Why You Should Be Your Own Google Analytics Ninja, and 4 Steps To Do It: Part 2

Why You Should Be Your Own Google Analytics Ninja
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Welcome back to our virtual dojo where you can learn how to be a Ninja when it comes to understanding Google analytics! If you read through part one, you’ve already installed the analytics code on your website, established some landmarks, and know a bit more about supermarkets. You have already gathered some great data and now know your best landing pages and how much time people are spending on your site.

So now what? You have all this great data (which is great), but how are you going to use it? Well, these next two points focus on segmentation and remembering that all the numbers you see in the backend of analytics represent people. We’ll explain more as we go so please read on!

3. Make Segmentation Your New Religion

Ok, maybe not really your new religion, but you get the point.

The supermarket example we kept going on about ad nauseam in part one stands on the fact that you’re looking at your customers rather than your products. Instead of lumping wine with alcoholic drinks and cheese with dairy, you lump both products together, because they correspond to similar needs/desires. That’s what segmentation is all about, but this one is trickier than it seems.

The big guys from consulting firms like McKinsey are always looking for trainees with strong analytical skills, and that’s what you’ll need to develop or hire.

Segmentation allows you to look at all those thousands of points of data – that represent real visitors chilling and browsing around in your website – and then pierce through the barrier of anonymity with no violation of privacy. I’ll suggest two basic approaches: (1) browsers-to-buyers and (2) buyers-to-trends.

In the first approach, you want to look closely at how the mass of people that walk through your door behaves. The visitor flow tool in GA is perfect for this. Maximize the detail level, and find out how close to making a sale you were. Look through several interactions, and use that insight to give visitors the extra push they need to convert.

In the second approach, focus on sales. Ask yourself who are the visitors that are already converting, and then work to bridge the gap between these and the ones who browse but don’t buy. This might mean new product offers, or it might even mean you want to create an entire new section to your business and to your website.

Whichever approach you choose, give the official help pages a good read before looking for info on the web. They are amazing resources, and only a few blogs will give you as much insight into GA’s advanced segmentation, and its newest features.

4. Remember: They’re People, Not Numbers

Now, this is somewhat of a golden rule you want to keep in mind.

Google Analytics is an amazing tool, but it can’t solve your business problems. It will give great insight about the many goings-on in your website and in your online business, but it can’t humanize your process. And, this is as true in business as in everything else, people are not rational agents, as one would guess from reading about Economics. Most of what they buy or don’t buy has a lot to do with preconceptions, strongly held beliefs, and personal preferences.

GA is a fantastic tool that will give you a powerful microscope to look at behaviors on your website. What it can’t do is show you what’s behind the behaviors. It can’t explicitly show you that your wording isn’t landing well with your prospects. It won’t explain why a blue and red banner works better than a green and yellow one, but the data will show you that it does. Your job is to read between the lines of data, and uncover those preconceptions not even clients themselves are aware of.

Here’s where the customer is always right, even when they aren’t. The data is usually crystal clear and very compelling, especially when it comes to hard information, like sales or income. Main point being: when you’ve assessed that some strategy works, stick to that strategy. Try changing a few variables now and then, but stick to the main formula. Sometimes people buy for no reason other that their recognition of the process and the product.

Thanks for sticking with us through both parts and we hope you came away with some good insights into Analytics and what it all means. If you have any other suggestions, comments, or great points of view about how you used the Analytics data to grow your brand, please let us know!

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Author: Nicolas DAlleva

Nicolas D’Alleva is an avid blogger and entrepreneur from Pennsylvania. He started and manages two businesses, Spotted Frog Design, a local web design firm, and Specialty Answering Service a global telephone answering service. Please visit either website for more information on Mr. D’Alleva and some other great blog posts.

46 thoughts on “Why You Should Be Your Own Google Analytics Ninja, and 4 Steps To Do It: Part 2”

  1. Hi Guys, Thanks for the great advice and simply way of breaking it down. I have been an avid user of google analytics for a while but your articles really help me understand how I should break it down and use the info. Thanks

  2. Hi Nicholas.
    I should start with sorry. I called you Sherryl in my last comment.
    Just read parts one and two and the supermarket coparison makes it nice and easy to follow. I’m off to have a look at my visitor flow now.
    Looking forward to the next one.

  3. Thanks for posting this. I always felt Google Analytics to be a bit more complicated to understand. However your post has helped me a lot about understanding it a bit further. I totally agree with you that we often treat the real people as numbers and in the process lose track of what you are doing. your post will sure bring back the people back on track.

    1. Hi Lucy,
      Thanks for letting us know that you found Nicolas’ article about Google Analytics easy to understand. I learned something new from it too (segmentation). It’s great to have access to the data but as both you and Nicolas have mentioned, it’s critical to remember that it’s the people and not the numbers that are important.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..How Start Ups Can Benefit From Geo-TargetingMy Profile

  4. Good point about remembering that those ‘data points’ in google analytics are actually real-live people. GA makes it so easy to forget that fact. We shouldn’t be maximizing those numbers, we should be trying to figure out how to help more people – what kind of content they’re interested in, what causes people to leave your site and visit another, etc. In doing this and acting on it, we can hopefully increase the number of people who visit (and keep visiting) your site.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Rich, Thanks for letting us know that you agree with Nicolas’ approach to Google Analytics. Hopefully we can increase the number of conversions that we make (whatever that may be to us).

  5. Hi,
    Very useful info.

    Segmentation allows you to look at all those thousands of points of data – that represent real visitors chilling and browsing around in your website – and then pierce through the barrier of anonymity with no violation of privacy. I’ll suggest two basic approaches: (1) browsers-to-buyers and (2) buyers-to-trends.

    Do you have any videos that show more details? e.g “actionable” things to look for and implement?

    Shamelle recently posted..How To Promote Your Blog With Word Of Mouth MarketingMy Profile

  6. I think this post is going to help me a lot. Google Analytics is alien to me and half the times I don’t what I should do when I check the results of traffic referral sites. That’s probably nobody explained to me is what GA does is similar to what people in the CCTV footage room do at the Supermarket. I think I will slowly begin to appreciate what GA does for my blog. Not there yet, but slowly will get there. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. GA is a gold mine. For me the big question has always been “How to bridge the gap between those who browse and those who buy?” I sell products and I sell coaching to my distinct niche. I’ve got calls to action up the ying yang, but I want to continue to learn how to get them to buy more of the products so I can leverage my time. Still learning, still growing.
    Suzanne recently posted..Marketing Question: How do you target a specific audience in your marketing?My Profile

  8. Thanks for this, you’ve dotted a few I’s and crossed a few T’s for me here. Anything to do with Google Analytics and how to use it properly goes way over my head. You have explained it in a nice easy way for me to finally understand it…thanks.

    1. Segundo, Thanks for letting us know that Nick’s article helped you to understand Google Analytics better. One of the most useful features I find is the ability to compare data over two periods of time. For example, you can look at your traffic sources for this month and then compare it to last month. I especially like to look at my referral traffic. That can help you decide whether your social media efforts are helping to drive traffic. For me, it always confirms that the time that I spend on LinkedIn is beneficial (as opposed to the time that I spend on Facebook). Sure, GA can’t measure everything (relationship building for example) but it’s a place to start.

  9. Thanks, Nicolas and Sherryl. Both of these posts were great. I think, though, that segmentation especially is an important thing to consider when using analytics to build a business online. From this you can learn so much more about your audience, but, perhaps more importantly, you may see opportunities for growth of your business where none was initially apparent. Thanks again for sharing!
    Heather Stone recently posted..Shocking News: Starbucks Is Not Your Friend!My Profile

    1. Heather,
      I’ve already confessed that I was unaware of the segmentation feature until I read Nick’s article. Now, I’m anxious to check it out. Google keeps expanding the amount of information that they track. It can be difficult to keep up with it. As you say, it’s providing us with information that can help us identify opportunities for growth.

      Thanks for joining the conversation.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media StrategyMy Profile

  10. Thanks Sherryl and Nicholas for this awesome 2 part blog. With that Supermarket example, I don’t think people will find it difficult to understand Google Analytics. It clarifies a lot of how GA works. Thanks for making it so simple and easy to understand.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for letting us know that you enjoyed Nicholas’ article. I appreciate the fact that his approach was both refreshing and simple.

      You may find the article I wrote about discovering that Sitizens suddenly popped up as my top source of referral traffic last month. What was amazing to me was that I had never heard of the site before. I was simply reviewing my traffic sources in GA and there it was. Granted, it’s not a source of traffic that I’m going to actively target but still, it’s traffic. It also serves as a great example of the sort of insight that GA can provide. Good luck with it!
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Sitizens Online Social Game – My Top Referral Traffic SourceMy Profile

  11. You’ve made GA so much more easier to understand. Segmentation has been a sore point for me from the beginning. But after reading this post, I’ve started to understand the use it can hold for me. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Hi Jannet,
      Thanks for letting us know that Nick’s article made GA a little easier to understand. It can be overwhelming at first. I think Nick’s common sense approach to looking at it through the eyes of someone observing shoppers in a grocery store is refreshing. 🙂
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Grow Your Google+ FollowersMy Profile

  12. Great article. I think most of us, including me, have never realized the full potential of Google Analytics and the use we can put it to. To have it explained to you in such a simple manner definitely helps as most of us aren’t familiar with tech terms. This is definitely very helpful. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Hi Henry,
      Thanks for letting us know that you enjoyed Nick’s article. Google Analytics can be overwhelming at first but if you learn it in little bits at a time, it’s much more approachable. I think Nick’s supermarket approach has been very helpful for many readers.

      Thanks for taking the time to join the conversation.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Tips You Should Know When You Start BloggingMy Profile

    1. Hi Balaji,
      I believe to get the most out of your Google Analytics data, you have to keep track of changes to your strategies and tactics. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself trying to figure out what caused a lot of the data. I keep a spreadsheet where I track changes such as tweeting more often or joining a Tribber tribe. That way, if I see a sudden increase (or decrease) in traffic, I can go to that date range and look to see if I can understand what I had done that generated those results.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tracking Changes to Your Website Blog and Social Media StrategyMy Profile

  13. Excellent follow-up to your last post. I think your approach makes a lot of sense when you are actually selling from your website. But I think it’s more difficult when you are using your website as a branding tool and portfolio of your work. I can see which topics are most popular but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a customer for my services — unless someone calls or writes and says “wow, what a terrific idea in your post, I want to hire you!” Wouldn’t that be great!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Are You Targeting the Right Blogs for Your Guest Posts?My Profile

    1. I agree somewhat. Even as a branding site (like a portfolio site for a website designer) could be dissectted by looking at the amount of time people spent drooling over your work, what pieces of the portfolio were most eye catching (i.e. what website design gets clicked on the most), and what end point starts the contact page sequence. Where it gets really awesome is when you look at the website design people are really digging and get “unknown feedback” in a way as more time spent is a vote for that design. In that respect, you could model future designs from the one people really enjoy. Make sense?

  14. Hi Nicolas,

    This is a very extensive article, discussing all the facts about GA. GA is a great tool in helping you out map a battle plan for AdSense..Thanks for that valuable information.

  15. Hi Nicholas,Great follow up on part one of the topic. Segmentation (and knowing what and when to segment) is crucial when it comes to managing and analysing a PPC campaign. And yes – At the end of the day, Its not just numbers – Its users… So glad that you have mentioned this little statement is your post, as a lot of marketers tend to forget this well-known fact.

    1. Hi Anton,
      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I have to admit that I have not explored the segmentation data yet. I’m grateful to Nicolas for such an informative (and enjoyable) article.

  16. agree GA can`t help you increase nor it can suggest you the changes to be made to increase duration.

    GA helps us to analyze how we can improve. Always we can try new things and test it through FREE TOOL from Google.


  17. Thanks for sharing this Nicholas and Sherryl. I read both the parts and the supermarket approach seems to have clicked somewhere in my head. It’s definitely helping me understand GA better. I guess now that I understand that the possibilities are endless, I can optimize its use. Thanks again

  18. Nicholas, great point – it is about people. People are the key to business and we need to be really careful to keep from thinking of business as numbers and dollars. People are the only thing that make the transaction real and meaningful. Like what you said about segmentation. Not always easy to remember as we often want to reach MORE people

    1. Hi Roberta,
      Thanks for dropping by! I was glad to see that Nicolas mentioned the human aspect of business. I think he did a great job writing this 2-part article. I’m sure it’s helped a lot of readers.

  19. Great article! I’ve completed one year with my redesigned website and the analytics are finally making sense to me. It’s been quite a shift to look at my site from the buyer’s perspective, rather than the seller’s. Truth be told, I didn’t quite understand what a landing page was until this week! Now that I do, I feel like the opportunities are endless. I can’t wait to start experimenting with product segmentation.
    Susan Condon recently posted..How Many Shades of Green Do You See?My Profile

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