As data has started to come to the forefront of the public domain, you’re probably starting to wonder what you can do with your own, right? And as marketers you no doubt understand the value of Google Analytics and why your institution should invest in the platform.
But first, you want to feel 100% confident in the accuracy of the data you are reporting to your stakeholders. In comes our 9-point checklist to help you get the basics in place. This is by no means an exhaustive list but, it’ll certainly give you a head start in the right direction, and you’ll be showing off the importance of GA before you know it.
Check your views
Your views are the area that you report from in Google Analytics, and you should always have three views configured for each website:
- Master – where you will report from
- Unfiltered – your backup view where the data is left with no filters or changes
- Test – an area for you to trial new filters and custom configurations
By default, you’ll have the unfiltered view when you first setup analytics and it will be named “All Website Data”.
Check your filters
Filters are set on a view by view level, so the best approach is to create them in the test view first, check they are doing what you want them to be doing and then apply these to your master view.
You’ll want to set up two filters as standard; excluding yours’ and your institution’s IP addresses. If you don’t have these, they’ll be included in your reporting – inflating conversions and session count.
Enable cross-domain tracking
If you’re using your analytics property across multiple domains (or sub-domains), you’ll want to enable cross-domain tracking. This will allow you to effectively track users that leave your main site to go onto a sub-domain and then come back to your main domain. If this is not set up, then users who return will be counted as new sessions, which in turn will skew your bounce rates, exit rates and click-through rates.
By setting this up correctly, it will limit, if not entirely remove, the number of self-referrals that you see in your data.
Link Search Console to your Google Analytics Account
Why? Because Search Console provides you with in-depth organic search data, providing keyword and ranking information. Linking this with your GA account is invaluable as it gives you direct access to organic search reports within analytics.
Enable demographics and interest reports
These reports are exactly what they say they are; in-depth information on who your website visitors are and what they’re interested in, from gender and age through to what other website categories they are interested in.
You can combine this data with multiple reports within GA to improve your targeting and marketing decisions. This can be especially useful when combined with frequency and device type reports to show which audiences are the most engaged with your brand, and most likely to convert to an application or sign up to an open day.
Enable Site Search
Site Search is an incredibly useful feature to have as it allows you to see what users are searching for on your website. Having an understanding of what parts of your website are the most interesting for your audience will provide you with a wealth of data to direct your overall marketing strategy, decide on what content should be created and where there’s room for improvement.
Filter out bots
Don’t forget about bots. Bots are pieces of software that “click” on your website’s links. These clicks from bots will confuse GA into thinking they are real visitors, therefore creating ‘spam sessions’ which artificially inflate all your metrics.
You should enable bot filtering to remove these from your data.
Events are the backbone of a good analytics setup; they help us check engagement, micro-conversions, interactions, and allow for the in-depth analysis of user activity.
There are multiple things you can track in your GA set up, but the main thing to consider and ask yourself is; ‘do they align with my KPIs?’ as they can be set up as goals to measure how your marketing is performing.
Events are set up with three different parameters:
- Event Category – the type of event
- Event Action – what the user is doing
- Event Label – the unique identifier
Using these three will give you the flexibility to cover most situations.
Goals are used to measure specific KPIs or business objectives that relate to actions taken on your website such as filling in an application form.
These should be set up so you can start measuring which sources and mediums drive the most significant conversions rates for you. For example, is Facebook or Google better at driving applications for your institutions?
Goals are set up on a view level and have four different types; destination, duration, pages per session, and events.
So there you have it – make sure you have these nine fundamentals in place, and you’ll be reporting on accurate data in no time. If you want some inspiration, then check out how we helped a Russell Group university go deeper than just page views, to understand their website.
If you need any help with your Google Analytics set up, then get in touch.