Google Analytics – A Beginner’s Guide

If like me you are a complete dinosaur when it comes to Google Analytics, or more commonly referred to as GA by those in the know, then this blog post may shed some light on a few things. Not a Luxor sky beam type brightness, but that’s ok, the purpose here is to get a basic grasp of things.

What is Google Analytics Used For?

GA’s core function is to track and report website traffic data. So, a powerful tool for e-commerce sites due to its potential to unlock key information regarding user behaviours and giving companies the ability to improve conversion rates (or profit margins in layman’s terms), by developing customer insight.

Without proper understanding of how to utilise the software, there can be various issues with the collection of data, for example, reporting and interpretation issues. It can be difficult to get to grips with what data needs to be collected and the frequency, what to look at, what is/isn’t relevant… heck, it can be difficult to get to grips with data full stop. If you are new to GA, then it is worth looking into some training on it. There are plenty of online tutorials which can help get you started, however employing a data analyst company can not only save a huge amount of time, money and energy, but also be invaluable when looking at profit margins. Not to mention save a few premature grey hairs. To understand the data is to understand how to improve sales. Now I’ve caught your attention, right?!

So yes, employing a data analyst company may seem like an unnecessary expense, but, the potential for future sales margins rocketing far outweighs the initial cost and outlay.

So how does this work in practice?

GA allows you to classify website visitors with demographic data e.g. geographic location, gender, age, furthermore GA can be used to find out information on particular interests, job roles, you can even gather information through GA on what the weather was like when a customer bought your product, so if particular products are popular on hot days, they can be marketed accordingly.

A powerful tracking tool within Google Analytics allows you to set goals and add monetary value to them. What’s the point in looking at pages of data if you are not able to improve sales margins from the data that you’re viewing? Without assigning monetary goals then you will not be able to clearly see how much money you lose when a visitor leaves your site without completing a purchase.

Following on from this, Analytics gives you the capacity to explore conversion paths. This means you can further understand the ins and outs of what led to a sale; how did the person land on your website – was it an organic search or through a marketing campaign? Did a pop-up entice a sale? Or at what page did they leave without a purchase.

Annotations in Analytics

GA has a very important function in that it allows you to annotate your reports. This means that if specific events led to increased/decreased sales, you can make a note of this and keep an easy track on everything for future use. Annotations can be made on an Analytics reporting graph and clearly explain why you see a spike or fall in your sales data e.g. noting a campaign date in order to explain a rise in sales.

Whilst we’re on the subject, have you heard that GA can report on specific campaigns? Well I hadn’t either, however this is something that’s important to be aware of from a marketing perspective. If you’ve spent money on various marketing sites and tools, then seeing how much bang for your buck you’re getting is essential as it will indicate where your most effective marketing strategies should be focused and what will yield the most profits. Without tracking campaigns then you are literally giving over free money to marketers without really being able to see if it was money well spent. And who can afford to do that?


What about visits from third party sites? 

Aside from some of these functions, GA allows you to import data from other sources e.g. from Facebook or other social media sites so you can see how the data fits in to ‘the bigger picture’. It can show you real time data i.e. who is on my website now and what are they getting up to? You can see which devices your customers are using. The list is (almost) endless and fully customisable.

In short, if you run an ecommerce site and aren’t using GA to your advantage then, well, why aren’t you? Your competitor will be able to run rings around you when understanding user habits and it can potentially put your business at risk by not maximising sales and profits. Understanding the data is essential to the growth of your company, which makes it a pretty cool, important and integral tool for business.

Polka Dot Data offer Google Analytics audits to help you get the most accurate data, and actionable advice on increasing traffic and sales. 

We also offer Google Analytics training for you and your team. 

If you would like to find out how Polka Dot Data can help get you started, then drop us an email