Google Analytics: An Introduction to Understanding Your Users

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Take a moment to imagine a website that is getting 1000 users a day. Now imagine that about 100 of them are spending money on the site. Obviously, you probably want to get more of the users that are spending money on the site but how do you know where these users are coming from? Maybe you know that all of them are coming from Twitter or Facebook but do you know which post or tweet refers the most people who actually convert to customers? Or, how do you know how many signed up to receive your lead magnet?

This is where analytics comes in. Analytics allows us to track where visitors come from and how they behave on your website. You can see which tweet or post brought the most users to your site. Then, you can also see which tweet or post brought the most users who converted into customers. Analytics allows you to see which pages the visitors go to, how long they are on each page, where they come from, and much more.

Without analytics, how do you know where your site visitors are coming from & what they are doing? Click To Tweet

Understanding Google Analytics

There are many services out there that offer analytics for your website. The most popular service is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is not only free for most users but it is also powerful and user-friendly. By setting up Google Analytics and installing it on your website, you will be able to learn quite a bit about your users.

Before we get too far into this process, let’s first go over some of the terms that you will come across while using Google Analytics:

  1. Accounts – these are the main companies or parties that watch over the various websites
  2. Properties – these are the single websites in the account
  3. Views – these are a set of the data in the property
  4. Users – individuals that access your website
  5. Sessions – an individual visit by a user.

Some of these may sound a little confusing. Basically, you have an account for your company and then a property for each of your websites. The views are the filtered data on your site. For example, the default view is “All Website Data” but you could have a filtered view of “Social Media Traffic Only”. For me, I have several accounts that each has several properties. So, my agency, My Local Webstop, is one account. Inside that account, I have a property for the agency’s website and for Quiz And Survey Master’s website.

The difference between users and sessions can be a little confusing. A user is one individual that comes to your site. A session is each time that user comes to your site. For example, let’s imagine that someone clicks on a link in your Twitter tweet and comes to your website today. This visitor browses your site and likes what they see. They come back tomorrow to make a purchase on your site. In analytics, you have had 1 user and 2 sessions.

Browsing Your Google Analytics

Now that we have a basic understanding of Google Analytics, let’s take a look through some of the content in the service. First, we can look at the Audience page to see some overview data about our traffic and its visitors.

Google Analytics Audience Overview

On this page, we can see a graph of the number of sessions that the site has had. We can also see the number of users, sessions, page views, pages per session, average session duration, and more.

We can then dive into the Audience section to compare the visitors based on a variety of data such as what language they speak, where they are geographically, what type of device they are using to view your site, and more.

Google Analytics Audience Location

Now, let’s take a look at the Acquisition section. In this section, we can discover where the users are coming from. By default, Google Analytics will break down the channels by search, direct access, social, and referrers as you can see in the image below.

Google Analytics Acquisition Overview

You can then dive into each channel further to learn more about where the users come from in that channel like in this image:

Google Analytics Acquisition Social

Using UTM’s to get more specific data

Now, these default fields can help you a bit with knowing where the users are coming from. However, there is an even better way to learn more about the specifics of where the users are coming from and they are called UTM’s.

You have probably seen UTM’s before. A UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) is a tag appended to the end of a URL that allows you to track referral traffic much more efficiently. This is an example of what a URL would look like with UTM’s:

So, what can UTM’s help you with? Here are a few examples of what you could learn using UTM’s:

  • Which post on Facebook sends the most traffic that converts to customers
  • Which tweet on Twitter sends the most traffic that stays on the site the longest
  • Which link in your emails get clicked on most
  • How many people that clicked the link in your email decided to become a customer or subscriber
  • How many people click the link in your signature
  • Which links in which forums that you posted on lead to the most sales

So, let’s break down some of the parts of UTM’s. There are three main components and two optional components:

  1. Campaign name – this is the identifier for a specific campaign or reason for a set of links. For example, you may have a campaign for one article that you post and link to across the web that you want to be able to compare the different sources of traffic
  2. Campaign medium – this is the marketing medium used that referred the traffic. Examples would be social, email, cpc, etc…
  3. Campaign source – this is the platform or tool that is used for the medium. For example, this could be Facebook, a specific email newsletter, an ad network, etc…
  4. Campaign content (optional) – allows you to differentiate between different links within the same source and campaign. For example, you may use different campaign content to differentiate between two links in an email newsletter
  5. Campaign term (optional) – allows you to track the paid keywords of an ad

So, let’s take a look at a few of my examples. Just recently, I had hosted a “Getting Started Workshop” for my Quiz And Survey Master product. So, I used getting_started_workshop as the campaign for all the places I posted links to the registration page. From there, I used different sources, mediums, and contents to differentiate the links so I could compare which ones converted better.

So, a tweet on Twitter had these UTM’s:

  • Campaign – getting_started_workshop
  • Medium – social
  • Source – twitter
  • Content – tweet_one

Each tweet had a different Content so I could see which tweets did better. So, in Google Anayltics, I could deep dive to look at the tracking for just visitors from Twitter that clicked a link in that campaign. I then posted the link on Facebook with the same campaign and medium but used “facebook” for the source. I could then compare the conversion between visitors from Facebook compared to visitors on Twitter.

Now, these URL’s become something like this:

That would be extremely difficult and time-consuming to have to type that URL out and make sure it is correct every time. Luckily, there are free tools to do this for you. These tools will ask you for the UTM details and then create the URL for you. Over at Markasio, we created one of these free tools: Markasio’s free utm builder. You can also find several others by searching for utm or url builder on your favorite search engine.

Setting up Google Analytics

Now that you know a bit about Google Analytics and what it can do, it is time to get it set up on your website. The first step is to go to Google Analytics and set up your account. You can sign in with your Google account and then you will want to add a property for your website during their guided setup.

If you are using WordPress, there is a really simple plugin called Google Analytics Dashboard for WP that allows you to simply log in with your Google account and then the plugin will automatically set up Google Analytics for your site. It even displays some basic traffic data in your WordPress dashboard so you can easily keep track when you log into your site. This is the plugin I actually use for this site.

If you are not using WordPress, most CMS’s and platforms have a simple process or integration for setting up Google Analytics so be sure to check out your platform’s documentation or reach out to their support. Lastly, Google Analytics will give you some code when you create your account. So, if you know how, you could simply copy and paste their code into your site and not have to worry about any integration tools at all.

What’s Next

Once you have your Google Analytics set up, there are a few more things you can do to better analyze your data. You can track your conversions and create dashboards to quickly see your most important data. From there, you can track specific user events such as when a user clicks a submit button or downloads a document. If you are interested in learning more, refer to this article on event tracking with onclick.

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