Big data isn’t optional in today’s data-driven marketplace: it’s the cost of doing business.
Google Analytics is one of the best tools out there to track how customers are interacting with your business online. With real-time reporting, transaction tracking and other features, Google Analytics is a must for businesses to get the consumer insights they need to measure success.
While Google Analytics is a fairly simple tool for companies to use, there are a few metrics or features that are easily misunderstood if you don’t have a lot of training or expertise in the API. Making decisions based on inaccurate data can be even more detrimental to your business than having no data at all!
Look out for these common Google Analytics mistakes to make sure you are getting the most out of your data.
You’re Only Analyzing Sampled Data
This is a big one if you want the most accurate data possible and don’t necessarily care if you get it in a timely fashion.
Sometimes, Google Analytics will sample data, or give a snapshot of data over a time period, instead of looking at all of the underlying metrics. This subset of data is easier for the system to pull and reduces the amount of wait time for the person pulling the data.
While this is a common data-analysis practice, it’s really meant to uncover meaningful information from a larger data set rather than giving you the exact number that was tracked in the system.
Think about it like a guessing game of how many marshmallows are in a jar. If you are sure the marshmallows are all the same size and know the rough dimensions of the jar, you should be able to get a rough estimate, but there could be other factors at play that would change the actual number.
This will greatly impact the way you report numbers, as there is a chance the answer will change over a long time period, so your numbers from one month may not look the same, even if you are pulling them for the same time period.
This won’t be a problem for many businesses, but when it does happen, it can greatly change your total revenue or website traffic reporting.
You may be experiencing sampled reporting if:
- You have over 500k sessions going to your website for the requested date range (Standard Google Analytics).
- You have over 100M sessions at the selected date range (Google Analytics 360)
- If you have too many segments applied to a timeline
- If you are looking at the multi-channel or assisted conversion reports
You should be able to tell if your data is being sampled by looking at the little shield the top of your report. If it is green and has a checkmark, your data is not being sampled. If it is orange, your data is being sampled.
How and When to Fix it:
If you have a high-level executive or business owner who wants the exact revenue or lead number, you will want to have the data unsampled. An unsampled report measures all the data from a given time range.
To do this, go to the top right corner of your report and click the unsampled button. Google Analytics will notify you when your report is ready.
Note: This can take a few minutes, so don’t wait to do it before a big presentation!
You’re Not Utilizing Behavior Flow Reports
The behavior flow report helps you visualize the different paths your users take on your website. This enables you to see what pages people enter your site on and where they go from there.
This can help you identify pages that are not functioning how they should or aren’t driving people to pages you want them to get to.
To access this powerful report, click on “Behavior” from your GA dashboard and go down to the Behavior Flow report. It will look something like this:
The key here is to pay attention to the connecting lines between pages to see precisely which pages visitors are clicking on from other landing pages. If you hover over the red area of the report, you will see the number of users dropping off of that page.
This report is can be extremely clunky or overwhelming to look at, so many mistakes can be made while analyzing it, or you could end up looking at the wrong things.
What to do with this report:
Your team should look at the content or UX of a page where you have the highest drop-off points and determine what improvements need to be made to ensure users complete the desired action.
The answer may be as simple as removing pages that have high drop-off rates if they are causing friction for your customers.
You’re Looking at Bounce Rates the Wrong Way
Bounce rate is something that most marketers and even operational employees understand. It is the percentage of people that visit a page and then leave without viewing any more pages on that site.
You obviously want to have a low bounce rate because it means your users are engaging with additional content on your site.
A high bounce rate is a bad thing, right?
How you measure bounce rate should really vary from page to page. If a user lands on a page where they are expected to fill out a form and leave the site, having a higher than average bounce rate should be expected.
How to use bounce rate:
In the end, the proper way to measure the bounce rate is to look at the purpose of the page and set up standards for how you want to measure success.
- For content-based pages, you will want to aim for around a 20-55% bounce rate
- For single-action pages, aim for 56-70%
- For other informational pages, 40-60% is fairly normal
- Anything above 70% should be viewed as an opportunity for improvement
Powerful Data at Your Finger Tips
Getting comfortable with Google Analytics is a must for any marketer or business owner who wants to get the customer insights they need to improve their online experience.
Google Analytics isn’t the only tool you need to measure your customer’s online interactions: you also need a reputation management program to measure consumer sentiment towards your business. What people are saying about your company online greatly impacts your ability to attract new customers, retain your current clients and even appear in local search results.
Coupling Google Analytics and online reputation management software will guarantee you have the tools you need to fully understand how customers interact with your business online.
If you’re interested in other Google topics, check out these related articles:
- Ask an Expert: Google Questions & Answers
- How to Get Your Business on Google Maps
- How to Use Google My Business
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist