While there are several steps involved in setting up your Google Analytics account to best practice standards, to help you avoid the traps we see inexperienced users suffer day-to-day, we’ve outlined some of the most common pitfalls that should be avoided.
With a plethora of instructional content accessible online the process of setting up Analytics tracking can appear to be a simple one. However, don’t be fooled, configuring an analytics account takes much more care and forethought than just simply adding a tracking script to your website. Users also need to consider how they can track the interactions that actually matter, refine incoming data and maintain good data hygiene. GA is more than capable of fulfilling these requirements, but it is up to you the user, to set the rules and guidelines for GA to follow.
While there are several steps involved in setting up your GA account to best practice standards, to help you avoid the traps we see inexperienced users suffer day-to-day, we’ve outlined some of the most common pitfalls that should be avoided.
1. Too Many Cooks
Preserving data integrity begins at the account level – that is, who has access to your Google Analytics account? Having a varied list of users with the permission to make edits at an account level leaves your data vulnerable to unauthorised changes or accidental mishaps from inexperienced users. Ideally, only a short list of trusted users should be given admin level access to the account. If many people require access to your web analytics, then consider changing their user access level to view-only.
2. Forgetting to enable key features
The extent of GA’s data-collecting ability is determined through the property settings on the account, and by default requires the user to enable what data you want GA to collect. More specifically, enabling advertising features, such as demographics and interests reports, can provide further information about your online visitors age, gender and interests that can later be leveraged in fine-tuning and testing content. In addition, features that capture remarketing data can also be enabled to build your remarketing audience, amongst others.
3. To Hardcode, or not to Hardcode
For non-technical users, hardcoding a GA tracking script onto a website can seem like an impossible task that runs a very real and high risk of breaking your website if the script is incorrectly inserted. Rather than hardcoding your script onto a master template or individual web pages, you can simply create a GTM tag (using the GA tracking ID) to implement tracking across every page of your website. Not only is GTM an easier option for non-technical users, it has the additional benefit of tracking other key website interactions as well as install tracking codes from complementary platforms (i.e. AdWords, AdRoll, etc.).
4. Driving blind with Single View
Having only one view set up increases the risk of data corruption through incorrect configurations. What’s more, because there is no back-up, historical data will remain contaminated and skew insights collected across online customer interactions and experiences. In effect, rendering your data useless. To avoid being left making crucial decisions in the dark, it is recommended you create three different views for your main property.
All Website Data – this captures all unfiltered website traffic data and should remain untouched. This is used as a means of comparison and as a backup if data from the other views become compromised.
Filtered view – this filters out all internal and vendor specific traffic to give a true view of public activity on the site. Therefore, this should be used as your primary view for analysis and reporting.
Test – this is used for testing purposes only. That might be to test new goals and filters under this view before applying them to your primary view.
5. Can’t see the wood, from the Internal Traffic
Employees and vendors interacting with your website will tend to show different online behaviours from the public. Consequently, metrics reported in GA can become artificially inflated and provide misleading information on website performance. To avoid this, filters excluding traffic from office IP addresses should be applied to the primary view. Although this is not a full-proof solution (staff working offsite, agencies and other vendors etc should also be considered), it will give a truer representation of public visits to your site and increase the predictive value of the data collected.
These are but a few of the common configuration errors we see when we first audit our clients GA set-up. However, as you can see, the impact these alone have on the quality of the data you could be using to determine business critical actions and customer experience decision-making, is cause for not only concern, but pause. We recommend to all our clients they have a certified and experienced Google Analytics expert audit the configuration of their GA Account before any Digital Marketing, User Experience testing or other performance related activities are undertaken.
With the ongoing and increasing rise in digital marketing expenditure, and the impact of your content performance when it comes to customer experience, it is a very small investment to make today when you consider the potential expenditure being misplaced, future decisions being misinformed and the major risk that places on your business and its competitive advantage.
Talk to us today to find out how we can help configure your GA to best practice standards to ensure your decision making data is accurate, relevant and ultimately an asset for your business.