The much-anticipated change has happened.
Google Analytics 4 has taken over. Universal Analytics is in the past. Data is being collected.
Start with an analytics strategy.
In case you missed the news, Google Analytics made a massive platform upgrade that users had to migrate to by the end of June 2024. This wasn’t a small upgrade; Google made some significant changes to the data capture and reporting.
While Universal Analytics was like Pottery Barn, delivering beautiful tables and insights out of the box. Google Analytics 4 is more like IKEA, all the parts you need are there, but you need to put in some work to get that beautiful and functional data.
With the flexibility this customization allows, it can be overwhelming to figure out what needs to be done so you can keep measuring and reporting your progress. Because there are so many possibilities, the instinct is just to track everything.
The downfall of tracking everything.
With the ability to gather so much more information now, why wouldn’t we want to collect everything possible? Google Analytics 4 allows for so many ways to surface, slice, and compare data. More data has to mean better insights, more strategic decisions, right?
Wrong. Collecting everything ends up creating a lot of noise. When you track every metric, no data can stand out. It’s harder to sift through the volumes of data to identify those insights that you can turn into action.
When you have a small team, it can be even more challenging. It’s hard to figure out which metrics are useful to business goals. This takes away valuable time that could be spent making decisions and implementing ideas.
How do you avoid this? Create an analytics strategy to figure out critical metrics and data that will offer insight so you can develop recommendations that will have an impact on your business’ strategic goals.
How to create an analytics strategy.
An analytics strategy is a framework for how your organization will use data to support your mission, vision, and goals.
Steps to take:
Understand your business goals: Your website plays a crucial role in growing and supporting your organization and its long-term objectives. It is important to align what you aim to achieve in the next 3-5 years with your website capabilities.
Identify website objectives: Determine how your website can contribute to your business goals. These objectives may vary from engaging members to generating more qualified leads.
Define 3-10 website KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for each objective: What actions on your website can be measured to provide valuable insights? Let’s say that “increase scholarship applications” is an objective, KPIs could include Applications submitted, Information session attendance, and Contact forms submissions.
Tie metrics, audience, and reporting schedule to each KPI: Each KPI needs a way to indicate performance. Identifying what needs to be measured will allow you to create the customization that you need. Taking the “increase scholarship application” KPIs above, each of these would have a primary metric – “submission clicks,” “event registration completed,” and “contact form completed” respectively. There may be secondary metrics that provide additional information for the KPI, such as “form start,” “average time on page,” or “total views.” Some KPIs may need to be measured and reported weekly to allow for agile changes, while others might only need to be reported quarterly.
Ask what valuable information you want to know about your audience and how to measure it: Understanding your audience will allow you to better serve their needs. What specific information about them do you want to know about them to make more informed decisions? For example, how do they access your website, what content is popular, do users utilize navigation or site search? Don’t forget to include metrics and reporting schedules for the questions.
Identify any functions or features on your website that require tracking: Measuring the performance of functions and features should be an ongoing process as you continue to improve and optimize your website. What you are measuring and changing may be altered on a quarterly basis due to changes you are making to your website. Review the click-through-rate to inform you when you need a new homepage hero image or the add-to-cart function for products.
Ultimately, Google Analytics 4 enables a customized setup to allow you to highlight the metrics aligned with your business goals. However, collecting every piece of data simply because you can result in excessive noise and minimal insights. By developing an analytics strategy, you can determine which data points provide valuable insights to inform decision-making to help achieve your organization’s goals.