In April, Google released the public beta of its Universal Analytics tool. If you’re an experienced web user, you already know the value of Google Analytics in helping you identify ways to make your site, and the sites of your customers, better. If you’ve never used Google Analytics, or any other site analytics for that matter, now is a great time to beat the rush and convert to Universal Analytics to attract new clients, and to help your clients find the customers they want.
If you’re a reseller of web hosting, you are ideally situated to offer your clients site analytics services. Because Google’s analytics are free, the only cost you’ll pay is your time. You can provide analytics help as a way to set yourself apart from the competition, or as a paid service for customers who need help analyzing and acting on their data. In this series of articles, we’ll cover the basics of web analytics, with a focus on the potential of Universal Analytics to transform how you understand the web. While our focus will be on resellers, this guide will be valuable for almost anyone who wants to make their website more profitable.
Why switch to Google Universal Analytics?
If you already use analytics for determining site visits, bounce rates, and A/B testing, you already know the power of these tools to help you make your site better. If you’ve not used analytics before, you’re missing out on a wealth of information about your site. Google Universal Analytics ups the game by allowing you to measure your site visitors even when they switch from a laptop to an iPhone, or a work computer to their home tablet. While Google Analytics was really good at capturing web data, it wasn’t able to monitor a wide range of devices very well. Universal Analytics can capture almost any kind of data—from car license plates to your listening habits on Spotify—and associate it with an unique user ID.
For example, if someone inquires about purchasing a web hosting plan, you can then use their data to send customized ads to them when they’re listening to music online. Or, if your client runs a small gift store you can help them set up two motion sensors and an Internet-connected cash register in order to determine how many store visitors are actually buying their products. If your clients do most of their business online, but place orders and answer questions by phone, you can track the phone calls they receive alongside their web visitors to get a fuller picture of who their customers are.
Because Google Universal Analytics is a new product, its possibilities haven’t fully been explored yet. And while you might want to use its advance features eventually, it also offers a refined, simplified interface that makes it easier to customize your analysis. Whether you’re just tracking your site more effectively, or expanding your analytics into new territory, Google Universal Analytics is a must for all users. Here is a brief guide to getting started with Google Universal Analytics.
Step 1: Prime Your Site for Google Universal Analytics
If you’re already using Google Analytics, you know the drill: set up an account, decide what you want to track, and paste the tracking code into your site. Google Universal Analytics is pretty much the same, but it requires you to use a new tracking code, one that, for now, at least, is not compatible with the old analytics. When you go to Google Analytics, you’ll be asked to set up a property, by which they mean a website, a web page, a mobile application, a blog, or something similar, and specific “Universal Analytics” as your tracking tool. If you want, you can share your site’s data with other Google Services, like AdWords, which will help you bring traffic to your site. Once you enter this information, Google Universal Analytics will create tracking code that will allow to monitor your site, blog, or mobile application.
Next, you’ll need to install the tracking code itself on your website. Some web software applications, like WordPress, will let you install the tracking code automatically, but for others you may need to go into the code itself and paste your tracking code directly. The code will need to be in the header of your web pages, so either a “header.php” file that every page references, or individual pages. Once you’ve installed the tracking code, Google Universal Analytics will begin monitoring your site.
Step 2: Set Your Goals
Now that you’ve set up Google Universal Analytics, you need to decide what you want to measure, and set some preliminary goals. One of the many advantages of using Google Universal Analytics is its ability to measure a variety of web experiences, from how your visitors find your site to how likely it is that their visit will result in a purchase of your goods or services. You’ll need to set goals at the “profile” level, which is associated with the “property,” or site, that you’re monitoring. There are four types of goals that you can establish:
Destination—how often is a particular location (web page) reached?
Duration—how much time do your users spend on your site?
Pages Per Visit—how many pages do they visit?
Event—An action that you define is taken, such as clicking an ad.
With the destination goal, you can even track users as they near the page you want them to access. For example, if you want them to purchase your product, you can keep track of how likely it is for your visitors to get to the purchase page, and determine where you’re going wrong. You can also measure goals in dollar terms, which is particularly helpful if you’ve hired people to assist you with advertising and marketing.
Step 3: Read the Reports
Once you’ve installed your tracking codes and established your goals, you can let the analytics work its magic for a few weeks while you’re piling up data to analyze. Google has produced a presentation that will help you learn how to read and refine the reports Google Universal Analytics will make for you. After a month or so, you’ll be fully immersed in the world of Google Analytics, and ready to use the oodles of data about your sites, or the sites of your customers, to make them succeed.
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