The Secret Superstars In Google Analytics: Get Smarter Insights From Google Analytics

If you’re a regular user of Google Analytics’ and think that you know it all, then you are sadly mistaken. Google Analytics is like an ocean, the more you think you know is actually just the tip of an ice berg. Most digital marketers, including the experts, only are aware of a small amount of powerful insights that Google Analytics has to offer.

Well, no need to take it on your ego now. The feeling that you’re not making the most of all that Google Analytics has to offer can drive sadness. But, don’t be sad or mad. Because, what I am about to tell you will help you make smarter decisions with the help of the secret gems of Google Analytics.

Marketers across the globe have been spending fortunes in either buying newer analytics tools or developing customized tools in-house. Little do they know that one of the oldest tools of online marketing, Google Analytics, has a lot to offer that they’re currently missing out on. Only unless you attend different search or analytics conferences or meet with other online marketers at your local forums regularly, you would normally be not exposed to such hidden features of Google Analytics.
They are like, what the movie buffs like to call, “the Easter eggs of Google Analytics.”

DISCLAIMER: When I use the word “secret”, I do not necessarily mean that you wouldn’t be aware of these features at all. Rather, through this post, I would like to re-introduce you to some of the most useful features of Google Analytics that you might have used in the past at some point or the other. So, while you read this post, do ensure that you’ve opened your Google Analytics dashboard to follow my instructions along.

Can’t wait, right? Well, let’s dive right into it then! Here are the secret superstars of Google Analytics that will help you make smarter marketing decisions:

1. Know your target audience well with “Affinity Category” and “In-market Segment”

If you ask me what the most important factor in the success of any digital marketing campaign is, I’d say – your target audience. You must-must deeply understand both intent as well as behavior of your target audience. After all, these two metrics help in determining whether and how your customers purchase your products or sign up for your service or download an e-book on your landing page, etc.

But, as easy as it may sound, perfectly understanding your digital audience is often one of the most challenging tasks. That’s where Google Analytics comes into picture as it provides you with the psychographic data about your target audience. For this, you should use Affinity Category and In-market Segment in Google Analytics.

The data offered by Affinity Category and In-market Segment is seen to compliment the other website related behavioral data provided in Google Analytics, such as, pages viewed by users, internal site searches by users, products abandoned in cart by users, etc.

In addition to these behavioral insights, Affinity Category helps in identifying lifestyle preferences of the users of your website. And this directly can impact what type of content is consumed more by your target audience, both on search and social media platforms.

On the other hand, In-market Segments helps in understanding the interests among users pertaining to product purchases. For example, you can see what your target audience is currently actively researching about. And this data can directly impact your in-market strategy in terms of advertising messaging, targeting, etc.

These two, together, help you take the guesswork out of your online marketing campaigns. They provide you with accurate website analytics insights related to your users’ behaviors. The standard Acquisition, Behavior and Outcome metrics you usually use can be applied to identify what segments are worth more than the rest. Especially, if you are deploying Google’s display ads as part of your campaign, then you can integrate the behavioral insights and buy ads that specifically cater to higher value segments.

Here’s what Google says about these two important features available in Analytics:

“Demographics and interests data may only be available for a subset of your users, and may not represent the overall composition of your traffic: Analytics cannot collect the demographics and interests information if the DoubleClick cookie or the Device Advertising ID is not present, or if no activity profile is included. You can use the Demographics and Interests dimensions in Custom Reports. For example, you might want to use the Gender and/or Age dimensions to set the context for evaluating Ecommerce metrics like Buy-to-Detail Rate or Product Revenue per Purchase.”

You would need to manually turn on these two features into your Google Analytics dashboard. The data is derived using a third party cookie called DoubleClick and also from anonymous mobile applications.

2. Know your Google Analytics shortcuts

What you would need to understand when using Google Analytics is that reporting and analysis are two different things. Some analysis takes much more efforts than others. They are more complex to fetch. Typically, to get something beyond your simple reports in Google Analytics, one would apply different filters to add further data insights to them. But, the problem with fetching the custom analytics this way is that once you get to the other things that may need your attention, you forget what filters you used previously and you would need to run the trial-and-error method all over again.

Google has a featured called Shortcut that not many of us necessarily use, or are even aware of.
When you are preparing a report in Google Analytics, it’s an option you’d be able to see right at the top. (Look in the gray bar, under where the name of your report may appear).

Let me give you an example:

Let’s talk attribution. What you’re interested in really as a website owner is whether and how your traffic is generating revenue for your business. Because that’s an answer to your question on how and where to spend the marketing dollars for the highest ROI.

Typically, you would go to Standard Behavior and then select Site Content. After that, you would click on All Pages report. Here let’s say that you added two advanced filters for identifying the most valuable pages in terms of traffic and revenue. You can use the comparison view to pick and compare the metrics that matter the most to you. Finally, you can add the secondary dimension source. And here’s how your report may look like:

This report is full of insights. Just over a single glance, you can see what you really need to know and form an action around it immediately. But, to arrive at this report took some efforts and to save you the time and trouble to do the same exercise again, you can hit the Shortcut button. This way, you won’t lose it again and keep coming back to it time and again. It automatically gets added to the left side pan of your Google Analytics dashboard.

So, bid farewell to the standard reports and segments, and say hello to shortcuts. Finding the most meaningful insights in Google Analytics just got faster and easier!

3. Using Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, most users are limited to only using the obvious data that GA has to offer. There is no denying that it is important or relevant. But, as you would know already, when it comes to analytics related to online marketing campaigns, more is still less. That’s because there’s always room for more. The more efforts you put into finding data, the more unique it will be to your specific business needs.

That’s where custom dimensions in Google Analytics come handy. Using custom dimensions, you can make data as unique to you as you want. Let’s consider an example again:

Say that you’re trying to see in Google Analytics where the users who are on your website are logged in or not. The safer way to say is that those users who may be logged in would be your existing customers. So, you can use Custom Dimensions to get this done. This lets you see a more unique report that you would like to see:

As you may derive from the above shown report, sixty six thousand sessions out of over a million and a half were from over twenty six thousand users who were logged in when accessing your site. Isn’t that amazing? However, getting custom dimensions to work for you may require some technical work done. But, at the end of the day, the whole effort you put in is totally worth it.

Especially, if you own a blog or other type of content-focused website, then you can accurately see data by author names, type of content, subscribers, commentators, and so on. And if you have a website where you sell products or services, you can easily see those customers who shop multiple times, multiple products, etc. This way you can initiate internal cross- or up-selling campaigns.

4. Attain data related to Time Lag and Path Length

This is what’s popularly called pan-session analysis (denoting multiple visits by the same user). The common types of reports you would know are Recency or Frequency reports. And this applies to all other types of attribution reports that you might be generating in Google Analytics.

Let’s talk Path Length first. It is available in Multi-Channel Funnels folder in Google Analytics. What this shows is the total number of visits (sessions) a user made before converting on your website. This is how the report looks like:

As you can easily see in the above report, over forty percent of conversions happen on the first visit (Is that a dream come true or what!). And then it takes up to five visits on an average before a user gets converted on your website. This data has bigger implications on your marketing strategies for your digital campaigns.

And now, let’s talk about Time Lag. It’s quite similar to path length. It also talks to you about customer experience. But, here you can see how many days it takes for a typical conversion on your website.

Both Path Length and Time Lag reports can easily be segmented in Google Analytics. You can do that by clicking on Conversion Segments at the top of the report.

5. Learn about Assisted Conversions in Google Analytics

If you have already spoken to me at some point in the past, you would know that this is one thing I always emphasis on in my discussion related to Google Analytics. The Assisted Conversions report in Google Analytics helps in understanding the performance of your marketing channels in ast-click as well as assisted click conversions.

For example, when you introduce newer channels in your marketing campaigns, such as email,referral, display, etc., you can track customers’ journeys that could be attributed to these new efforts. These way you can credit the efforts that shape up your results. This is how an assisted conversion report may look like in your Google Analytics dashboard:

There is so much of data in this single report. For example, let’s look at the last column of this report: Assisted/Last Click or Direct Conversions. It is a ratio of how channels drive direct conversions. Anything more than one means that those channels bring a lot more early visits. This is essentially your way to know whether and what needs to be changed in your paid and organic campaign content strategy, your targeting plan, and how to improve the overall landing page experience for your users. If you click on any of the channels, you will get and even more detailed report of performance, something like this:

Similarly, for your social media marketing campaigns, you can get such a report by following this path in Google Analytics: Acquisition > Social > Conversions > Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis. And this is how the report would look like:

6. Using Custom Alerts in Google Analytics

Being successful in digital marketing is to a significant extent about keeping one’s self up-to-date. It’s extremely vital to keep getting alerts to be able to match with every move of the competition. There are things we want to know. There are things we want to do. And all of these are available to us in the form of alerts.

Google Analytics keeps giving you alerts about what’s new and what’s soon going to be out of date. You either look for them deliberately or just accidently bump into the others. But, you surely cannot ignore them.

The best part is that you can set up custom alerts in Google Analytics. Using these alerts, you can proactively know what’s going on and what’s going to happen in the near future. This way, you can transform your activities into insights, insights into decisions, decisions into ecommendations, and ultimately, recommendations into actions.

Let’s say that you want to keep getting alerts from a certain social media channel. More importantly, you want to be proactively advised whether your marketing efforts convert into revenue or not. So, this is what your custom alert on Google will look like:

Here, what the report will generate is that you will get daily alerts from the microblogging platform Twitter, but Google Analytics will only trigger an alert if the per session goal value is more than twice your Twitter traffic.

Custom Alerts in Google Analytics are very useful as they offer you the ability to quickly react to things that you are already expecting should happen, but just don’t know when they’ll happen. You can do so by going to the Admin section and then to View column > Custom Alerts and New alert.
And you’re good to go!

7. Download Solutions in Google Analytics

Have you ever looked at the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery? I bet most of you haven’t! When you are creating the custom alerts in Google Analytics, you also get the option of Shared Assets. This basically shows you a list of assets you have shared with others (by making them public). This is the button I am talking about:

Once you click on this button, you get a plethora of options and solutions that you can easily download into your Google Analytics Dashboard. Once you have clicked on the very first import button, you can a bundle of ready-made solutions to download from. You can then favorite segments, dashboards, reports, etc. as per your preference. Once you’ve one that, you can scroll through the most popular and downloadable solutions and download them into your account.

This is a good starting point toward enabling you to making informed decisions. You can, this way, use the wisdom of others that seems to have already done wonders for them. For example, you can download customized SEO reports that others find to be very useful.

8. Analyze your shoppers’ behavior in Google Analytics

This is something I am sure not many of you may have heard of. It is available in the new Enhanced Ecommerce feature-set in Google Analytics. You are more specifically looking for the Shopping Behavior Analysis. This is how this report looks like:

So far, you might have only tried funnel analysis for your shopping cart and check out. Of course, that’s important and you should carry on doing that. However, through Shopping Behavior Analysis, you can stretch that funnel to the start of the session of a user’s visit to your site.

Based on the data you get in this report, you can set off investigations as to what triggers irritation among customers on your website. Is it the content? Is it the shopping process? Or is it anything else that you may not necessarily be aware of? This way, you can create your actionable plan using the insights available in Google Analytics.

The Shopping Behavior Analysis feature offers insights that are pretty easily comprehendible, even by the non-technical team members in your organization.

So, that’s a wrap for this post.

As always, the ball is now in your court as to what are such secret superstar features in Google Analytics? What are you most favorite reports, analyses, charts, alerts, applications, etc.? Which one of the above mentioned superstars triggered the most interest in you? What have I not covered about any of the above mentioned features?

I can’t wait to hear back your ideas, thoughts and feedback. Comment below.

Until the next post, have a good one…

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