Google’s Analytics platform has done wonders in helping businesses better understand their digital presence and improve traffic to their sites over time, however if not implemented carefully it can be disastrous. Rolling out Google Analytics and measuring the right KPIs can be a tricky process for marketers; the wrong data can lead you towards poor marketing decisions, resulting in shit sales and a one-way ticket to the street.
I don’t want that for you, so I’ve compiled a list of tips for you so that you can keep your job and take that Mexico vacation you’ve always dreamed of.
Mistake #1: Blindly Trusting Your Data
Most new marketers make the mistake of trusting their data too soon, without asking any questions. No matter how good your numbers may be you need to do some digging before getting too excited. Too often I take over or audit accounts whose goals are set incorrectly. Famously I had a client who was tracking the click on a form fill as a conversion… not the form submission itself! They were getting lots of “conversions” but no calls or emails. Mistakes like this can cause you to completely miss signals that you need to make changes to get better ROAS.
Mistake #2: Not Tracking Every Page
Google Analytics doesn’t track every single web page of your website by default. So if you’re assuming that all of your pages are being covered, you are wrong and are missing out on data. You can either manually check every single page to see if there’s any missing tracking, or use third-party tools to do the work for you. Single Page Apps (SPAs) in particular are affected by this issue since they don’t actually load new pages but simply change what appears on the same screen. Know how every marketer says “don’t use Wix for you business pages”? This is why.
Mistake #3: Not Integrating with Other Google Platforms
Google’s ecosystem is famous for the seamless integration it provides within its own apps. You need to link your Google Analytics app with other Google apps which complement it and provides improved results. Some of these apps include Google Tag Manager, Google Data Studio, Google Optimize, and Google Ads (OH REALLY?). Once you’ve integrated with these tools, you can get better insights on your existing data. The market segmentation and targeting capabilities of all these tools combined is extremely powerful and provides you with the power to optimize your campaigns even more!
Mistake #4: Not Automating Reporting Wherever Possible
The rule of thumb for increasing the efficiency of any process is to automate and scale what you can and continue fixing errors that require a human touch. The same practice applies to Google Analytics. Though analysis might not be able to be automated (yet), reporting can be automated through two native methods:
- Google Sheets/ Google Analytics API
- Google Data Studio
Data Studio is an easier method of setting up a report however the API and Sheets provide you with more customizing options. Whatever method you choose, make sure it makes sense for the organization and produces the required results. There are third party tools as well (Optmyzr, for one, is a favourite of mine) but most cost money. If you can justify the expense though you’ll usually find that these tools help to automate away the lion’s share of the more mundane tasks you perform daily/weekly/monthly.
Mistake #5: Sloppy Campaign Tracking
Marketers need to know about campaign tracking and must be able to use UTM tags. The effectiveness of traffic sources, as well as specific campaigns, can be analysed by these campaign parameters. Even if the UTM parameters are set up correctly, tracking can still get messed up if there are no standards in place for creating campaigns. You can take care of this problem by creating centralized documentation where everyone creates campaign tracking from the same place and makes it visible to others as well. Using a standardized naming scheme saved MASSIVE headaches down the road.
Mistake #6: Not Using Google Tag Manager
You do not need to hard-code Google Analytics onto your website at all. Instead, you can use the Google Tag Manager which allows you to organize your tags, including Google Analytics. When you have tons of domains to take care of, it becomes realistically inefficient to manage all your tags and scripts outside of a tag management system. Using Google Tag Manager not only allows you to simplify the process but also saves you a lot of time which you can invest in other important operations, like making money.
Mistake #7: Not Setting Up Goals
You simply cannot use Google Analytics without setting up goals. What’s analysis without objectives? You need to define what a meaningful goal is on your website and then set up adequate tracking for that goal. Defining goals allows you to use different Google Analytics features such as events, audiences, segments, etc. The funnel behaviour, which is one of the core tools used in website optimization, can not be analyzed if there are no goals set up.
Mistake #8: Duplicate Tracking on Web Pages
The absence of tracking on certain web pages is surely a problem, but the reverse can be equally problematic. A lot of Analytics implementations have duplicate tracking in place which could harm your results by providing you with the wrong data. The best method to avoid duplicate tracking is to use a tag manager (Like Google Tag Manager, yo). You can analyze your landing pages and look for near-zero bounce rates. Such low rates may occur due to bad event tracking in place, but in most cases, the reason is that two page-views are being fired on a page.
Mistake #9: Analyzing Data Points Without Context
Data points are great to collect and help you get a clear idea of where you stand in terms of the goals you set, but in order to develop proper trends and comparisons from these data points it’s important that you look at the context behind them. This way you can better understand if you have met the competitive benchmarks you set for yourself. An example: the conversion rate for a website selling $10,000 watches will never be the same as a website selling $1 LED lights (and if it is… congratulations you rockstar. Enjoy your private island). Context plays an important role.
Mistake #10: Self-Referrals
‘Self-referrals’ in Google Analytics is a condition when your own domain shows up in the referral reports. Self-referrals happen due to two main reasons.
- When a session gets split in two when moving around your site.
- When a session starts on a page without a tracking code. The user moving from one such page to another one without a tracking code leaves your own site as the only available referrer.
Another reason for self-referrals is that you might be using UTM parameters on your own website to link to other pages. Whatever may be the reason, self-referrals can be harmful and need to be fixed.
Mistake #11: Not Using Your Data
Data collection and analysis is an important step in making informed decisions about your marketing strategy, although if you spend too much time only collecting data and not making use of the data at hand you can end up wasting your time. You need to make use of the data you have already collected and make clear-cut decisions. If you keep swimming in the pool of data without reaping any benefits you may get discouraged and miss key insights that can help you send your campaign results to space! Set aside time every month to review your data against historical results and look for areas to improve. If you’re lost, an outside audit (hey, I know someone who does those!) can help shed light on problems or opportunities you’ve missed.
Mistake #12: Not Continually Learning and Improving
The best and the worst thing about digital marketing is that nothing stays the same for long, and everything keeps changing with time. The basic principles might remain the same, yet the trends and techniques used by marketers keep changing at an extraordinarily fast pace. To stay in the game you need to continually learn from your failures and improve your strategies. Besides learning from failures, you need to keep looking for new sources which might help you in the future. Sometimes it might be tempting to just throw up your hands saying you already know enough but to survive in this incredibly fast environment, you need to resist this temptation and keep improving every single day. Some great resources are Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Practical eCommerce, and the Moz Blog. Never stop learning!
So there you go… 12 tips to help you stay in tip-top shape and win every tipoff by keeping the tip of your sword sharp! Do you have a PPC top tip? Leave it in the comments below!