For dummies: comprehensive guide to set up Google Analytics
"In God we trust; all others must bring data" - W. Edwards Deming
For any online venture, data is precious. It can give you insights which can turn fortunes for your business and break a lot of myths for you. Companies keep on wasting money on marketing, shuffling between agencies, hiring and firing them when they don’t deliver results. They neglect the fact that a simple answer might have been residing in the data.
We have seen many of our clients who have been into e-commerce for more than two years and realized that although they have integrated the Google Analytics (GA) at basic level, but there is lot more that should have been done and is not done for the lack of knowledge of the same. Google Analytics if used properly, is quite powerful, but very few leverage its true potential.
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As Geoffrey Moore would say, “Without data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway., The first thing that you should do, after your website is setup is to get Google Analytics integrated properly!
Here is the comprehensive, step-by-step guide to setting up Google Analytics.
- Create account, get tracking ID
You can create your Google Analytics account with an existing Google account ID. In case you don’t have one, you can directly sign up to Google Analytics by creating a new account at google.com/analytics. While setting up, you can select the setup type as website/mobile based on the presence of your website. Once you are done with this, you will receive a unique identification code UA- XXXXXXXX-X
- Setting up properties
In this step, you should allocate property IDs to your domain names and sub-domains. Ideally you should use the same property ID for all the domains and sub-domains in case your business objective is same for all of them. However you may choose to have different view options for domains and sub domains.
If you have different goals for these, you can also create different property IDs. For example if you are running two stores online, Store 1 may have ID UA- XXXXXXXX-1 and Store 2 may have ID UA- XXXXXXXX-2
- Setting up Google Tag Manager (GTM)
After you are done with these two steps, you also need to set up Google tag manager (GTM). GTM is a layer which connects GA (and other party tools) with your e-commerce website. You just need to sign in at GTM and generate a GTM code (similar to GA code) which needs to be placed on all the pages of the ecommerce website.
To send your ecommerce user data on GA dashboard; integration of codes and pixels using GTM is much simpler and convenient as compared with the integration of different pixels at your e-commerce website directly. GTM is simpler because in GTM your pixels are at one place and in case additional tracking is required in future, you don’t need to do the changes at the website each time. It can be directly done at GTM. Also, the technical expertise required for GTM is far less than what is required for placing tags and codes at your website.
You can add and update AdWords, GA, Floodlight, and third party or custom tags from the GTM user interface instead of editing site code. This reduces errors, frees you from having to involve a web developer, and allows you to quickly deploy new features or content onto your site.
- Enabling features and e-commerce tracking
Now to start viewing the data and numbers in your GA dashboard, you need to switch on the various features in GA, which are not ‘on’ by default, such as – enhanced ecommerce, bot filtering, manual tagging, advertising features, demographics and interest reports, and in-page analytics. You also need to enable remarketing pixel and set it up to build your remarketing audience so that you can retarget your customers in future. In case you are advertising on Google search then you must link Google Adwords with GA to have a single view of all the data. You also need to setup the conversion funnel.
It is important to analyze the entire shopping flow process that a purchaser has gone through in order to complete a transaction. To do this, you should set up a funnel of pages that show progression of the visitor towards the checkout button and finally to the confirmation/ thank you page. This enables you to find out the bottlenecks and challenges that a user might face.
By analyzing the numbers you might find out that users are probably dropping out at the shipping information page and you may need to redesign it or cut the lengthy process of filling out details.
- Exclude internal traffic (IPs) from your setup
This is a common mistake which most people do while setting up GA. You need to exclude internal traffic from your visitor data. The list of IP addresses of people who are working at your office needs to be added in the exclusion list because they are not your customers. This will give you a realistic picture. You can also use filters for IP exclusion.
- Decide what events you want to track
Now you need to sit down and think about your business objectives. Make a list of the things that you want to track. For an e-commerce venture, this list will usually comprise of cart visits, checkouts, home page visits, product page visits, category page visits, shipping information page visits, ‘contact us’ form visit and many more. You must make this list carefully so that you can have a look at the dashboard and see how many people are visiting specific pages and completing certain actions.
- Setting up goals
Setting up goals is the most important step of this process. Goals are a set of events. For example, if transaction is a goal then it would comprise of events such as: adding product in the cart, filling shipping info, putting credit card information and then finally successfully checking out. While events give you a micro view, goals give you a macro view. Goal is an action completed, which happens after certain events (one or more). You can also assign value to a goal (for example $50 to each transaction) to finally calculate your marketing RoI.
- Debugging, testing and cross checking
As the last step, you must check and validate the data that is getting recorded in GA. Testing must be done as carefully as the setup. You need to test your data in real time. Fire your tags and check if they got recorded in GA. Do a dummy transaction and see if it got recorded in conversion funnel at each and every step. Use proper destination URLs (in case you are running search ads) and check their records in GA.
To make your job a bit easier, here is this checklist to validate if your setup has been done properly and accurately. Data is important but there is nothing more dangerous than inaccurate data. As Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
About the Author:
Raghav Kansal is the CEO of ET Medialabs, a company that specializes in data driven digital solutions. He has been providing consultancy to various companies for their digital marketing, technology, analytics and advertising strategies. You can reach him at [email protected]
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)