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Google Analytics is a great place to start for anyone with a website to evaluate—and analyze—the marketing health of their brand. There are many tools we use to do that at Hudson Fusion—Google Analytics is only one.

We recently discussed a few ways to measure the ROI of your marketing efforts. Beyond ROI, analyzing website performance and trends are important data to collect when deciding how to steer your marketing efforts.

Marketing results, however, won’t always be associated with a numerical dimension, as opposed to sales goals that have one metric that measures your sales success (number of sales).

Marketing is multidimensional because most strategies exist on multiple platforms targeting different audiences in a number of ways. Google Analytics is simply one way to take a peek behind the scenes of how your website is working for or against your efforts.

But instead of focusing on the numbers, here's how we do it:

  • We identify changes in trends, our indicators.
  • Then we evaluate what we’ve done to influence those changes.
  • We determine how to replicate it, or how they inform our strategy.
  • A dip or spike in traffic to a usually level line, for instance, can indicate that we did something to positively or negatively influence goals, and allows us to then build an informed strategy.

After all, our approach to marketing isn’t about getting seen by anyone—we aren’t trying to get the most visitors or traffic, the longest sessions or the most reads.

We’re trying to influence overarching brand impressions, so that the right visitors find your stuff because it is valuable to them—it solves a problem they have or provides useful information. That’s why SEO and organic traffic are so interesting to Inbound Marketers: organic performance is indicative of a healthy inbound strategy. And Google Analytics is one place where we can take the pulse.

If you haven’t gotten down and dirty in Google Analytics yet, here are a few basics to give you a solid start.

Set Up Goals

Set up Goals as soon as possible, and assign monetary value. Measuring metrics doesn’t offer very much value without you first determining what a result mean to your campaign.

Setting up Goals also allows you to use Google Analytics’s page value function, quickly giving you an idea of how much each page is worth based on the traffic and conversions it generates (depending on your goal for the page).

Later on, if you want to get deeper into the origin of conversions, you can set up Attribution Reports. For now, setting up goals is the first step to getting a clearer picture of which pages are generating  conversions and giving your the most value.

Connect Search Console

Search Console has some more granular information about search queries that lead to your site, but you can't access it and apply it to your Google Analytics goals unless you connect the two first. Here's how.

The tool allows webmasters to check how search engines are indexing your site, so that they can keep an eye on rank and and technical issues associated with SEO.

Search Console gives you a little more information about clicks and keywords associated with traffic to your site, so you want all of that to populate in Analytics, your data reporting tool!

Set Up Custom Dashboards

Custom Dashboard looks daunting at first, but is easy once you decide which data you need. Quickly access reports any time you want instead of searching around and fiddling with the toolbar. We know there are reports we want to refer to on a regular basis, based on a project or goal.

Some good metrics to measure that you should consider creating saved reports or custom dashboards for, are:

  • pageviews
  • unique visitors
  • visits
  • engagement

Getting familiar with these metrics will also help you understand the different between them. Other data reporting platforms tend to have different algorithms and modes of measuring traffic and engagement, in addition to slightly different definitions of their metric terms. Keep that in mind when combining data to inform a campaign or measure your marketing efforts.

There's a lot more to generating custom reports and accessing the information you need to analyze your website data, this is merely a framework for getting started. Here at Hudson Fusion, we use it along with our experience and other tools to determine the right path for our custom strategies so that we can optimize our customers' websites.

One way to improve your marketing and business performance is to build a website that converts. Discover how you can start with your homepage in our guide, "7 Elements Your Homepage MUST Have," if you want to turn your website visitors into customers.