social media how to

Are you spending too much time fiddling within Google Analytics?

Do you want to streamline your analysis experience?

Monitoring and reporting Google Analytics data can easily turn into a full-time job by itself, but it doesn’t have to.

In this article I’ll share five Google Analytics shortcuts for setting up basic analytics, finding the most relevant reports and checking those reports regularly.

google analytics shortcuts

Discover five helpful shortcuts for Google Analytics analysis.

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#1: Set Up Goals

Until you set up goals, there’s a lot of data missing from Google Analytics. Goals are necessary to see your Conversion reports, which show you the successful outcomes (leads, subscribers, sales) from visits to your website.

Good news! Goals take under a minute to set up—nine clicks and a handful of keystrokes and you’re done. Just follow these step-by-step instructions:

1. Click Admin in the header.
2. Under View, click Goals.
3. Click the New Goal button.
4. Enter in the name of your goal; for example, Contact Lead.
5. Select Destination as the type of goal and click Next step.
6. Under Goal details, set the destination equal to your thank-you page URL, such as /thank-you.
7. Select Value > On and assign a monetary value to your goal, even if it’s arbitrary. Setting a $1 value for each goal is perfectly fine.
8. Select Funnel > On and type in the URL of your contact form (e.g., /contact) then select Required > Yes.
9. Click on Create Goal and you’re all set!

Or here’s a one-minute video that shows the entire process.

Once complete, you’ll be able to measure the relative value of various traffic sources and answer some very important questions. For example, are visitors from Facebook more likely to subscribe? Do visitors from Pinterest tend to purchase? Do visitors from Twitter ever turn into leads?

These insights will tell you which social networks deserve your time and energy.

Tip: If you don’t have goals set up, your Analytics account may have other common setup issues. Here are several more videos that show how to set up filters, how to turn on the site search report and how to connect Google Analytics to Google Webmaster Tools.

#2: Grab a Pre-Made Dashboard

Finding insightful reports is the most time-consuming part of using Google Analytics. There are 100+ separate reports, each with its own data, views, filters and segments. Where do you start?

Luckily, there’s a community of analysts that has already gathered up some of the most useful reports and combined them into dashboards. You can add any of these dashboards to your own Google Analytics account.

To browse and add these pre-built dashboards, visit the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery or follow these steps:

1. From the Dashboard section in your Analytics reports, click +New Dashboard, then Import from Gallery.

import a dashboard from the gallery

Use pre-made reporting dashboards to make your job easier.

2. Browse the gallery and pick any dashboard you like. You can sort by ranking or you can filter by category. For social media marketers, I recommend trying Justin Cutroni’s Social Media Dashboard.

choose a dashboard from the gallery

Choose a dashboard that matches the reports you need to follow.

3. Click Import.

click the import button

A quick click and you can import your new dashboard.

Now you can view that set of reports within your own Google Analytics account, with your own data—and you may start finding new insights right away!

#3: Email Dashboards to Yourself

Even the best data is useless if you never see it. Fortunately, Google Analytics makes it easy to keep those reports in front of you by delivering them directly to your inbox.

It just takes a minute and involves a few steps.

1. While viewing the dashboard, click Email.

click the email button

Have dashboards delivered directly to you via email.

2. Enter your email address, along with the addresses of anyone else who should review the report.
3. Select a frequency for delivery: daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.
4. Enter a message and click Send.

fill in the email details

Fill in some basic information and you’re all set.

Now the dashboard will automatically be emailed to the address(es) you specified, making the data more visible—and visibility creates accountability.

Tip: Different dashboards may be relevant to different teams. Here are some ideas for which dashboards to share with whom:

  • Community managers—social media dashboard
  • Advertising managers—top-of-funnel, acquisitions dashboard
  • Sales managers—bottom-of-the-funnel, conversion dashboard
  • Executives—overview dashboard with high-level reports

#4: Save Report Shortcuts

While dashboards are an easy way to see several reports in one place and share them all at once, if you just want to look at the one report you check most often, a Google Analytics shortcut is even faster.

When you view any report, click Shortcut to save it to the Shortcuts section. Now it’s accessible with a single click! Unlike dashboards, each shortcut is for a single report.

click the shortcut button

Shortcuts let you find your most-used reports fast.

Shortcuts are especially handy when you use customized filters, sorting, segments or secondary dimensions.

If you find yourself doing the same report customizations every month, you can save time by including them in your shortcut. All of those customizations will be saved with the report.

For example, the Queries report shows the phrases you rank for in search engines. If you’re looking at this report regularly and you always use an advanced filter to remove your brand name from the report (e.g., “exclude queries containing orbit”), you can save that filter as part of your shortcut.

add filters to your shortcut

Save the filters you use most often as part of your shortcut.

So instead of creating this filter every time, you can just create it once, click Shortcut, give it a name and click OK.

save your shortcut

Name your shortcut to find it easily.

Now that report with customized filters is available with just one click—saving you time because you don’t have to create that filter each time.

#5: Get Reports From Quill Engage

Here’s a shortcut that streamlines both report delivery and analysis. Quill Engage is a free tool that turns your Google Analytics data into paragraphs of text, sent to your inbox weekly.

quill engage email

A typical Quill Engage email.

Instead of writing regular traffic summaries and basic analysis for your team, just send along the Quill Engage report. The reports are easy to read and easy to repurpose.

Set It and Forget It

We all need to find ways to be efficient. These Google Analytics shortcuts give you better access to your data so you can make smart decisions. It’s a one-time effort that takes just a few minutes and gives you ongoing results for years.

What do you think? Have you used any of these tips to save time? Do you have other ideas to add to the list? Leave your comments below.

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  • The Pre-made dashboards are a life saver! Can’t believe I’ve never come across these before.

  • Great post Andy. I’ve been using the pre-made dashboards for a few years now. They’re extremely helpful!

    Do you have any dashboards you’ve created for the examples you mentioned? Community managers, Advertising managers, and so on that you could share?

  • Prasad Dhamnaskar

    perfect dashboards for startups entrepreneurs / or new managers

  • Just getting started on all this – V.Useful post – thanks

  • Luc Beaudoin

    Good post. Very useful. Thanks.

  • Luc Beaudoin

    Good post. Very useful. Thanks.

  • SEOrigami

    Awesome post. Never looked at the solution gallery until now. That alone is a great resource. Thanks for the tips!

  • Very cool! I’ve been using Analytics for over a year and had no idea you could import pre-made dashboards!

  • Bridget McDowall

    Extremely helpful, I’m starting out and this sounds like a real time saver! Thank you Andy.

  • Fiona

    Awesome time saving tips – never new pre-made dashboards existed – Quill (and the Beta Twitter report) is also super interesting!

  • That’s priceless, Andy. Thank you for the dashboard tips.

  • Holy crap my brain is mush with all this! With that said, this article was more helpful than any other analytics article I’ve seen. Thanks for writing this in an ‘easily devourable for analytics challenged’ kinda of way, Andy! 😉

  • Another beautiful written post with a lot of value, and that is why the SME website is one of the best ranking out there 🙂

  • Some great tips here, particularly the shortcuts and pre-made dashboards. Thanks!

  • Andy Crestodina

    Ive made a lot of dashboards, but none that are worthy of sharing in the Gallery. The dashboards that I check most often are my “top of funnel” dashboard (subscribers, trackbacks and traffic) and my “bottom of funnel” dashboard (content and conversions).

    If you’re looking for a good dashboard for community managers, there are several good ones in the Solutions Gallery.

    Glad you liked the post, Christian!

  • Andy Crestodina

    I remember when I first had that feeling. I thought “Really? I can add any of these with one click?” It’s a revelation! If you know others who haven’t discovered these yet, feel free to share this post!

  • Just want to say thanks for a great article! Will start to implement your strategies!!

  • Stephen Chavez

    Thank you for the information about Quill Engage. LOVE their report for my food blog.

  • Susanta Srichandan

    Thank you so much Andy, for giving us the most valuable information.

  • Amy Bogart

    What a helpful article! I just tested out Quill Engage, and think this is going to help streamline my reporting. Thanks for the insights!

  • This is super helpful and will end up being huge time saver, thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for the tips! I have been experimenting with the Pre-made dashboards. Big fan.

  • Andy Crestodina

    There are so many great dashboards there. It’s probably the fastest way to find the best insights that you might have otherwise missed!

  • Andy Crestodina

    Glad to hear it, Bridget. Analytics really doesn’t have to be time consuming. It’s not a separate skill. It’s a skill that every marketer needs. Athletes need scoreboards, marketers need Analytics…

  • Andy Crestodina

    So glad to hear it, Andrea! I’ll admit, I live for praise like this. 🙂 Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or anywhere!

  • Andy Crestodina

    It’s amazing what Quill is doing. They’ve also recently launched a tool that pulls plain-English insights out of any Twitter account. It’s very cool. I’m sure someone will write about it here soon…

  • Andy Crestodina

    Happy to help, Jenny!

  • Andy Crestodina

    Don’t forget to share your own if you make something useful, DJ!

  • Andy Crestodina

    Mike and I talked about these once in the Social Media Examiner podcast about a year ago, but I still think that most marketers have yet to discover these. Feel free to share these tips with your friends. Watch their faces when they first realize how easy they are to import. 🙂

  • Whoa! Jam packed article! And very timely, Andy, as one of my goals this year is to figure out Google Analytics.

  • Brilliant post – just what I needed. I’ve just implemented four of the five tips.

  • Todd Morris

    Great article, thanks for sharing these valuable tips!

  • Caitlin Vandewater

    As someone who is just starting to dig into analytics, these tips really were a time- and life-saver. The email automation and Quill engage tool are sure to come in handy in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  • lapierrejohnna

    just as Jamie answered I didnt even know that any body able to make $4455 in 1 month on the internet . read more


  • Such a helpful article. Very instructive and detailed.

  • WOW! Quill = THABOMB!!

  • Jacs Gardner

    just did EVERYTHING in this article — I had no idea on all of the amazing reports, etc available. Thank You! Thank you! Thank you!

  • Thanks for that Quill Engage tip! I knew everything else except for that…glad I read the entire article. 🙂

  • Great information Andy, the article was more helpful than any other analytics article I have read.

  • Fantastic stuff – I’m already setting up more dashboards and an account on Quill Engage now.

  • Great post Andy, Pre-made dashboards are really useful.

  • Nick

    Question: What is the easiest way to set up goals when you are using a subdomain such as a “shop.” to track goals? Trying to track the final shopping cart “confirmation” page as my end point. Any good articles on this? Or answers?

  • Andy Crestodina

    Hi, Nick.

    You could create another profile “view” for the subdomain, but it’s not necessary. Anywhere you put the GA code will track. There shouldn’t be any problem tracking traffic or conversions at that subdomain!

  • Nick

    Thanks Andy

  • Do you know if there’s a way to create a shortcut in one account and share it with another account? I’ve yet to find a way, but I’m hoping there’s a trick I’ve missed. In my organization I’m creating shortcuts for several different people who have their own accounts.

  • Exactly what I needed, these pre-made dashboards are paying off and saving a lot of time. Thanks