I don’t trust my google analytics: A short guide to why and what you can do about it

Ask multiple marketing managers the same question, “Who maintains your google analytics?”, and you will receive several different replies. This is, in part, due to the fact that several different departments “own” analytics real estate on their company’s website ranging from ecommerce to client support . There are also different technical services required to implement these changes, and these, of course, will be implemented by the web manager, usually via Google Tag Manager. However, we are still  back to the issue of ownership and maintenance.

The web manager will implement the technical changes such as cross domain tracking, floodlight tags, etc., and the digital manager will interpret the results. But who checks that it’s all working correctly? Who confirms that the data coming out is correct, the goals set reflect the needs of your different departments, the custom domains are tracking seamlessly, and that all the underlying snippets of code which allow Google analytics to do its jobs are functioning as they should?

These questions are specific because they reflect some of the common issues I come across before an audit is done. The following steps will show you how to rebuild trust in your analytics.

Step 1: Discovery

  • Explore and understand the goals of the business for the website. Even if your site is well established, a refresh workshop with all interested parties is a good idea
  • KPIs. Translate that into specific KPIs and metrics.
  • Measurement plan. Define the metrics, goals and other key features Google Analytics should be tracking to meet the business needs.

Step 1: Perform an audit and implementation

An audit which will review your complete analytics setup. This is typically a 60 – 90 point checklist to ensure that everything is set up within Google Analytics correctly. It also will reveal any data breaches such as  Personally Identifiable Information, particularly apt in this time of GDPR. Once this is complete, implement the changes.

Step 2: Create a  maintenance schedule and owner identification flowchart

This will turn out to be a huge time/stress saver for many reasons including:

  • It ensures that the data is correct.
  • It ensures that there is continuity and communication between the various staff members associated with Google analytics via a weekly or monthly report (this is also particularly relevant in industries where there is a high turnover in staff).
  • It encourages staff to explore further uses of GA and Google data studio. This is a really important point and something we will explore in future posts, but suffice to say, that although the scope, features, and abilities of Google Analytics & Google Data Studio have increased dramatically over the years, many companies still do not exploit its full abilities because they do not trust its results.
  • It saves you time and money. We have seen cases where companies have abandoned much of the available functionality of Google Analytics in favor of alternative analytics packages believing incorrectly that Google analytics was not reliable. Fortunately, we have seen how this trend reversed itself after we applied our full audit & implementation.

Step 3: Create a Google Data Studio report to share all your analytics data with your colleagues

Google data studio is a free report visualisation tool. It was recently voted the most popular data visualisation tool among digital marketing companies in a recent survey by Goodfirms ! A relatively new service, (it came out of Beta mode in October 2018), its feature set is growing monthly. It is the perfect place to share all your analytics reports, with all the results automatically updated.

DIY

If you have the time, then you can use many of the self-guided audit tools out there. Most are spreadsheet check lists which take you through the  process of how to apply an audit and implement the changes. Once you are happy that Google analytics is set up correctly, then feed your analytics in Google Data Studio (free templates available). Finally, create a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly maintenance schedule depending on the metric you are tracking.

If all of this is something you would want to get someone else to do, then we are here to help. Simply click on the contact link here and let the healing begin!