THE BLOG
10/15/2014 12:31 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

4 Google Analytics Time Hacks That Will Strengthen Your Marketing

If you are like most small businesses, your time is limited. It's much easier to collect only vanity metrics, such as page views and social followers. The problem is that data requires analysis. You need some hacks to help you save time but still get the actionable metrics you need. Actionable metrics lead to increased ROI. With some strategic effort in Google Analytics, you'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.

Time Hack 1: Determine if your metrics are actionable

It's time to admit if you have a problem. Are you truly collecting the right metrics? Some data is more actionable than others. Spend your valuable time on the numbers that will pay off the most. For example, only one-third of marketers track ROI, and that might be the most important metric of all!

So how do you know if your metrics are valuable? All it takes is "So what?" question. Blog readers or email subscribers are nice to have, but so what? Do you know how they impact revenue? Knowing general sources of traffic is helpful, but that data might not help you make educated decisions about marketing spend. Tracking individual sources using UTMs is better.

Time Hack 2: Nurture leads by tracking sources

Do you know exactly how many leads came from your latest Facebook post? Email newsletter? Banner ad? Fifty-two percent of marketers track general -- not specific -- web referrals in Google Analytics. They only take note of organic search or social sites as general sources of traffic, rather than tracking individual posts or campaigns. Custom campaign links, or UTMs, allow you to track individual referrals to your website.

When you use UTM parameters, you can easily measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. Instead of looking at aggregate referral numbers, you can see precisely how many users clicked on that one specific link. One drawback: they have to be set up ahead of time. Plan ahead and collect better traffic data.

Time Hack 3: Start calculating ROI

Marketers can have trouble valuing actions that do not directly produce revenue. Downloading ebooks or subscribing to an email newsletter is great, but how do you assign a dollar amount to those actions? Most marketers aren't sure how to do the math on ROI.

Google Analytics allows you to assign goal values to specific actions. However, only 40 percent of marketers add goals in Google Analytics. Too many marketers are missing out on valuable data to calculate returns on their investment. Calculating ROI saves time in the long run, because you won't be wasting time (and money) on initiatives that don't work.

Time Hack 4: Leverage visitor behavior

Use Google Analytics to run User Flow Reports, which visually display the paths that visitors take through your website. These paths provide data that can help you you streamline your conversion process and reduce friction.

For example, you might have a lot of drop-offs at your pricing page. Turn a drop-off into a nurturing opportunity: offer a coupon code to the visitor in exchange for filling out the form. Just like that, you've captured their information and have an opportunity to nurture the relationship. You've saved time and created a lead in one step.

Commit to the process

When marketing departments are busy, complex analysis simply becomes a lower priority. That's why only 37 percent of marketers say they use analytics on a regular basis. Vanity metrics are so much easier to collect and understand.

Analyze your past data to make smart predictions about future campaigns. Even though analysis might seem time-consuming, making the effort is valuable. Using analytics to improve marketing campaigns can save time and boost ROI in the long run.