According to Cisco, by the end of this year there will be over a zettabye of data flowing through the web. To put things in perspective, a zettabye is equivalent to one trillion gigabytes, or half a trillion free Dropbox accounts. That’s a lot of data.

If your business has a website then you are attracting a tiny piece of this data-filled pie to your brand. To turn this data into insight that could help you transform your business, you will need to use web analytics.

Web analytics software takes your website’s usage data and turns it into dashboards, tables, and graphs so you can understand how your visitors are interacting with it. By far, the most popular web analytics software is the free version of Google Analytics. In addition to costing you nothing, Google Analytics is relatively easy to install and you can start collecting your first bits of real time data within minutes.


Example of a Google Analytics dashboard


There are hundreds of different metrics available for tracking inside of Google Analytics. Because of this, it can be easy to get lost in the platform. It is also easy to get caught up in vanity metrics, or metrics that look good on paper but don’t really give you much actionable insight into your business.

To save you time, we’ve outlined the top three metrics that you must track and pay special attention to when looking at your business’ analytics:

  1. Must Track Metric #1: Acquisition Channel
  1. Your top Acquisition Channels can be found in Google Analytics by going to Acquisition > Overview.
  2. The Acquisition Channels overview groups your website’s traffic sources into a handful of main channels: Organic Search, Direct, Referral, Paid, Social, and Other. This set of data shows you which channels are responsible for generating the most visitors, engagement, and leads on your website. By looking at this data, you can find the answers to questions like:
  3. Are my social media campaigns driving leads?
    • How many people am I gaining from organic search?
    • Is my referral traffic highly engaged with my website?
  4. Knowing not only how many visitors are coming to your site but where they are coming from and how each channel affects your visitors’ engagement is key to optimizing the performance of your website.
  5. One thing to note is that the Paid channel is missing from the above illustration. That is because this particular client is not implementing any paid ad campaigns. If the client was running a Google Adwords or Bing Ads campaign, then there would be another row showing a Paid channel, along with all of the engagement and conversion data for it.
  6. Luckily, Google Analytics is pretty smart and can automatically categorize your traffic without too many additional configurations needed.
  7. Must Track Metric #2: Goals
  1. Your website’s Goals data can be accessed in Google Analytics by going to Conversions > Goals.
  2. All websites have some kind of goal that needs to be tracked. If you’re trying to generate leads on your website, your goal might be for your visitors to submit an entry through your contact form. If you have a content-driven website, your goal might be for your visitors to scroll to the bottom of the blog post, showing that they’ve read it.
  3. Tracking your goals in Google Analytics will tell you how effectively your website’s design, content, and user-experience is helping you reach these goals. You can even assign goal values in terms of dollar amounts to give you some perspective in terms of performance on a business level.
  4. Note: Setting up goals in Google Analytics takes some additional work depending on what kind of goals you are tracking. See this blog post for more information on setting up goal tracking with Google Analytics.
  5. Must Track Metric #3: Multi-Channel Funnels
  1. To view your Multi-Channel Funnels data in Google Analytics, click on Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels.
  2. Your Multi-Channel Funnels data helps you tell a more complete story about your marketing. Similar to your Acquisition data, your Multi-Channel Funnels data has the ability to tell you about which traffic sources are driving leads. However, the Multi-Channel Funnels data adds another dimension to that.
  3. Your Multi-Channel Funnels data tells you not only the last place your visitors came from, but all of the channels your visitors hit before going to your site. To explain this, I’ll give an example:
  4. Imagine that one of your visitors performs a Google search and lands on your website but decides that they aren’t ready to pick up the phone and call you. A few days later, they visit your Facebook page and notice a recent update advertising a promotional “no-obligation quote”. This same visitor then heads back to your website and fills out the contact form, completing a goal.
  5. In your regular Goals or Acquisition dashboards, you would see this goal completion originating from a Social channel since the last place they hit before completing the form was Facebook. However, the visitor originallyvisited your site as a result of an Organic search, and wouldn’t have been aware of your brand if it wasn’t for your SEO efforts.
  6. Imagine if you weren’t able to see this data. You might infer that your SEO campaigns aren’t working and you might make the mistake of stopping them and investing more into Facebook.
  7. This is why looking at your Multi-Channel Funnels data is so important; It gives you more of a complete picture as to what’s working in your current marketing campaigns and how each of your individual campaigns are working together to achieve each one of your website’s goals.


Remember, it’s not enough to just copy and paste the Google Analytics code into your website and let it sit. If you’re not analyzing your data, you’re missing out on a lot of actionable insights that could help you improve the performance of your website.

Therefore, instead of making assumptions on what you think looks good or will convert well, you can actually test your hypotheses and adjust your approach as necessary.

Here’s a link to a Prezi presentation that I did last year on the Basics of Google Analytics. Enjoy!

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