Google have their fingers in all sorts of different pies these days. From email, to photos, to document sharing – they’ve had a good crack at becoming the one-stop-shop for web users. One of their more successful pies is the ‘Web Masters’ collection of tools including Google Analytics.
Analytics is basically a way of tracking how people find and use your website – and it is incredibly powerful. It gives you instant feedback on anything from how many hits you’ve had this month, to how a single visitor has entered, navigated though and exited your site.
Once you’re started (which is seriously easy) you can pore over graphs, pie charts, numbers and percentages to your heart’s content. However, the best usage of analytics is when you create a plan and use analytics to measure your success.
First things first.
Let’s get Google Analytics set up on your Smallfish store…
- Log in to your Smallfish Shop
- Under ‘Manage Shop’, click ‘Settings, then ‘Connections’
- Find ‘Google Analytics’ and click on the edit icon
- If you’ve already created a Google Analytics account just click next at the bottom of the page. If not then click on the link in the description box and follow Google’s set up instructions (here’s a nice video that explains the process).
- Paste your Web Property ID into the box and click ‘Finish’
Your Web Property ID can be found in your ‘Overview’ page (the first page you see when you log in) next to the address of your Smallfish website. It will look something like this: UA-1234567-01.
That’s it! Now when you log into your Google Analytics account you can click ‘View report’ next to your Smallfish store Website Profile and you will see the latest stats on your site.
Note: it takes Google a day or so to collect and present all the latest data from your site so there will be a delay in getting the exact stats from your site.
Now for the cool stuff!
Google Analytics can do all kinds of tricks including showing you:
- How many people visit your site every day.
- Which website your visitors came from.
- Where in the world your visitors come from.
- Whether the social media sites that you are signed in to are generating visitors.
- Which pages and products your visitors are looking at.
Which keywords and terms have led visitors to your site.
- The average time spent on your site is.
- How many of your visitors are new or returning customers.
All these features are built in and it’s very worthwhile spending some extra time learning where things are and how to find the stats you need. Here are two introductory tips to get you started on some customisation of your analytics account.
Tip 1 – Annotating
Difficulty – Easy Peasy
When you get a spike in your traffic you should attach a little note to it so you can refer back to it further down the track to remind yourself of what drove those extra visitors to you. It’s a good way to plan future promotions and to compare spikes with each other.
To create an annotation simply click on your website profile in the ‘Overview’ page. Here you will be able to see a line graph showing the number of visits to your shop over time. Click on the top of the spike and you will see a link that says ‘Create new annotation’. Click this link and a pop-up will appear allowing you to create a description and save your note. Once you’ve done this you will see a small speech bubble icon at the bottom of the line graph, under the spike you chose. Click this icon to review your annotation.
Tip 2 – Custom Reports
Difficulty – Tricky Dicky
Let’s say you want to know which page is keeping your customers from Wellington engaged the longest. To do this you can create a ‘Custom Report’.
To create your custom report, click on ‘Custom Reports’ in the main navigation and then click on ‘Create a Custom Report’. This is where it gets a little tricky for someone new to analytics…
You have three main fields to enter: a ‘Metric’, a ‘Dimension’ and a ‘Filter’ (optional).
A metric is simply a measurement – it could be visits, bounces, exits, or, in our example, the time spent looking at a page.
A dimension is a way to break down the metric into a more specific set of data – for example the date of a visit, a search term used, or, in this example, the page title.
A filter simply reduces the number or results based on a selected variable – for example the country a visitor is from, the site that referred them to your shop, or in this case, the city they live in.
So if our metric is ‘Time on Page’, and our dimension is ‘Page Title’ then in our custom report we will see a line graph describing the average time spent looking at the pages on our site (number of pages visited divided by total time spent on site, not that useful in itself) and below that will be a box with each page title and the average time spent on that page (more useful). If we then apply a filter that excludes everyone except visitors from Wellington, we get a clear snapshot of what interests our Wellington customers (very useful!).
Custom reports are a deep subject and this is very much an introduction. There are all sorts of interesting layers that you can add in so you’ll just have to have a good play with it. If you’d like some more assistance the Google Analytics help menus are very detailed (although a little technical sometimes).
Consistency is key
The most important thing with analytics is to treat it like your accounting – regular and on-going visits to your account will yield more knowledge about your strengths and weaknesses and will help you plan your next move on the web. It’s crucial that you make alterations and check these against your stats so you can see if you’re moving in the right direction.