Is this you? You have a website, probably an enewsletter and one or more social media channels. You’ve worked really hard to set this all up and keep it going. So you know you should understand a bit more about whether and how it’s all working – but every time you log into Google Analytics it all looks a bit overwhelming.
Well, Ben from Satori Lab is your go-to-guy if you need some help. But if you can’t afford bespoke help*, he let me sneak into his training for local authority communications teams recently, to pull out some nuggets of wisdom and signposts to help the people who read this blog. Part 1 of this two-part blog is below. You can now also read Getting to grips with Google Analytics part 2.
There’s lots of advice out there about Google Analytics (which I’ll reference at the end) so I’m just going to go straight into what might work for you to get Analytics embedded into your work.
What to do first
If you don’t already have Analytics set up:
Ask your web developer to help. All they/you need to do is to set up a Google Analytics account (it’s free) and add a piece of code in the ‘back end’ of your website, then you’re ready to go. It’ll only give you data from that point on – so if you’re setting up a new website, it’s really important that you set up Analytics before it launches.
Once you’re set up:
Log in (https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/) and you’ll see your ‘property’ – ie your website, and then your ‘views’ – there will probably be only one initially.
Set up a second ‘view’ that takes out any internal viewers from your organisation as they can skew the results. Watch the video below to find out how (it’s quite easy – I did it for my own website). It’s also good to set up a third view (Test) for testing things in the future.
What to do next
The thing about Analytics is that it can give you all sorts of interesting data: but you don’t need all of it. So start by working out what is helpful for you to know.
I’d recommend that you decide on a specific day in each month or even each quarter (I’m being realistic!) when you plan to log in and go straight to those diagrams/reports, to make sure this becomes a regular part of your workflow.
Then create your own rough plan or diagram (if you have an idea of what sort of charts you want eg bar charts, pie charts) on a piece of paper to outline what you’re interested in finding out, and what you’re expecting: what sort of changes you might want to see over time.
To get you started, here is a downloadable cheat sheet of some very basic Google analytics questions.
After running Google Analytics on your website for a few days or weeks, you’ll be able to assign a timeframe (top right of each report) and also then assign a comparison timeframe (check the box ‘compare to’ and either select the date range or add in your own) to look at the following:
- the last year (compared with previous year)
- the last quarter (compared with previous quarter or the same quarter last year)
- the last month (compared with the previous month or the same month last year)
To make this even easier, you can set up a custom report or dashboard – you may need some help to create your own.*
Jargon buster and videos
Google Analytics has a free video training course for beginners which is definitely worth a watch. Also a reader passed on this blog which is also useful: Ultimate beginners guide to Google Analytics.
I hope this has encouraged you to start learning about how visitors are finding your site and what they’re doing when they’re on it.
Once you understand more, you’ll be able to adjust your marketing and communications activities to give people more of what they want, and to prioritise your most effective marketing tools.
In the next blog, I’ll be sharing more about how you can track specific marketing activities and measure specific ‘actions’ that you want people to take on the site.
* The team at Satori Lab can help you get to grips with Google Analytics. You can buy a package (3-hour workshop for your team plus report and dashboard), or a day’s support which you can call it in by the hour or task. Find out more here.
If you’ve found this useful, sign up for my enews and get free resources.
As a thank you, you’ll also get six tip sheets, templates and checklists for: social media, communications strategy, getting more traffic to your website, copywriting, blogging and annual reports. You’ll also receive an occasional digest of my blogs, plus tips, advice and signposting to useful information and resources. Sign up to get your free resources.
Need some help with a particular aspect of your communications, or your communications strategy? Contact me.