5 Tips to Get More from Google Analytics

Ross Perez, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Tableau Software

Google Analytics provides many great features for your website visitor, source, and conversion tracking. And there’s even more you can do when you take full advantage of all your data Google Analytics collects.

Ask and answer deeper questions: How well does the respondent audience in your web visits correspond to your target audience? What traffic sources yield the most valuable customers (not just one-time conversions)? How can you enable colleagues who are not web analytics gurus to more fully use and benefit from your website data? What new insights to gain and retain customers can you learn by blending your Google Analytics data with Salesforce.com data or other sources?

And how can you do all this quickly, without a lot of manual work? Read this whitepaper to learn five tips to get more from your Google Analytics data.

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1. Automate your cohort analysis

Many organizations use cohort analysis to understand a class of website visitors, often segmented by a specific action over a defined time period. Cohort analysis can include cross-platform data from the web, mobile web, and offline. For example, when a customer makes the first purchase in a desktop browser and follow-up purchases in a mobile browser and in-store, what is that customer’s lifetime value to date?

If you’re not already using cohort analysis, a blog post by Google Analytics advocate Justin Cutroni offers suggestions to get started. Begin by inserting activity conversion dates. Then use custom variables or events to create cohorts.

For experienced cohort-analysis pros, you may want ways to simplify the process. In a Google Analytics blog series, E-Nor President Feras Alhlou and Analytics Solutions Architect Shiraz Asif shows how to automate cross-platform cohort analysis. This can save you time and reduce the manual work of integrating online and offline data. And you can visualize the cohorts as custom variable keys across a date range.

2. Drag & drop advanced analytics

Peaks and valleys are interesting, but sometimes what you really want to know are the trends in the overall volume for your website, pages, or groups of pages. If you export to Excel, you can select a line chart in Chart Tools and then follow the Microsoft Office help guide for trend lines. Just grab your favorite caffeinated beverage first, because for something that should be easy, the interface and steps are less than intuitive. Or, if using Tableau Software, simply bring in your data via Tableau’s direct connector to Google Analytics, right click on your chart, and select trend lines.

3. Do previous page & next page analysis

With GA flow visualization reports, you can see how your visitors navigate through content. Flow visualization maps the starting page and subsequent pages. Nodes represent points through which traffic flows. A node can be a single page, a directory, an event, or a dimension. With the Visits Flow report, you can see how visitors follow a storyline, such as going from a campaign page to a video and then to a purchase page. Click on any of the nodes and select to see traffic from or to that node.

Unfortunately, what you can’t do in the flow visualization reports is filter to see how multiple variables affect previous and next pages. For example, are previous-tonext-page trends different by geography? What about time periods or days of the week? What if you wanted to add even more variables such as customer segments?

To filter previous-to-next-page data by multiple variables, you’ll want to export your data from Google Analytics. You may already be exporting from GA to Excel or column-separated value (.csv) files. Or to save time and reduce that manual work, give Tableau’s direct connector to Google Analytics a try.

4. Blend data

Google gives you lots of options to bring data into Google Analytics. However, you may have Salesforce. com or other customer relationship management (CRM) data, customer records, market research, demographics, or more data sources that you would like to combine with your website data for fuller insights.

Consider integrating market research with your website data. In a blog post, Semphonic President and CTO Gary Angel advocates holding a small tight survey to digital responders to recover one or more core demographics and in some cases even explore some of the offer and creative elements. And you can measure targeting precision – how well does the respondent audience in your web visits correspond to your target audience.

For more on website data blending, see this Cardinal Path video with Senior Director of Analysis and Insight Melaine Fuentes and Director of Strategic Services Stéphane Hamel. Fuentes and Hamel discuss how they drive actionable insights by blending a brand’s website traffic data with additional data sources.

Share with colleagues

Power users can blend Google Analytics and offline data, then share dashboards with colleagues who can filter to areas of interest and answer their own questions. This is a huge time savings for the power users. Retitle jargon into easily understood business terms and group pages, while offering full drill down to individual web pages. This empowers colleagues to more fully use web data and gain insights in their own work.

About the author


Ross Perez

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Tableau Software

Ross Perez is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Tableau Software. His job is to market and promote Tableau's cloud technology partners. A large part of his role involves using Tableau’s business intelligence software to help identify new ways that Tableau's customers can take advantage of the technologies that Tableau integrates with. He has been able to speak about topics related to big data, cloud analytics, visualization and visual best practices at SXSW, Techweek, O’Reilly Strata, Google Gauge and the Tableau Customer Conference. Ross is also the Chairman of the Iron Viz Championship, a visualization competition held at the Tableau Conference every year.