There is no doubt that Google Analytics is a powerful digital marketing reporting tool, but how can you ensure that the data you collect is actually working for you?
Google Analytics has become an essential tool for getting the most out of your digital marketing efforts. When set up correctly and maintained, Google Analytics will empower any business with a deeper understanding of whether their web design is meeting goals and objectives and highlight areas where there may be room for improvement.
That being said—not all data sets are created equal, and it is essential to pay attention to warning signs that something is amiss. Data quality issues can plague a Google Analytics account, making analysis difficult, time-consuming, or at its worst, leading to incorrect conclusions. Thankfully—there are many ways to affect the data that you collect and use in Google Analytics. With recent improvements to Google Tag Manager, it’s even easier to have clean, readable data.
Fix the data first
When possible, fixing the data at its source or as close to the source as possible is often preferred. For example, that might mean using the feature available in Google Tag Manager to clean up data before it ever gets processed by Google Analytics. While this potentially shifts the burden to a more technical point of contact, there are a few scenarios where this is especially useful.
The most common use for Google Tag Manager is to simplify the integration of several tracking systems. You can quite easily integrate Google Analytics tracking without the use of a Google Tag Manager. That said, although we can use Google Tag Manager is to send data to Google Analytics, we should not forget about the other places that we send data.
Often, we have pieces of information that are sent to Google Analytics as well as third-party tags. This might include product or transaction info shared with third-party conversion tags, page or section level information shared with retargeting or recommendation engines, or copies of data sent to other analytics, CMS, or CRM platforms.
Take a proactive approach to Google Analytics
You can always integrate Google Analytics tracking without using a Google Tag Manager. Although from my point of view, I consider that a client might start using specific goals from Google Ads or Facebook Paid down the line. So, in most cases, it makes more sense to integrate the Google Tag Manager directly. In addition, this makes it much easier to expand the tracking on the website in the future.
Use a naming convention off the top
To be able to analyze the efficiency of one’s marketing campaigns, I recommend using a naming convention from the very beginning. That means naming your marketing campaigns in each marketing tool (Google Ads, LinkedIn, Facebook Paid, etc.) following a specific logic and then—most importantly—using the exact same naming in your Google Analytics tracking (so-called UTM tracking). This way, your BI / MI team will be able to merge the cost spend for this campaign with the tracked results in Google Analytics, and therefore analyze its efficiency down to the specific ad or keyword.
One example of that:
Campaign name in Facebook Paid: “paid-social_retargeting”
Ad Set name in Facebook Paid: “page-views_last60d”
Ad name in Facebook Paid: “product-123_blue”
The correct and clean tracking for this ad would look like this: “www.mywebsite.com?utm_campaign=paid-social_retargeting&utm_term=page-views_last60d&utm_content=product-123_blue”
Clean up your data regularly
Finally, for ongoing success, it is critical to adhere to this unwritten rule of Google Analytics—continuous, consistent monitoring. This will ensure your reporting is set up correctly and provide you with accurate data to inform business decisions. Monthly, quarterly, or half-yearly—whatever works for you—sit down and identify any inconsistencies in how your reporting is set up. Fix anything that requires changing, so your data remains clean and accurate.
If you need help setting it up correctly or maintaining good data hygiene habits, our digital marketing and web design experts are here to help.