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Google Analytics: A Beginner’s Guide

        Why Analytics?
Web analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic but can also be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website for a better insight on how a website is performing and whether or not an optimization is required. Web analytics applications can also help organizations measure the results of traditional print or broadcast advertising campaigns.

In order to evaluate the R.O.I (Return on Investment) of your blog or website, you must analyze and measure your website visitors’ data to have a deep understanding of user behavior across all the web pages. Google Analytics is one such tool which can help track various parameters pertaining to user behavior such as the number of visitors, number of sessions, number of page views, average time on your website, bounce rate, and so on.
Google Analytics Beginner Guide


Web analytics comprises five essential data measuring tools, namely;

1. Data Collection: The software tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console takes and collects the visitor data with the help of a Javascript on your website's source code. The objective of this step is to gather basic data.

2. Data Processing: The objective of this step is to convert the website visitor's data into metrics in the form of ratios.

3. Data Conversion: After the metrics are obtained, the result data is formulated to calculate the Key Performance Indicators which help organizations develop a business strategy.

4. Return On Investment: Organization builds a strategy based on their revenue model to achieve their respective return on the amount invested for all the marketing efforts. The goal, however, varies from organization to organization. The goal or objective could be brand positioning, making money, an increment in market share, and so on.

5. A/B Testing: A/B testing (also called split testing) is referred to as a random experiment with two variants, A and B. Usually two variants of a web page are shown to the same set of audience to identify which amongst them performs better. The data collected impacts the marketing strategy of an organization.

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools available on the internet which can help track the user behavior on a website. It allows you to gather data about various quantitative aspects of your website like:
       The number of visitors per day or per week or per month,
       Number of new visitors,
       The number of user sessions,
       Time spent by the user on each page,
       The location of the user,
       Demographics, e.g Age, Gender, etc,
And many other features!!!

There are a variety of available user data reports on Google Analytics dashboard. I will go step by step to help you understand some of the features of this powerful tool;

Real-Time

Google Analytics Real-Time reports fetch real-time website user behavior reports which helps the website owner to analyze the data according to the requirement and optimize the content accordingly. The real time reports comprise of the following:

Overview- As the name suggests, a real-time report shows the number of active users on a website
Locations- Analytics will show the location of your website users in real time.

Traffic Sources- In this section of real-time report, analytics will show the source of the traffic i.e whether the user came directly to the website or through a search query or through a referral.

Content- It shows the pages which are being browsed by the website users in real-time.

Audience

 This report fetches the website users' information in terms of demographics, interests, behavior, technology used, and so on. Let’s take a look at these one by one;

Active Users- The users active on your website for a desired period i.e for a day, a week, a month, etc.

Demographics- whether the users are male or female, and what age group do they belong to!

Interests- which pages are your website users, the most and the least active on!

Geo- This analytics data would fetch the location of your website users along with the language they use to communicate, e.g. English(U.S), English(U.K), etc.
Behavior- How engaging are your website users and what is the percentage of 'New Visitors' versus the 'Returning Visitors'. This data also shows the count of sessions, total number of sessions, and the total number of page views for a set range.
Technology- Which operating system are your website visitors use(e.g. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.), and who are their Internet Service Providers(ISPs)!
Device- Whether your website visitors are using a computer, a mobile or a tablet to access your website!

Acquisition


Acquisition makes a website owner have an insight on the source of traffic to acquire visitors to their website. The reports show the following metrics;
Direct Traffic- Direct traffic defines the number of users who directly visited your website, for a set range of date.
 Organic Search- Organic Search report fetches the data of your website visitors who landed on your website by means of a search query on a search engine.
Social- Social Search report fetches the data of your website visitors who landed on your website from a social channel e.g Facebook, Quora, Google+, Twitter, etc.
Referral- Referral traffic is a method of reporting visits to your website, outside of the search engine.

Behavior

Behavior reports suggest the overall visitor's behavior on your website based on the following metrics;
·        
       Page views
       Unique Page views
       Average time on a page
       Bounce Rate
       Exit Percent

Based on the business objective of a website, the metrics in Google Analytics can be changed. The data can be also be extracted hourly, daily, weekly and monthly.

Site Content- This metric shows which page had the maximum views and which had the minimum. The report also fetches the following parameters apart from the common parameters like bounce rate, page views, unique page views, average time on page, etc.
Entrances Count, which is defined as the number of times visitors entered your website.
Percent Exit, which is the ratio of the number of exits to the number of page views.


Conversions


Defining 'Goals' is an important component of any digital analytics measurement plan, and it can be divided into the following matrices depending on the business objective;
Goals- Goals are a versatile way to measure how well your site or app fulfills targeted objectives. You can measure conversions, or completion rates, for each Goal you set up. Combine Goals with Funnels to analyze user actions leading up to a Goal. If you set a monetary value for a Goal, you can also see the value of conversions.

Examples of Goals include;

       "Thank you for registering" pages.
       "Flight Itinerary" confirmations.
       "Download Completed" page.
          
E-Commerce- With the help of Google Analytics ecommerce tracking, you can compare sales data with your website analytics data like bounce rate, traffic sources, etc. Ecommerce tracking is a snippet of code you can include on your site or app to collect transaction data like product sales, purchase amounts, and billing locations, and connect it to your Google Analytics account.

With ecommerce tracking, you can better understand the value of your digital business. Use the Ecommerce Reports to segment and analyze your data, and discover relationships between your marketing campaigns, user engagement, and transactions.

Customization

With the help of Google Analytics tool, you can create customized reports depending on your business goal. A website owner may or may not find a value in a particular metric. Let’s suppose a business is more into lead generation, the 'page value' metric would not benefit, and that the business is more interested in other metric. That's when 'Custom Reports' come handy.

       To create a custom report, click on 'Customization' followed by a click on 'Custom Reports', and then click on ' New Custom Report'.
       Now, put a title name, e.g 'Traffic'.

       Under Report Tab, you can choose whether you want to have 'Explorer', 'Flat Table' or 'Map Overlay'. You can add matrices to the report tab, e.g. 'Advertising', 'Social', 'Acquisition', and ‘Behavior’.

       You can also add 'Custom Dimensions' similar to the above report matrices, as per your requirement.
       When you are done customizing the report you want to analyze, click on 'Save' and you would be able to see the custom report dashboard with the matrices you chose.

Conclusion

One of the difference between traditional marketing and Digital Marketing lies in the fact that you can measure the outcome of your campaigns for the latter, and optimize those as per the available data on a tool like Google Analytics. Go ahead and install the analytics code on your website if you haven’t done already.


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