We have all heard of Google Analytics and how its “FREE”…Free if you don’t count the time it takes to set it up properly. By “properly” I mean:

  • Easy to understand
  • Meaningful reports
  • Actionable insights

You see, the version of Google Analytics that is set to default gives you metrics that are, well, a bit useless with out reference. Check it out, log in to your standard Google analytics account and look at the metrics. You have visitors, bounce rate, time on site, and other metrics - all useless information unless it’s in reference to your business goals and time frames.

I heard a joke a little while ago defining “HITS” as an acronym for “How Idiots Track Success”. In other words, a “Hit” doesn’t mean anything by itself. What we want are “Metrics that matter”

We are going to show you why we spend so much time setting up our analytics and why it’s worth every minute.


Did you know that there are over 130 reports in Google Analytics and each user can set up an additional 100 custom reports – completely overwhelming and too much information – where do you start?

Start with your website. What are the goals of the site? What activities do you want to track?

  • Contact us form
  • newsletter signup form
  • Get a quote forms
  • Watch a video tour
  • Buy Product
  • Call for reservation
  • read the blog
  • spend time on the site

How much is each goal worth to your business? Assign a value as a reference so you can have a numerical reference for each goal to compare its effectiveness. In the goals set up you can add a “Value” for each goal conversion and the the reports will give you a numerical value for comparing the different goals on your site over a period of time.

We look at Analytics backwards to how most companies treat analytics. I don’t want to know or see any metrics unless they are framed in a report with meaning. For example, lets say we have a contact us webform on our website. I want to know how many people completed the webform AND I want to know where the contact came from, which marketing campaign delivered, the cost of the marketing campaign, the value generated by the campaign, how the webform is performing relative to other forms, where we need to do better, and more.


Log into your account, select profile, select goals.

Your analytics account will let you set up 5 goals per profile for a total of 20 goals. That’s a lot of goals. Most websites will have less than 5 goals to track that have real value for the business owner.

There are 3 types of goals:

  1. URL destination goals (ie Thank you page)
  2. Time spent on site goal
  3. Pages per visit goal

Once you have your analytics set up to report on your website goals you are 95% ahead af all other Google analytics users.

With the goals set up you can run Goal reports showing you the percent of traffic converting on your goals, conversions per traffic source, and total conversions over a period of time.


The next step is to create Funnels.

Funnels are the steps which your visitors went through to complete the goals. Google Analytics has funnel visualization reports that help you to see the steps in your website conversion path that are working and which steps are not.

An example of a 2 step funnel would be:

Contact us webform >> thank you page.

The funnel report would then show you how many people were presented with the form and how many filled it out. This is measure as a percentage and recorded as a Conversion Rate over a period of time.

Funnels can be up to 10 steps and are very useful for measuring the success and failure of detailed conversion paths. When we read our funnel reports we ask ourselves 2 basic questions:

  1. Where is the funnel broken?
  2. Where is there opportunity to improve conversion rate?

Start at the bottom of the funnel and work backwards. Each step of the funnel is a conversion and each conversion can be tested for optimization. Look to see what step has an unusually low conversion rate and create experiments to try to improve the conversion rates.

Now that we have your website analytics set to track the important metrics we can start to look at the traffic coming to your site and understand where the traffic is coming from and the conversion quality of the different traffic sources. There are 3 main sources for traffic:

  1. Direct traffic (brand recognition, hard to measure source)
  2. Referring sites (sites with links to your site. Who are they and are they converting goals?)
  3. Search engines (organic & paid)

How are the search engines converting? Paid vs organic.

Check the goals set tabs.

Now that we are starting to know where the website traffic is coming from we can start to pay attention to the sources that are converting and understand the value of our marketing efforts based on the website conversion rates.


The next step is custom reporting.

To make life easier we are going to set up meaningful custom reports and have them auto send to us for regular analysis of what is working on our site and what is not.

There are 2 parts to custom reports:

  1. Metrics – the numbers being measured (revenues, costs, bounce rates, etc)
  2. Dimensions – items being measured (country, campaign, etc)

What I like to do is set up reports based on the person reading the report and that persons objective or goal. We typically divide the reports into 3 categories:

  1. C-Level report - revenues, costs, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, threats
  2. Marketing Managers report – Traffic sources, campaign performance, conversion rates.
  3. Analyst reports – Click thru rates, conversion rates, specific tactic performances

These reports can be set up to be delivered on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.


Set up your goals and conversion funnels

Set up your campaign tracking