Thought Google Analytics was all about SEO? Think again.

Within his recent LinkLove presentation, Will Critchlow talked about this idea of becoming a ‘full stack marketer’ and it’s an idea that resonates here at Distilled and the kind of direction we are working towards as a company.

When it comes to being a smarter online marketer, it’s important to start thinking beyond SEO, particularly when it comes to analytics. Even if your job is just that, you can learn from other channels and the data they provide. If your client or company does more than just search engine optimisation, then they they need to be tracking as much of these efforts as possible.

With a new Analytics module now live in DistilledU, this post serves as an introduction to tracking different marketing channels such as:

  • Organic search

  • Paid search and display

  • Email marketing

  • Social

  • Conversion rate optimisation

Let’s get straight into it.

First up: Organic search

Now, of course, this goes against the intro to the piece but we like a post to be well rounded, don’t we? The key to analysing your SEO efforts through Google Analytics is to make sure your tracking is set up correctly and you are segmenting the data you want appropriately. With this all set, you can get the insights you need to drive the desired actions you want. Take a walk through these Google guidelines when it comes to setting your tracking up and take a look at the Google Analytics gallery (you’ll need to filter marketing function by SEO) and see what segments and dashboards are readily available for you to use. These can get you going really quickly and save you a lot of time with getting your own setup from scratch.

PPC, because we all love data

Some paid search platforms allow for pretty good integration with analytics platforms. The most common integration is probably Google Analytics and Google Adwords - which you’d expect!

However, even this still takes a bit of work before it is tracked correctly:

  • You have to enable auto-tagging in your Adwords account

  • You have to apply cost data in Google Analytics

  • You have to link your Google Analytics and Adwords accounts

If you’re using other paid search ad campaigns though, you may have to set up your own extra tracking.This is something I talked about in a former blog post by differentiating between your campaigns within your GA account; be it SEO, PPC, social..., it’s super important if you want to really identify the source that is driving your traffic.

Tag your posts.

Use the Google URL builder to apply a PPC tag to the medium tag. Then, when it comes to tracking your online efforts and the number of people this is bringing to your site, you can clearly see how many people are following the links and leading to conversions.

Lots of data to learn from

Even if your job is organic marketing, you can often learn a lot from paid search, including what keywords are converting best and attracting the most traffic. This information can then be fed into your SEO campaign and you can target keywords that you know convert well - rather than relying on keyword research from tools like the Google keyword tool which can’t always give you very accurate figures.

Email marketing

Now, a lot of email providers do allow for nice integration of Google Analytics. We’re big fans of MailChimp at Distilled [not least for its cheeky tone!] which will allow you to simply add in a custom title for your campaign.

Head into the setup section of your email campaign and, with any luck, your ESP should offer up some tracking options. You can see here that MailChimp allows you to track your Campaign stats with Saleforce too. Add in the title for this particular message into the relevant box and you will then be able to follow this campaign and its click through rates in your Google Analytics. The image below should give you a better idea of this in action within the dashboard:

Let’s get social

There’s tons of ways to measure and quantify your social media efforts - with free tools like True Social Metrics to Followerwonk for a deeper dive into social authority and location - but it’s important that you are checking the correct reports in analytics to measure how things are working. Any links back to the Distilled site that are shared through social will all be built using the URL builder so that this source can then be easily identified.

This screen shot gives you an idea of what a company’s Google Analytics tab might look like. By setting up an advanced segment within the Custom Reporting tab, you can track specifics, in this case social sources. This kind of custom reporting allows you to build a picture of social engagement and its worth to your site.

Conversion rate optimisation

This might not be an area that you are currently focusing on but CRO can give some interesting insights into which keywords are converting best for your brand which, in turn, can then feed into your other marketing campaigns such as organic and paid search. It can also help you to work out where next to focus your campaigns; where are your visitors coming from? What were the reasons they didn’t purchase? Is social sending traffic but no conversions? If yes, then this is an area that should be investigated.

With this in mind, make sure you’ve got the tracking set up correctly within your Google Analytics. There are essentially two ways of doing this:

  • eCommerce tracking - As the name would suggest, this is largely used by ecommerce sites and will give you some more to add to your website for you to track product purchases through your site and when these visitors first came from initially.

  • Goal tracking - If you’re not selling a specific product, you can use this type of tracking to monitor important goals to your business i.e we might set up a goal through this to monitor the amount of people signing up to DistilledU and this would be our first goal. We can then track this to work out what areas are bringing us new subscribers and focus our attentions there in future marketing campaigns.


Offline marketing

In the past, it has been very hard to tie offline marketing activity into online and see how the two may be connected but it is possible. Here are a few areas you could focus on to try and track this:

  • Use unique purchase / discount codes - You see these codes all over the tube or within magazines encouraging you to purchase a product with a unique discount specific to that campaign. It’s then just a case of tracking the people that buy through your store using this code.

  • Unique URLs - Similarly to the discount codes, a unique URL will redirect you from the link listed to the site itself. It is then a simple case of either tracking the number of times the redirect is used or the number of page loads it has.

  • Annotations in Google Analytics - This is another thing we’ve implemented here in Distilled. By entering details on new promotions or initiatives, these can then help explain big fluctuations in your performance when it comes to analysing what is working.


Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics

Take a look at this video from Google Analytics themselves on how multi-channel reporting and tracking works with them:

It’s also relatively new but Universal Analytics allows a lot of this cross channel tracking and reporting so you can get a better understanding of how your online community is interacting with your brand or site.

Thought Google Analytics was all about SEO? Think again.

Hopefully this post has helped you to start thinking beyond the search ranking and instead how to get smarter at your marketing with these tracking functions across a whole breadth of areas. Remember for even more information and learning resources on the subject, the Analytics module is now live in the Further SEO section of DistilledU. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’re using GA within your marketing efforts in the comments below!

Cheri Percy

Cheri Percy

Cheri joined Distilled as a community intern and now heads up the Marketing department in the London office. She has co-ordinated and project managed some of Distilled's biggest content pieces to date and has doubled its social media growth.  When...   read more

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  1. It's amazing to me how little people understand about this stuff -- even experienced marketers. Practically every client that comes to work with us for PPC, we take a look at their site and say "We really should work on your conversion path first." They say, "No - we need leads now. Let's just get started."

    A few weeks later, they wonder why they're not getting enough leads. You look at the analytics and show them that they've been getting plenty of click-throughs, but very few conversions. When your conversion rate for PPC visitors is on the same order of magnitude as your CTR, guess what? Your cost per lead is ridiculous.

    But until you show them this with their own data, they don't believe you.

    reply >
    • Ive had that happen more times than i've cared to count Scott. We generally put our foot down on it and give them some case scenarios that highlight the same downfalls of prior campaigns. If they are adamant, we will get a campaign set up but attempt to throttle it back initially as the conversion rate will be low and we do not want to waste excessive amounts of money on non-converting traffic.

  2. hi chery..

    Could you explain me more about Tag Your Post....

    Or could you give an example...really i didn't understand it point.

    Thanks for your help.


    reply >
  3. Hi Cheri,

    There's no doubt that driving traffic to your website and SEO has become more complicated over the years -but far more exciting as well, no? Thank you for this post, I found some useful tips in it!

    reply >
    • Oh, most definitely David.

      Lots more to learn in any case which is always great for me!

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the post and thanks for your comment.

  4. Hi Cheri first great post, it definitely got me thinking I need to be digging deeper into my Google Analytics account!

    One question though regarding the "Lets Get Social" part of the article. You mention that you will use the "URL Builder" for this part, is that just like a url shortener like bitly?

    Thanks in advance.

    reply >
  5. Hi, Cheri.
    Great article and thanks for mentioning True Social Metrics in it. I don't want to seem boring, but the name of site is mentioned incorrectly: it's not True Social Mentions but True Social Metrics :)

    reply >
  6. Harmony Phillips

    I've never understood thy people don't take their conversion rate seriously, I have worked with clients who just don't seem to care one bit about it. High Google rankings is all they care about.
    Some of my clients who use PPC are a little more sensible as most do indeed measured ROI, it's implicit from the beginning that conversion rate be controlled and improved. This is sort of typical of what goes on here..
    That's where the problem starts. Split testing of landing pages? Different graphics? A change in the "Call to action" position?
    You'd think I was asking them to give up their entire business and principles. Their is such a huge drag factor.
    Email marketing has a bad name with some. These are the people who wake up in the morning to be greeted by a full inbox of spam themselves and don't like the idea of (as they see it) joining the spammers. Here the trick was to ensure they understood we were targeting only responsive potential clients.

    Great post Cheri-Percy. I hope more people convert to this holistic approach to clients. I've already referred two business owners to this page this morning


    reply >
  7. Great post! It still surprises me when people do not use Google Analytics to it's full functionality. It offers so much data and could minimise a lot of 'stabbing in the dark' which takes place in many companies. Hopefully these people will read your post and start seeing the value of using Google Analytics.

    reply >
  8. Hi there, You have done an excellent job. I'll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends.
    I'm confident they'll be benefited from this website.

    reply >

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