Google Analytics has proven time and time again that it’s one of the best marketing tools out there. With its detailed and user-friendly reports about what’s happening on a website, and why, Google Analytics is a great tool for marketers to understand what their audiences look like, as well as which strategies are working and which aren’t.
Since this tool is so helpful, it’s especially important that you use it correctly to achieve its fullest potential. Here are some common Google Analytics mistakes to avoid in order to ensure that you’re getting the most out of this powerhouse.
1. Not using Google Analytics in the first place
As many as 30 to 50 million websites use Google Analytics. If your site isn’t one of them, you risk missing out on one of the best applications for analyzing your web traffic.
Without using Google Analytics or another tracking platform for your website, it’s nearly impossible to know what marketing strategies are working -- especially on the individual page level. By being able to look at how each page performs, you can make nuanced tweaks to improve your business strategy.
2. Not filtering out internal session data
For a large organization, thousands of page views per month might come from you or your employees. This internal activity can skew your data and give you an inaccurate idea of your website’s performance. So, it’s important to set up a filter to remove this information from your results so that the analytics you’re examining are as accurate as possible.
3. Not filtering out spam traffic
Some 4 percent of all internet traffic comes from spam; this might seem like a small percentage, but it can translate into a significant number of meaningless page views for your website.
Even if you’ve already implemented tools to block spammers, you’ll still want to filter out spam traffic to keep your data accurate. One way to do this is to apply the Segment to Eliminate Spam Referrals” by Analytics Edge in your Google Analytics.
4. Misusing Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters
A UTM parameter is a sort of tag that you can add to URLs to help you see where your web traffic is coming from. For instance, if you’re putting up ads on different websites, using UTM parameters will help you see which ads are doing a better job at driving traffic to your site. This is how you can find out statistics, like the fact that 31.24 percent of all referral traffic in 2014 came from social media.
With that knowledge under your belt, you can adjust your marketing strategies accordingly.
5. Using only aggregate data
If you don’t segment your Google Analytics data based on factors like demographics, behaviors and geography, you’re missing out on a ton of valuable information. For example, 72.5 percent of the Huffington Post’s web traffic comes from the United States, so that publication probably caters a lot of its content to the U.S. audience.
By segmenting, you can gain similar insights into your own website to better tailor your content and reach more people.
6. Not setting up goals
This one goes back to that old Harvard study that found that having goals makes you 10 times more successful than the alternative. As a marketer or executive, you certainly do have goals: to generate leads, improve customer engagement and make sales, for starters. In Google Analytics, you can also set up such goals as increasing white-paper downloads, getting more people to click on a certain page or encouraging more contact forms.
The tool will show you your progress so that you can make adjustments as needed.
7. Not tracking conversions
Some 22 percent of marketers report being dissatisfied with their conversion rates. To avoid this, use Google Analytics to help track this aspect of yourr users' journey. Without conversion data, you’ll have an incomplete picture of your website’s performance; after all, the site’s main goal should be to increase those conversions.
By setting up a conversion goal in Google Analytics, you can see where the conversions came from, what pages on the site users have visited most and what got them to fulfill the conversions you attained.
8. Not tracking events or campaigns
Some 64.6 percent of people click on Google ads when they’re looking to buy an item online. So, given this context, if you aren’t tracking your own campaigns, you won't know which ad campaigns are working and which aren’t.
Google Analytics provides you the source of your referral traffic, as well as specific campaign-tracking variables. You can also track events like email clicks and video views.
9. Comparing apples and oranges
It’s imperative that you look at comparable data in order to make conclusions about trends regarding your web traffic. For example, if you're comparing conversions in two different months, it’s possible that holidays or other events are affecting those conversions -- making it difficult to compare the two directly.
This apples and oranges issue is a common one in many scenarios: Remember how many mainstream polls gave then-presidential candidate Donald Trump a mere 28.6 percent chance of winning? Since those polls were comparing data from sources that couldn't be compared -- i.e., the demographics of liberal and conservative voters -- many polls were faulty.
Don’t make a similar mistake when making decisions based on your Google Analytics information.
10. Ignoring the Solutions Gallery
Only around 5 percent of the U.S. population can be ranked at the highest level of computer literacy; the rest of us need help sometimes when running our websites. And, here, Google Analytics can get tricky, so it’s a big mistake to not use its Solutions Gallery, which provides access to custom reports and dashboards to help you navigate website issues.
There are a huge number of ways to use Google Analytics to your advantage -- and a lot of ways to make mistakes with it, as well. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you’ll get closer to unlocking the full potential of your website.