Here's How to Get Better Data With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the go-to tool to monitor customer behavior online. This free tool is used to track metrics on more than 27 million websites, but the power of the tool rests with the user. You can glean all sorts of information from Google Analytics, but to gather advanced data beyond clicks and conversions, you have to know a thing or two about the platform.

To help marketers get more from Google Analytics, we'll explain how to use filters to refine data and get a better look at your online activity.

Use Filters

One of the easiest ways to get more from your data, is to apply filters. Google Analytics gives you the power to add the following filters:

Exclude data

  • Include data

  • Change data

  • Search and replace data

  • Set up advanced filter

Filters give you a different perspective and help you get more detailed metrics. For instance, you might filter your traffic to exclude any internal hits. In other words, any employee who visits your website from inside the building doesn't count in your traffic stats.

To add a filter, log into your Google Analytics account, go to Admin, and click filters under the Account column. Then simply add any of these pre-made filters to your data.

Strategies to Filter Data

You can collect and sort data in hundreds of different ways, but here are a few common ways that marketers apply filters:

Measure Traffic From Local Audiences

Set a filter to see what kind of traffic your site gets from people who are in a specific location. If you know where people are located, you can create personalized campaigns that cater to them. For example, if you’re opening a new store in Phoenix, you can create a campaign that’s especially for Phoenix-based customers that announces the new store.

  • Exclude Traffic From Company Employees

We mentioned this example above but the idea is to remove any traffic data that stems from people inside the company. The idea here is to a more accurate traffic reading. If the company website loads automatically on every computer when it’s started, for example, that’s not customer-based traffic so you wouldn’t want it included in your stats.

  • Eliminate 'Fake Hits'

Spammers are constantly trolling sites looking for a way in. As they conduct their searches, their visits are counted as traffic. You can exclude these ''fake hits'' from your metrics for more accurate readings.

  • Tips to Create Effective Filters

Before you log into Google Analytics and add filters, you should know a few things:

  • Create an Unfiltered View

You need one view that's untouched, or unfiltered. That way, should other data get rearranged or deleted, you'll always have this view as a fail-safe. Name it something obvious such as ''Unfiltered View,'' and make it clear to everyone this view shouldn't be touched.

  • Filters Work After the Fact

In other words, you can't apply filters to data you already have. Filters are only applied to data collected after settings are in place.

  • Filters Are Applied in Order

The order in which you apply filters matters. Google Analytics applies filters in the order that you set them, so take some time to think through the process.

  • Work With Pre-set Filters First

To start, use pre-set filters like ''exclude data'' and ''include data'' before you move on to creating an advanced filter. Advanced filters give you the power to customize your metrics, but it's aimed at savvy users.

Google Analytics gives businesses great insights, but getting pertinent data that are specific to your company takes some work. By applying filters to your data sets, you can refine your results and get a better understanding of your audience.

Measuring your output: the right analytics for content marketing

shutterstock_314440679 Your team may create the best content in your category, but who’s measuring its effectiveness? It’s time to get started using analytics tools to assess your content marketing efforts. Find some of the best ones at your fingertips.

Being effective at content marketing isn’t just tied to hiring the best creators, developing a strong editorial calendar or loading up your social channels with great content. Your effectiveness is more about measuring your content output in relation to your audience’s wants and expectations. Using analytics tools for your content marketing is the best way to learn what they need.

Any content marketer today has to know the ins and outs of analytics. Your content budget may come with parameters for building leads, conversions, traffic and business, so it’s best that you know how to deliver the numbers to your executive team.

Using analytics tools

Fortunately, there are free and paid analytics tools available to start using today. Many professional content marketers rely on Google Analytics. This data juggernaut is free to use, offers customized reporting, includes an analytics API and, most important, gives you deep insights on which of your site’s pages are drawing big traffic and click-throughs. This tool is almost a necessity. More than half of the world’s largest websites use it.

Using Google Analytics is easy but mastering it is trickier. Knowing what you need to measure, finding it and relating it to your content efforts will take some effort. For example, if you want to measure your blog traffic, you should measure these KPIs (key performance indicators): unique visitors, page views, pages per visit, social shares, average time on site and bounce rates.

With these KPI measurements, content marketers can use the data to boost a site’s content opportunities, leads and conversions and overall user experience. You can gauge content performance by page views, page views by title, page views by content grouping and more.

You will also find value in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). This tool will help you see if Google search is finding your content, if your site has any critical SEO issues that prevent Google from finding and ranking your content, and if Google fully understands your content.

Automation is key, too; rather than pulling reports, have them delivered to you. For example, set up a daily alert on your Google Analytics account to see which of your site’s pages are getting the most traffic. Sometimes traffic patterns on your pages emerge from a solitary tweet or other online mention that can kick off content promotion opportunities.

Your takeaway is this: If you’re creating content marketing campaigns, you need to measure the effectiveness of this work. Using analytics tools will help you understand which parts of your content are working, which parts aren’t and how to better promote distribute and share your content on the Web.

Some numbers to consider:

  • 55 million: Number of websites that use Google Analytics (another source uses 53%)
  • 63%: top percentage ranking given by LinkedIn Tech Marketing Community for importance of Web traffic and/or visits as a key content marketing metric
  • 55%: Percentage of bloggers who regularly check analytics
  • 50%: percentage of business to consumer marketers who told CMI that measuring content effectiveness was one of the top challenges for this year