The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to optimize your web analytics configuration and reporting. With that in mind, here are some tips for taking Google Analytics (GA) to the next level.
If you leverage GA for web insights and haven’t upgraded from Classic GA to GA Universal yet, do it now using these simple steps. In all likelihood, the Classic GA platform will be disabled before the end of 2015 and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. More than that, I’m going to spend much of this blogpost encouraging you to use custom dimensions and segmentation to take your GA reports to the next level.
Tweak existing Events, Goals and Reports
It’s also a great time of the year to standardize or add GA events; and tweak or add GA goals. This includes adding conversion values and conversion funnels to existing goals. It also includes optimizing events so that event data is stored in a consistent category-action-label hierarchy.
Add Reports with Custom Dimensions & Segments
Once the annual housekeeping tasks described above are complete, you can leverage the things you know about your customers and your website to create innovative reports leveraging custom dimensions and custom segmentation in GA Universal (or the analytics platform alternative of your choice).
I like to approach custom reporting with a ‘levels and badges’ mindset. If you grew up on video games like I did, you’re familiar with way players often ‘level up’ and earn ‘badges’ or other special items as they advance in a video game. The more advanced a player is, the higher their ranking; the more levels they’ve completed; and. the more badges they’ve earned.
I find that the same logic applies well to website users — and custom reporting. First time visitors to your website are equivalent to ‘beginners’ in a game. As visitors return and explore your website, they reach an ‘intermediate’ level of interaction. They become ‘advanced’ when they begin purchasing items, requesting information, and completing GA goals.
In a similar fashion, visitors can earn analytics badges by completing visiting pages, triggering events, or completing tasks. Visitors watching five or more videos on your website may earn a ‘video watcher’ analytics badge. Visitors sharing website content on social networks may earn a ‘social butterfly’ analytics badge. Visitors could also earn ‘first time’, ‘repeat’, and ‘power customer’ analytics badges based on their frequency of visiting or purchasing from your site.
The levels and badges you define in GA can also be based on the way that visitors interact with content or submit form data. For example, visitors to a website offering athletic equipment could earn ‘runner,’ ‘swimmer,’ and ‘biker’ analytics badges based on visiting content pages or ordering products related to those sports.
Since these levels and badges only exist in GA, you can add, observe, and refine them throughout 2015. The levels and badges you add to GA reporting should provide new and meaningful insights about the effectiveness of your website and the engagement of its users.