Even the smallest of organisations are using web analytics to improve their business, and Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools available today.
Google Analytics might be free, but it's a robust tool that can meet the needs of many businesses large and small.
So where should beginners start? Here are seven tips.
Google Analytics has powerful capabilities and many go unused by even the most experienced users.
For beginners, Google Analytics can be downright overwhelming. Fortunately, getting real value from Google Analytics doesn't require that you use all of the capabilities and it's important to remind yourself that you can get a lot of insight even if you keep it simple to start.
Learn to segment
One Google Analytics capability that you will want to use right away is the ability to segment sessions and users.
For instance, you may want to look specifically at users who are located in a particular geographic region, or sessions in which a conversion occurred.
Whether you're selling products through your website or trying to generate leads, another Google Analytics capability that shouldn't go unused is the ability to set goals that correspond to specific activities that take place on your site.
For example, you could set a goal that is associated with a specific page URL that a user would only reach if a conversion occurred.
You can also set goals associated with session duration, pages viewed per session and custom events.
Google Analytics supports email alerts that are triggered when there are meaningful changes to key metrics. These alerts can be customised very granularly and with specific thresholds.
For instance, if you want to be alerted when traffic from a particular geographic region increases by more than 10%, or when traffic from a particular referral source decreases by 20%, you can set up custom alerts to do just that.
Connect your AdWords account
If you're using AdWords, you can link your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts to get even greater insight into how your campaigns are performing.
Once linked, you can also use your Google Analytics data for AdWords retargeting. The process of linking takes just a couple of minutes, so there are very few reasons not to do it.
Don't become a chart junkie
Google Analytics can be habit-forming, so be careful about checking Google Analytics constantly just because you can.
Instead, consider scheduling how often you review your Google Analytics data and make a list of what you get the most value from.
Wherever possible, try to have Google Analytics data pushed to you (eg. through alerts) so that you get the information you need as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
Google Analytics is like a candy store, it's filled with enticing goodies. But for beginners looking to grow their knowledge, it pays to focus on the features that have the greatest potential to be of use.