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This week, while working through CXL Institute’s Scholarship program where they have numerous minidegrees from Growth Marketing to Conversion Optimization, I was working through Google analytics for beginners.

Introduction to Google Analytics

Chris Mercer, also known in the industry as Mercer is someone I could see from the get-go as an expert within Google Analytics and is the Co-founder at measurementmarketing.io – If you wanted to get to know his work better. 

Google Analytics is a free tool made available by Google along with many others you can always add to your measurement journey. Don’t get me wrong, Google Analytics might be free, but man is it powerful – Keeping in mind that it is only as powerful as you set it up to be. Because like I mentioned earlier, you have numerous other tools which you can add on to make Google Analytics even more powerful. I’d just like to mention some for you to explore a bit later:

  1. Data Studio
  2. Optimize
  3. Surveys
  4. Tag Manager

As Mercer explains in these lessons. Google is very good at doing one thing. Like best at it, and that is Storing data. Collecting data or presenting it might not be its best features and that is why utilizing Google Tag Manager to collect your data and on the other side of the spectrum, using Data Studio for presenting data will be your best combination for optimal results (Also, as I said, it depends on how you set everything up.).

I have used both Tag Manager and Data Studio in the past and man, does it make life easier. Setting up those Data Dashboards in Data Studio takes a while, but if you have them in place and you’ve put everything where you want them, you can literally use that same template next time and just change the date ranges, saving you a lot of time each month trying to populate reports.

The same goes for Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager helps you to track specific actions taken throughout your website. Think of it as something similar to a Facebook Pixel. By the way, you can integrate your Facebook Pixel within Google Tag Manager. Don’t know where to start adding Tag Manager within your WordPress website? It’s easy, just add the Google Site Kit plugin within your WordPress and you should be prompted from there as to what to do next.

I have to say that I have not used Optimize or Surveys yet, but will be checking them out soon!

Using Reports

When you get into Google Analytics and your initial impression might be, “Wow, this is really nice. How can this be made available for free?”, but the second thing you might notice is that there are a lot of reports and this might also be quite intimidating at first. But, Mercer walks you through each one in detail. There are numerous available, Table Reports, Pie Graphs, everything… Real-Time Reports, Behavioural Reports, Acquisition Reports and many more! What is also great is that you can choose to which detail you want to explore your reports. Let’s say you are looking at your Acquisition Report (Where people came from to your website) and you see Facebook as a source, you can even click on that source and see even more information. So, just know that your reports are just as good as you set them up and if you set up Google Tag Manager the wrong way, you might get skewed statistics and end up making the wrong calls based on skewed data.

Another great thing that CXL Institute made available for those who might not have an active Google Analytics account with some historical data, is an active, with traffic, demo account, where you only have limited permissions, but it’s more than adequate for playing around to test the functionalities.

Something to also remember about Google Analytics is that it might have a real-time report, but there will always be a slight lag between what happens on your website and when Google Analytics interprets the interactions. Within the real-time reports, Mercer explains that the activity shown there was within the last 5 minutes of it showing up on that report. The same goes with the filtering of reports and date ranges. Google normally reverts back to the previous day if you want to pull reports showing data up until today because it takes about a day for Google Analytics to save everything adequately for you to process or run it through your Data Studio. Just a quick tip, Mercer explained that the Real-Time Report is great for testing that your Tag Manager is working; that you are receiving data.

Audience Reports within Google Analytics

Within the Audience Reports in Google Analytics, you can see a lot regarding the types of people visiting your website. You can see how old are the people coming to your website, you can see their gender, their affinities (Groups of things they might also like), in order for you to possibly up-sell or down-sell to them and many other aspects. Just keep in mind that you need to continue testing your reports, make sure that the data you receive makes sense to you.

Acquisition Reports within Google Analytics

Acquisition Reports is all about where your visitors are coming from, be it Social Media, organic search from Search Engines, and other sources, and as I mentioned earlier, there are many layers to these reports. So, you can even click on, let’s say Facebook within your acquisition reports and get more layers of your Facebook traffic.

Behavior Reports within Google Analytics

This is a gem within Google Analytics and that is the flow charts. The behavior of your visitor. Here you can see almost in great detail where most of your visitors go. You can see entry pages, exit pages, and even the path they took, in the form of flow charts.

Extra information I’d like to share

Another platform I thought of while writing this review was Hotjar. Hotjar is free to the most extent and gives you enough functionality within their free package to learn a lot about the visitors of your website. Hotjar is easy to set up and gives you heat maps and even recordings of how the visitors interact with your website. This is really great, especially if you’d like another platform alongside Google Analytics to check up and provide feedback in the form of statistics.

Conclusion

To whoever is reading this and is considering enrolling for this minidegree; It is worth every cent. What you learn here is pure gold and can only benefit you in your venture to become greater at what you do.

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