Under the Hood of your Google Analytics: The Holiday Edition

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The holidays are upon us! Once a month I share important configurations you have the option to turn on “under the hood” in your Google Analytics account. Even though GA is free and is relatively easy to set up, making full use of the tool and making a powerful force for your business requires some steps to customization. If you use Google Analytics just as it comes, you are only getting a part of value. And isn’t it better to get all of, instead of some?

I think it’s safe to say there are two types of ways to roll in your business this time of year: a) take some time off and really get some of that family time or b) steam through like you’ve never heard of Santa Claus and have no attracting to big red socks or pine trees. If you’re like me (who doesn’t really like eggnog), I lean more toward the second option, although I probably won’t be opening my computer on the week of the 21st.

So for this round of “Under the Hood”, I’m giving you two options, depending on how you like take on December: If your holidays are about time off or if your holidays are about keeping up the momentum in your business (and not being tempted by too much sugar). Whichever category you fall in, I hope these tips will help you have a great final month of 2015.

If your holidays are about time off:

Even though you might be taking time off, you know your mind is still working in the back, processing what needs to happen next year. Here are some ideas to compliment that process:

  • Set a monthly date (starting in January) to look at your analytics. This isn’t a intense black tie, dinner-and-opera type of date but more a going to the movies, and then grabbing a beer and some peanuts date. Keep your expectations in check; the idea is just getting to know your data. In this post, I write more about mindset for 2016 and how Google Analytics can help you plan for the year ahead.

  • Clean up your data. This might sound like work (it is) and that’s why I’m suggesting hiring this service out. If you go to your reporting and look at Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, do you see any values from adf, snip.to, or get-your-social-buttons like below?

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Yes? You know what this is? Spam, my friends. S-P-A-M. And it’s cluttering your data. Not fun. There is a very accessible spam cleaning service provided Alistair Gill that actually takes care of this issue for you. Want to start next year on the right foot? Make sure your data is nice and clean so you can do you quality analysis. Bad data, bad analysis.

  • Get custom insights done. Analyzing your data is laborious and time consuming. But it can also give you key information that will compliment whatever you are planning in 2016 to be extra awesome. The Take Action! Report is a quick and easy way to get these answers so that you know you are pointing in the right direction. Not to mention it is reasonably priced and will be delivered to you in under 5 working days. So even if you aren’t ready to look at it now, you can open it up in January and let the information there guide you.

If you holidays are about keeping up the momentum in your business:

Nothing stops you this time of year (not even super crowded shopping malls or that annoying uncle you are dreading at your family dinner) and you continue your work. Here are some tips to maximize your time with Google Analytics:

  • Set up a Goal. I think Goals are the most underrated functionality in Google Analytics and one of the most important things to set up. Why? Because it let’s us specifically look at conversion events (key actions we want our users to complete while on our site) and get more information. We want to know how users are subscribing, purchasing, downloading, and getting to these conversion events. And goals help us do that. Check out this post if you want to see how to set up a Goal for your current or upcoming Opt-in initiative.

  • Check out Segments in your Reporting. If you are looking at your reporting on a regular basis, good for you. But want to know how to get that extra nugget of gold information from your data? Use Segments. And the best part is that you don’t need to set this up since Google Analytics already gives you some to work with out of the box. Yay! If, for example, you go Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, this will give you traffic on your website, with the most popular at the top. Now, wouldn’t it be great to only see the traffic from New Users? Go the top of the page, where it says “All Session” and click. These are all premade segments that Google Analytics gives us. If you scroll down a bit, you will see “New Users” if you click here (and unclick the “All Session” box at the top) your data will only filter through New Users traffic.

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Some of these segments need further configuration but most you’ll be able to use right away. Once you are done, make sure to go back and check “All Sessions” since the segment will actually filter out data from all your reporting.

  • Set up MailChimp in your Google Analytics. Did you know there is a way to actually see which email campaigns users click into your site from? It’s pretty easy. Go to your Mailchimp account, and in your Lists, go to Settings > Google Analytics on archive/list pages.

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Here you will be asked to put your Google Analytics tracking ID, which you can find if you log into Google Analytics, click on the top right menu option (where you see your email) and you should see it beside the name of your property (it starts with UA).

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After you set this up, you will begin to see the specific emails that users are clicking on over to your site from. Neat, huh?Whether you are taking it easy for the next couple of weeks or staying busy with your online goals, I hope you have a great time. Don’t let Google Analytics be another burden, but instead let it inspire you in your business.