Google Analytics is a powerful tool for tracking your website data. The key is find, measure and monitor the right data for your business. You can spend hours poking around in Google Analytics and end up with nothing actionable.
Google Analytics Dashboards will help
You’ve got to focus on the metrics that are both actionable and relevant. Relevant means they apply to your business goals. If you’re running a Zen Cart, it’s safe to assume that orders are a relevant metric. Actionable means you have some control over the metric in a way you can make changes and measure the effect. Screen resolution of your site visitors is not an actionable metric. It can be useful but it’s not something you can control or influence.
A website is never finished and you should always be testing and improving. Depending on your time and budget, finding 3-6 actionable metrics is a good goal. Once you’ve decided what they are, creating a system to monitor and track them over time will help you achieve your goals. In your Google Analytics you can create a Google Analytics Dashboard to display these metrics along with others. The Dashboard gives you a place to start when you do your weekly analysis. It gives you the big picture of your site performance and then paths into the individual reports. This is where the details are and give you the tools to make educated decisions based upon data and not just trusting your gut.
On the Dashboard, you add Widgets. You can have up to twelve widget on a Dashboard. If you need more, additional Dashboard can be created. For a beginner, one Dashboard with your key metrics is the best way to start. As mentioned above, you can spend hours with little to show for it. Start small and stick with a few metrics. As you get a feel for how to use the data, you can create additional Dashboard that focus on key areas of your website and business.
The process with these key metrics is simple in concept, measure the current metric, make a change and then measure the result. Did your action increase or decrease the metric? Then repeat over and over. A tip that will help immensely in virtually all analytics analysis (say that ten times fast) is the use of the annotation function. See screen shot.
This allows you to add a short note on your time line indicting the change made. As you review the data, you can then look back and attribute the increase or decrease to your metric to your previous action. If you don’t keep a log of your actions, you won’t be able to evaluate the results of your actions. You won’t know if it helped or hurt.
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