9 tips to get the most out of Google Analytics

Your performance data should be the lifeblood of your digital marketing strategy. But when it comes to using Google Analytics, are you more of a casual user than you’d like to be?

Maybe you’re not checking as often or only get a vague notion of what is going on with your website traffic and the campaigns surrounding it.

Google Analytics is a commonly used analytics platform that integrates with your website and offers data on:

  • How many people are visiting your website.
  • What they’re doing while they’re there.
  • How much time they spend on your website.

It also features a ton of crucial information, like the most common type of device used to access your website pages and the geographic information of your visitors.

And there is so much more than that with its in-depth insights and tracking power. If you still need to learn the basics, check out this course from Google.

Remember that about 76 percent of marketing leaders base decisions on data analytics. If you’re basing your decisions on gut instincts, don’t. About two out of three marketers say data-based decisions are more effective than gut instincts.  

The following are 9 tips to get the most out of Google Analytics every time you use it.

Compare your historical traffic trends

There is so much power in understanding the history of your performance data (and how that compares to now as well). Whether that’s month-over-month data, year-over-year data or everything in between. 

This can help you identify patterns and trends in your own traffic. Historical comparison data views are as simple as using the time filter in Google Analytics.

Simply specify your desired date range and the previous period to compare it to. Keep in mind that Google Analytics defaults to the number of days in the specified period. For example, a Monday-through-Sunday week view won’t mirror the the corresponding days of the previous week.

Assign a monetary value to your goals

Goals are critical to every digital marketing campaign, so you’ll want to take advantage of them in an elevated way in Google Analytics. 

Unsure about your goals? Check out our seven tips.

Google Analytics gives you the ability to assign monetary values to your goals. Why does that matter? Because you should be able to gauge exactly how much money you’re making (or losing) with every new lead earned (or lost).

To assign a value to a goal, navigate to the Admin section of Google Analytics in the top menu and click “Goals.”

You’ll then see a list of your goals. Click on one, and you’ll have an interface open where you can then specify the monetary value of the goal.

Of course, how much you assign can be a typical question, and that definitely depends. Typically, you’ll want to underestimate how much a goal is worth.

Assigning monetary values can really help you see in financial terms how much money you could be losing in your marketing funnel and where you’re losing it.

If you need a refresher on how to create goals to begin with, Google has this walk-through.

Use audience data in your custom visitor segments

Custom visitor segments can help classify your visitors by demographic data, such as age, gender, location and so on. But don’t forget about the data in the Audience reporting views that can assist with how you create your custom segments.

The audience data will tell you about how specific users are interacting with your website.

To leverage this additional data, navigate to the Interests Overview within the Audience reporting section. You’ll find a broad view of the other three Interests reports, including Affinity Categories, In-Market Segments and Other Categories.

Once your more-detailed custom segment is created, you can measure it against your other visitor traffic to better understand how certain types of visitors behave in comparison to each other. That way, you aren’t just looking at the broad overview of all page views and/or sessions.

Consider your top conversion paths

While we would all love to see a consumer click on our ad to visit our website and immediately make a purchase all the time, that’s not how it goes. Website visitors don’t always behave the way you expect.

Going through your top conversion paths in Google Analytics gives you insight into how your visitors are actually converting as opposed to how you think they’re converting. It’s an often-complex route, for sure.

To find this, navigate to the Top Conversion Paths section of the Conversions reports. You’ll then see the top 10 conversion paths by default, with the option to extend the number of displayed rows.

Remove your IP address from reporting

If you’re starting to notice your own business IP address in your reports, know that this is normal, especially if you have an entire team in your office working on different parts of your website. 

Even though it’s common, it can slightly impact your Google Analytics reporting. 

Fortunately, you can exclude your internal traffic by creating a filter for your Google Analytics account that blocks your specific IP address from showing up in your reporting.

You can do so by clicking “Admin” and navigating to the account in which you want to create the filter. In the “Account” column, select “All Filters.” Then, click “+ Add Filter.” You’ll want to select “Exclude” in the filter type menu, and that’s where you can decide how to exclude your internal traffic sources.

Set up Intelligence Events in Google Analytics

If you’ve been monitoring your website traffic for a while, you’re likely aware of strange anomalies that can happen. Think a huge spike or drop in your traffic as an example.

Intelligence Events in Google Analytics allows you to set custom parameters to monitor for unusual activity on your website and send alerts to designated account users. For example, a doubling in your average website traffic in one day would be unusual, and Google Analytics can not only alert you about it but also record the data related to it.

Keep in mind that Google Analytics will, by default, notify you of unusual site activity. But don’t rely on that. You’re going to want to set up Intelligence Event notifications.

To set these up, open the Intelligence Events reporting section and select the “Custom Alerts” tab from the right-side menu. Then, click “Manage Custom Alerts.” You’ll want to select “+ New Alert” to then create your custom Intelligence Events.

Monitor your overall website speed

Website speed matters, especially when considering your mobile SEO. If any of your webpages take more than a fraction of a second to load, you risk losing the trust of your visitors and losing them entirely.

In other words, the faster your website loads, the better.

To check your speed within Google Analytics, click on “Reports” followed by “Behavior” and then “Site Speed.”

Add annotations to your reports in Google Analytics

If you’re not the only person managing your Google Analytics account, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of annotations. These are simple notes that can be added to an Analytics reporting graph to explain or give context to various performance data. In particular, you might want to explain an increase or decrease in traffic, make a note of when a specific campaign launched and almost anything else.

Annotations look like speech bubble icons along the bottom of a graph.

To view annotations, click on the downward arrow tab icon beneath the graph, and you’ll see a list of all annotations made within the specified time period, as well as who created the annotation and their email addresses. Then to create a new annotation, click “Create New Annotation” on the right side above existing annotation authors’ email addresses. Keep in mind that you can make annotations public or private, depending on who should see what.

Stay on top of everything with emailed versions of your top reports

Last but not least, you have the opportunity to streamline your analytics monitoring with emailed reports from Google Analytics.

That means that you don’t have to log into your dashboard each time you want to understand what’s going on with your website.

And if logging in has been difficult on a consistent, regular basis, then email reports are something you definitely should leverage for yourself.

First, decide what reports would be best to receive in your email inbox. Then, navigate to each report, set it up how you like (i.e. date filters) and then click “Share.” You can then decide what email addresses it goes to and how frequently it’s sent.

In conclusion

Your performance data will give you the power to make informed decisions about your digital marketing strategies. Take the time to not only understand Google Analytics but also to make it work for you.

Check out our Digital Marketing 101 Guide for Beginners to explore the possibilities of what you can do for your brand.

While you’re exploring to Google Analytics, think about your digital marketing process. Is it everything you want it to be? DailyStory features automation, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

Snapshot: Understanding your metrics on Instagram

Instagram has shown itself to be one of the fastest-growing social media platforms. Any successful account should have a sense of what’s working and what’s not for its audience.

On Instagram, you can find Insights data in three different places in the Instagram app.

To access Insights from your account page, tap the bar graph icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. For analytics on an individual post, navigate to the post and tap View Insights in the bottom-left corner. Or, to see data for a story, open the story and tap the names in the bottom-left corner.

Insights homepage

The Insights homepage shows a summary of data for the content you’ve posted in the last seven days.

In the top section, find out how many total followers you have and how many you’ve gained in the past seven days.

You can also view how many total posts you have on your account and how many you’ve added in the previous week. Scroll down to see a series of bar graphs that reveal the total impressions, reach, and profile views for the past 7 days, and then you can swipe to view website clicks and call-to-action button clicks (Call, Email, Directions).

On the Insights homepage, scroll down to the Followers section to see a summary of follower demographics including gender, age group, and location. Note that you need at least 100 followers to see demographic data. Tap “See More” to open a page with graphs that break down follower demographics in more detail.

More on followers

At the bottom of the Followers section, you’ll find two graphs that show when your followers are most active on the network.

In the first graph, find out when your followers are online each day. Scroll down to the second graph to discover which days your followers are most likely to be online. Look for patterns in the times and days your followers are online, so you can post content at times that will maximize reach and engagement. You can then create a posting schedule that best reflects when your audience is online.

More about posts

The Posts section of the Instagram Insights homepage shows your three most recent posts. Tap See More to view additional posts.

By default, the Posts section shows the total number of impressions for all of your posts in the past year. To segment this data, tap any of the blue links at the top of the page and choose from these filters:

  • Content type (all, photos, videos, and carousel posts)
  • Measurement (comments, engagement, impressions, likes, reach, and saved)
  • Time (7 days, 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years)

Individual posts

If you want to see data for an individual post, open the post and then tap View Insights in the bottom-left corner. Drag up to view a variety of metrics for that post.

At the top, you find engagement stats (likes, comments, and saves). In the Actions section, discover what actions users took on your profile after seeing this post.

Instagram Stories

You can access insights for your Instagram Stories from the Insights homepage or directly from an individual story post.

If you access stories data from the Insights homepage, you see all of your Stories posts for the past 2 weeks. This view only shows data in the aggregate; you can’t click on individual posts.

By default, Instagram shows impressions data for your stories. Tap one of the blue links at the top of the page to filter Stories data by time (24 hours, 7 days, and 14 days) and action. Analyze this data to find out what Stories content is resonating with your audience and what content is causing them to exit or swipe away. Use these insights to inform future Stories content.

To see insights for an individual Instagram Story, open the Story and tap “Seen By” in the bottom-left corner. From here, you’ll see which users saw the post, total impressions and reach, and what actions were taken on the post. The actions include replies, swipes away, and clicks on stickers and tagged accounts.

The most important thing is to simply start digging into your data. The takeaways will only fuel a better posting strategy on the visual-first social media platform.

For a deeper look, Instagram details every aspect of its data offerings.

You also can dive deeper into the opportunities and challenges of Instagram for small businesses. and our six tips to master Instagram hashtags.

Then, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

Snapshot: Understanding your metrics on Facebook

If you’re managing a Facebook page, it’s critical to know what’s working (or not) with what you’re posting. It’s also important to get a real sense of who your audience is.

And all that data can be found in Facebook Insights.

You’ll find Facebook Insights by navigating to your Facebook page and clicking on “Insights.”

Meet the Overview section of Facebook Insights

It defaults to the Overview section, which gives you a one-stop-shop of sorts to get a sense of what’s happening on your page.

Notice that it also defaults to looking at the past seven days and is comparing those days to the seven days before that. This can be changed in the top left corner of the screen to today, yesterday or the past 28 days.

Use the Pages To Watch section at the bottom of the Overview page. The value of this is only limited to the pages you select to compare yourself to (competitors or similar pages are best). However, it will give you an overall gauge of how your page is doing.

There are a number of sections you can explore in depth in Facebook Insights, but two of the most helpful tend to be Posts and People.

Meet the Posts section

In Posts, you can see at a glance how your posts are performing, as well as data showing when your fans are online (which may help shape your post timing).

You also can control how the reach and engagement data are displayed, but the available list graph will show you how your latest posts compare to one another.

Ultimately, your strategy will dictate whether you value reach or engagement more. Typically, you should be taking both into consideration. Take note of what worked and what didn’t. Over time, these successes and misses will help shape your posting.

Meet the People section

The People section also holds a lot of relevant data for your Facebook strategy.

In it, you can see the gender, age and geographic breakdown of your audience, who you’re reaching and who you’re engaging. Plus, you’ll see how they stack up against Facebook’s overall audience.

Take a moment to explore Facebook Insights on your page. Get comfortable with the navigation of the data there, and make it a regular habit to check it. This will build an ongoing library of takeaways that will help you make better content and posting decisions on your page.

For more, hear from the social network itself.

While you’re at it, dive deeper into the opportunities and challenges of Facebook for small businesses and check out our 12 expert tips to optimize your Facebook business page.

Then, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentations and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

Snapshot: Understanding your metrics on Twitter

It’s far too easy to tweet and never look back at what worked and what didn’t on Twitter.

Be strategic with your Twitter presence and get a leg up on your competition.

In fact, you can dive into both the challenges and opportunities for small businesses on Twitter.

Performance-wise, Twitter Analytics provides a wealth of information that can help you create meaningful tweets that will resonate with your target audience. You can find it by going to the main dropdown menu in the top navigation bar.

Your Twitter audience

Want to know what your followers are interested in, their professions, and what they’re purchasing? Look no further than the audience insights dashboard.

Here, you’ll essentially find an online profile of your follower make-up, including:

  • Interests
  • Occupation
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Marital status
  • Buying style

In the Followers dashboard, you can track how your following has increased over the last 30 days, and also how many new followers you’ve received per day. If you notice a particular day has either gained or lost you several followers, be sure to check what you Tweeted that day to try and determine the cause.

Insights on your specific tweets

Under the Tweets section, you can find a list of all your tweets and the number of impressions. You can see individual tweet performance, as well as recent months or a 28-day overview of cumulative impressions.

You can capitalize on this information by repurposing tweets that gained the most impressions or creating tweets on a similar subject.

Look at the bigger picture

You can also use the Cumulative Overview to compare monthly activity. What did you do differently in a month with higher impressions? Did you tweet more frequently?

Take a look and see how you can recreate months that earned you high impressions.

Similar to impressions, the tweets section also shows your tweet engagement, or the number of interactions your tweet has received, as well as the engagement rate, which is engagements divided by impressions.

If your tweets are receiving little engagement, you may want to rethink your subject matter and format. For instance, you may want to add photo or video to your content mix, which tends to generate more engagement.

Your success on Twitter will ultimately be fueled by the insight you can gain from the data. Don’t shortcut that analysis. It will only help you grow.

For more, Twitter offers a deep-dive look into its analytics feature.

Need help with your overall Twitter marketing strategy? Check out our guide. Not sure if Twitter is right for you? Find out which social media platform is best for your business.

While you’re digging into your Twitter metrics, consider leveling up all of your digital marketing with DailyStory, which features the ability to automate numerous actions, integrate with your existing applications, segment your audience dynamically and more. Find out more about how we can help your business. Schedule a free demo with us today.