The Most Important Google Analytics Reports You Can Track

Talia Wolf Conversion Optimization 0 Comments

Talia Wolf

Talia teaches businesses how to plan and execute conversion optimization programs. She runs thousands of AB tests using emotional targeting, real time data and consumer psychology to increase online revenues, engagements and sales.

Talia is a frequent keynote speaker at marketing conferences, teaching conversion optimization and growth on stages such as Google, Unbounce, MozCon, GMIC, CXL live, Search Love, Learn Inbound and many more.

She is the Co-founder & CMO at Banana Splash and was recently listed as one of the most influential voices in conversion optimization.

Google Analytics.

If you’ve ever felt nervous when you hear the word…

Felt that twinge of panic creep up whenever you get ready to open it up, delve into its depths and see what lurks beneath the mess of numbers and goals and settings…

You’re not alone.

Google Analytics is immense.

There’s so much data you can study and use. So many different ways you can optimize your set up that it’s easy to get lost.

If want to discover how to set up your GA so you never have to fear going in again,

Or learn what visitor behavior metrics really matter to your bottom line (and how to use  and interpret them),

Or see how people actually act on your site and use that information to optimize your set-up for conversions,

Then this workshop may be just what you’ve been waiting for.

In it, Dana DiTomaso – THE Google Analytics expert – walks us through the most important reports and metrics to pay attention to and shows us exactly how to use them to optimize various elements of your site, funnels and processes.

Here’s what you don’t want to miss:

  • What to look for when you log into GA. (It’s not what you may think…)
  • The specific goals you should set up and track. (The ones that actually affect your bottom line.)
  • Understanding your visitor behavior. (And how to avoid falling into one very particular trap…)

And more.


Watch the recording below:

Transcript and slides

This is a lightly edited transcript to make it it easier to read- just incase you’d rather read through than watch! 

And if you want to jump to specific sections, here’s your section guide:

I’m really excited to have Dana DiTomaso with us today. She’s probably the person that I admire the most when it comes to anything to do with analytics, but also just marketing in general.

Her approach, the processes that she builds and the way she teaches is phenomenal. I learn so much every time I listen, and no doubt I’m going to learn something today, which is exciting.

A bit about Dana (and this workshop)

When Talia to me, “This is the goal of this presentation is thinking about how you can look at landing pages and analytics,” I certainly started to pull together some ideas, but then also a lot of setup stuff because I think this is what people miss.

Analytics has to be set up right from the beginning, or else you go back later and think, “Oh, if only I knew.”

So hopefully, what I’ve got in here means that you can apply it starting this week, and then a month from now, you’ll have some really good data you can use in your analysis.

So I’m Dana DiTomaso. I’m president and partner of Kick Point. We’re a digital marketing agency based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The snow is melting. It’s a very exciting time of year for us. The patio is opened on the weekend. It’s going to get up to 16 celsius today. It’s t-shirt weather. I know. I can’t even imagine. We’re going to go crazy.

Anyway, but what we do here is we work a lot with in-house teams. We also do some work with agencies, and we teach people how to do better marketing. A big part of that is Google Analytics setup.

This is why a lot of the stuff that I talk about and what I’m going to talk to you about today is a lot of the setup steps that we go into in Analytics.

What I find the biggest problem is that people don’t have their Analytics set up currently, and that’s something that I really try to emphasize with people is that if you set it up right, then you don’t have to go back and touch it later.

You can trust the data that’s coming in. It’s flowing in the way you want it to, and then you can just leave it alone. I think that’s the thing I really want you to take away from this workshop today is the idea of thinking ahead to what you’re going to need. Set up it now so that you’re not at the end of the month, looking at it and saying, “Oh, if only I’d …” I hope that’s where we can get today.

Your GA set-up: You can’t just dive into Google Analytics

 

 

One of the biggest things, and I just mentioned this, is that you really can’t just dive into Google Analytics for sure.

I think this is one of the biggest things is that I see people making that mistake. “I’m going to open Analytics. I’ve got it installed on my site. We’re just going to go in there and go for it.” But there’s a lot of setup steps involved first.

Getting set-up

 

 

The first place that I look when people ask me to audit their Analytics account is I actually go into the admin section of the site. Usually, when you first go into Analytics, you look at the reports. I like looking at the admin because that tells me if I can trust what I’m actually looking at.

Some of the things that we look for right away is:

  • If you have views that are filtered, test only, or raw. Those are really the three basic types of views you should have. I’m going to cover what those are in a minute.
  • If your goals are event-based, which are good, or destination-based, which are bad. Again, I’ll elaborate a bit more on that.
  • If you’re using sub-domains, using cross sub-domain tracking. This is a huge problem for landing page platforms.

Let’s say, for example, you’re using Unbounce. With Unbounce, which is a great platform, I love it, but they have the subdomains. You’ll have info.yoursite.com or go.yoursite.com, and if you have an ability for someone to click from the landing page to your actual website, that traffic is going to show up as referral traffic unless you actually tag it properly. Then you could lose the path of, “It was an ad that brought people to the landing page, and then they went to your main site.”

Maybe if they came back later, you will have basically ruined your attribution, which means that your campaigns might not be looking as good as they actually are. You also should be tracking some additional information and custom metrics and dimensions.

I’ve been doing this for 19 years now, so I’ve working in this field longer than Google Analytics has been around. When it first came out, it was called Urchin Analytics, which is why Google Analytics’ IDs start with UA, because it’s after Urchin.

But what I find comes in a lot is that people just don’t know all the features in there because it’s enormously powerful, and Google doesn’t really do the best job of explaining it because it is a free product for them unless you’re in 360. Then they want to help you all the time.

So I think for sure, you can do a lot of analytics. There’s a lot of power in there, but something like custom metrics and dimensions, out of the hundreds of Analytics profiles I’ve looked at over the years, I have only seen maybe two or three that were using custom metrics or dimensions. By merely knowing that they exist, you’re already an Analytics power user, so congratulations.

A look at the admin section of Google Analytics

 

 

All right. This is the admin section of Analytics. You should go in here pretty regularly. You don’t necessarily want to touch things, but you want to make sure everything is set up right. What you have are these three columns.

In the left column:

The left-most column that you see on the screen is the account. The account is your account for yourself.

Now if you work with an agency, make sure that they haven’t set up your Analytics in their account. This is something I see a lot, and then that means that you don’t own your Analytics. So you want to make sure it’s in your own account.

In the middle column:

Then the second column. This is the property. The property is the individual websites or apps that you have in the account. Typically, you would have one property per website. Again, if you have multiple subdomains, so info.www., that’s also a subdomain. Those should be one property.

If you have different website URLs, that could be multiple properties, or if there are different website URLs that should all be tied together, then you could do cross-domain linking, which means you just have one property.

For example, let’s say you use a third-party shopping cart for purchases. It’s at a completely different domain that isn’t your website’s domain. You can link those two sides together with one property. It depends on how many you have.

In the right-hand side column:

Then the third column is the view. You can see here in this setup that I’ve got, Kick Point is the account, Kick Point is the property, and then the view is master. Definitely, we want you to have multiple views set up, and I’m going to show in the next slide the different options. So really, you can have one account, multiple properties to an account, multiple views to a property. That’s how it breaks down. The thing that you look at is the view on a regular basis.

Your three views

 

 

The first view

The first views that I want you to create if you haven’t already are called master … and you can call it whatever you want. We call it master. Some people call it USE THIS in all caps, whatever it might be. “Don’t touch.” I’ve seen that written there too. That’s your main view that you’re going to use for all the work that you do in Analytics.

The second view

Then the second view is called Test and Staging. This is just your internal traffic. Master is where your goals go. It doesn’t have any of your internal traffic. So if you’re testing out the website, your traffic shouldn’t be there. Your web developer’s traffic, your agency’s traffic, none of that should be in there.

The second view, test and staging, is only your internal traffic and your agency traffic. You can have goals in there if you want to test them out but normally, you shouldn’t need to. Events are probably just fine.

The third view

Then you have a third view called raw, and raw is just a view that isn’t filtered. There’s no goals. It is, as I write there, the ‘in case of emergency’ view. That’s there in case somebody accidentally deletes a view, or you’re seeing something weird and you want to compare and make sure that filters aren’t causing any problems for you. The raw view is really helpful for that.

Sometimes for views, too, you might want to segment off, say, your landing pages, or we have a client who has several business lines and so they have a view that is the subdomain for just each business line. That’s also a different way to do views, but you can have lots and lots of different views. You can have up to 25 per property.

What I say is the other thing too with views is that creating a view doesn’t affect your traffic. You could make a view just to test stuff out. The only problem you have to worry about with views is that they don’t back-date. You only get the data in there from the moment you created the view forward. It does not go backwards, which is why having a view like raw is really nice because then you can go in and look at old stuff instead of the new view you just made.

Filters

 

 

I’ve mentioned filters a couple of times here. This is where you go to manage filters.

There’s two different levels of filters.

You can see all the filters for your entire account in that left-hand column, and you can see the filters that are applied to a specific view in the right-hand column. Now one of the things I say about filters is that you can filter out things like your IP address. Typically, we’ll have an include filter. So include just this IP, and that goes on test and staging. Then we’ll have an exclude filter, which excludes your IP from, again, test and staging.

I only have so much time to go into setup for this. If you Google ‘how to set up filters’, there’s lots of great articles on how to do this. If you’re not filtering out your internal traffic from your main view, you probably should because every time you go in to test your goals … which you should do.

You should test your forms to make sure they’re working on a regular basis. You don’t want to mess up your Analytics and make it look like suddenly, direct traffic is doing really well, which it’s not. It’s just you.

Setting up (and using) goals

 

 

Now we’re going to turn to goals, which I think is a thing that a lot of people have a lot of struggle setting up. It’s really sad when I get in an Analytics property and there’s no goals because how do you know you’re making money?

Another thing that I find sad with goals is that I’ll see goals that say things like, “Five pages viewed.” Unless you’re monetizing the actual content like you’re Buzzfeed, people viewing more pages isn’t really a goal. So I try to focus on goals that are going to make you money or goals that will lead to you making money in some way.

These are the goals that we have on the Kick Point website. You can see that we have our contact form. We have if they click or tap our email address. Slow mail too. If people sign up for our newsletter, which is a really great actual traffic driver for us, and it’s a really great driver of leads for us.

It takes like two years for someone to sign up for the newsletter to contacting us, but they eventually do. It’s fantastic. So I do want to record it as a goal even though it doesn’t directly make us money. And then people who tap or click our telephone number.

You’ll also notice here that I have goal ID. So contact form is ID 1, Set 1. Email is Goal ID 2, Set 1. Telephone click is ID 3, Set 1.

Then I skipped a bunch of sets, and I put newsletter in ID 6, Set 2 because in Analytics, you can group goals together by sets. So plan ahead and think what goals belong together.

The contact form, the email click, and the telephone click are quicker new business drivers for us, so I have them grouped together in a goal set, whereas the newsletter signup is a ‘maybe later, it’ll turn into something’ goal set. That way, I can just look at Goal Set 1 in my reports, and I don’t need to worry about newsletter signup. I can just focus on these more immediate goals. I think that that’s also something to think about are these goals sets, which I find are also really underused.

Event-based goals

 

 

Earlier, I said you should have event-based goals, not destination goals. I’m going to click back and show you that all the goals we have in here are event.

The difference is that using something like Google Tag Manager, when someone fills out our contact form, we send an event to Google Analytics saying someone filled out our contact form. Now normally, in the good old days, you would have a thank you page you send someone to and then you would record the number of views of that thank you page as your goal. That’s called a destination goal.

Unfortunately, what happens is that people are really bad at closing tabs. I made a joke recently at a conference that you should be like Marie Kondo with your tabs. If it doesn’t bring you joy, close it. Unfortunately, people just don’t do that.

What you end up with is something like this:

 

 

This is a user report from our own website from last month’s data. This person has been viewing our blog page, and you can see that they’ve got the zero zero time here. That means that they’ve just got this tab open, and every time they launch their browser, it records a visit of zero seconds in length to our blog page.

So this person clearly just has their tab open. The problem is that they do that with your thank you pages too, particularly if you’re following good conversion rules and you have something valuable on your thank you page.

They probably are just leaving that thank you page open because they want to review what’s on there later, or they want to remind themselves that they bought that thing and are waiting for it to show up in the mail, for example. So by using destination goals, you could accidentally be recording a goal every time someone opens their browser and reloads that thank you page.

That’s why event-based goals are really important. It’s far more accurate than destination-based goals.

Tracking across sub-domains

 

 

The other part of it, too, is to make sure to track across sub-domains, particularly because I know everyone here is using landing pages, and it’s something where landing pages, unless you’re building them on your site specifically, you’re probably using a landing page software for it. It means it’s at a subdomain.

If you use HubSpot, for example, I’m pretty sure that’s info. as a subdomain by default. So you really need to make sure you’ve got cross subdomain tracking set up, and I mentioned earlier what the problem is with that.

Let’s say you have a Google Ads ad running, and they click on it. They come to your landing page. They think, “Oh, this is really interesting. I’m going to check out these guys later.”

Or they click on a link to go through to your main website because you’re giving them more information, and then at that point, they bail, but then they might come back later and actually buy something. The problem is that when they went from your landing page to your main website, your main website recorded that in-bound traffic as referral from the subdomain. So the actual ad that brought people there, that trail is now lost.

So even if they come back the next day and buy something, if you had cross subdomain tracking and they’re on the same device, your ad would get credit for the sale, but because now they’re referral traffic and you’re not tracking across subdomains properly, it’s going to show up that your referrer made the sale, not your ads. So your ads are going to look terrible and your referrals are going to look amazing, but that isn’t actually the case.

This is how you make bad marketing decisions based on incomplete data.

So it’s really important to make sure you’ve got your subdomain tracking set up. I’ve included a link here in the slides for a great article that walks you through how to do it. It is a little bit complex, but it’s not impossible for someone to do. You do not need to be a programmer to make this happen. Just follow the steps. It’s really clear in this article how to do that.

So now that I’ve talked you to death about setup, because I know we’re 17 minutes in and all I’ve done is talk about setup, I think this is the most important stuff because now you can trust your data.

You know it’s coming in. You’re filtering yourself out. You’ve got your goals set up properly. You can trust what you’re looking at is real and correct for the most part. Sometimes things like direct traffic shows up even though it’s from an organic search. I can talk more about organic issues in Analytics all day, but for the most part, if you’re following these steps, you’ve got your goals set up right.

You’ve got your filters going. You’ve got your cross-subdomain tracking happening. You can trust the data you’re looking at.So now you can turn to it and say, “Well, what visitor behavior do I need to know?”

Understanding visitor behavior: What’s your visitor doing?

 

 

Because page views really only tells you so much, and the metrics aren’t necessarily totally clear.

What I find is that there’s a lot of misconceptions about what metrics mean. For example, people will look at new visits versus returning visits as a metric to report on when that’s not really accurate because new versus returning means that I could be on my desktop and I could be on my cellphone.

If Google has no way to tie me together on these devices, then I’m going to show up as two users.

One might be new. One might be returning. The time periods you’re looking at affects new versus returning. It’s really not a good metric to measure if you’re bringing new people to your site or not. It’s not something you should report on.

 

 

Something like time on site, for example. That’s really tough too.

Let’s say particularly for landing pages, if somebody comes on the landing page, they could spend 20 minutes reading through stuff, looking at your videos, really engaging with the page, but if they don’t go to a second page, Google won’t necessarily record how long they’ve spent on that page. It only records the time spent on the page if they go to a second page by default.

So you really have to think about, “How can I record how long these people are spending on the page and if they’re engaging with it?” Because the standard metrics that you look at, they may look like they’re working for you, but they don’t really give you the complete picture that you need.

What metrics should you track?

 

 

What A/B test did your visitor get?

Some of the other things that I really recommend that you track are what A/B test did your visitor get?

You can do the sort of thing through Google Tag Manager. For example, you can say, “Send an event to Google Analytics recording which A/B Test.” This person got Test 46. This person got Test 89. That way you’re saving in Analytics what test they got.

What time zone is your visitor in?

This is something I find really helpful, particularly if you’re thinking about setting up live chat on your site and you do serve a worldwide audience. You’re going to want to know what hours you want that chat to be staffed.

Maybe you’re in North America and therefore you assume, as some North Americans do, that all timezones are just North American ones, but it turns out that a lot of your customers happen to be in Europe, for example. Recording the user’s time zone can be a really useful thing to do. Again, something you can record through Google Tag Manager.

How far down the page did your visitor scroll?

This is nice because you want to know if people are actually scrolling a little bit, and I’m going to show you how to set that up.

Were key call to action elements shown to the visitor?

Really similar setup for scrolling, and I’m going to give you a link to an article that will show you how to do that.

How long did they actually spend on the page?

We just talked about how difficult it is to measure actual time spent on page. So again, another article in just a minute on that.

Was their time on the page long enough to actually review what was there?

This is a metric we’ve invented called content consumption that I think you guys will find really useful and helpful to start measuring.

Google Tag Manager

 

 

Now I’m going to turn to Google Tag Manager.

You’re probably thinking, “Dana, this is supposed to be about Analytics. What are you doing in Tag Manager?” Well, Tag Manager is what makes Analytics amazing.

I want you to think about Tag Manager as a shopping cart, and the different tags you have on your site, like your Facebook pixel and your Analytics pixel as just things you put in your shopping cart, and then you wheel around the store. Tag Manager is just the bucket. It’s called a container, really, that’s going to get you there.

So this is what our default Google Tag Manager container looks like. I’m glad you’re getting the slides because I’m going to show you a lot of stuff that when you look at the slides later, you can just copy down what we’ve done. I’m just sharing with you. This is what we do for clients as our default Tag Manager container. Hopefully, this will help you get your own Tag Manager container set up if you’re not doing that already.

You can see here we’ve got this conversion linker as the first thing, and I’ll explain what that is for. Then we’ve got people who click to external links, people who download PDFs, people who scroll, submitting a form, telephone link taps, mail to link taps, and then this is just this last thing, the page view, all pages tracking. This is just Google Analytics code that’s tracking all the page views on your site.

Tag configuration

 

 

When you actually get into the individual tags, this is the tag that will track an external link.

You can see how it’s set up, and you can really just copy this, honestly, and set this up for yourself. This is an event that’s going to get sent off to Analytics. You can see the category. We call it ‘external link’. The action is ‘click’, and then the label is the click URL. What URL were they clicking out to? This can be useful for things like if you’re tracking if there were people who clicked to your social icons on your website, which is probably way less than you thought it was.

Then you can see the trigger. Tags is the thing that happens and trigger is the thing that makes the tag happen is how those two pieces work together.

 

 

This is a conversion linker and actually, this is a really important one that all of you should have in your Tag Manager if you don’t because there’s a problem with Safari where conversions can’t necessarily be tracked unless you have this set up.

There’s a link here to a blog post that explains the problem with ad conversions in Safari. So if your conversion rate in Safari has been looking poopy, this is probably why, and this is a really easy tag to set up to counteract that.

Triggers

 

 

Now let’s move to triggers.

Triggers are the things that make tags happen.

Tags and triggers really work together. You’ve got your trigger for external links. Remember I showed you the tag for external links? This is the trigger. It says, “If the click URL contains ://, and is not a telephone link, and is not a mail to link, then it’ll fire.” PDF. “If the URL contains PDF.” You can see it’s really clear.

For form submission, form ID. “Contains form ID goes here.” Form ID goes here is not the actual name of the form ID. You put it in. Then we’ve got the scroll depth as well.

Again, this is the standard triggers that we have in our setup, and you can really see how the tags and triggers work together to make stuff happen.

 

 

This is the trigger, and I’ve included these screenshots so you can just take these and set them up in your own Tag Manager in your own time.

You can see how all the clicks are set up. External links, so you’re saying it’s got a ://. It’s not a telephone link. It’s not a mail-to link. It doesn’t start with a hashmark, which means it’s not an anchor link to somewhere else on the website, and the URL does not contain your own … You would change this from mydomain.com to your actual domain. That way you’re recording everything that’s going out to another website.

Page scroll

 

 

This is actually built into Tag Manager, so it’s really easy to set up.

You just say trigger type is scroll depth, and then you choose what percentages of the way down the page you want the trigger to fire. By default, we typically have a 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%. You can do 10%. You can do 15%. The problem is that it’s not necessarily where your CTAs are going to show up because every screen is a different width, but it is really helpful to see if people are engaging with it enough to get to the very bottom of the page. It’s a good overall measure, and I’ll show you how to look at that in a screenshot in a little bit.

This is what I talked about where we’re making sure the people are actually reading the content that’s on the page.

 

 

Last year, we released a recipe for Google Tag Manager called content consumption, and there’s a link here to go check it out. It walks you through step by step how to set this up.

What we’re measuring here is did someone spend long enough on the page to actually read that piece of content? When you load up the page like this page on our site, we count how many words are in that blog post and then we send this as a variable to say, “Okay, so it takes you 12 minutes to read this blog post.” When the timer reaches 12 minutes, then we say, “Ping. Yes, they read the post.”

Then the second thing we have is lots of people have tabs open all the time. I’m sure lots of you are tab hoarders and have 50 tabs open right now, and it’s horrible. You’re screwing up Analytics, so stop it. But the problem is that it doesn’t mean you got to the bottom of the page.

You could spend 12 minutes on this page and not get to the bottom. That means you didn’t necessarily read the whole thing. You might have just been on there for a while.

So then the second half of it is at the bottom of all of our blog posts, we have a little rocket ship, which if you click it, you’ll get taken up to the top of the page again. It’s very cute. You should try it. We also record how many people click that. But one of the things we want to know is did the rocket ship enter your viewport, enter your browser window at any point? When it did, then we know that you hit the bottom of the content.

If both things are true, if you were on the page long enough to read it and the rocket ship showed up, then that content was consumed. Otherwise, you skimmed it, which means you went all the way to the bottom but didn’t spend long enough to read it; you hoarded the tab, which means you didn’t go to the bottom but you spent long enough on the page to read it; or neither of them are true. You just abandoned.

This will really help you get a much better sense of how people are engaging with that. I’m going to show you what this looks like in Analytics as well.

Optimizing your funnel

 

 

Now that we’ve got some of these basic user behavior things set up, really look at your funnel. If you have an e-commerce site, you really have to have an enhanced e-commerce setup. It’s so much more valuable than standard e-commerce. For B2B people where you’ve got forms, this is hard, but you really need to think about the steps that someone needs to take. I’ve got some examples of funnels where setting up the funnel size is really important.

So really sit down and think to yourself: How many steps does it take to convert?

Here’s a nice report that’s in Analytics right now that you can go and look at.

 

 

I’ve included exactly where to find this report in Analytics. This one is called time lag.

How many days does it take before someone converts? This is an example from one of our clients. This is pretty good. 81% of people who come to this client site convert on that same day. Great. So that means that 81% of the conversions are probably recorded properly because they’re on the same day.

Then path length. That’s how many times do they have to visit the site before they convert? First interaction, 72% of people convert on that first interaction. That means that on that first day, 10% of people are visiting the site more than once before they do that conversion, but they’re still converting on that same day. Sometimes for other sites, where it’s, say, a big ticket purchase, they want to think about it, you might see a really long path length.

That says to you, “How difficult is my conversion path?”

 

 

Another report to look at is top conversion paths. This shows you all the different steps that people take before they convert. This is actually pretty tidy, but this one I found pretty funny. Someone did an organic search and then they visited the site via direct seven times before they converted. It’s number eight down here. That’s seven visits via direct. So obviously, they kept coming back to the site again and again. I imagine they had the tab open and it just kept reloading.

One good thing, though, by default in Analytics, the way in which the conversions are set up, it’s last non-direct click, so it would attribute this correctly to organic search. But if it was a really long timeline between that first organic search and direct, you could end up losing that attribution path.

 

 

You can also look at a model comparison tool. This is for a different client where they do have a lot of steps before people purchase.

You can see in the model tool what I’m comparing are three models: last interaction, which means I only want to give credit to the absolute last thing they did; last non-direct click, which is the default Analytics setup, so whatever was last that wasn’t direct; and then linear, which means I want to give equal credit across all steps of the funnel.

This is found under attribution and model comparison tool. It doesn’t require any setup to do it. As long as you have a goal, you can go in here and do this. This happens to be for an e-comm client because I wanted to see and wanted to show you how it affects conversion value.

You can see here … Let’s say for organic search, for example. Under the last interaction model, it says that organic searches had 3,412 conversions of value of a quarter million. Now if I go to the last non-direct click model, well, it says actually, I’ve had 5,500 conversions at a value of $400,000. Then if I go to linear, which is all credit across the entire funnel, it’s actually somewhere in between for a value of $310,000. You can see how this model really changes.

You’ve got these percentages over on the right-hand side. One of the useful things to do is if you think that people are taking a lot of different steps before they convert and you want to give credit where credit is due across the entire funnel, you could use a linear conversion model and then you give more credit. What you’ll end up seeing are things like … For example, for this client, I know that social is really end of funnel for this client. So for social, you’re going to end up with … If we went to a linear model, social is going to get overvalued by 35%, which is probably sad for the social team but good for, say, the email team because now they realize they’ve got more value than they were getting before.

So this gives you a much more accurate picture of how people are engaging with your site and all the different things that they do, and it can help really demonstrate your funnel to you so that you can see. “Is this an accurate representation? Am I putting budget where it makes sense?”

Because if you just look at last non-direct click, you’re really missing out on the total picture, and you could end up chopping something that actually is really good for you because it is top of the funnel and therefore by default in Analytics, you’re not really seeing the value of that. So I do strongly recommend checking out the model comparison tool, which is under conversions here.

Setting up your funnel

 

 

All right. Then the next thing is how you set up your funnel really matters because what we see are people who cut off their funnel way too soon.

They’ll start their funnel at the cart page instead of something before.

 

 

This is a funnel for a real client of ours. Originally, they had their funnel … and this funnel illustration is from an app called FullStory, but you can do this in Analytics as well … where originally, their funnel started at the cart. That’s the left-hand side. It looked not bad. 44% from cart to the log-in, and then 33% of people finished. That didn’t look like too bad of a drop-off.

But then when we started their funnel at the actual ‘pick a ticket’, because this was for a concert hall where you actually select your seat and then you get to the cart, now you see that there’s a huge problem.

There’s a massive amount of drop-off between people selecting their seat and moving to the cart. It turns out that they were having a really hard time, but if we had never stepped back and looked at the full funnel, not just the cart part of the funnel but the whole thing, then we wouldn’t have seen where the issues were.

So really think about how all the steps come together, and it isn’t just cart to finish.

It’s all the things that happen before the cart. So you really do need to reflect the entire funnel in order for this funnel analysis to be useful for you. Once we learned this for the client, we were able to help them, and their conversion rate has definitely gone up. The problem ended up being a massive load time, and so people would just abandon ship because it took 10 minutes for the page to load. It was horrifying. Now it’s so much better for them, and their conversion rate has gone up as a result.

Using segmentation

 

 

The other thing I want you to use that a lot of people in Analytics don’t use are segments. When I say, “Do you know where segments are?” Most people don’t even know where they are. So on the screenshot, I’ve included a nice, helpful box on where you can find segments. Most people have not dug into this, so if you have, congratulations. You are more advanced than a lot of people I’ve talked to.

I really enjoy segments because you can look at interesting stuff. So for this one client who is an event facility, they have four different distinct personas.

 

 

They have people who plan conventions; people who plan events, just general, all types of events; they have people who plan weddings; and then they have people who come to events and aren’t going to plan events. Now you can see on that, I’ve got all four of these segments set up, and you can see down on the left-hand side there under the channel grouping column, we’ve got convention planners; event planners; event attendees, not planners; and we have wedding planners.

You can see that half of their traffic is the event attendees. So if I looked at their conversion rate for the site as a whole, it would look half as good as it actually is because these event attendees are clogging up what’s happening. We call this a negative persona. So if we build these segments based on personas, we can see true conversion rates.

For example, I can see that convention planners or wedding planners are very focused. In particular, wedding planners are great because they only visit 2.8 pages per session on average, and they convert at 9%. They know what they want. They are going to the wedding page and they’re filling out the form, and we’re going to move on.

Convention planners, their average number of pages per session is 4.2. They float around the site a little bit more. They look at menus and stuff before they fill out that form. Event attendees, every once in a while, maybe they’ll fill out a form, but I don’t really care about them.

So it’s something where we mostly ignore them in the reports, and we just focus on their positive personas and eliminate their negative personas in the reporting that we’re doing. So it means you’re really separating out that signal from that noise and paying attention to what’s important.

 

Here’s a screenshot of one of the segments. This is for the event attendees, not planners, and it’s a really simple thing to set up. We say, “Include sessions where the page is upcoming events,” which is their calendar, “and it does not contain planning and events.” So they looked at upcoming events because maybe they wanted to see the set times for a band that’s playing tonight at that event hall, and they’re not interested in planning an event so they never went to those pages. Great. I don’t care about those people. Toss them out.

Segments don’t have to be fancy. It really doesn’t have to be something super complex. It can just be, “I want to see people who went to this page and not that page.”

Check the browser/OS combo

 

 

Something else too that I really recommend is checking out the browser and operating system combination. I think this is really where you can help focus your testing. So the report to go under is under audience technology, browser and OS, and then I want you to select the secondary dimension called operating system so you have that as the second column in there. Then you can look at the conversion rate.

 

 

I can see here, for example, that Safari OS and Chrome on Android are not as good for this particular client as Chrome on Windows and Chrome on a Mac. So that means that maybe their mobile experience is not as great, or maybe their mobile experience is less conversion-focused, or it’s something people are uncomfortable converting on a mobile device as opposed to a desktop.

So that’s something where you can start taking a look at it and saying, “Is there something we can do with our mobile experience to help bump up this conversion rate?”

Particularly because Safari on iOS is by far this client’s largest number of users, so by pushing the goal conversion rate by 1% or 2%, you could really make a difference in terms of revenue for this particular client.

 

Then I really want you to dig into a specific page. Remember those events that we set up earlier? This is where the payoff comes from that.

If you go under behavior, events, top events, you can see all the different types of events we’ve set up. This is one of our clients. This is not our Analytics because they have a few more things set up, but you can see here you’ve got scroll-tracking. Future partner, which is something specific for them. You’ve got clicks, external links. CPCC is that content consumption. Viewport tracking, etc. Error messages. So you’ve got lots of different tracking in here.

 

 

Then what I can do is I can load up a specific page, and I can say, “I just want to look at the events page, and I want to see how far people scroll down this particular page.” You can see up at the top, you’ve got event categories, scroll tracking event, label events, and then you can see the event action. The action is the percentage of which they scrolled down the page. So I can see that actually, the drop-off mostly happens between 75% and 100%, which is probably when their footer is entering.

So this is not bad. This is a fairly well-engaged page. I’m pretty happy with this. But if you have a page where you know that people aren’t converting and they should be, you can take a look at this percentage action and see where people are dropping off, and it will help you eliminate where the issue is. As I said, you can change the percentages. So if you know that something enters at the 60% mark, put that in as an event. That helps really diagnose what’s going on with specific pages.

Content consumption

 

 

If you set up content consumption, which I talked about in that blog post earlier, we’ll talk you through in the blog post how to set up different segments for the bouncers, the consumers, the skimmers, and the tab-hoarders, and then you can see on …

This is the homepage, for example, that’s shown how many people bounce, consume, skim, and tab-hoard. You can see how it’s kind of depressing. The bouncers is the people who didn’t stay long enough to consume or didn’t get to the bottom of the page. So you can see that a lot of people actually just bail, for example. This will really tell you how many people are actually reading the stuff that you write versus how many people are just leaving.

So it’s going to give you a bit of a different view of the content that you have, but it works really on any page. I have some caveats in the article where it does tend to over-fire on specific pages, but certainly, it’s something that I really recommend everybody sign up. By default on that article, we’ve included it for WordPress. We have it running on custom CMSs. We have it running on Squarespace sites. So you can apply this on any website. It does not have to be a WordPress. I think this is the kind of valuable information that’s going to tell you how people are converting with your site.

Q&A with Dana

Talia: Awesome. Thank you so much for that, Dana. That was fantastic, and everyone in the comments agree. “Dana is a genius. This is gold. This is amazing.” So there you go.

Dana: Please endorse me on LinkedIn. But I’m glad people found this valuable, and I know there’s a comment here that I can see that I’m going a little fast. I get excited about it and I do go through things pretty quick, but this is what the recording is for. So when you told me you were recording this, I was like, “Good,” because I really want people to view this later on because I think is something you’ll refer back to again and again.

Talia: Definitely. The point here is to understand the basics of the things that you need to track and then having those articles and guides to help you do that really simply later on instead of wasting the time of just going into the nitty-gritty and then missing out on really important stuff that you should be tracking.

Dana: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Talia: Okay, so we have a few questions. Number one is from Camille, and she says,

“Can you talk about smart goals, what they are, and whether or not you should use them?”

 

Dana: You know what? I don’t use smart goals. Smart goals are Google’s built-in, “We’re going to help you make this goal because maybe you’re not very technically sophisticated,” kind of goal-setting. I don’t use them a lot. I find it’s best just to set up events because I like to trust that I know what I’m getting, and I think when you use smart goals, you’re leaving a lot in Google’s hands.

So I would recommend just taking the time to set up events. It is something where you can work with the developer. There is pretty good documentation. The setup that I’ve given you in those screenshots from our Google Tag Manager account should help you, but I would say just set up events. I don’t know. It makes more sense, honestly. Maybe I’m just old school, too. That’s entirely possible.

Talia: No, I actually get that because I think it’s a lot of … Like you mentioned at the beginning, when people use Google Analytics, and they just trust when they see in there and they go with the default reports, a lot of it is skewed or not really accurate. That’s not really the right way to go. So when you use smart goals, you’re essentially doing pretty much the same but giving it even more power to skew the things you’re doing.

Dana: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes, I just to set up the goals the way I want to set them up. I’m also a bit of a control freak when it comes to my Analytics that way.

Talia:
It sounds like a good thing to be, Dana. Okay. So Kristin says:

“You mentioned tracking the version of the experiment via GTM, Google Tag Manager. Is there a reason why we should do this over using the experiment ID with a variant dimension in GA?”

 

Dana: If you are doing that already, then you do not need to do this. I assume you’re using Google Optimizer. Is that what it’s called? I can’t even remember.

Talia: Google Optimize.

Dana: Google Optimize. Yeah. So if you’re already using that, the variant should push through. Yeah. Thanks, Kristin. Yeah, if the variant is already being pushed through, then you’re fine. You don’t need to worry about it. But if you’re using a third-party platform like Optimizely or something like that or VWO, that won’t necessarily push in, and so that’s why you have to record that. So if you already have it, I just want you to record it somehow. I don’t care how. Just make sure it’s there.

Talia: Okay. Awesome. Gomez says,

“For segments, do you recommend basing them on sessions or users?”

 

Dana: It depends on if you have user tracking that you can trust. So if you have log-ins on your site, for example, and therefore you’ve got the user ID set up and you’re tracking users across multiple sessions, then yeah, you can track by users.

I think it really just depends on user behavior on your site. The example I showed happened to be based on sessions because I know for this client, for example, that people use a lot of different devices, and so tracking by users wouldn’t necessarily be the most effective. So that’s why we’ve got it set up by sessions, but I would say it’s really easy to swap between the two in segments. So make a segment that’s sessions, make a segment that’s users, look at the data, and see if it’s making sense for you.

Talia: Would you say you have to know who your segments are when you’re doing something like that? You have to know how to profile your customers because-

Dana: Yeah, and this is where the persona setup is so important. I’ve given talks before. I think there’s a video from MozCon 2016 that I think is available on YouTube now where I went through persona setup. Actually, on our blog as well, the screenshot that I have of our client, I walk through that on how to make personas on our blog.

It’s really thinking about when you build these personas what pages are they going to visit? Then build those segments based on that. You can only compare four segments at a time, unfortunately, but really, you’re only probably going to have five to seven personas tops. Otherwise, you’re trying to market to too many different slices of people.

Talia: Even that sounds like a lot to me.

Dana: Yeah, I usually try to top out at four. Sometimes we have some clients who have five, but it’s just that way you can compare the different segments. I do really recommend having a negative persona as well.

Sometimes for some B to B companies, particularly if you do something really technical, you can end up with a lot of people doing research for their term papers, for example, and then you get a lot of people hitting pages based on, “How does the blah blah blah affect future growth of the …” It’s these really long-tale, ridiculous phrases that you know is somebody writing a paper for a professor. So you could just segment out those people, for example, who just visit that page and nothing else, and then they’re not polluting up your traffic.

Talia: Fantastic. Quick question from Vic. He says, “Can you link to that video on your site?”

Dana:
The video I did, I’m just going to Google it real quick because I don’t know if… Maybe it is not available. I’m just looking at MozCon 2016 because I think that’s when I did it. Oh yeah, it’s 2014. That is actually a really good one, but that’s not the thing I was talking about.

You should watch the 2014 one.

I don’t think it’s necessarily available yet. Moz might make it available, but I don’t see that. I am going to find the post on the page about creating personas because it’s essentially the same stuff, just in a blog format. I’m going to grab that off of our site, and then I’ll paste it in here in just one sec.

Talia: We have a few more questions. So Liz says, “Oh, Dana, you have so many good MozCon lectures.” That one’s true.

Dana: I’ll be there again this year, so if you’re thinking about going, I’m probably going to talk about reporting.

Talia: Okay. So Liz asks,

“I work for a software development company, and I struggle with how to break the segments. How do you set up the different groups based on metrics within a segment?”

 

Dana: Yeah, I think take a step back and figure out for the software, are there different levels of software that you provide? Thinking about some companies where they have the individual plan, or the small business plan, or the enterprise plan, let’s say maybe all three plans are compared on one page, but you can click ‘learn more’, which would open up an expand for that particular level, for example. Then you could record if people click that expand, and then you could see what people are interested in.

For example, on our website … and actually, I’ll just share again really quickly my screen so you can see this. I’m on our case studies page on our website right now, and you can see this filtered by project type here. We record which one of these you click on, so if you just do website, for example, versus branding or marketing. Then you can see … and of course I’ve got myself filtered out so I’m not polluting our data, but then I can see what people are interested in. Then we can segment and say these are probably website visitors, these are probably branding, these are probably just general marketing, and this is strategy. That helps us with repeat visits to know what kinds of … Most people who come from Moz might be interested in this specific type of case study, for example.

Talia: Do you also compare all this data to heat maps and engagement maps?

Dana: Yeah, a little bit. We use FullStory for that. FullStory does have a nice Analytics integration. So you can actually push the URL of the FullStory video into GA as an event, and then you can just click that link to go back out to FullStory to view that video, or FullStory itself has a nice filtering feature. If you’re using something like Hotjar, which is what we used to use before we switched to FullStory, they do the same sort of thing.

Talia: Yeah. Okay. Cool. There’s just a lot of questions. So Vic wants to know,

“How has the new cross-domain property from Google affected how you set up cross-domain tracking?”

 

Dana: It hasn’t affected it yet because we’ve been doing it in Tag Manager, but we are talking about it because we have a new one we have to set up coming up. So we’re looking at that to see if that’s going to change our process. It just hasn’t currently, but I think it will. I think once we have done it once, we’ll probably write up a blog post on it.

Setting up new cross-domain linking isn’t something we do every day. Honestly, most companies will do this once and then they will just leave it. It’s something where it is good to have that reference document. So once we’ve got it nailed down, we’ll probably write a blog post on it.

Talia: That’s why you should probably be on the newsletter.

Dana: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, please join our newsletter. It’s super fun, I promise.

Talia: Thomas has a question. I’m not sure we have the entire … that I understand it completely. I think there’s something missing in here.

“What conversions are you measuring? Can you select a specific one to track?”

 

Talia: I’m not sure if Thomas meant specifically you at Kick Point, but Thomas, if you’re here, please clarify.

Dana: Yeah. I think certainly for us, we chose the things that we knew were going to make us money. A lot of times, I’ll choose … So for example, one of our clients is a not-for-profit organization, and one of their goals … The whole reason why we made content consumption in the first place is that one of their goals … oh, conversion path length. Okay. Well, I’ll finish what I’m saying and then I’ll come back to your question, Thomas.

One of their goals was actually to measure content consumption where people are actually reading their content because one of their organizational, foundational principles was educating people. That’s why we made it, just to see if people are actually reading their content. So content consumed is a goal for them, but because they’re not a for-profit business, it doesn’t make them money but it makes them hit their goal, whatever it might be. So when you’re thinking about goals, that’s what it has to be.

Thomas was asking if there’s a specific conversion path or length that we go for. Not really. This is where it’s more an understanding of how things are set up now. If you see that people do have a particularly, really long conversion path and you don’t know why, that’s where things like user interviews can really come in handy, or doing things like FullStory and watching multiple sessions and seeing why people are bailing.

For our concert hall client, for example, they had an exceptionally long conversion path, and that’s because what would happen is people would go on the site and say, “Oh wow, so and so is coming to town.” [inaudible 00:47:21] mentioned Lord Huron. Yeah. “Lord Huron is coming to town. I’m going to message my friends and see who wants to go.” Then they leave the tab open. Then they come back an hour later to go get tickets. It’s been an hour, so the session has timed out. Now you’re starting a new session. Then they go searching for the tickets, etc. So that’s the problem.

Yes, Thomas, you can see for the path for specific goals, so purchases versus form visits. If you look at one of the screenshots, I think it had goal path is one of the options. Just dig on through the conversion stuff in there, and then you should see the path that people take.

Talia: Cool. Okay. Awesome. Dana, why don’t you tell us where people can find you, how they can register or subscribe to your newsletter and get all this amazing content?

Dana: Yeah. You can mostly find me on Twitter @danaditomaso. If you can spell my name right the first time, congratulations. One of the fun things in our Google search console is seeing all the different ways people spell my name. That’s fun.

Then you can sign up for our newsletter on any page of our site, in the footer, or you can go to kickpoint.ca/newsletter. It goes out every Friday morning. We have three digital marketing articles that we find really interesting or design articles. We usually make fun of a rebrand. Coldwell Banker just put out their rebrand. It looks terrible, so that’s going to be a good thing for the article this week. Thank you, Talia. We also have a cute thing and a music pick. So I hope you enjoy our newsletter. We do record what page you sign up for on the newsletter, of course, so we are looking to see what pages convert best.

Talia: This is amazing. Just seeing all the things that you track on your website is making me feel like I need some major work on my website.

Dana: Well, you know what’s interesting? Because we redid our website. I think it was early last year was when we launched the current version of what we have now, and it was an almost immediate increase in the quality of leads that we got once we redid it.

It actually has significantly less content than our old site did. We don’t try to optimize for things like SEO or Analytics or anything. We don’t have any pages on that. So the blog posts are really the feature, and the case studies. I think that’s something really to watch in user behaviors.

We wanted to see, “How long are people spending on here? Are they getting all the way through the process page?” Which they are even though it is very lengthy. Our newsletter subscriptions have gone up.

So I think that is really important stuff for us to know for ourselves. These are the goals we want the new website to hit, so let’s make sure that the goals that we set up are telling us whether or not we’re getting there. The answer is yes, which is great.

Talia: And everything on the website supports those goals. You’re not wasting time on things that don’t make you money.

Dana: Yep, yep. We don’t enough time. Everyone says they have not enough time in the day to do stuff, so don’t waste time on stuff that isn’t going to get you to where you want to go.

Talia: Very true. Okay. Thank you, Dana, so much for joining us today. Thank you, everyone, for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us. As you know, this will be live on Friday on our blog. Thank you, everyone. Stay awesome. Have a fantastic week, and I will see you next week. Thank you so much, Dana.

Dana: Thank you again for having me. Bye, everybody.

Talia: Bye.

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