Hi all, it’s Mel here and it’s been 2 weeks since I attended a Google Analytics Bootcamp at General Assembly. Also, if you don’t know? I’m TDP’s resident reporting nerd and kinda addicted to diving deep into monthly reports.
Let me explain what exactly I mean by *reporting nerd*. I’ve surprised myself with my love of numbers since starting my role as Strategist at TDP. Anyone who knows me *knows* that I actually loathed math and numbers at school, I was always the English nerd and to this day I’d take reading a book on the beach over just about anything numerical… except for perhaps social media and digital reporting [Mon – Fri ?]. #cantstopwontstop
My role requires me to constantly be considering content creation, tone of voice and strategy; not to mention Facebook Ads campaigns. But the thing that gets my blood pumping about reporting is seeing how all that played out. What’s the point of agonising over content pillars, posting times, engagement and strategy if you don’t actually *see* how it all played out? For me, numbers bring the answers. They tell us where the wins were or why things didn’t quite fire as expected.
So while I generally smile my way through reporting week, when Cherie approached me about taking a look at our Google Analytics to compliment the TDP reporting data, I was the first to admit I was [ahem], *seedling GREEN*. Being the up levelling cheerleader that she is, she promptly offered me a day with the clever folk at General Assembly for a bit’o Google Analytics Bootcamp SeaSol! ?
Here’s what I learnt…
Familiarisation is key.
I’m the first to admit … Google Analytics? You’re kinda intimidating to newbies. ?
It helps to keep in mind, GA is simply a *free* tool offered by Google to analyse your website traffic. That.is.all. The fact that GA *experts* aren’t an abundance in every business means most accounts of the platform [understandably] revolve around feelings of overwhelm. And look, the first time I opened up a GA dashboard, my eyes were legitimate dinner plates. ?
There’s a LOT of data. A LOT of analytical *terms* and sometimes for well-established businesses, a LOT of widgets that have been set up by someone else. If this is you? Be sure to request a comprehensive handover [and / or orientation if you’re a fellow seedling] from whoever the GA expert is in your team. For me, understanding the metrics and the information they related to was half the battle. It’s all about relativity.
GA can be as easy or complex as you want it to be.
There are some pretty sophisticated things Google Analytics can provide in terms of campaign tracking and really really deep dives into traffic data. It will not only identify areas of opportunity for better performance, but also hypothesise user behaviour, in turn, helping you forecast results and assess the success of growth efforts too! Pretty clever, right?
But for beginners, I would suggest focusing on your setup and becoming familiar with the basics. Ensure your code is installed correctly. It sounds like a no brainer, but simply ensuring your code is pasted in the correct place on your website [hint, hint: your header is where it’s at!], can make or break the data being provided.
Fill your toolbox up.
Beginners, I have some good news, there’s a test version of GA where you can explore til your heart’s content without setting fire to your RL analytics! #hallelujah ??
There’s also a very handy little Google Chrome extension that can instantly tell you the health of your GA code, how it’s firing and if there are any issues. Pretty handy to ensure your data is not only active, but accurate. Also, it’s a pretty great place for troubleshooting!
I was completely overwhelmed with rejigging our dashboard from scratch and it turns out I wasn’t alone. Lots of others out there have gone before me, so I was amazed at what I found in terms of GA dashboard templates. Some of which are available for direct download to your account and Voilà!
And if all else fails, Google it! Seriously, there is some amazing information at your very fingertips provided by the creators themselves and I am a true believer in the power of a growth mindset. You are not there to reinvent the wheel, so keep it simple.
It’s an evolution, baby!
Be patient! You gotta crawl before you walk and just like with Facebook Ads, GA is a looong game. It takes time not just to understand and digest the information you gather, but also for your information to populate. Quite literally, just getting your code installed is the best place to start. That way when [and if] you decide to dip a toe into that glorious data [or even perhaps outsource it], at least it will be on hand as required.
Done is better than perfect and GA is one of those muscles that only gets stronger the more you flex it. So pick up your phone and set yourself a repeating reminder on the first day of every month to go in and just familiarise yourself with the data. Take note of what’s fired and what’s tanked. You’ll begin to notice patterns and no doubt find a few surprises and there’s nothing scary about a free source of personalised biz information patiently waiting for you.