Connecting the dots with Google Analytics

Why marketers should be thinking about analytics before they even make their content

google analytics 3

There’s a distinct chance that if you have an analyst in your business like Seven does, they’re being asked questions like, “Can you just hop on to Google Analytics and tell me if our users have secret obsessions with lizards? Or even just if they’ve ever thought they were a lizard in a past life? No? Oh. Well, what can you tell me? Age and location? Right...” *Walks off muttering*. Even if you are not an analyst, understanding Google Tag Manager (GTM)'s capabilities will help you to build your content to put it in the best position for you to get the most data out of it.

Firstly, you need to understand what a ‘tag’ is at its most basic level.​ A tag is a keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, database record or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching.

Then, you need to understand that Google Analytics offers you four basic groups of information under which you can essentially assign ‘tags’:

1. URLs
2. Time
3. Pages per visit
4. Custom events

Keeping these groups in mind and understanding that ‘tags’ allow you to track these in a more granular way will help you to understand how you can branch out of the standard ‘URL clicks’ measured within Google Analytics. Let's go back to the original ‘secret lizard obsession’ question – by thinking about this before you create your content, you can create a URL link that will help your analyst determine the answer to this.

Example: add a link to another blog or a small piece of video content titled “Geckos for lizard fans” to your content. Your analyst can then use GTM to assign a ‘tag’ to this video or link.

The result: You can find out how many users clicked and make a solid correlation between the two pieces of data.

google analytics lizard

Some other tag suggestions that might help you to start thinking about what you want to achieve through specific tags include:

Ads: If you want to target adverts at users who take a certain 'action' (or custom event)

Newsletters: If you want to track the number of people subscribing to newsletters or similar through your site (URL clicks)

Ticket sales: If you want to find out how many people are clicking on it and compare this with actual sales to work out your drop off (URL clicks)

Sometimes, you only want the information that Google Analytics is already tracking – but the automatic settings with GA means that this data is not always as accurate as it could be. This blog highlights some discrepancies in the data between your social content and your website traffic – UTM links are one way of helping to eliminate these. However, GTM can also help. For example, a lack of clear cross-device tracking can mean a loss of referral traffic from Facebook – this guide shows you how to set up accurate cross-device tracking with user ID in GTM.

google analytics 2

In thinking about your analytics before your content has been produced, you need to ask, "What is it I want to use this for, and what possible information can I find out about the users I'm going to attract?" You can become highly skilled in GTM and tag deployment, but this will not make you a magician (sadly), and you can only work with what the content offers you in terms of creating content. Start with a plan of what information you would like to get from your content, then turn it into an actionable tag plan. And know that this can be fluid – you can add and remove tags as you learn more interesting information about your audience. This is when you can really start to tailor your content to get the data you want.

Resources

For a brilliant guide on how to get initial tags set up, see Measure School's YouTube video, which also tells you how to check these are working in your GA. Below are a list of other super-useful free resources available:

Google Support Q&A
Measure School Guide To GTM
Measure School YouTube
Google Tag Manager support
Google Tag Manager course
How to set up your tag as a goal in GTM
Google Analytics goals
Guides to setting up events tags
Code Academy HTML
Code Academy Javascript

If you'd like further advice on how Seven C3 uses Google Analytics to help our clients, get in touch