The time for my Google Analytics exam is fast approaching, and I can’t say I’m especially confident yet. This exam is supposed to be really difficult, and if the practice tests are any indication, I still have a lot of studying ahead of me. With that said, it’s still so fun learning about all the awesome things Google Analytics can help you do! In this blog, I’ll talk a bit about the components of the Google Analytics platform and what it can help you do for your business.
The four main components of the Google Analytics platform include: collection, processing, configuration, and reporting. Collection has to do with, no surprise here, the collection of data into your Google Analytics accounts. You use a tracking code to collect this data, and it provides instructions to GA (Google Analytics) telling it exactly what it needs to collect. Processing is where this raw data gets transformed. You can add filters to this data in order to structure it the way you want it for reporting purposes. You can also configure GA to import data from other Google products (such as Google AdWords) or from non-Google sources (such as internal data). Basically, processing merges this information into your account data. The final component is reporting, which is the GA interface where you can view and analyze your data.
Another important thing to understand is the hierarchy of the GA data model. This hierarchy is as follows: Users > Sessions > Interactions. A user is a visitor who comes to your site or app, a session is each time that visitor goes to your site or app and an interaction is what the user DOES during that session on your website or app. This is what GA is all about, and understanding these basic elements are the building blocks to understanding GA.
Now let’s get to the good stuff; what GA can do to help you! I’ll be (once again) using an example of a fashion retailer, although these concepts can be applied to any kind of online conversion, not just retail purchases. With that said, let’s pretend we’re the bohemian clothing line Free People and we want to use Google Analytics to analyze our website data. What can it tell us?
- We can find out which campaigns are bringing in the most traffic and conversions. In this case, a conversion for us would be a sale of merchandise. We can do this by looking at segment information by inputing the domains from the various campaigns. This will allow us to track data and conversions that come from each source, to see which source is providing the best rates. So if we have an especially good Facebook campaign going, we would be able to see that more people are buying items and coming to the site through that link than, say, our YouTube video campaigns.
- We can see where shopping cart abandonment is occurring. Unlike in actual stores (although I’m sure it’s still possible…) people often abandon their shopping carts online. I have to say, I usually have around 10 items in my Free People shopping cart at all times, just sitting there, that I start to go through the process of purchasing but never actually end up buying. You can use Goal Funnels to see when people abandon their shopping cart at stages in the purchasing process. Here’s an example of my personal shopping cart abandonment (up in the right hand corner):
- Creating goals allows you to track micro-conversions throughout the shopping process. You can see what signs buyers are exhibiting that would identify them as having a high intent to purchase. For example, people on Free People who are showing high intents to purchase might be viewing extra product details, user reviews, and adding items to their cart.
- Your page bounce rates can tell you a lot about your site’s performance. Free People might use GA to see what their bounce rate (or the rate at which people come to their site an immediately leave) is and on what pages they are seeing the most bounces. For example, maybe their mobile site sucks and has a high bounce rate simply because it’s difficult to use (maybe a bas example for Free People because their mobile site is fabulous, in my opinion). You can use bounce rate information to see that you need to format a better mobile site so that you’re not losing those conversions simply because someone can’t navigate your site on their phone.
Clearly, these are only a few examples of how GA can help your online business, and are more targeted to websites that function as an ecommerce platform than all other website uses. To learn more, go take the exam for yourself over at the Google Analytics Acadamy and see how you fair!
Wish me luck for Tuesday!