For anyone in charge of a website, usage data is power. Google Analytics will track site traffic over specific time periods, give you insight into where that traffic is coming from, and help you identify keywords that lead users to your site. But the real power of GA comes when you use its custom features to track very specific actions you hope that users are taking on your site. Unfortunately, setting up these custom features is not as intuitive as one would hope, and using them can be intimidating.
There are three custom features in GA that will lead to more detailed, useful analytics:
Events – Tracking non-page view interactions on your website.
When to Use: You can set an “Event” to track anything that requires a click on your website. For example, use it to find out how many users watched a video—or even if they started watching and then abandoned it. Track if they clicked on a slideshow or a photo album. These results will help you evaluate what’s popular, what’s useful, what videos are too long, etc.
The Details: Tracking an Event requires that you (or more likely your IT team or web agency) place tracking code generated by GA into your website code. It’s fairly simple, but talk to your Webmaster about implementing the extra code on your website.
Goals – Tracking something you wanted a user to complete.
When to Use: Use “Goals” to track the user progress of a specific objective you’ve set. Examples of goals include reaching a particular page through a funnel or hitting a predetermined metric like pages per visit or time spent on your website. Did the user follow through to your photo albums from the blog? Did they download a document you drove them to? Did they reach your thank you page after a transaction? If you know, for example, when users that start at the home page and travel to your “about us” and then to “the shop” are 80% more likely to buy something, you can set a Goal in GA to track this exact path and see how many people complete it. These are valuable in evaluating how effectively your website components are working together.
The Details: Setting up a Goal requires no additional code on your site, but you do have to be a GA administrator for your site (as opposed to just a GA user). And Goals do not automatically populate past metrics, so you will need to wait a few days after setting one up before you track the results.
Campaigns: Tracking external links that lead to your site.
When to Use: “Campaigns” are related to your advertising (such as Google AdWords), email marketing, and social media campaigns. You can even track your non-digital campaigns on billboards or print ads. If you want to know what percentage of your visitors are driving to your site from external efforts, this is a great tool to use.
The Details: Campaigns are easy to set up and require generating a coded URL for each link you put out there to drive traffic to your site. These are especially easy to use in emails and online ads, where the user doesn’t need to see the actual URL to click on it (because the URLS generated are not attractive). This is more specifically designed for naming purposes, so you understand where the data is coming from when in GA.
Google Analytics has online tutorials for all of these features, or you can work with your analytics expert, agency, or IT department to set and track them for you.
Originally posted on the Thinkso blog.