A guide to the benefits and setup of 3 essential Google Analytics features
Adding Google Analytics tracking code to a site is quick in most cases, but I find that many businesses leave it there and don't add more customisation to use some of the more advanced Google Analytics features. These features can give great advantages in understanding how users interact with your site, to support ideas for conversion optimisation. You may not consider these features advanced, but they are missing in many cases, so are advanced in this sense!
The three customizations I will cover, which work best when considered together, are:
- Event tracking codes
- Goal setup
- A/B testing and content experiments
1. Event Tracking Codes
The power of event tracking codes is shown by the many user actions that you can monitor within your website. Event tracking codes can make your life easier since you can monitor all these micro-conversions that matter to your business. You can monitor almost all online actions in your site that occur from users. These actions, are triggered once users click on a button, or a link or even when they scroll by 50% or 100% your site. Examples of events that can be tracked include:
- PDF downloads
- Videos interactions
- Social follows/share/like/tweets
- Blog comments
- Gadget downloads
- RSS subscriptions
- Newsletter signups
- Product rating (especially useful for e-commerce sites)
- Live chat activation
- Outbound links
- Scroll reach/Content Bottom/Page Bottom/Start Reading/Article load
- Clicking on a link
- 404 pages
- Internal banners
- Rank tracking
- Form completion progress/drop out
- Light box conversions
- Affiliate ad clicks
- Tracking form errors
- Tracking engagement with embedded maps
- Tracking video engagement and activity
- Organic rank tracking with custom events
- Tracking conversion rate optimisation variations
- Tracking interactions with custom widgets
- Baskets adds and checkout steps
To use event tracking you have 2 options:
- Or, you can use Google Tag Manager (auto-event tracking).
Initially, if we want to find where the Events are located, we can find them under the Behaviour section. Under the Events subsection:
You can the details on how to setup event tracking in my previous post.
Once we start populating the source code of our site with event tracking codes, we will be able to see actual results, for more decisions based on actual data.
Below you can see an example list of Event Categories such downloads:
2. Setting up Goals
Once events are setup you can these monitor them on your dashboard as goals. You can set up goals based on any of your Events, these are known as Event-goals - Dave Chaffey introduced them in this post covering 17 options for Event goals.
In this way, you can setup funnels and monitor in details the checkout experience of your site. In this way you will be able to see if your site is user-friendly, monitor where your users bale out of a process (essential if the checkout is implemented as a single page where the URL doesn't change).
Once you know in which part of the checkout process your users drop off the most, then it will be easier for you to run A/B tests in order to decrease the drop out rates.
Initially, you need to set up the goal (e.g. based on the Destination URL) and arrange the funnel steps.
Having setup the goals and the funnel steps will allow you through Funnel Visualisation to have detailed information for your customer’s journey within your website.
In this way, you can take better-informed decisions (e.g. Content Experiments in order to reduce the number of drop-offs).
3. Content Experiments
The implementation of event tracking codes should be developed in a way that will serve a long-term purpose. Implementing event goals for all these user actions/events can be extremely valuable for understanding and improving our micro-conversions using Google's Content Experiments.
Let's take the example of increasing subscribers to a newsletter.
To encourage more people to sign up as subscribers for your newsletter you can use Google Content Experiments to create up to five variation pages and then you can see which page is more effective. For example, you can change:
- The colour or size of the button.
- The verbal part of your CTA (call-to-action).
- Text to persuade a subscriber to sign up.
Content Experiments will then show you the version which works best:
Bonus SEO Tip: Once you start working with Content Experiments (and according to Google) the optimal practice when we create variation pages is not to forget to add the rel="canonical" attribute to the variation pages (as you don’t want these variation pages to be indexed). This attribute should be implemented in all variation pages telling to search engine bots that the only page that should be indexed is the original page.
To summarise these techniques, we can see that the 3 actions are interrelated and that, by combining all 3, you have a powerful tool in your conversion optimisation arsenal, that will make your supervisor and clients happier.
Of course, there are much more customizations that are also important, such as these, but I find that the biggest ones missed most often are the ones covered in this posts:
- Site search
- Advanced segmentation
- Cross domain tracking
- Custom variables
- Social sharing measurement etc.
If you work as a consultant or for an agency, what would you say are the Google Analytics features that you consider essential for your clients?