1 – Google have lots of free tools within their armoury that can be used to your advantage. One of my favourites is the URL Builder which creates a unique URL with campaign tracking variables (hang on, don’t go yet) that push data into Google Analytics. In plain English, you can tell which digital campaigns your website traffic is coming from in as much detail as you choose.
For example, if you have booked a banner slot on the local directory website, you can give them a unique URL which will push into Google Analytics information such as the name of the campaign & the location of the banner. The data then in analytics, can be found in the traffic sources report and will look something like this:
I use the URL builder for all my Facebook advertising campaigns, it can tell me the audience I am targeting, the focus of the advert and the fact that it was an advertising campaign rather than an organic post. Then once the campaign is over I can use Google Analytics to show the results from the campaign…which brings me nicely onto tip 2!
2 – Set up Goal Tracking in Google Analytics. Decide what the key goals are that you want people to perform when they come to your website. This could be a form completion, a PDF download, a purchase or even the view of a key page that is important to your business. If you like jargon then think of these goals are your KPI’s, if you don’t like jargon then, well, you probably don’t work in marketing! It is really important to measure the success of your digital campaigns – from a listing on a referral website such as visitcornwall.com to a Google AdWords (PPC) campaign, if you don’t have goals in places then you won’t be able to track fully the success of these campaigns and be able to report back on the ROI.
Understand the Data
3 – Understand the Limits of the Data – Google Analytics works on Last Click Attribution, this means the Goal Completion or Transaction will be credited to the final click before the action took place. Now, we all know that for most purchases or contact forms completed we have visited the website more than once, we may have looked at a review, consulted our friends, looked at competitors and so on. The chance of someone completing a goal on first visit, depending on your business, is very slim. Therefore you need to understand the importance of all the factors that have contributed into making that goal happen.
I use the Top Conversion Path Report in Analytics. This shows you all the paths that people have taken before the goal completion. You will find that an advert on a non-brand term might have brought a new person to the site, they then come back directly or via a brand search on Google and they click an organic link, then they come back again using the direct url and complete the goal. It will be Direct that receive the credit in the traffic sources report, which is why I use the top conversions path report to give a more rounded picture.
4 – Cookies…not biscuits – This is related to point 3 – don’t forget that the way people search online is evolving every day, people use multiple devices, sometimes at the same time, they use work computers and so on – the longer the research path before a goal (especially relevant for higher value purchases such as wedding venues, holidays, houses) the more likely you are going to lose that user. Google use a variety of methods to track a user’s journey, cookies on their devices, Google account information, IP addresses but it is impossible to track every purchasing path so please bear this in mind when you analyse your digital campaigns results data. Look at a broad time period and look at trends rather than minutia.
5 – Import Cost Data for your Digital Campaigns – It is possible to import into Google Analytics as frequently as you like, the cost of your digital campaigns. Google AdWords, if correctly linked with Analytics, will automatically export campaign costs but other advertising channels such as Bing, Facebook, Twitter or your email campaigns will not have their costs shown in Analytics unless you import them. This can really help understand marketing ROI and help you make informed decisions about your marketing strategy.