woman overwhelmed by Google Analytics

It's easy to get overwhelmed by Google Analytics. Even the first page gives you a lot of data at a glance. Once you start clicking deeper and deeper into the various categories and elements, it's hard to dig yourself back out. More data is almost always better than not enough data. But if you always leave Google Analytics feeling frustrating, confused, or you didn't get the answer you were looking for, you're not getting what you need to run your business.

The best way to use any analytics tool is to step back and make a plan. Before your next visit to the portal, think about what answers you're looking for and how the information will help your business grow. Give yourself a solid foundation and make sure all of your reports, searches, and glances are starting off with data that makes sense. Then you can start searching for specific, detailed answers that drive your future campaigns. When it comes to Google Analytics, a solid foundation starts with the right views.

Create a basic collection of different views.

Once you have your analytics ID added to every webpage, data will start rushing into your portal. You'll start seeing visitor stats, the number of different interactions, and everywhere your traffic is coming from. But that torrential flood of information isn't always helpful, and you need to know which metrics matter. Instead of going straight to reports and spreadsheets, make sure you filter the data through the right view first.

What are views?

Views give you data through different filters, or lenses. Rather than seeing all of your data all the time, a view gives you a specific subsection of the data. Views can be inclusive, such as if you want to only see information about Chrome users, or exclusive, such as when you want to ignore internal employees' visits.

However, views don't just act like filters. The type of data in every view you create is permanently limited, and the excluded data isn't saved. This helps keep your standard stats and analytics easy to read. It also helps reduce the amount of manual clicking and filtering you have to do to find answers in your data. But because that data is gone once you remove it from your collection of views, it's important to build the right ones from the beginning. Here are four views your account needs to have:

Keep a raw view of your data.

You probably won't use raw data very often. But having a comprehensive, completely unfiltered pool of data is a great resource. Not only can you use the view for archival data, but you can also compare the other views against it as you start to experiment.

Create a view without confounding data.

Not all traffic is traffic that you want to measure. If your web designer is repeatedly refreshing a page to test out new designs, that can skew your statistics. If your IT department set your business's website as everyone's homepage, that can inflate your daily numbers. Even bots and web-crawling algorithms can interfere with your analysis. 

So create a second view that excludes the visitors and interactions none of your marketing and sales departments need to measure.

Give yourself a sandbox view for testing new ideas.

Once you become more familiar with Google Analytics, you are going to have more and more complex analyses. That means your views will also become more complicated as you investigate specific areas of the data. But, like any settings change or online edit, you want to test it first.

Create a third view that's identical to the view without confounding data. But label it as your test view instead. Then you can test and modify this view until you get what you're looking for. Once it's just right, rename it to describe the view settings. Then create a new copy of the view without confounding data and label it as a test view. That way, you're all set up for the next time inspiration or a new market strikes.

Colleagues using Google Analytics

Start building views for different teams.

Your marketing and sales directors will need a holistic glance into all of your external traffic. It will help them reallocate focus and see the big picture. But if your departments are split into smaller teams that handle different regions, you can give them specific views that help them understand their region without any unwanted "noise" from the rest of the data.

One of the best ways to create views is through geographic markers. Make a view for your North American, EMEA, and other teams. Depending on your business, interactions from consumers in the United States of America might drown out activity from visitors in other countries. 

If you have separate marketing teams for mobile and desktop users, you can also create views for their use. Even customers that fall under the same customer persona can start to interact with your site very differently depending on the device they're using at the moment. Using separate views from the start helps you get to the bottom of skewed or unexpected patterns.

You can also create reciprocal views that answer the other side of the equation. For example, you can build views that filter out different ages, regions, and sources to focus on a core group. Then you can build a reciprocal view that either brings them back in or focuses on the excluded groups. This improves focus on the bigger picture. It's also a great way to make sure your first view doesn't accidentally exclude too much information.

Once you're comfortable creating views, make them part of your active strategies, too. If your company plans on expanding outside of your tri-state area or you have campaigns designed to reach a new market in a specific, create a view so a dedicated employee can focus solely on the new development. The number of views you can have per account has a cap, but temporary views for new projects are a great tool to use until the expansion stabilizes and you can cut back to a more generalized regional view.

 

But data is only the start. You also need great marketing materials and digital strategies to get the stats you're looking for. Go to the BOLD Worldwide for content tips, omnichannel marketing ideas, and social media campaign strategies that can drive new leads to your website.

2019 Marketing Assessment Tool