Putting Your Best Data Forward: A Guide to Kicking Analytics Goals in 2016

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It’s no coincidence that your New Year and your analytics setup are filled with goals (well, at least they should be). Pulling in from the ‘New Year, new me’ attitude we’ve been surrounded with lately, we’re exploring ways to give your analytics account the TLC it deserves. We’ll start by covering a few must-haves and then move onto some more advanced features to inspire the data thrill seekers out there.

1. Goals for goals

We all know goals are easy runs to get on the board and that they improve your analysis and reporting dramatically. The problem is they’re not a default setting so you’ll need to manually create them. Setting up goals is a relatively easy process – start by determining the type of goal you want to track, make note of the necessary URLs accessed to reach a goal, and then jump into the Google Analytics interface to assign values and fill in the boxes. See ‘Google Analytics Goals: Back to Basics’ for step-by-step instructions and full screenshots to help you set up your own goals. (Data thrill seekers can get more out of Google Analytics goals by using regular expressions for advanced pattern matching.)

2. Tracking goals – have you set them up correctly?

It’s great that you’ve set up goals but have you done so correctly? There’s no point reporting or making decisions on data that’s inaccurate. There are a few ways to double check your setup and ensure the accuracy of your tracking.

  1. Compare your goal data against sales or third party (CRM, social media etc.) reports – if they don’t match, we recommend revisiting your goal configuration to ensure you have what’s necessary for statistically sound analysis.
  2. For event-based goals, compare goal completions against a report for unique events. Do you notice differences? If so, check that your goal is set up for the right event category, action and label!
  3. For destination goals, compare the number of goal completions against the number of unique pageviews for your destination page(s). The difference might indicate you’ve used an exact match instead of a regular expression, or your regular expression needs some tweaking because it’s matching against the wrong pages.

3. Making the most of 2015’s cool new features

Google Analytics rolled out a bunch of updates and features to accounts worldwide and since we're on the subject of goals, one of the last features Google introduced in 2015, was 'Smart Goals’. Taking advantage of Google's considerable expertise in machine learning, the exact details of how it works are being kept a secret, but in essence this feature automatically breaks down your website visits into those which are and are not most likely to convert. The idea is that you can look at the 'likely-to-convert' data to optimise your Google AdWords strategy – see Google's official documentation.

Another new feature that sits on top of our must-try list is Calculated Metrics – a way of transforming ordinary metrics to get savvy and insightful new statistics. Interested in finding out your non-bounce rate or user-goal conversion rate? Can do! We’ve even produced a post about setting up over 18 calculated metrics for Google Analytics.

The Trash Can feature was also introduced last year, meaning deleted items can be recovered as long as you restore what you deleted within 35 days. (Tip: when something is moved to the trash can you'll receive an automatic email, so double check what's being removed so that valuable data isn't accidentally thrown away.)

4. Learning never stops

In a constantly changing industry, analytics and at a broader level, digital marketing, is hard to keep up to date with. Luckily, we work in a collaborative industry with creative influencers who are open to sharing their ideas and methods.

Improve what you know and how you do things with:

5. Advanced analytics

As promised, for our readers who breathe analytics day in and day out and love the idea of coded, advanced implementation, here’s a list of our most popular technical blog posts of 2015:

What are your New Year’s resolutions for your analytics setup? What have you made a priority? Let us know in the comments.