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Google Analytics and Digital Marketing: The Basics

Digital Marketing and Google Analytics

Everywhere we look, we’re bombarded by advertisements — targeted posts that seem to read our minds, businesses offering similar products or services, sponsored features that receive top billing when we perform a simple Google search.

It’s an oversaturated, relentlessly competitive market, which means it’s essential for business survival that you maximise your exposure and place your services or offerings in front of the right audience. But how exactly do you do this? And for smaller businesses, how do you do it without breaking the bank?

A strong digital marketing framework using the power of Google Analytics will go a long way toward helping you stand out amongst your competition. And the best part? It’s easy once you understand the basics. Keep reading to learn how you can use Google Analytics to boost your digital marketing strategy and grow your business.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a data collection and insights service that enables you to track statistics (such as how many people visit a given product page on your website) and to fine-tune and optimise your website and online presence for performance and conversions.

Essentially, it tells you who’s visiting your website and tracks their behaviour within your digital ecosystem. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for businesses of every size and industry.

What does Google Analytics track?

Google Analytics tracks a slew of information regarding your website visitors, including location, age, gender, interests, purchase preferences, and device type (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.).

Outside of this basic demographic data, it tells you which of your website pages they visit, how they navigate there (do they come from a Google search? a Facebook ad? a different page within your site?), how long they stay on a particular page and on your website as a whole, whether or not they click any links, and which actions they take (product purchase, newsletter subscription, etc.).

Why should you use Google Analytics?

First off: it’s free. And second? It’s a truly valuable tool in your digital marketing kit that can help you better understand your audience — what they like, what they dislike, what compels them to stay, what loses their interest — and subsequently refine your website (messaging, imagery, user journey and experience) in order to drive sales and traffic.

With Google Analytics, you can tell what’s working (social media posts and campaigns, keyword targeting, word-of-mouth) and allocate more resources to those channels and platforms — and you can stop wasting time, energy, and money on strategies that aren’t providing you with solid returns.

Getting started with Google Analytics: a breakdown

First, head to the Analytics landing page to create your account.

Click ‘Set up for free’, and choose a name for your account. Customise your data sharing settings, and click ‘Next’.

Analytics gives you the option to measure data on your website, app, or both. Choose the option that’s best for you, and click ‘Next’.

Here’s where you enter the website URL or app information you’d like Analytics to pull data from. Google calls these entities ‘properties’.

Accept the terms and conditions, and create your account.

You’ll see an ‘email communications’ pop-up; select your preferred option(s), and hit ‘Save’.

Analytics will then take you to the tracking code page. This code enables Google Analytics to track your data, and it needs to be added to each of your webpages. The method by which you do this depends on your hosting platform (WordPress, Shopify, etc.), and a quick Google search should give you the step-by-step instructions you need.

Once you’ve added the code to your webpages, you should immediately see data in the ‘Realtime’ section of the left-hand sidebar (marked by the clock icon).

Next, you’ll want to set your business goals. Goals are the critical actions you’d like users to take on your website, whether that’s purchasing a product, signing up for your email newsletter, reading a piece of your content, or anything of the sort.

To set a goal, click the ‘Admin’ button at the top of the dashboard, and hit ‘Goals’ underneath the ‘View’ column on the right-hand side.

Click the red ‘New Goal’ button, and either choose from one of the template options (things like ‘Place an order’, ‘Make a payment’, and ‘Create an account’) or create your own custom goal. You’ll add a goal description and details (follow Google’s instructions), and click ‘Save’.

You can have up to 20 active goals at any one time, and goal conversion data is stored in the ‘Conversions’ section of the ‘Realtime’ tab in the left sidebar.

Using your data and insights

Once you’ve got your account and goals set up, you can start using Google Analytics to refine and optimise your online presence and performance through digital marketing.

Analytics offers several different reporting categories, all easily accessed via the sidebar on the left of the dashboard.

The Audience category tracks basic demographic information such as age, gender, interests, and location. Change the date range at the top to view time-specific data (useful if you’re tracking the success of a particular campaign, messaging around a new product launch or content piece, etc.).

The Acquisition category tells you how visitors landed on your website or webpage (social network, organic Google search, etc.). If you have a Google Ads account, you can link it to your Google Analytics account (in the ‘Admin’ section) to measure the success of ads and keywords and to incorporate that into your analytics.

The Behaviour category offers insights into your website performance and content — such as how quickly your site loads, which pages are the best-performing, and which pages are the worst-performing. It’s highly useful in determining which pages or sections of your website you might need to spruce up in order to keep people within your ecosystem.

And finally: the Conversions category tracks the success of the business goals you’ve set up.

Each report comes complete with layers of detail, so you can go as in-depth on your performance and analytics as you want.

Want some help tracking your digital performance and implementing Google Analytics? Book a strategy session with Harper!

Google Analytics can be a bit daunting — but we can help make it easy. At Harper, we specialise in helping businesses develop digital marketing strategies specifically tailored to their needs.

If you’d like some help setting up Google Analytics for your business and understanding how you can use the data and insights it collects to improve awareness, increase sales, and grow your business, then book a free digital strategy session with us here.

How do I know my marketing is working?

How do I know my marketing is working?You write a witty Facebook post.

You spend hours crafting the perfect promo email.

You retweet somebody influential in your space.

You do blogs. Ads. Google ads. Facebook ads. You attend various networking groups and wax lyrical about your company’s services to anyone who will listen. No rock is left unturned in your pursuit of marketing excellence.

Yes, it’s time consuming, and yes, there’s a fair amount of spend involved, but it is driving traffic to your site, and that has to be considered a success… right?


Obviously, increased traffic is a good thing, but whether or not it is a true indicator of performance really comes down to how you define success as a business.

Defining success

In recent years, marketing has become less of an art and more of a science. The days of vague measurements of brand sentiment are long gone, replaced by an endless string of ones and zeroes that allow businesses of all sizes to calculate performance at an incredibly granular level.

Of course, being able to harvest this information is more or less pointless if you’re not applying it any meaningful way (i.e. using it to track performance and make business decisions), which means that marketers need to be mindful of their marketing goals now more than ever. Without clearly defined objectives, there’s ultimately no way of knowing whether or not your marketing is working. And the benefits are clear – marketers who set goals are more than four times more likely to report success than those who don’t!

So, what does marketing success look like for you? The answer to this question will naturally vary from company to company but, generally speaking, most businesses will have four major marketing goals:

  • Building a brand
  • Generating leads
  • Converting leads into sales
  • Establishing customer loyalty

After defining your specific goals, it’s a matter of setting KPIs to gauge performance and tracking whether your marketing efforts are moving your business toward your own unique definition of marketing success. This brings us to our next point…

Tracking performance

You might be surprised to learn that only 1 in 4 marketers are able to measure and report their contributions to the business. While there are probably a few factors at play here, one of the main reasons why so many businesses still struggle to gauge marketing performance is because they’re simply keeping track of the wrong things (or not tracking them altogether!). Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming part of this statistic:

1. Track everything that can be tracked

For marketing analytics to be useful, they need to be tracked and analysed over the course of months and years. A snapshot of data from a specific point in time can be useful, but it may not be an accurate representation of long-term trends.

With this in mind, it’s important to start tracking and monitoring everything that pertains to your marketing goals. Google Analytics is one of the simplest (and most affordable!) ways to track website and app analytics, and Google offers a variety of tools to help get you started. Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feature their own analytics tools, but there are also third-party tools that provide greater functionality.

At Harper Digital, we offer our clients a live reporting dashboard that combines data from all sources and gives a snapshot of activity, allowing visibility into what’s being generated by each medium.

2. Assign a value to each step of the funnel

As you are probably aware, the purchase funnel is a model that illustrates the customer journey toward purchasing a product. Something that is less widely known is that each step in this journey can be translated into a dollar amount, and should ideally be assigned a monetary value based on the conversion rate of each individual step.

For example, let’s say your company sells a product worth $100. Thanks to your analytics (remember step #1!), you know that your sales team can close 10 percent of people who download your e-book, which means you can assign the action of downloading an ebook the value of $10 (i.e. 10 percent of $100). Similarly, if you know that 2 percent of people who opt in to your newsletter will buy your product, you can assign that action the value of $2. Monetising each step provides crucial insight into which parts of the funnel are working, and where you should be concentrating your efforts.

3. Compare attribution models

An attribution model is a set of rules that determine how credit for conversions are attributed to different marketing channels. Credit is usually given to the Last Interaction (the last action a customer takes before converting), but that may not necessarily be the right model for you.

For example, if your company is relatively new and your marketing efforts are primarily focused around brand awareness, you may find that the First Interaction attribution model is more suitable. Alternatively, if you believe that your marketing efforts become less valuable as time goes on, you may find that the Time Decay attribution model is a better fit. It’s important to take the time to assess different models to see which one is most applicable to your business.

Using data to achieve defined goals

Successful digital is attainable for companies of all sizes and budgets. Essentially, it boils down to defining your marketing objectives, setting KPIs to achieve those goals, and using data to measure your progress. Marketing with intent and taming the power of big data are key for every business that wishes to make the most of its marketing efforts.

If you’d like to explore this further, hit us up for a complimentary digital strategy session where we’ll work with you to come up with the best approach to measuring your business’s marketing activity.