page that converts almost 50% of visitors to buy, then that tells you that you’re homepage isn’t working. And you’re wasting marketing budget driving traffic there.

You have two options. You either spend your marketing efforts driving traffic to your Services page instead of your homepage. Or you change your homepage to include the features that seem to be working so well on your Services page.

So how do you find this out?

On Google Analytics, go to ‘Behaviour’ and then ‘Behaviour Flow’. For the time period you’ve set, you’ll see all the different landing pages (pages visitors landed on when they first arrived on your website), also listed as starting pages, and then from left to right, the different pages they then visited before leaving your site. You’ll  be able to see number of drop-offs on each page and this should show you the natural journey visitors are making. You’ll also see what they’re most keen to find out and what is turning them off.

I would also recommend looking at which pages on your site seem to be where most of your visitors exit, and do something about that. You can do this by clicking on ‘Site Content’ underneath ‘Behaviour’ and then you can look at how each of your pages are performing generally (‘All Pages’), as starting pages (‘Landing Pages’) and as pages that send your traffic away (‘Exit pages’)

How to determine how well each page is performing

The previous section showed you how to look at how popular each page is but do you know what you’re really looking at? Sure a large number of users or sessions is good but I would also recommend looking at ‘Avg. Time on Page’  (available in the ‘All Pages’ section). If you’re getting lots of traffic to a certain page, but then people are spending no more than a few seconds on it and then leaving the site altogether (‘Exit’), it’s not performing well.

If, on the other hand, people are spending several minutes on the page, then they’re interested in what you have to say and what your business is doing. They’re engaged, you’re educating them.  Create more content like that! Plus, this helps your site’s SEO, as search engines rank sites that visitors spend a lot of time on as more valuable and more authoritative.

So there we have it, a 7 minute guide to the basic yet brilliant features of Google Analytics. I hope you’ve found this helpful and if you have any questions, please do get in touch.