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Google Analytics and Ecommerce: Learning the Value of your Website in Dollars and Sense

When I sat down to attend the DMAW’s Lunch & Learn, led by the Harrington Agency’s Chief Digital Strategist Adam Ruff, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the seminar (which I was happy to discover was a working session) would cover getting the most out of Google Analytics, but to what degree?

I won’t lie, there were moments where some terms were lost in translation, but overall, I took away many insightful tips. My biggest takeaways:

  1. Ecommerce is the Holy Grail of Google Analytics.

The power of Ecommerce can also be best described in Adam’s terms: along with Google Analytics, Ecommerce is the “peanut butter and jelly of website donor strategies.” It tells you what is and isn’t working and gives you metrics to focus on…which leads me to my next takeaway…

  1. Distinguish which metrics are important to track and focus on, and more importantly, which metrics to ignore.

Google Analytics has tons of information and insight, but many of these metrics do not yield usable data and are not helpful to your overall goals: e.g., time wasters such as treemaps or hour of day.

  1. The importance of AdWords.

How you drive folks to your site is the most powerful tool to track their behavior and interaction with your brand. For example, you might find that certain keywords resonate the most with your best supporters.

  1. Under AdWords, you have the ability to create multiple reports.

Identifying the demographics of valuable and potentially valuable donors is useful for targeting campaigns and building new audiences for remarketing.

  1. Affinity Categories, under AdWords, allow you to create an audience or segment based on interest, e.g., sports fans, cooking enthusiasts, or travel buffs.

Then use that segment as a filter across all the data on your site to see what content your visitors engage with and read. Although you can create an infinite number of segments, make sure you’re not wasting time. Ask yourself: what question do you really need answered?

One of Adam’s clients created a segment to see what content its travel buff audience preferred versus the rest of its audience and discovered that the travel buff audience was 4x more engaged than the rest of the audience. So it created a new audience to re-target their marketing to, and they learned that their best converters were those who loved their travel blog posts. The overall benefit to this segmentation is that his client now knew what content to focus on and which supporters to advertise to. They could focus their content efforts and AdWords on supporters who not only liked the organization most but in turn, gave those supporters who liked them the most exactly what they wanted.

  1. Reports are the backbone of Google Analytics.

Like Google dashboards, reports are customizable and can save you time. For instance, if you select Ecommerce, you have the ability to choose which metrics to track and can easily select and view those same metrics each time. And Google Analytics will email you selected reports weekly, monthly, or daily.

  1. Google Intelligence is out of this world.

What if getting answers about your key business metrics were as easy as asking a question in plain English? Like: “What is the long-term value of my new visitors versus returning visitors in the last 30 days for Campaign X?” Seems too good to be true? By simply clicking on the “Intelligence Button” in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, you can access AI and a set of features in Google Analytics that use machine learning to help you better understand and act on your analytics data.

Bottom line: There’s so much to discover about how to maximize Google Analytics and how to best harness its power to improve your website marketing tools.

Amanda Dreyfuss is a Marketing Coordinator at Avalon Consulting Group and can be reached at