Are you following these Google Analytics Best Practices?

You're the head of marketing for a brand responsible for all things digital plus a boat load of other responsibilities. You know that dreaded "other duties as assigned" line in your job description? That's you. Website analytics seems like a great resource, it is plug and play and you can pull information that you need out of it. But what if the information you're pulling isn't always accurate? Or is incomplete? Misinterpreted? Or could be gathered in more efficient way freeing up valuable time for other tasks?

Here are some of my favorite features of Google Analytics that I rarely see used or worse, used incorrectly. Ready to save some time, gather more insights, and be better equipped to answer marketing questions?

1) Cross-Domain Tracking

Does your brand have a blog separate from its eCommerce platform? Or maybe you use a 3rd party shopping cart to make sales? Wouldn't it be great if you could track how users interact with the two different websites? Track how users discover your brand via the blog and then follow them down the path to purchase on your eCommerce site?

Yeah, cross-domain tracking does this. It is not as simple as just installing the same code on two domains. There are a few tweaks to the Google Analytics code required, some filters that need to be added, and some referral exclusions to implement. Plus it takes up to 60 days for self-referrals to disappear from your reports. 

2) Enhanced eCommerce

eCommerce functionality is commonly used and most eCommerce platforms will include this tagging information automatically. However, most fall short here and don't take it one step further. Enhanced eCommerce allows you to better track your shopping experience. 

Want to know how many people view a product on your category page and then add to cart or purchase? Want to know how the order of products displayed on your category pages affect your sales? Should you lead with your most popular sellers or with products you are having a harder time moving? 

Enhanced eCommerce can help. This will require some help from a developer as you will need to put in some additional code on the product pages, however, it isn't complicated and Google has put together a really amazing implementation guide.

3) Campaign Tracking

Click on this link, bookmark it, and let me tell you why.

Campaign tracking is a great way to see how various inbound channels are interacting with your site. Is one ad campaign sending a ton of traffic but no conversions? Or is your smallest traffic source your highest converting? Campaign tracking can help you compare efforts, but only if you do it correctly & consistently. 

Use the link above to create these trackable links. There are a few nuances that you must know. For example, always use consistent campaign names, use medium information that Google Analytics understands, and use these links ALL THE TIME. Another great tip, shorten links using a link shortener like goo.gl. I can go on about campaign tracking, but that is for another blog post. 

4)  Custom Imports

One of my go to reports when looking at Google Analytics is custom attribution models when looking at eCommerce performance. However, if you look at ROAS or Cost Analysis reports, only Google AdWords reports are listed. Not much help if you invested a lot on a sponsored email, banner ad placement, or social advertising because Google Analytics won't display cost.

Custom imports allow you to import your own data into Google Analytics. You can import impression data, CTR, cost, CPC, and more. This is all dependent the proper use of campaign parameters to track these efforts. 

You can track your acquisition efforts in one place. You can see if that paid banner placement was as effective in driving sales as the paid email blast. Most important (at least to me) you can use attribution modeling and compare CPA and ROAS among different campaigns.

These are just a few of my favorite features of Google Analytics that often are not used. What are your favorite features? What reports do you always look at? Leave a comment and let me know!

Tim Akers