Google Analytics Academy Part 1: The Importance of Google Analytics
Hey everyone! This is my first ever post on the Boom blog, so unless you were big fan of the Royston Crow under 15’s division 2 football league circa 2008, then I’m guessing you have no idea who I am, so let me introduce myself.
I’m Alex and I joined Boom around 6 months ago after graduating from Nottingham Trent University in the summer. In the months preluding this blog post I’ve been doing a lot of training. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot and have thrown myself into the world of online marketing and, despite picking up a few bumps and bruises along the way, I’ve managed to survive!
To tell you a little bit more about myself; well I’m originally from a town called Stevenage in Hertfordshire; I’m a huge sports fan (anything with a ball I’m into it!) but also a big gamer, so I like to think of myself as a sporty nerd. And like everyone at Boom, I love cake, lots and lots of cake! If you held a gun to my head to make me choose my favourite it would have to be New York Cheesecake. Yum.
Anyway enough about myself it’s time to get onto the main event. One of my training methods was to take advantage of the Google Analytics academy so that I could get a basic understanding of what Google Analytics is and does. The process involved working through different units of the academy by watching videos on various stages of GA, that started simply from understanding the importance of GA to creating and implementing a campaign and then finally, doing an exam (which I nailed).
All the way through the process however I had to keep pausing what was being said in the videos because even though the videos were very detailed, they jumped from point to point extremely quickly meaning you couldn’t get the full details. By taking the time to stop the videos, I ended up with some very comprehensive notes, which we thought we’d like to share with you, and for future Boom employees. This is why we came up with the idea to turn it into a blog series so anyone could get a basic understanding of GA and use my notes when looking at their own GA. So from now on, I’ll be writing a blog post on one of the units each month, so that you can learn the wonders of GA – I hope you enjoy!
(I should point out that this is purely at a beginners level understanding of Google Analytics and everything here was my notes from their own academy, I don’t claim to be an expert, but hope that with this beginning I can become one).
Unit One: The Importance of Google Analytics
Today, we’re going to tackle the Importance of Google Analytics. In this unit we’re going to cover:
- What ‘Digital Analytics’ actually means.
- How changing customer behaviours have dramatically altered the way businesses need to approach measurement.
1.) Trends That Are Changing Business
The wonder of the internet means that information and media is available at the click of a button to anyone that wants it, and with the number of mobiles and smart phones ever increasing, it means that anyone can connect to anyone around the world 24/7. On top of all this, with the advent of cloud computing it means that’s can all be done cheaply with practically infinite power.
What all these technological wonders basically mean is that people have become more empowered than they’ve ever been before with product reviews, recommendations and competitive pricing. Cloud computing has therefore allowed organisations and business to analyse more business data than ever before.
2.) Defining Google Analytics
Trying to collect, distribute and understand data can be an extremely overwhelming task, especially when you use this data to make big business decisions about what you should be doing to connect with and, most importantly, understand your customers. This is where Digital Analytics comes in!
To truly define and understand Google Analytics you must break it down into its key elements and unpack those – starting with customers; your most important asset.
The purchase funnel has long been used in marketing to understand the various stages of customer interaction. The funnel consisted of:
- Building awareness.
- Acquiring interest.
- Engaging with potential customers.
- Driving them towards a conversion.
- And finally, retaining them as customers.
However with customer trends changing and the consumer having increasingly more control, this funnel is no longer relevant; the customer is at the centre.
Customers can start their journey at any point in the decision path and it is now a marketer’s job is to analyse the customers, rather than the individual channel the customer is coming from. With the customer in the driving seat, businesses need ‘customer-analytics’ to see how truly well they are performing.
2.2.) Qualitative and Quantitative Data
Traditionally web analytics has focused on massive amounts of quantitative data such as size of audience, where they are located, the performance of your online marketing and what customers do when they visit the website.
However with new technology analytics can now analyse and track; mobile communications, the cloud systems, CRM systems, video game consoles and home appliances. This allows you to take a look at all the touch points a consumer might have with your business, not just your website.
Qualitative data, in contrast, explains the why. For example; why did they come to your site, did they manage to complete their intended tasks and why they were or weren’t able to complete that task. One way of collecting this data is through a survey.
2.3.) Measuring Your Outcomes
One of the most important things to do when implementing analytics is to work out what your business outcomes or objectives are, and how you plan to measure them. In the online world there are 5 common objectives which most business use, they are:
There are key actions on any business websites that tie back into business objectives. They can indicate if an objective has been fully met, such as a purchase. These are called Macro Conversions. Some actions on a site can be behavioural indicators that let you know someone is close or thinking about completing an objective, such as signing up for a newsletter. These are called Micro Conversions.
It is important to track both sets of data so that you are equipped with more behavioral data to understand what experiences help drive the right outcomes for your site.
3.) Continual Improvement
Data can be a driver for continual improvement in your business. The process is like a journey:
- Measure – How many people complete the journey? Where are you losing people? The measurement stage helps you collect data to answer your business questions.
- Reporting – It helps package your data in a readable format to give to the influences and decision makers, so that they can make decisions.
- Analysis – Analysing the data, such as comparing segments or identifying trends. Helps your figure out the whys.
- Test – Try different solutions to problems you found during the analysis, takes opinions out of the equation for discovering improvement opportunities.
- Improve – Repeat whole process and improve.
4.) Core Analysis Techniques
There are two good ways in which we analyse our data; segmentation and context. First we will look at segmentation:
- Looking at the data overall, it tells you whether things have changed but in order to truly understand it you need to segment the data.
- It allows you isolated and analyse subsets of data, for example marketing channel.
- Segmentation helps you to understand why things have changed.
There are many common segments that you may want to consider when looking at your data, these include:
- Date and Time – Compare data on how users on your site behave differently on certain days or hours.
- Device – Compare user performance on desktops, tablets and mobiles.
- Marketing Channel – Compare difference in performance of your various marketing channels.
- By Geography – Compare geography to determine which areas of the world perform the best, I.e. Countries, regions, cities.
- Customer Characteristics – Compare repeat customers vs first time customers.
It is all very well looking at the different segments to get a broad overall view of your data, but without giving the data context you cannot truly understand if your performance is good or bad. There are ways to set context:
- Externally – Context can come from industry benchmark data, which means that you can see if an upturn in data is due to your good work or the industry improving as a whole.
- Internally – It helps you set expectations based on your own historical data. It lets you set KPI’s and targets based on previous performance.
5.) Conversions and Conversion Attribution
One of the most important ideas in Google Analytics and Digital Analytics in general is Micro and Macro Conversions.
- Macro Conversion – When someone an action important to your company, e.g. a transaction.
- Micro Conversion – Is when something doesn’t immediately contribute to the bottom line but is an indicator that a user is moving towards a Macro conversion, e.g. a newsletter sign up.
Attribution means assigning value for a conversion. It helps you to understand the return on your investment in your marketing channels. For example if you spend £1 on a marketing activity, you want to make more than £1 through that activity.
The most common type of attribution is last click attribution. This is when all the value associated with the conversion is assigned to the last marketing activity that generated you revenue. E.g. a Google ad.
However, we are now able to look at all our marketing activities and assign value across them all, if deserved, because a customer can often interact with you many times before a conversion happens. We call the marketing activities that help someone on the way to a conversion, assists.
You can look at it like scoring a goal in football; most goals consist of more than one player to make it happen, one person puts the ball in the net, but the ball had to come to that player from someone else or lots of people. You need the team to work together to be successful, it’s the same in online marketing, some of marketing channels score the goals and assists, but all are important. This is a common path to a conversion, showing the assists along the way:
Rather than assigning all the value to the last channel, you can assign all the attribution to first marketing channel, the one that started the customer on the way to purchase, this is called First Click Attribution. You can even assign a little bit of value to each of your assisting channels in your customer journey.
So that’s all we’ve got time for this month, there was also another part to this unit – creating a measurement plan, but I believe that it needs a blog post all on its own so that is what I will be covering in my next blog post. I hope I haven’t bored you too much with post and that it actually helps you on your way to getting a basic understand of Google Analytics. Until next time!