Tag & Track your way to Analytics Nirvana
We get a lot of requests to analyse Google Analytics data; provide recommendations to improve marketing & site content; or run A/B tests on website page variations. We love doing that - it's the favourite part of my job - but there is almost always a step we have to run through before that. Making sure that your GA tagging is as accurate as possible, that you are tracking absolutely everything that you can and that it is all working well makes it super easy for us to dive straight in to your Google Analytics data and start giving you actionable insight from day one.
If you have self-referrals in your traffic sources report (i.e. your own site appears as a traffic source) or all of your goal completions are being attributed to 'direct' or your own site, you might have issues with your code. First off, it is imperative that you have the Google Analytics tracking code (GATC) on every single page of your site to track your visitors accurately.
Equally you need to have the right version of the GATC on your site; if you have your main site on one domain (www.example.com) and your payment platform on a second domain (www.checkout.com), you need to have cross-domain tracking code on your site. If you have your main content on one domain, and your blog on a sub-domain (blog.example.com) then you need sub-domain tracking code. Ensuring that the right version of the GATC is on every page of the site means you have a solid base to build on.
Finally, make sure that you have tagged all of your campaigns with Google Analytics readable query string; you don't want your Yahoo PPC being attributed to Yahoo Organic; the same way you don't want your email newsletters to look like direct visitors. You can use Google's handy tool if you are doing it manually, but it's worth exploring whether your email provider / affiliate marketing network / lovely Yahoo rep can help you out with automatic GA tagging.
In your 'Profile Settings' you have the options to track what visitors search for on your site (Site Search), interactions with key actions on site (Goals) and the number of transactions your site has generated (E-commerce - requires one extra piece of code on your 'thank you' page). This is incredibly useful data which gives you a more comprehensive insight into what visitors are doing on site; what traffic sources are sending the best visitors and what site content is most conducive to funnelling visitors towards completing your desired actions. All three of these are simple to set up and even if you don't know what to do with the data yet, it's better to have it there so that when someone does come to analyse your site, they have as much information as possible to work with.
Tag some more....
So you've nailed the basics? Fantastic. Don't stop there - think about what else people can do on your site, other than complete a form or make a purchase (which you've tracked using goals and e-commerce data right?). One of my clients once said to me "I have a 3% e-commerce conversion rate. What the hell do the other 97% of visits do?". I looked at their site, and there were at least half a dozen forms to compelete, a couple of PDF's to download and tons of video content - none of which was being tracked. I can't emphasise enough - track everything; it may be a little more advanced and require a little extra coding - but we can help with that! PDF's, video interactions, clicks on mailto links, log-ins, interactions with social media buttons, outbound link tracking - all of these can be tracked and help you a) build up a picture of what the other 97% of visitors are doing on your site and b) categorize visitors into different persona's to analyse.
Track some more...
You've moved on to advanced tracking - this is awesome. Don't even stop there - become an analytics jedi! There are tons of supplementary technologies that you can set up to analyse visitor behaviour so see if there's something for you. So most of your visitors call you? Start tracking calls! There are several phone call tracking solutions out there, most of which give you data on where visitors came from and what they looked at on-site before calling you.
You'd like to understand not what happened on your site, but why? Set up surveys to get qualitative data from your visitors on why they like, dislike or love your site. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself and I'd be over the moon if every client came to us after the the first Tag & Track stage, but it's important that you realise the amount of data that you could be getting - even if you need a helping hand to get there.
You've taggged, you've tracked - now analyse!
Once you have accurately tracking data, and loads & loads of it, it's time to mine that data for findings and insight to improve your marketing and your site. If not before, this is where we would expect to help you out, providing recommendations based on solid data analysis. Having set up at least some of this tagging before you come to us means we can delve straght in and start giving you recommendations pronto! Hopefully you found this useful - if nothing else, getting your basic analytics set up properly is a great start - but please let us know what level you think you're at; what can we say, we're data junkies!!