You probably hear plenty of chatter about why GA is important but really, it’s one thing to login and view default dashboard metrics (quantitative, numbers-oriented info such as visitors per page or averages) but learning how to craft dimensions (characteristics of users such as location, traffic source, and interaction such as a page) into actionable results is something entirely different. Combining those two items is what digital analytics are all about.
Digital analytics is the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from your business and the competition to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers and potential customers have which translates to your desired outcomes (both online and offline).
~ Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing pioneer
The first stage in this process is defining your five must-have elements for business objectives. Traditionally, those objectives encompass are associated with mainstream commercial enterprise but we’re going to adapt/tweak them for the arts management field:
Once you’ve defined each objective, you’ll use them to begin creating an effective measurement strategy (the product of implementation strategy and data analysis). The good news is this is a very straightforward process.
Unlike a traditional conversion funnel, digital marketing focuses on more of a linear conversion path where patrons enter, exit, and return via a multitude of points inside your website.
GA will help you determine how to tap into where via the linear conversion path (i.e. page visits/session) patrons enter the process and what messages they need to hear. In turn, your five business objectives will then help you craft one or more of those messages.
Ideally, your landing pages will be where you spend the majority of your time guiding visitors toward your higher priority business objectives but each and every page in your website should be designed to encourage a successful conversion regardless the visitor’s linear path.
For instance, if a visitor shares a page’s information at their respective social media account, you need to make sure GA is setup to capture that metric. So even though you have social share links embedded into your webpages you won’t know how exactly how effective they are if you don’t tell GA how you want to record those shore actions beyond the default settings.
The key at this stage is connecting all of this to GA by making sure you have the most efficient configuration possible to collect and process the data then visualize those results via the numerous reporting dashboards. These are known as the four fundamental components for turning Analytics into action.
You shouldn’t expect GA to be a tailor-made solution for your measurement strategy. Instead, you’ll get far more out of your digital analytics by using the default settings a good starting place for creating a relevant game plan:
- Determine what you want to measure. Spoiler alert: keep it simple then expand. Related skills include implementing the standard GA tracking snippet while more advanced customizations include goal tracking via the ecommerce module (assuming your website generates revenue). You’ll also branch out into using filters to normalize your data so that your reports are consistently accurate and useful. All of this will be wrapped up in campaign tracking.
- Confirm your technical platforms. These include your website and potentially other platforms such as a ticketing provider, email marketing provider, e-commerce, and social media outlets.
- Refine, expand, contract, and start the process over. Use custom dashboards, custom reports, and Data Studio to simplify the reporting process. Along the way, if the cyclical pattern doesn’t feel natural, you may need to allocate additional time toward more frequent review.
Along the way, you’ll begin to discover the boundaries of your existing GA skills and whenever one prevents you from implementing your measurement strategy, that means you’ve entered the three evolutionary stages for implementing GA: