Last week we talked about the proper set-up and tools for effective experiments. Since analytics are vitally important to successful experimentation (and essential to Iterative Marketing); therefore, this episode is dedicated to getting the most from Google Analytics. In this episode, we discuss how to obtain clean data, track conversions that will meet objectives, pass information into Google Analytics, and how to pull back out customized reports.
Accessing Google Analytics (02:20 – 06:53)
To access GA, reach out to your system administrator or visit google.com/analytics and follow on-screen instructions to start the process.
Tips For Getting Clean Data Into Analytics (06:55 – 14:04)
- Block internal IP addresses \ from your primary GA “view”
- Block other bots by Selecting the bot blocking box within the “view” settings.
- Filter traffic from other hostnames by implementing a hostname filter.
- Limit fake traffic from referral spam
- Moz explains the origin of this spam and how to get rid of it.
- Review network domains and service providers that have a high bounce rate or really low time on site; filter appropriately
Tracking Actions That Matter (14:05 – 20:45)
- We can track two types of conversions: transactions and micro-conversions
- Transactions are directly tied to marketing objectives or measurements of success for the organization.
- Examples of transaction include a checkout on an e-commerce site, a newsletter sign-up, or a sales lead
- Tracking these is usually pretty straightforward. If it’s e-commerce, the platform or a plugin will automatically pass the transaction data to GA. If not, a trigger can be set-up in Tag Manager.
- Micro-conversions are not as cut and dry as transactions but indicate that we’re on the right track.
- Examples of micro-conversions include video views, dwell time on a page, scroll depth, add-to-cart, specification downloads, etc.micro-conversions.
- Some of these things are easier to track within Google Tag Manager, others are more difficult and require developer involvement
Charity Break – Set Up For Students (20:45 – 21:40)
Getting More Detail on the Traffic (21:42 – 29:42)
It’s important to pass as much information about the traffic we are generating into GA as possible so that we have options when it comes to breaking down the results. Below are a few options ranging in complexity:
URL Tagging (22:55 – 24:53)
- Passes information into GA about where the traffic is generated and what is known about that traffic
- At a minimum, a campaign name and source must be passed so that traffic can be analyzed from one traffic source and/or one campaign in Facebook, Twitter, or your display ad platform against the next
Custom Dimensions (24:54 – 26:50)
- Custom dimensions provide additional ways to group the sessions on a site outside of the stock Campaign, Source and Medium segments that come with GA
- These are useful for breaking down your traffic into different buckets to compare what’s sending the good traffic vs. the bad traffic.
- Tip: go into the admin section of your analytics account and under the web property column find custom dimensions. It’s under custom dimensions.
Campaign IDs vs. URL Parameters (26:51 – 29:40)
- Once we have our dimensions, now we have to get data into them
- Instead of tagging the URL with a bunch of utm parameters for each of our custom dimensions, we put a single utm parameter called a “Campaign ID” at the end of each link that is published
- Gives us the ability to link the visitor’s session with any number of pieces of information by which we might want to segment our traffic
- A spreadsheet must be created that includes a column containing a unique campaign ID for each link we want to track; upload to GA using the import tool
- RESOURCE: Google Analytics Import ToolDon’t forget: we must import our data BEFORE we send any traffic using that campaign ID.
Custom Reports (29:42 – 31:10)
- Rather than constantly tweaking the stock report, use the customization tab at the top of GA
- Allows you to utilize dimensions to break up traffic into buckets and sub-buckets and display specific data
- There are two views: flat and explorer
- Flat is useful for exporting into Excel or Google Sheets to link up with other data.
- Explorer is useful for analysis right within the tool and shows graphs that allow for a deeper dive.
Summary (31:15 – 32:15)
This episode has only scratched the surface of the power of GA. To learn more, we strongly recommend the Google’s Analytics Academy. They offer a self-paced course covering, at least at a high level, every aspect of GA. It even has a Tag Manager fundamentals course.
We hope you want to join us on our journey. Find us on IterativeMarketing.net, the hub for the methodology and community. Email us at [email protected], follow us on twitter at @iter8ive or join The Iterative Marketing Community LinkedIn group.
The Iterative Marketing Podcast is a production of Brilliant Metrics, a consultancy helping brands and agencies rid the world of marketing waste.
Onward and upward!
Steve Robinson: Hello, Iterative Marketers! Welcome to the Iterative Marketing podcast where each week we give marketers and entrepreneurs actionable ideas, techniques, and examples to improve your marketing results. If you want notes and links to the resources discussed on the show sign up to get them emailed to you each week at iterativemarketing.net. There you’ll also find the Iterative Marketing blog and our community LinkedIn group where you can share ideas and ask questions of your fellow Iterative Marketers. Now, let’s dive into the show.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Iterative Marketing podcast. I am your host Steve Robinson and with me as always is the vibrant and ever expressive Elizabeth Earin. How are you doing today, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Earin: I am good, Steve. How are you?
Steve Robinson: I am doing pretty well. Trying to get my head around this Christmas season and get into the Christmas spirit.
Elizabeth Earin: It is upon us. Are you having a hard time this year getting in the Christmas spirit?
Steve Robinson: Oh! I just feel like I am not there yet, I am not checked out of work yet and not totally with it but I am excited for the usual family gatherings and traditions to begin. What does your family do?
Elizabeth Earin: Our family is a little odd. My husband is only home every other Christmas, so this Christmas he is not home, so we are actually celebrating Christmas a little early this year and then I am not exactly sure what we are going to do on the actual Christmas day.
Steve Robinson: Okay.
Elizabeth Earin: What about you guys?
Steve Robinson: We get the usual round robin of families, so my wife’s family gets Christmas Eve and my family gets Christmas Day, and we get to host this year.
Elizabeth Earin: Oh! That’s not stressful at all.
Steve Robinson: I think it’s like 20 people that are going to be in our house now, it’s going to be pretty insane and I am not sure if we are just going to have to start stacking them up somewhere because I don’t know that they are all going to fit.
Elizabeth Earin: That is going to be fun. I am sure there are going to be some great stories that come out of that.
Steve Robinson: Yeah, we are eating dinner in shifts tonight just so you know. We will see how it goes. I will report back after the New Year.
Elizabeth Earin: Perfect.
Steve Robinson: So what are we talking about today?
Elizabeth Earin: So, today we are going to talk about getting the most out of Google Analytics and for our listeners that listened to our last episode, we had talked about tools for effective experimentation in each of the sections, that we talked about setting up the infrastructure, figuring out what to test, measuring it and analyzing it, Google Analytics played a major role and since iteration is the backbone to Iterative Marketing and you can’t iterate without analytics, we thought it might make sense to dedicate an entire episode to getting the most out of Google Analytics.
Steve Robinson: Yeah and a lot of marketers don’t know exactly how powerful this tool really is. I mean it’s amazing that this is a free tool and what it can do if you just go through the effort of learning how to set it up and then going through the effort of setting it up, it’s phenomenal the amount of insight you can get out of this.
Elizabeth Earin: It is as a non-analytical marketer it’s a little overwhelming for you, you get in there and you are not really sure where to go and you don’t understand what it all means. One thing I will say is Google Analytics has some phenomenal training resources. And there are so many blogs and podcasts out there that talk about it. So, if you are not comfortable, this is something that’s not going away and I recommend going out and playing around with it a little bit.
Steve Robinson: So for today because we are not going to cover everything analytics can do, we are going to hit on four high points that I think are most valuable to our audience here. So, the first is getting clean data into analytics because if you don’t set up some basic filtering you will find that you will get a lot of garbage, a lot of noise instead of signal.
Elizabeth Earin: After that we are go into talking about conversions and how to track the actions that matter to your business and this is important because this makes sure that information that you are gathering through Google Analytics is aligned with your KPIs and business objectives.
Steve Robinson: And once you have those conversions set up you are going to want to make sure that you are feeding as much information into analytics as possible about the traffic that you direct into your site, because the more fidelity you have there, the better reporting is going to be, so we will talk about that.
Elizabeth Earin: And then finally we will wrap up talking about reporting and how you can pull that data back out to create custom reports.
Steve Robinson: So, normally at this point in an episode, we would talk like defining what it is we are talking about. I am pretty sure most of our audience knows what Google Analytics is, it’s pretty ubiquitously. I think the last ad I saw was close to 30 million websites are running this particular analytics package and I think now that within our client base and the folks that we talk to almost all of them are running Google Analytics and not some alternative.
Elizabeth Earin: I think it’s important if you company has a Google Analytics account and you don’t have access, it’s easy to get access, it’s as simple as reaching out to your administrator and asking that they invite you. The key here and what throws some people off that aren’t familiar with analytics is you need to have a Google account, either tied to your work email or to a GMail address, so that is one sort of requisite that must be in place to have access to that account.
Steve Robinson: Yeah and a lot of people think that those are one and the same but it is actually pretty straightforward to go and sign up for a Google account without a GMail address and we will actually link to that in the show notes.
Elizabeth Earin: And then if your company doesn’t have a Google Analytics account it’s really easy to set up. If you go to google.com/analytics and you click the sign into Analytics button in the top right hand corner of the screen, onscreen instructions are going to pop up and walk you through the entire process.
Steve Robinson: Yeah, and then all you have to do is install little snippet or quote on your site, if you don’t have the knowledge or access to do that, you can send it to your developer but on a lot of platform you don’t even have to install code, it’s just a matter of copying what’s called your analytics ID into your website content management system or platform and that’s going to be a string of characters that starts with UA and if you see UA you found the right little code to copy and paste. I think it’s also important to note really quick that there are two different versions of analytics, there is a free version and a paid version, everything we are talking about today you can do on the free version, you don’t need that paid tier. It’s only when you start really going gung-ho on this stuff that you start running into some limitations on that free version that you have to move into paid but even all of our clients are still on the free version, we are still on the free version and we are able to get the information we need from the free version. It’s amazing again how much power is given in that free tier before you have to upgrade.
Elizabeth Earin: With that power, you have to have a little bit of an understanding on how to use it, and we are going to talk about those things today and how you really can make the most out of that free tier.
Steve Robinson: So the first thing we want to talk about it is getting clean data into analytics because oftentimes your data can be hosed by garbage traffic that isn’t real traffic on your site and so it’s important to set up some filters on the front end to prevent that traffic from coming in.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah, you are going to have traffic like box that computers that are out scanning the internet, human testers, even your own team can come in and really mess up that data and make a bunch of extra noise, so you get excited because you think, gosh, everyone is visiting my new landing page and then you realize, wait, we shared it with the 1000 employees at our location here and everyone visited it, okay, that’s why we are seeing a giant spike in traffic right now.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. So, the first thing you want to set up is getting some of your own traffic out, and if that’s still valuable to you, you can actually track it separately, but for your main analytics view, the one that you are looking at every day, you want to get your employee traffic out and the way you do that is by blocking the IP addresses of your company on the web and that’s not going to be perfect if somebody pulls out their mobile phone and they are on your cellular network then traffic is still going to get in there but at least everybody sitting at their desk clicking on links and the employee newsletter or visiting the website to go and reference something they need to do to do their job, all of that traffic is going to come off of there.
Elizabeth Earin: Now is that something that needs to be updated, it’s just a one time update or does it need to be updated multiple times?
Steve Robinson: You require some coordination with the IT department, you are going to want to ask the IT department, hey, can you get me a list of all of our IP addresses, and they will say, yeah, no problem. Then you get in a little bit of a trickier request at the IT department, can you let me know if that list changes which they may or may not be so on top of, so you might want to check with them quarterly and just say, hey, did we add any new IP addresses, did we remove some IP addresses just so you can go and tweak those filters, you might also see some traffic on your Google Analytics that looks like employee traffic at some point or some spikes that look like employee traffic and then that’s a good cue to say, hey, IT team, did you guys change our network at all?
Elizabeth Earin: So what else can we do other than filtering out our own IP addresses?
Steve Robinson: So, that gets some of the human traffic off, but another big chunk of traffic is bot traffics, so these bots are not humans, they are computers that are set to go out and either scan of all the web pages on the internet to gather information or they are tasked with scanning certain web pages for certain information, sometimes they are not even scanning web pages, all they are doing is they are chucking data into people’s Google Analytics account. The first method of defense against these bots so they aren’t throwing random data into your analytics is to simply check a box, and why this box is not checked by default I don’t know but it’s not and so, when you get done listening to this, run back and check, there is a little checkbox, it’s labeled as “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”, and you will find it in your view settings and you just want to check that box and click Save and that will get rid of a good, at least half if not more of this bot traffic from attacking our site.
Elizabeth Earin: Another type of traffic that you want to filter out is traffic from other host names and one type of bot that roams the web is the spam bot. And what it’s doing is it’s adding traffic to your Google Analytics account without ever actually visiting your site and if you have gotten into your Google Analytics before you have probably seen this in the form of referral traffic, it comes up as fake traffic that gets your attention because it looks like something like awesometool123.com and they are sending you a ton of visitors and so you want to see who they are, you want to see why they are referring so much traffic and when you go check it out to see why, you realize that it’s not actually a legitimate referral site.
Steve Robinson: Right. So the trick to getting rid of this is actually to play on some– the methods that the spammers use to do this. So when the spammers are doing this, they don’t actually know which website they are adding information to their analytics account, what they did is they generated a whole list of those UA numbers that we talked about earlier, and then set up a server to just go and send fake traffic to these people in Google Analytics account. The trick is they don’t know what website they are doing it for and so you can put a filter in called a hostname filter that says if this traffic didn’t occur on my website it doesn’t count, throw it away and so you want to configure this hostname filter to do that. We will link to a great article in the show notes from Moz, the details, how the spammers do this as well as exactly the filter you need to setup because it’s kind of too technical to talk about on the show.
Elizabeth Earin: This is going to be help remove a good portion of traffic but you still have some bot traffic that’s going to need to be cleaned up and what you are going to want to do in this particular scenario is you want to take a look at the network domains and the service providers that are visiting your site.
Steve Robinson: You will notice that some of these service providers are actually advertising companies, companies that you have contracted either directly or indirectly to run ads for you, they are checking out your site because they want to make sure that you are a legitimate company, that you aren’t a porn site, that you are selling what you are selling advertising, that there isn’t something shady going on. So they are going to take a look at your site to do that either with a bot or as a human and either way you want that traffic not counting because it’s not legitimate and worse than that it’s probably following the tracking links that you use to place your ads, so now it’s even inflating the results of your advertising. Other traffic could be coming from what are called data centers, so these are physical locations that logically wouldn’t have users visiting your website, they are names of companies that host servers, and so when you see this traffic you will see that it oftentimes has a very low time on site or a very high bounce rate compared to the rest of your traffic. That’s a cue to go up and look up that service provider to see if they are a network center like a data center and if you Google that you see that they are offering server hosting as one of their primary services, well then that’s probably somebody who has their servers hosted there, not people visiting your website and you can go ahead and filter that out as well.
Elizabeth Earin: Now, this is something, it’s not a one time fix, right, it’s something we have to monitor constantly, we have got to come back and check it, you can take it all out and then someone new finds you the next day, so it’s an ongoing process.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. Unfortunately it ends up being sort of a game of whack-a-mole because as new bots pop up then you got to go and update your filters and the worst part is filters aren’t retroactive, so once you get all this stuff in place it’s not going to go fix all of your reporting and remove all this noise from your reporting going backwards, it’s only going to fix it going forwards. So you are going to want to stay on top of this because every so often new little bits of garbage will show up in your reports, you want to whack that mole as quickly as possible so that you can get back to clean reporting as quickly as possible because you can’t fix what’s in the past in Google Analytics, once it’s happened it’s happened.
Elizabeth Earin: So once we have cleaned the data up now we really want to focus on tracking actions that matter and what we are looking to do here is make sure that the information we are gathering as our visitors engage with our site is as useful as possible. This again ties back to our KPIs and our business objectives.
Steve Robinson: When we look at tracking the actions on our site that are useful, we are going to use the conversion tracking built into Google Analytics to do this, so if you go into analytics and you go into your Admin tab, there is a place where you can set up conversions and those conversions are your little successes that you want to track, so these are the good results that you want more of that indicate that you are winning and within that there are really two different kinds, right, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. There are microconversions and then transactions.
Steve Robinson: Transactions really tie back to your core major wins. These are your business objectives and why you have a blog, why you are launching ads, why you are doing PR, why you are doing influence or outreach, what you want to achieve when you are doing that and oftentimes this ties right all the way back to revenue.
Elizabeth Earin: If you have an e-commerce site, it’s going to be a check out, it could be a newsletter sign up your website or your blog or a lead that can be followed by sales that’s filled out some sort of form on your website.
Steve Robinson: And in the case of e-commerce, the value of this conversion is tied right in and so that’s going to come right from the platform, it’s going to be whatever dollar amount they purchased, right, but in the case of some other things, it’s not quite so easy.
Elizabeth Earin: So, if it’s not already built in like the sale amount in your – when someone checks out on your checkout page, then you are typically going to have to setup some other way to track that. So, it could be a thank you page that someone reaches after they request more information or they have signed up for your newsletter.
Steve Robinson: If it’s not so simple as that, then you are going to want to set up a different type of trigger for it and that’s not doable right within Google Analytics, but it’s pretty straightforward and another tool we will talk about later called Google Tag Manager and that’s that little bridge that will help you to be able to set up that tracking.
Elizabeth Earin: So we said there was two. The other one outside of transactions is microconversions and these include things that are not your main objective in marketing. They are going to be instead indicators that you are on the right track.
Steve Robinson: So, these are things like video views, if somebody finishes watching a video that you produced, well, that means that they are good traffic. I mean you are not going to sit through a video that isn’t applicable to you. Same thing is true of things like dwell time on a page or how far they scroll on a page, whether they add products to cart even if they don’t check out, you are still on the right track, they added the product to the cart, right? If they download a spec sheet or other clicks on the site that indicate some pretty high intent, you are on the right track. These are what we call microconversions and they are just as important to track as your actual conversions because often times you don’t have enough of your actual conversions to do any solid statistical analysis because if they are fewer and further between then you end up with not having a big enough sample size to be able to get the result you want. So your microconversions can be used in lieu of that when you are trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Elizabeth Earin: Now are these microconversions something that have to be set up in Google Tag Manager or are they something that can be set up as regular conversions or events in Google Analytics?
Steve Robinson: Usually these are the harder things to track and they are going to require either tag manager or developer involvement or both. Now that said they are not going to be a super expensive if you have to pay a web developer to set up because you know what? everyone else has the same problem, so there is a lot of little scripts out there to help you. I know that we often recommend Rob Fla – I don’t know how to say this guy’s name, Rob Flaherty, he has got an H in the middle, F-L-A-H-E-R-T-Y, Rob Flaherty’s plug ins, he has one called Riveted, that will tell you how long somebody has their dwell time on a page. He has another one that will get scrolled up into your system and we will link to both of those in the show notes, and then for videos, LunaMetrics has a plug that they have developed and refined over the years, it’s open source that will help track YouTube embeds and how far people have progressed in there and pass that data into analytics.
Elizabeth Earin: These are definitely not for your average marketer, they require a developer, so don’t feel bad if you are not able to figure this out and don’t feel bad about reaching out. It’s going to be worth the effort because it’s going to provide some great analytics for you.
Steve Robinson: And don’t put Hs in the middle or last names, please, because I can’t handle it.
Elizabeth Earin: We will just call him Rob from now on, he is just Rob, anytime we refer to Rob. Okay, I think now might be a good time to talk about Google Tag Manager because we have mentioned it a few times and for our audience that’s not familiar with it, what is it exactly and for audience that is familiar about it are there any kind of key highlights?
Steve Robinson: Yeah. Tag Manager is again another phenomenal free tool that Google gives us. It’s useful for a lot of things, but in the context of today I think it’s most useful in being able to manage what data goes into Google Analytics and when it goes into analytics.
Elizabeth Earin: It’s not a quick tool to learn. Trust me. I have tried. That’s why we have Steve on our team who is a bit of a guru at this and has done some amazing things and some really cool integrations with some other platforms that we use. So, the key is at the very least go out and learn about it, see what’s available and if you are not able to figure it out reach out to a developer that can help you, it really opens up a lot of avenues.
Steve Robinson: Once you have Tag Manager installed on your site you can set up these things called triggers and triggers basically tell the system when to make stuff happen and then tags on the other half, they tell the system what to make happen and included in those tags is the ability to send events into Google Analytics. You can also send additional page views for things that you want to track as page views that aren’t obvious like PDF downloads, and there is a lot of blog posts out there that will show you the simple hacks to set things up inside of tag manager to get the data you need inside of analytics. If you just Google your problem, tag manager analytics, you will probably find a blog post that solves your problem.
Elizabeth Earin: So regular Google Analytics isn’t tracking what you want, it sounds like Google Tag Manager might be the first place to start as an option.
Steve Robinson: Absolutely, absolutely. So, I think this is a great point for us to take a quick break and go help some folks.
Elizabeth Earin: Before we continue I would like to take a quick moment to ask you Iterative Marketers a small but meaningful favor, and ask that you give a few dollars to a charity that’s important to one of our own. This week we are asking that you make a donation to Step Up for Students. Step up for Students is a legislatively authorized scholarship for school children in Florida whose educational options are limited by household income or special needs. Today the program serves more than 77,000 students in over 1500 private schools throughout the state. Learn more at stepupforstudents.org or visit the link in the show notes. If you would like to submit your cause for consideration for our next podcast please visit iterativemarketing.net/podcast and click the share a cause button. We love sharing causes that are important to you.
Steve Robinson: And we are back. So before the break we talked about filters and keeping garbage noise out of your system and then I guess a little bit on signal and tracking the activity of people once they are on your site to get those conversions, to log those important actions as they were bouncing around in your site and interacting with your content. Now I think it’s a great time to talk about getting more information into your site about the traffic that you are sending, because if you aren’t getting this information then it becomes hard to get the reporting back out that you need.
Elizabeth Earin: Now there is a few different ways you can do this. I think we are going to start with sort of the easier ways first and work our way up to the more complicated, right?
Steve Robinson: Yes, yes. And in all cases you are looking to try and set up essentially buckets inside of analytics where you can put a group of sessions or site visits into so that you can compare two things. So, if you want to know how your Facebook stuff is working compared to your Twitter stuff being able to compare those two things requires having different buckets to look at the sessions in inside of analytics. The easiest way to do this is simply URL tagging. We have talked about this a number of other times in other episodes.
Elizabeth Earin: So, this is going to be used when you pass information into Google Analytics about where traffic is coming from and what you want to specifically know about that traffic. At a minimum you need to pass in the campaign name and the source, so you can analyze the results from that specific traffic source and/or campaign like you said specifically from Facebook or Twitter or from the display ad platform, whatever it is, wherever that traffic is coming from.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. And we are about to get geeky about other ways to get this information into your analytics. If you don’t want to go that far, if you are kind of like whoa, when we start talking about this other stuff at a minimum you should be using the URL builder and we will link to that tool in the show notes. That makes it easy for you to get that campaign and source information into those links. You can also pass in which creative version or content it is that is sending that link as well as number of other little parameters that will help you to be able to get the most value out of your reporting on the other side.
Elizabeth Earin: Again, by putting those into those specific buckets, correct?
Steve Robinson: Exactly, exactly. So out of the box you get really campaign source and medium as your buckets. So campaign is the ad set or line item or campaign in whatever system is pushing that link out, source is going to be the platform or system or site that the link is on and then medium is going to be whether this is a banner ad or whether this is a text ad or whether this is a blog post that you placed somewhere or comments or whatever it is that the link is contained inside of, right? Sometimes that’s not enough information, as a matter of fact most of the time that’s not really enough information for you to get the most power out of your analytics and when that’s the case, if you want to set up other buckets than that you are going to want to set up what are called custom dimensions.
Elizabeth Earin: So, custom dimensions give you additional ways to group the sessions on your site outside of what Steve just mentioned, campaign source and medium and they are useful for breaking down your traffic into these different buckets to compare what’s sending good traffic versus the bad traffic, so for example, if we want to take a look at all of the traffic that’s coming from our CRM targeting regardless whether it’s from Facebook or AdRoll or Twitter we would use custom dimensions to do that.
Steve Robinson: Or maybe we want to look at all the traffic targeting a specific persona or specific target audience we can set up another dimension for that and then even better than that, we can start to layer these on top of each other inside of reporting so we know whether or not our CRM targeting does better on Facebook or whether it does better on Twitter. But you have to have the buckets set up, the custom dimensions set up.
Elizabeth Earin: To set them up you have to go into the admin section of your analytics account and you are going to go under the Web Property Column find Custom Dimensions and then it’s going to be under Custom Definitions.
Steve Robinson: And technically these custom dimensions aren’t limited to just bucketing your sessions, you can bucket users and pages and products and other stuff, but the low hanging fruit is to start bucketing your sessions and getting that in there, so that’s where we are going to talk about that and in Google Analytics parlance this is your scope, so you are going to want to scope your custom dimensions to this session for the sake of really being able to understand which traffic is performing best for you.
Elizabeth Earin: Now if you are using the free account you are going to be limited to 20 total dimensions, if you are using the paid account you can get up to 200. Now again, we have mentioned this before, we are using the free, I don’t think we have hit our 20 yet.
Steve Robinson: No, we haven’t hit our 20 yet and neither have any of our clients yet, but if you really want to go gung-ho on this, you could end up hitting that 20. We have come close, so it’s definitely doable but you can get a lot of information crammed into 20 dimensions.
Elizabeth Earin: So what’ is the next thing that we can do to help make sure we are getting the right data into Google Analytics?
Steve Robinson: We talked about the dimensions being the buckets that we need to put the data into, we didn’t talk about how to get that data into those buckets, right, and there are two ways. One of them is you can put a bunch of scripts on your site, that’s the hard way. The easy way is to setup a simple spreadsheet and so this involves using what’s called the campaign ID. The campaign ID is what you could think of being the key. So, instead of having a bunch of extra stuff tagged on to the end of your URL or your web link which is what happens when you use that URL builder, you are only going to have one thing at the end of your web link and it’s going to be a UTM_ID. That key then links all of the traffic that clicked on that link back to your spreadsheet that you upload into Google Analytics.
Elizabeth Earin: Now, this is what we use internally and we use it because it just makes it easier, we are able to customize all of this, we can make changes to it, is this something that you would recommend for an average user?
Steve Robinson: It is kind of bordering into that power user area, definitely get used to using the URL builder first. If you are not using anything start with the URL builder and start tagging everything and then move into this space but that said it’s not that complicated. You are really just setting up a spreadsheet with the first column being this key, this ID and you can make those up as you go as long they are unique, you can even have them being 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and that’s fine as long as they are unique and then each column becomes a custom dimension. And then each row becomes, okay, I created this link, here is the ID for the link, here is the platform that it’s on. Here is how I targeted, this is whether it’s organic or whether it’s paid, whatever your custom dimensions are become the individual columns and then you upload that using the import tool. We will link to the help documents for our documentation for this in our show notes, you can go and read how to do this specifically but it’s not rocket science. I would say it’s power user territory but not like I need to be a web developer level territory.
Elizabeth Earin: There is one important note I think we need to make though and that is that you have to import your data before you send any traffic using your campaign IDs, it’s not going to be retroactive.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. And that’s hung us up many times in the past because if you forget – I made some changes to our campaigns and then you forget to update your spreadsheet, then all of sudden it’s running on old data and as we have said before Google Analytics doesn’t let you fix anything in the past. Once it’s happened it’s happened and that’s how Google Analytics is going to remember it for all times. So, you need to make sure that you update these things as soon as you make updates to those links and where they are placed.
Elizabeth Earin: So we’ve talked about how to get data into Google Analytics. How do we get the data back out and in a usable format?
Steve Robinson: I think one of the underused features within Google Analytics again is something called custom reports. If you have been doing some of the stuff that we’ve talked about and setting up custom dimensions and you have got or you have even got a lot of your links tagged and you want to be able to look at certain aspects of these links and divvy them up the way that you want, you are going to find that you are constantly making changes to the stock reports and that’s no fun, but if you go and click on the customisation tab at the top you will see that there is a place where you can make up your own reports and these can be hugely powerful and you are going to go and try and find exactly the information you want and get it back out.
Elizabeth Earin: This is where we can use the custom dimensions that we set up to help break that traffic into the buckets and sub buckets and show specifically the data that we want to look at and then we are able to export that, you can either export it into Excel or Google Sheets and then link that up to other data or we can actually use explore within Google Analytics which this is the tool that’s creating the pretty graphs that you look at when you are on your custom dashboard or any of your main screens.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. If you aren’t using custom reporting, take a peek in there. Again, this is not rocket science. This I wouldn’t say is even like hard core power user type stuff, just play with it for a little while, all of a sudden you will be like Wow! I can get anything I want this way, can’t I? Yeah, yeah, it’s just not obvious. Where should people go if they want to learn more about this?
Elizabeth Earin: As I mentioned at the beginning of the episode Google has some phenomenal training documentation. Google’s Analytics Academy is a great place to check out. Like I said if you Google any of this there are so many blogs out there that have really great information, personally I am a visual person, I love the YouTube videos because they walk you through, specifically where to click and how to set stuff up, so there are a ton of resources out there but definitely check out Google’s Analytics Academy and we will link to that in the show notes for you.
Steve Robinson: Yeah and there are tons of blog posts out on the web too, again if you just Google my problem plus Google Analytics you will probably find somebody who has solved it one way or another.
Elizabeth Earin: So we have talked about a lot today and that’s going to be hard to summarize in a one minute recap, so instead we recommend you take a look at the show notes. If you haven’t already subscribed you can do so at iterativemarketing.net. This is another great episode to have handy and as a great reference material and the show notes are going to have tons of links for you including that link into Google Analytics Academy which I definitely recommend checking out.
Steve Robinson: I want to thank everybody for making time again for us this week. Until next week onward and upward!
Elizabeth Earin: If you haven’t already be sure to subscribe to the podcast on YouTube or your favorite podcast directory. If you want notes and links to resources discussed on the show sign up to get them emailed to you each week at iterativemarketing.net. There, you will also find the Iterative Marketing blog in our community LinkedIn group where you can share ideas and ask questions of your fellow Iterative Marketers. You can also follow us on Twitter, our username is @iter8ive or email us at [email protected] The Iterative Marketing podcast is a production of Brilliant Metrics, a consultancy helping brands and agencies rid the world of marketing waste. Our producer is Heather Ohlman with transcription assistance from Emily Bechtel. Our music is by Seastock Audio music production and sound design. You can check them out at Seastockaudio.com. We will see you next week, until then onward and upward.