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Amanda Koehler

Digital Marketing Practice Director

For more than a decade, Amanda has helped Northwoods clients achieve their digital marketing goals through impactful, data-driven digital marketing strategies. Her approach is centered on careful listening, meticulous research, and a deep understanding of data analytics, and she holds certificates in both Google Analytics and Google Ads. An experienced lecturer and webinar presenter, Amanda is one of our top digital trail guides and has helped countless students, clients, and marketers better understand the complex world of SEO and analytics. Away from Northwoods, she enjoys spending time cooking, traveling, and painting.

The First Five Google Analytics Reports Every Online Marketer Should Use

November 8, 2016 | Amanda Koehler, Digital Marketing Practice Director

4 Minute Read

You’re pretty sure that your online marketing works. You know, it just feels right.

Not good enough. You must prove it, especially to your boss.

To do that, digital marketers must develop deep understanding of Google Analytics and its rich measurement capabilities.  Lacking that understanding, you can’t demonstrate your department’s ROI to your top executives in terms of the cold, hard facts they crave. 

But Google Analytics returns so many reports -- where to begin?

Begin with these top Google Analytics reports. They can yield immediate results.

  1. Traffic Acquisition

This Google Analytics traffic acquisition report shows the sources of your website traffic.  Did traffic come from your paid ads?  Your latest email blast?  Where?

This standard report is easy to find. Go to Acquisition – Overview:

The default channels overview your traffic sources.  You can then drill down into each channel to learn more about that type of traffic.  For example, the Referral traffic report (Acquisition-All Traffic-Referrals) lists the external sites that link back to your website.

  1. Mobile Performance

In this mobile-first world, you must know how well your website performs on smaller devices.  The Audience – Mobile – Overview report shows how many people view your site on desktop, mobile and tablet devices. 

The report shows the dimensions for each device type. Take a look at the “Avg. Session Duration” and “bounce rate” for each type.  Are the numbers consistent across devices, or do visitors on mobile spend less time on your site?  These reports help you spot weaknesses in your mobile strategy.

You can drill down into the specific mobile devices and browsers with which customers access your website.  This will tell you how well your site performs on each of them and can guide you as you set priorities for optimizing for the many devices and browsers in the mobile environment.

  1. Keyword Analysis

Which keywords lead people to your website?  Find out in the Keyword Analysis report.  As you can see, Google starting encrypting keyword search data in 2012, so most of your traffic will show as “(not provided)”.

However, if you set up Google Search Console, you can access some query data through Search Analytics.

The free Google Search Console service helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results.  You can even link your Search Console data to Analytics to bring everything into one reporting tool.  Learn more about Search Console.

  1. Content Analysis

You work hard to create content for your site. Wouldn’t you like to know what content resonates most with your users? The GA Content report helps with that.

This report shows dimensions for each page on your website.  You can see what content engages your customers most, what content your visitors share the most, and what content drives conversions.

This content analysis helps you determine the additional content you ought to create in the future.

  1. Goals

The number one measurement of marketing efforts is conversions.  A conversion (or, in Google Analytics parlance, a “goal”) can be many things. It could be as simple as getting visitors to spend two minutes on your site.  It could be a view of a certain video on your site.  It could be completion of a contact-us or other form. 

Whatever the conversion point, be sure to insert it as a goal within Google Analytics. In GA, goals are customized reports that require some configuration within the Admin section.

Depending on the complexity of your goal, the set-up can be simple or can require adding some code to your site. (Set up your site with  Google Tag Manager, a great way to leverage goals and event configuration.)

Once you configure goals, GA will return reports that show how people convert on your site. The reports include where visitors came from, what device they used, what content they absorbed, and many more points of information.

As you become familiar with the great many useful Google Analytics reports, you can branch out into additional, more customized reporting.  At the Google Analytics’ Solutions Gallery, you can import expertly-crafted reports into your Analytics account and build powerful reports and dashboards with your data.

Google Analytics is a powerful and essential tool. Making the most of it takes time and experience. But now you know not only where to start the learning process, but also how to start measuring and reporting real numbers to those pesky bosses right away.