Google Analytics is a tool essential to any serious marketing plan. You can follow site visitors from the moment they enter your site to the time they leave. Rather than going about your marketing efforts blindly, you can finetune your plan to make it increasingly effective each day. The trick is to understand what Google Analytics can do and use it in a way to provide the most information. Let's explore some of the best practices for using Google Analytics.

Use Tag Manager

Google offers a free tool called Tag Manager. This tool allows you to eliminate the need to actually go into your website coding when you want to add javascript. With this tool, adding java straight from the tag manager interface makes things quicker and easier.

Set Up Accounts

Setting up two accounts in Google Analytics is important. The first account allows you to make changes and interact with data. The second account is a "read-only" account. This will allow you to share any of the information you gain with a third party but it won't allow that party to make changes. You end up maintaining complete control of your content by utilizing multiple accounts.

Link Google Tools

Google offers webmasters several tools that can make your marketing efforts easier. The Search Console, which is found in webmaster tools is extremely useful. The second must-have is Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords).

Once the Search Console is linked to your site, you are able to get information such as what search engines were used, landing pages, and where the search was located. All of this can help you direct your marketing better.

Linking Google Adwords to Google Analytics opens up so many opportunities for marketers that it would merit an article all its own. It helps you better target particular areas, analyze what efforts are working in what areas and with what members of the population, and shows where you may need to increase or change efforts. All of this is available on a simple form that puts the information right in front of you, rather than requiring you to check multiple sources for individual pieces of information.

Create Views

All you really need is one view to work with Google Analytics, correct? Technically, yes, you could get away with that but you will be creating a lot more work for yourself and making things more complicated than they need to be. For the most efficiency, you will want to create four "views".

1. Unfiltered - This view includes every piece of data collected. You don't use any filters here so all raw data is readily available.

2. Master - This is the view you will most often work with. Here you have applied filters and can hone in on the particular information that is most important to you at any given time.

3. Testing - This view only contains information from individuals that you have testing your website. You will want to include a filter on this one that allows IP addresses so you know which individuals are important.

4. Sandbox - This view is identical to the Master view but is the place where you get to "play". It is here that you first make any changes to see how they will impact the overall picture. Only when you are certain of the changes do you include them on the Master view.

Apply Filters

Filters help you take the raw data and organize it, enabling better analysis. It allows you quick access to certain pieces of information without having to manually go through everything line by line. When applying filters, there is one important rule. Apply filters in the order that you will need them used as Google Analytics uses that order exactly. This means that the first filter will be applied to all the data, the second filter to what remains, etc.

The filters you apply will be determined mainly by what you want your Google Analytics to do. There are two filters, however, that benefit all users. "White List Host Domains" allows you to whitelist the sites you want to allow to send data. This will help prevent others from maliciously placing your code on their site. The second filter is to block IP addresses of your employees and others, such as vendors, that will be accessing your site regularly in the course of the business day. By excluding their IP addresses you don't include them in marketing data. 

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Customize Your Experience

The best tools in your marketing toolbox are the ones that can be customized to your particular needs and Google Analytics is among this elite group. If you use Analytics as is, your marketing efforts will benefit but customizing will provide more opportunities to reach your audience. Let's look at some of the things you can do.

1. Set Events - It’s considered best practice to set up an event for any action that doesn't take your visitor to a new page. This can include filling out a form, downloading a file, playing a video, clicking a social media button, and more. This gives you a deeper understanding of what a visitor does on your site.

2. Set Goals - By setting goals you can help determine what is working for your visitors and what may be causing them to leave your website. This will allow you to put measures in place to help your sales funneling efforts.

3. Create Custom Groupings - Consider how helpful it would be to see who exactly visits just your blog or how people are accessing a certain item category on your e-commerce site. By creating custom groupings, you can collect data only in specific areas, making the search for information much easier.

Final Words

We have covered only the tip of the iceberg where Google Analytics is concerned. The practices we’ve discussed are must-haves in your marketing efforts but there is so much more that can be done. Starting with these will help you see what each practice adds to your efforts. As your efforts grow, you will soon discover ways in which you feel you could further benefit from certain types of information. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how much more Google Analytics has to offer. Contact us today for information on how 95Visual can help with your marketing!

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