Moving Beyond the Like with Google Analytics


GoogleAnalyticsLogo650Facebook likes show that your company is popular, but popularity doesn’t always translate to return on investment. Much of the data that marketers use can be classified as vanity metrics. Vanity metrics only scratch the surface of your website’s success. For better data, try tracking actionable metrics.

Actionable metrics help you make decisions that lead to more conversions, more customers and more revenue. Recent research shows that only 44 percent of marketers use analytics to make decisions. Take advantage of actionable metrics to analyze past customer behavior and to shape how future customers interact with your website.

Why We Stop at Like

Vanity metrics are much quicker to collect. Most marketing teams are stretched to their limits, so data collection usually has to be as simple and fast as possible. The problem is that data requires analysis. Analysis requires time. And most marketers don’t have much time.

Counting likes is faster than analyzing a customer path. But which do you think is more beneficial in the end? Actionable metrics help you make changes. With a little extra effort in Google Analytics, you’ll be surprised at how much data on which you can start to act.

How Do I Know if Metrics Are Actionable?

All data is not equal because some data is more actionable than others. Spend your time collecting the numbers that will have the highest return. Surprisingly, only one-third of marketers track ROI, which might be one of the most important metrics to track.

Actionable metrics answer the “So what?” question. Facebook followers or page views are nice to have, but so what? It’s better to know which Facebook posts are leading to conversions. Understanding general sources of traffic is helpful; understanding the quality of sources is better.

Data, Not Gut Instincts

40 percent of marketers make decisions using intuition. Wrong guesses waste time and resources. If marketers who guess also don’t bother to measure the outcomes, they are likely to repeat past mistakes. This can be a disastrous combination.

In contrast, data is not debatable. Decision-making is a lot easier when you can point to numbers as the reason why. Use Google Analytics strategically to put data behind your marketing choices. Make your decisions using information that is measurable and actionable.

Invest the Time in Analytics

Nearly one-half of all marketers believe that their most underutilized asset is their data. Yes, Google Analytics has a learning curve. Yes, you have to set up tracking tools ahead of time, which requires advance planning. That’s why it’s just easier not to bother using more advanced tools. However, you’re missing out on helpful data.

Luckily, there are tons of online resources that can walk you through the basics of UTM parameters, conversion goals, traffic channels and more. Even though it takes some effort to set up individual campaign tracking in Google Analytics, for example, it’s worth it when your actionable data starts pouring in.

Customer Behavior Can Tell All

Google Analytics can also help you better understand your customer behavior. For example, you can track customer paths and run behavior reports to see which actions customers take on your website. Review user flow reports and evaluate drop-off points to determine how customers interact with your content.

Google Analytics also lets you run free A/B tests, or experiments. A/B testing is critical to becoming a data-minded marketer. Only 24 percent of marketers create and test hypotheses. Marketers are missing the opportunity to collect real data on what customers prefer on your website.

Start Marketing with Actionable Data

Analytics tools are great for collecting data, but be sure you are collecting the right data. Your effort can pay off in time saved, better predictions and higher ROI. When you move past the likes, you’ll find that you rely less on gut instinct and more on hard data. When you collect actionable data, you can make better marketing decisions.

Chris Lucas is the vice president of business development at form conversion provider Formstack.