Google Analytics is most likely the most widely used analytics tool by businesses both large and small. The major challenge is simply this “there are just too many data points you may be confused on which ones you should really concentrate on?”.
Paul Koks of Online Metrics answers this and much more in this expert interview session on how to use Google Analytics for growth.
- Tell us about yourself and how you got into digital marketing
Hi, I am Paul Koks from the Netherlands and thanks for having me. Well, I have always been fascinated by numbers and how to extract value from them. Already when I was 18 years old I used arbitrage in my advantage to buy goods from Ebay in the US and to sell them after in Europe.
I have studied Business Economics and Marketing and soon realized that I wanted to stay on this path.
My analytical skills led me to an Online Marketing environment. I have experience in all areas of Online Marketing, but have concentrated mainly on Analytics in the last 7 years. So this all seems a perfect fit!
Btw, since April this year I am running my own business. I have worked as a consultant (Analytics & CRO) for almost 10 years before that time.
- I have actively followed your blog for a face and I am impressed by the things you shared. Google Analytics seems a great tool for businesses yet a lot of them are still struggling with it. What advice would you give to them?
Thanks, I appreciate your comment! Yeah, my blog now exists for 4 years, writing and sharing knowledge is one of my passions.
Yeah, most businesses are struggling with extracting value from Google Analytics. Well, the most important advice I can give is to use your current data before collecting additional data.
The problem is that most companies try to measure everything before even thinking about what’s important for their organization. This not only applies to GA, but all data resources in their organization.
First of all you need to make sure that your current data is reliable and there is a ton that could go wrong. That’s why I offer GA audits to help companies get this right. Start with setting up your most important goals and get the basic settings right. Once your knowledge grows you can think about implementing fancy stuff that adds value to your insights.
So, in short, use your data wisely instead of suffering from overload symptoms!
- If you were to recommend 3 Analytics books for beginners, which books will it be?
If you are new to GA, I recommend to read these three books (in this order):
- Google Analytics Demystified (third edition) by Joel Davis – learn the basics
- Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik – expand your knowledge of analytics
- Successful Analytics by Brian Clifton – great use cases / how to put things in practice
In addition (it covers a lot of advanced topics as well), you can’t go wrong with “Google Analytics Breakthrough: From Zero to Business Impact”.
- Why do you think Google Analytics is considered the best analytics for business?
Well, I think for a quantitative analytics tool it is relatively easy to implement and it seamlessly integrates with AdWords. I have worked with several other tools that can be a real pain to implement (e.g. Adobe Analytics).
In the last years, they made some great enhancements that make the tool enterprise ready and “free”. So it’s the standard I think. And for those with the highest need there is Google Analytics 360. But you can do a ton, even with the free version.
- What 3 metrics do you think businesses should track in Google Analytics?
Well, first of all, the most important metrics (KPIs) depend on the business we are talking about. So this is a question hard to answer in general.
I like Stéphane Hamel’s point of view here:
“The most important metrics can be tied back to revenue, costs or satisfaction.”
I will share three examples with you:
- Revenue (or profit) per visitor.
- Conversion rate (for macro conversion).
- Conversion rate – user level.
Companies should leverage calculated metrics to come up with the best possible metrics for their organization. I recommend to analyze both sessions as well as user level metrics.
And once again, there is no top 3 list in general. You need to define the metrics that match your business best.
- Google Analytics contains lots of reports and data that sometimes it can be overwhelming. How do you think businesses can start to interpret Google Analytics results?
Stop with going through your data, hour after hour, without finding anything worthwhile. Start with coming up with your business questions first. What do you want to solve or improve? That will provide direction for where to look for in Google Analytics.
Build a couple of custom reports that best reflect your KPIs if you don’t want to get distracted by all the metrics and dimensions that are available. Hire someone to help you structure those and it will save you a ton of time.
- Finally what Google Analytic data do you think is most important to businesses?
This question is very close to question 5. The most important data is data that is directly or indirectly tied to your most important business objectives. So obviously conversion or revenue related data is key. However, there are a ton of dimensions / segments you should apply here to derive the greatest insights. Averages lie and should be ignored (most of the time).
Once again, thank you to our expert guest Paul Koks. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for more tips on how to use Google Analytics.