By now you have probably realized that in order to survive in today’s business and marketing world you oughta know Google Analytics (GA). And there’s a simple reason why — it’s a very, very powerful tool.
The reason GA reports are so powerful is because they let you
- understand where your business is at right now (e.g. where do most of my customers come from?)
- make better decisions about where your business should go (e.g. if my best converting customer is in their mid 20s maybe I should stop running ads to people in their 40s)
It’s like driving a car: You can’t know how to get to your destination without knowing where you are. So without further ado, let’s move into my 5 most powerful Google Analytics reports as I have gathered from years of consulting, in-house and marketing agency life. You’re welcome!
1. Source / Medium
The most powerful report I know is the source / medium report. You can reach this report either by typing in “Source/Medium” in the search bar on the left top corner or by naviating to acquisition, all traffic, source medium.
To begin with, let’s take a look at what the source/medium report tells us. The source/medium report gives us an understanding of which marketing channel drove not just traffic but also revenue.
We get a detailed breakdown of which traffic source drives the most eyeballs to site, whether they engage on the website or not, how well they convert and how much revenue they are driving.
Side note: If you have an e-commerce business make sure to have e-commerce view enabled. More information on e-commerce tracking and how to enable it can be found here.
To understand the Source/Medium view the best way possible let’s begin by filtering by revenue. You can do this by clicking on the “revenue” header.
Side note, when I am auditing a new business I am looking to get a good idea of the largest time frame possible (year-over-year, quarter-over-quarter, month-over-month etc.). I also like to always compare the timeframe to a previous one.
In this example, I am looking at a 1 month old business so I chose to compare the last two weeks of July to the first two. Note that this is a very small timeframe and data like this should be viewed with caution.
In the example above, we see a few things:
- Once we sort by revenue Facebook ads become the most profitable channel at the moment. In general marketing knowledge, we’d want to scale our most profitable channels while decreasing or stopping spend on the ones that do not perform.
- We also notice that the client did not engage in any type of Facebook ads in the previous period. Normally, we could see a change in the channels performance here which would inform us whether or not changes in tactics made in the 2 weeks after were successful or not. However, it could also simply reflect fluctuation in season etc.
- While Facebook drives the most revenue the page bounce rate is very high while average session duration is very low. We can thus infer that we are still either driving low quality traffic or the landing page needs to be optimized. It could also be a mix of both.
- For Google CPC we can see that we have stayed fairly constant with the traffic we were driving. However, revenue has decreased significantly. This would be something to investigate: Why?
I would also recommend to sort the view by conversion rate. This will give you a good understanding of which other channel you might want to scale (and scale quickly) because your current batch of traffic is converting well.
Once we sort by conversion rate we can see that shopmessage a program within Facebook messenger seems to be the best converting channel. We can disregard this for now as we’re only focusing on the main marketing channels in this blog section.
What also stands out, however, is that google/organic puts itself in spot 4 once we sort by conversion rate.
What we can infer from this is that a solid SEO strategy might be really beneficial to the client and a strategy they might want to incorporate into their longterm plan.
The demographics report is just as valuable as the source/medium report as it gives us valuable insight into who our target customer is.
You can reach the demographics report by either typing in “demographics” in the search bar or navigating to Audience, Demographics and then selecting either Age or Gender. I personally like to view the age report and then segment by gender later on (most people already know whether their product performs better with males or females).
Once you reach the demographics, age view click on the revenue and conversion rate tab to respectively understand which age group brings in most revenue and which age group converts the best (just as with our source/medium view this gives us the understanding of which age groups to scale in our targeting).
To get an even more detailed understanding of which gender and age converts the best for your business add gender as a secondary dimension.
What this view tells us is that for this client females between 25–34 bring in 32.19% of revenue and males between 35–44 bring in 15.44% while males between 25–34 bring in almost the same amount at 14.13%.
Alas, for female audiences it makes sense to skew the targeting younger while for male audiences it makes sense to also include the older audiences.
If we sort by conversion rate we can see that females 45–54 conver the best at 0.78%. In this case, the client was selling baby products and the 45–54 female audience was probably the grandmother. What we learned from this was to also run specific campaigns targeted at the grandmothers as they convert really well, but actually weren’t included in the initial targeting.
You can add numerous second dimensions to the demographics report to understand which age/gender best converts via which channel, what devices they use and more. The demographics report is the most powerful thing you have to understand who your best converting target customer is. Use it! :)
3. Affinity Categories
Affinity categories can be reached by typing in exactly that term in the search bar or by navigationg to Audience, Affinity Categories.
Affinity categories give us an understanding of what the audience visiting the website is interested again. When you sort by revenue and e-commerce conversion rate again you can tell which other interests your audience is most interested in and use that information for audience targeting in Facebook.
When we look at the affinity categories for a camera business we notice that family and food are two categories that show up. An idea now could be to start running targeted ads to people interested in food and recipes on Facebook with creative that is targeted to that topic as well. For the camera business, it could be about monitoring your kitchen, for example.
4. Shopping Behavior
This analytics report is especially useful for e-commerce businesses as it gives an overview of the steps in your funnel and when customers drop off.
You can find this report by navigating to Conversions, Shopping Behavior or typing in “Shopping Behavior” in the search bar.
In this example, we are looking at the camera business again and the first thing we notice is that only 5.45% of site visitors end up looking at the product. That is an astonishingly low number and the next step should be to investigate from a UX perspective why that is.
We also notice that of those that actually view a product 95.74% add to cart. That in turn, is an astonishingly high number. In this case, the camera business had actually modified their checkout flow and skipping steps which skewed the data.
Last but not least, we see that 27.33% of site visitors that add to cart end up purchasing. This is not a bad number. The question for this client thus would be, what can we do to increase product visits as they convert well to add to carts and those convert well to purchases for this client.
The drop-off moments can be different for each client and this report really gives you an overview of where to look for optimizations on the client’s website and checkout flow.
One more thing to note for this client is that both new and returning visitors have the same rate of product views (around 60%) while new visitors have a much higher add to cart and check-out rate. Once the audience gets to the site, they seem to convert immediately.
This is rather surprising but indicates that there could also be an opportunity to deliver those people that have already been to the site a different web experience in order to push them for conversion this time.
5. Mobile vs. Desktop
One of the most important reports of current times is probably the mobile vs. desktop report. I’ve seen this vary greatly for clients. Some will receive over 90% of their traffic from mobile while others have the exact opposite situation receiveing the majority from desktop. Depending on what your customers are browsing your site on you want to ensure that they have the optimal experience on that device.
To reach this report type in “Mobile Overview” or navigate to Audience, Mobile and then Overview.
The report now shows you a breakdown of on which device (desktop, mobile and tablet) customers are visiting your site.
The first thing you want to look at is what device most site visitors browse you website on. In this case, 77% of site visitors come to the site via mobile. This tells us that it is crucial that the site is optimized for mobile. Obviously, the site should be optimized for all devices, but in a decision making process mobile should always come first.
Second, we look at what device most users are converting on by sorting by revenue and e-commerce conversion rate again.
In this case, most revenue is driven by mobile (62%) closely followed by desktop (32%). What we notice is that while mobile drives 77% of traffic and desktop drives 20%, mobile only drives 62% of revenue and desktop drives 32%. This is also shown in the conversion rate for mobile (1.37%) and desktop (1.81%).
The question to pose is, therefore, why are users converting better on desktop in this case? Are they browsing via mobile and then coming back to purchase via desktop? Is the checkout flow easier on desktop?
As a next step, I would look at the different devices that users are browsing on mobile. For example, are most your users on Android or iPhone? What screen size are they browsing on? This all gives you an indication of which device to optimize your site experience and ultimately your purchases for.
Don’t forget that you can always add a second dimensions, for example age, to understand which customers are browsing from which device. The second dimension tip stands across all reports as it allows you to get even more granular with your data and segment the audience further.
The Google Analytics reports presented here are basic reports to get you started. Again, don’t forget to get more granular, sort by different metrics and see how that changes the data and add secondary dimensions to segment even further.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool and when used right can transform your business decisions to be data-driven and drive results.
What are your favorite reports in GA?