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Making the Most out of Google Analytics: Part Two

Last month we showed you how to create a customised dashboard to replace the Google Analytics (GA) default option. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to play around with that and created one or more dashboards that are nicely tailored to your business or a specific department within it.

This month we look at how you can use GA to segment your audience. This is really useful if you have multiple audiences with different needs and preferences.

We then finish off by looking at four of the most useful features that GA has to offer. Using these together will deepen your understanding of your online audience and help you to plan strategies to drive up your ROI.

Introducing Segments

While ‘vanilla’ GA does a pretty fine job of uncovering trends that apply to your business as a whole, more specific trends that apply to subsets of your audience can get lost in the noise.

Segments are designed to enable you to separate out different user groups from the whole. By calling up a segment, you can immediately spot patterns that may indicate a problem or an opportunity. You can slice up your audience in many different ways. For example, you could choose those customers from a particular geographical area, those who have purchased a product from a specific category or those who have visited a certain page on your website.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Select a dashboard from the Customization/Dashboards sub-menu.
  2. Click the ‘Add Segment’ button near the top of the page.
  3. Either select one of the listed options or click the red ‘+ New Segment’ button.
  4. Clicking ‘+ New Segment’ will bring up some tabs on the left and you can mix and match options from these to create a custom segment. This can get complex so you might want to start simple by, for example, checking the ’18-24′ and ‘Female’ boxes on the ‘Demographics’ tab.
  5. Once you’ve customised your segment, type in a name for it (e.g ‘Young Women’) and hit save. Data from your new segment will then appear on all of your dashboard widgets alongside the ‘all users’ data for easy comparison.

To finish off this two-part article we will briefly introduce you to four super useful features for squeezing extra juice from your customer data.

Feature 1: Visitor Location

GA allows you to determine the location of your visitors from continent level right down to region and town. This information is found under the Audience/Geo/Location sub-menu. You will initially see a global map (or maps). Beneath this will be a table breaking down your visitors by country (and further by segment, if applicable).

Right underneath the map, you should see a number of links next to the Primary Dimension label. If you click the ‘City’ link, the table below will change to show the towns and cities from where your visitors are accessing your site.

Feature 2: Site Search

When  you set up your website, you probably chose to include a search box, right?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually see what your visitors were typing into that box? Well, you’ve guessed it, with GA you can!

First, you need to tell GA what query parameter your search box uses. Don’t worry; that sounds more complicated than it is. Simply perform a search on your website and have a look at the address bar afterwards. If you searched for shoes, for example, you might see something ending in ‘?s=shoes’. The letter ‘s’ is the query parameter in this case.

Next, go back to GA and into the Admin/View Settings sub menu. Under the ‘Site Search Settings’ section you will need to turn on the ‘Site Search Tracking’ button and enter the query parameter (e.g. the letter ‘s’) into the relevant box. Press save and you’re ready to see the results.

To find this info, select ‘Search Terms’ from the Behavior/Site Search sub-menu. Remove all segments (except ‘All Users’) to see a list of all search terms entered.

Feature 3: Popular Content

To help tailor your content more effectively, it is useful to know which blog posts and articles people liked and which were a turn off.

To find this data, select ‘All Pages’ from the Behavior/Site Content sub-menu.

By clicking the ‘Pageviews’ column header you can order the data and toggle between your most visited and least visited pages. You can do the same for the ‘Average Time on Page’ column to find out which content is engaging your viewers the most/least. It’s also worth checking the ‘Bounce Rate’ to identify any content which is causing your visitors to jump straight back out of your site.

Remember to add and remove segments to your dashboard for a more granular view of content popularity.

Feature 4: In-Page Analytics

Finally, we look at in-page analytics. This is a neat way to actually see the precise links your visitors are clicking on each web page.

Google no longer offer this as an option on GA but you can still benefit from the feature if you know where to go!

First, you will need to use the Google Chrome browser and download the ‘Page Analytics (by Google)’ extension from the Google Chrome Web Store (it’s free!)

Next time you visit your website, make sure the orange icon to the right of the address bar is switched on. You should then see a set of page analytics appear above your page and two small icons: a striped, coloured square and a speech bubble. The coloured button will overlay the web page with coloured patches indicating the most popular links on your page. The speech bubble adds percentage values and the destination page for that link.

Hopefully, this has given you a jump start in using GA to improve your conversion rates and ROI. You will soon realise that even this two-part article barely scratches the surface of what this amazing free service is capable of.

Happy exploring!

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