CXL Conversion Optimization Minidegree — Week 5 Review
Week 5 of the CXL Conversion Optimization Minidegree put me in a coma.
Or, more precisely, the Google Analytics for beginners lesson put me in a semi-responsive state where all I can do is stare at the ceiling with imaginary smoke coming out of my ears.
There’s one reason for this:
There are just. So. Much. Info. To process. (My tiny rigid brain can’t deal.)
Needless to say, Mercer (that’s Chris Mercer of MeasurementMarketing.io) did an amazing job at explaining how data moves in Google Analytics Universal.
The problem is there’s a new version available: the Google Analytics 4, or GA4, as Google affectionately call it.
Wait, wait. Does that mean the 9+ hours-long course I just watched is useless?
Well, yes. And no.
Yes, because the GA4 brought a lot (A LOT) of changes with it.
It’s not just UI changes. It changes how Analytics processes data and the reports you can use. No more goals, no more behaviors. Heck, the view mode isn’t even available anymore. CXL did a great job explaining what’s going on in GA4 that you need note.
But luckily, GA4 is new.
Like, 2020 new.
It’s still a fledgling compared to GA Universal. And you can still set up an Analytics Universal property through the “advanced” mode hidden in the property creation page.
But, even if you’re planning on creating a GA4 property (which, by the way, is also covered by another CXL course) instead of sticking with Universal, the knowledge Mercer imparted during this course can still help you.
Sure, the technical nitty-gritty may not be carried over.
The practical, mind-prepping stuff does, though.
So, basically here’s what happens in Week 5: Google Analytics for beginners:
- Getting Started with GA: this is where you learn to set up your account settings, property settings, view settings, and eventually filters.
- Understanding traffic: Mercer explains how you can make sense of the traffic pouring in through the Acquisition reports and how the story behind the traffic easier to read
- Understanding results: In this final section, you’ll learn how to set up goals through the conversion reports and see what answers you can get from goals.
- Analyzing reports: introducing the QIA (Question, Information, and Action) steps you should follow when diving into Google Analytics. Basically, it means that you should know what the question before diving into GA, what information you need to get the answer, and what action to take once you get the answer. But, really, start with the Action first.
Now, getting started with GA is technical stuff, so we won’t cover this in-depth. Here’s all you need to know.
There are three levels to your Google Analytics account: Account, Property, and View.
- Account level is where you go to manage things that can impact your entire Google Analytics setup, including user management, filters, and other settings.
- Property is where you separate your data. If you want your data to interact, put them within one property. This is where the tracking numbers used as your ’address’ come from.
- View is used when you want to answer specific questions. There are three types of views: Backup, testing, and production. Backup is the raw data you should never, ever touch. It’s there just in case you mess something up in your Analytics setup. Testing is where you test your setup (like filters or goals) before deploying them into production. And finally, production is your main setup, where you go when you have specific questions you need answered.
Next up, let’s talk about understanding traffic.
You can identify the traffic coming into your Analytics account through the ‘Acquisition’ report. There are three types of traffic here:
- Organic: the traffic directed to your website from search engine, including Bing, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, and Google.
- Referral: traffic directed from other websites that are not search engines.
- None: unknown traffic — might be direct or email or god knows where.
Now here’s the problem:
The unknown traffic, while it may be direct — as in typed directly to the address bar — but it also can be traffic from unknown websites.
So, you need to identify the story behind this unknown traffic.
You can do that by adding ‘landing page’ as your second dimension and seeing if the pages they land on (enter first) makes sense.
For example, if you have a membership page, and you see that most people are landing on your membership page, then that could be direct right? They could have bookmarked that page and going there directly.
However, when you see that they’re landing on a page that they shouldn’t have landed directly on, what happened there?
In this case, you need to use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) to identify these unknown roads.
Let’s say that you want to link to Medium’s homepage. Instead of just using medium.com, you add UTM to your link, so it’ll look like:
This lets GA know the source, medium, campaign, term, and content they should use to describe the traffic in your storage. So, instead of just direct/none, you can see where your traffic is coming from by using UTM and make a more informed decision.
Here’s a tool you can use when you find typing utm_everything is too hard on your poor, weary bones.
The last section for today is the understanding results section. In this section, Mercer explained all about the goals living under the ‘Conversion’ section of Google Analytics.
There are three kinds of goals you should create: Aware, Complete, and Engage.
To create goals, go to the ‘admin’ menu and click ‘goals.’ This is where you can add and manage your goals. There are four types of goals:
- Destination goals fire (or +1) when your visitor land on a certain page. You can also use this destination goal to create a funnel visualization. By turning on the funnel, you can add steps that should be completed to reach your goal. However, the main destination is still the one that counts. Your goal will activate, even when the steps aren’t completed, if your destination page is opened.
- Duration goals are achieved once someone has been on your page above a threshold you specified. However, GA doesn’t use a clock when determining this amount. Instead, it uses the difference between timestamps to determine how long someone stays on a page. Which is bad for you, if your users don’t click on anything else after visiting your page. So the key to monitoring these duration goals is you shouldn’t be too hung up on the actual number. Instead, look for trend and patterns to get your answers.
- Pages per session goals monitor the amount of pages you visit during a single session, including repeated views of a single page. Pages per session is needed when you want to monitor the duration of a single page application. Except they don’t have duration, they’re single page! There are no timestamps you can use to determine anything. So, you use pages per session to get your answers instead.
- Event goals monitor specific behaviors. Unlike other goals, you need to do a more thorough set up to get event goals up and working. Since it monitors specific behaviors, you need to let Google Analytics know exactly what behavior you want to track. You can use Google Tag Manager to do this or set up an event tracking code. Google Tag Manager is a part of the Google Marketing Platform which levels up the capability of your data collection, which will be explained later in the minidegree.
- Ecommerce goals, unlike other goals, need to be turned on prior to using it and set up. The way on setting up e-commerce goals depend what platform you’re using. You can find how to set Google Analytics up through your provider’s support page. Another thing to note is that there is a standard version and an enhanced version to e-commerce goals. The standard version reports only the results of your sales, while the enhanced version also reports on how your customers got there. Check to see if the data your provider sends is for the standard or enhanced version when setting this report up, as it’ll affect the data in your Analytics.
A running theme through these lessons is trust but verify. Meaning that although you’re sure that you did the right thing, you should always, always check back if it’s set up correctly. Try to break your own setup to make sure that your setup works as it should.
Now next week’s goal is still plain, old catching up with the lessons.
(By my roadmap, I’m four modules behind, gah!)
I’ve started with the final lesson of this module: Landing page optimization.
So far, my brain is safe and comfy, but we'll see if it finally liquifies next week.