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