Google Analytics

What are the best website goals?

You want goals setup in Google Analytics …….because, well, you like money right? You want to have some kind of measurable purpose or outcome, that line in the sand, those conversion rates to give you some context on how well your website is doing to meet your objectives. Not forgetting, how your marketing is working to drive said conversions and to be honest, without goals, you are left reporting on site visits, page views, what marketing channels got them there, and that will only get you so far. You need to know if your work is having an impact.

So, this brings us to the question, “What are the best website goals to have for your website?”

Before you jump off into admin land and create them, you need to spend some time thinking strategically about the goals you want to have on your site, and from there you can work out what investment is needed in order to get them working. You may need some configuration to your analytics in order to build the goal, such as Event Tracking (check out our Event Tracking Explainer, if anything to see our faces on buckets of chicken).

Macro and Micro Goals

You can have a whopping 20 goals on your site, yet more often than not, we have found that goals aren’t set up in Google Analytics, or if they are, there are only a small few, and they have been focused on the big hitter goals.  You should be thinking about your goals from a Micro and Macro point of view.

Macro The main key performance indicators for your business, AKA if this doesn’t happen your business will go bust!

Micro These are small interactions from people actually moving towards what you want them to do. There is value here; don’t throw this data away!

Here is a basic example for an Ecommerce site. End game, macro goal, you want the money, smaller conversions could be people looking at your social media accounts, or signing up to your newsletter, of clicking through your product images/ reading reviews/ watching a video about the product, then adding to basket (they are soooo close to giving you the cash now).

Mapping to your funnel

Ideally, you should map your business goals (micro and macro) to a funnel. To help, we have created a model to think about goals, say hello to TIMER©


Represents the people who are flirting with you, they arrive on your site and scroll down a page, maybe look through some pictures, then they hard bounce out of your site! Bye!


They are “investing” their time with you, not quite converting but slowly giving more of a damn about you. Maybe watching some of your video, downloading a pdf, or adding to basket. It’s the little things.


They are doing what you really need them to do, you are big hitting, if they don’t do them, we will go out of business goals.


Your users are happy (and unhappy) people who are really engaging with your brand after a big goal, think referring a friend or leaving a review.


The circle of life and all that, you have to consider some retention goals, do they come back, repeat the process? Think signing back in, or cross/ up-selling. Also known as post acquisition in some circles.

What does it look like in action?

Here is one I made earlier, well actually we made 6.

Want to see 20 ‘atypical’ micro and macro goals to use in your Analytics? There are 20 goals available per business (to mirror the allowance of goal numbers in your analytics views), well you are in luck!

As part of our Google Analytics Online Course, we have created 6 fully editable templates based on 6 business models (Ecom, SaaS, Lead Gen, UGC, Content, 2 Sided Market Place)

Google Analytics

How to Track Campaigns and Website Traffic in Google Analytics

Tracking campaigns and website traffic

Curious about how to track your campaigns in Google Analytics the right way? I hear you.

Well I hope you will agree that tracking your campaigns is absolutely critical not only to your marketing department but to the overall performance of your business.

Tracking your campaigns helps you to understand what is working and what marketing tactics are a big fat flop. But it’s also important to use the data from your analytics to backup your budget and resources for all your super smashing marketing wizardry.

What if I was to tell you that you may be doing your tracking all wrong?

Would you feel nervous? A pang of panic?

Have you made the right decisions when sacking that agency for not delivering, or put money on a channel that was actually, well wrong……?

As a marketer (or anyone who’s job is to get people to your website) you have to really understand how Google Analytics works.How they define your website traffic, how they may be bucketing your wonderful work, which could be, for all your best intentions and tagging efforts being thrown in the wrong bucket, or sent to (none) / Direct which is what I like to call, “the-man-draw-of-data-hell”.

But fear not my friend, The Colouring In Department are here to save you!

In this post I am going to walk you through:

  • How UTM tracking codes works
  • How Google Analytics actually defines your marketing channels
  • Common mistakes with UTM tracking and your sources and mediums
  • What you can do to fix your tracking problems (hurrah!)
  • How to tinker with your Default Channel Grouping settings (spoiler, you need to do this, especially if you are doing paid social)

How UTM tracking codes works.

You use UTM codes to track your marketing campaigns, as we will dig into the nitty gritty in this post you will see that GA needs some help in making sure your marketing gets put in the correct pot. A side note here, UTM codes are for your EXTERNAL marketing campaigns, you DO NOT, and I really mean DO NOT use UTM codes in your own website, you will royally fuck up your data. If you did want to know who went from the Blog to your Product page you can find those answers in the Behavior reports and by building Segments. Right, now that is out of the way……

Let’s break down a UTM code.


You need to have a URL that you want the traffic to go too, this sounds uber obvious, but you want to check that you have the correct URL, check it works (no one wants a 404 page when they click on that link), check its current eg your HTTPS version not the HHTP that will redirect.


This is the big broad buckets for your marketing channels, Organic is a medium, Email is a medium, Social is a medium.


This tells us where does the link live, so if Organic is the medium the source would be Bing or Google, if Email is the medium it will be the name of the data set eg newsletter database, or customer database, and if it was Social the source would be or

Campaign Name

You can choose to give the link a campaign name, so if you were doing a marketing campaign for a promotion that included a bit of PPC, Social Media and Email you can name all your traffic involved in said promotion under one campaign name which you can dig into in your Analytics , which is a massive timesaver to see how the collective channels are working for a campaign.


Love using this 💕

It gives you the option to further slice your data. If you had an email campaign, you would set the Medium = email , Source = newsletter-database, Campaign = BlackFridaySale and if you had, say a CTA that links to the same URL as say an images, you could create 2 UTM codes, the only difference is to vary the Content tag, one would say Content = CTA the other Content = Image. This would give you insights into your email creative and how that is working at driving traffic and conversions.

Below is a good example of a correctly tagged email campaign.  Medium is correct set as ’email’ , and the source is lovely, where does that link live… is from the ‘newsletter-database’, so all the traffic from this person’s email marketing is going into the right bucket and being attributed correctly. High Fives!

How Google Analytics actually defines your marketing channels.

So far, you may think, this all sounds simple doesn’t it, what could go wrong?

Well a lot.

You need to help Google Analytics understand where you’re inbound links are coming from to help attributes correctly. It is after all, a computer programme!

So you really need to know how GA processes that information and I know you guys do not lay awake at night thinking ‘I wonder how Google Analytics core reporting API defines the Default Channel Attribution model for my Acquisition reports”

Lucky for you, I have (true story) so here we go!

The Default Channel Grouping (which you can find in your Admin> View settings) is what powers your gorgeous Acquisition > Channels report. You know, the one you use to see how you marketing is working for you.

Think of the Default Channel Grouping as a bouncer, they are at the door of your website, asking people where they have come from and checking through their little list to see if your traffic matches the rules that they have down.

This is where the problems can start.

Let me backup and explain how Google defines this list and show you some common errors (that you may be doing and will need to fix).

Below is the actual list of rules for the Default Channel Groupings, this is the little list the bouncer is checking your traffic against, and it all HAS To match exactly what is here, case sensitive, no room for error.

General overview:

1- Referral. This is a click through from any website that Google does not recognise as a search engine so this can come from other websites that maybe you have a Blog link on,  social media is also included in this bucket.

2- Organic. These are Google recognised search engines so Google, Bing, Yahoo (side note, I find it rather amusing that DuckDuckGo which is a search engine is categorised as a referral medium by Google)

3- (None) This is a for your inbound links that are pushed directly into the browser and with no referral data or parameters to see where it came from, it gets recorded as source = (none) and therefore medium =  (direct)

You will notice that there are a few more channels listed when you select Acquisition>Channels  but again you have to understand that this channels report is powered by Google’s Default Channel Grouping, this is Google system defined channel definitions, and it is locked down.

This is how google buckets your hard work, notice that there are no channels for paid social, or retargeting! We will get to how you fix that in a second.

Google Analytics will go through its lists of SYSTEM DEFINED rules and based on that ,will assign the channel they will appear in which is what you see in Acquisition > Channels.

If you get it wrong, well your in for some bad luck.

Common mistakes with UTM tracking and your sources and mediums

Let’s start nice and easy with just using UTM codes and NOT matching them to the system defined. Email is the big common issue I see here.

If you look at the system defined rule the Medium = email , as in lower case email, not Email , not Email Marketing, not Newsletter. If you put something in a UTM that the bouncer does not understand it will be sent to (other) which is kind of where data goes to die and collect dust.

Then we have the problem when people do not even tag email marketing (tut tut to you!)

Let’s say you send out an email and 1000 people click through to your website. 50% of the emails were click on from people using Outlook on their desktop, and the other 50% through an online email client such as Gmail.

Without any campaign tags on those inbound links, Google Analytics is going to count the outlook link traffic as Direct because it won’t find any parameters so It will be treated as if it was Direct traffic, and if the link was opened in an email in Gmail browser, Google Analytics thinks that it is a website referring traffic to you so the medium assigned will be Referral and the Source = or something to that tune.

Both are wrong, and Email gets no love (poor email marketing channel).

Here is another example of a bad Now if you look at again at our Default Channel Grouping rule list, there is NO medium for social-post so that is thrown in to (other) along with another set of email traffic as someone tagged the medium as browser, which also does not exist in the Default Channel Grouping.

And it came again for a client that didnt tag their email correctly.

Personally, I have done a few hundred analytics audits, and over the years have taught thousands of people about the joys of Google Analytics, and one of the biggest issues I see boils down to people not correctly tagging.

But do not fret dear reader, you can tinker with your Default Channel Grouping settings (spoiler, you need to do this, especially if you are doing paid social)

What you can do to fix your tracking problems (hurrah!)

Get a sense check to any issues you think you may have, and talk to your team about data discrepancies they think they have eg “We are doing loads of email campaigns but the data never shows in GA.”

This is what happened with this example below, they had about 3 members of staff full time on email, sending out around 5-25k emails a month, yet is looked like they were the worst department in the world.

They NEVER tagged the emails so it got thrown into Referral and Direct (sad times). Check out the image below. This was from their account…… when we dug into the data, the Referral traffic was full of source = gmail, yahoo, outlook, all that email traffic was being opened in an email browser and therefore not attributed correctly.

Another common mistake I see is with Paid Social Campaigns. Did you spot that the Default Channel Grouping has NO way to group or define paid social.

The problem with tagging paid social campaigns for say Facebook, if you have tagged the medium as CPC,  the Default Channel Grouping has a System Defined channel called Paid Search and if the medium matches CPC it gets put in that bucked, AKA Adwords!

Now it’s not technically wrong, Facebook is on a cost per click basis, but boosting your social posts is a very different strategy and tactics than those in your search marketing and your AdWords campaigns.

I’ve seen people login to Analytics, go to the Acquisition>Channels, and they take this report by its face value and sack agencies managing paid social as the numbers do not show in Analytics, or pull budget lines for other channels, like Email, as it doesn’t pull in the numbers.

As a general rule then, you have to do EXACTLY what is on the tin, you can not create new mediums, decide you would rather put a capital on the name when its lower case sensitive.

For me this shows just how critical tagging is.

Everybody within the team and external (agencies) basically anybody that’s creating inbound and trackable UTM links for any of your marketing campaigns needs to understand how important this is.

Because you are making decisions based on how well the channels in the Default Channel Grouping are doing.

How to tinker with your Default Channel Grouping settings (spoiler, you need to do this, especially if you are doing paid social)

Step 1: Work out your medium lists.

Think of mediums as big broad buckets for you to put your marketing activity into.

In addition to the System Defined Channels, sit down with your teams/agencies and work through all the mediums you need or have up and running that may not be showing up in your analytics correctly.

Remember the examples from the start of the post? Paid Facebook campaigns tagged as CPC were put in the Adwords bucket (Paid Search), or Email campaigns that may come up as Direct or Referral.

Below are some examples listed in the tracking sheet that can help get the brainstorm juice flowing.

Do you have PDF documents that you send out that have links in them? Are you doing Paid Social? Retargeting on Paid Social? Do you have a list of partnered website that you work with or do co-authored content?When it comes to your naming conventions, there is no right way,  but do remember that these medium and source names show up in the tagged url for your customers and prospects to see.

You want to make them as descriptive as possible as you need to understand them quickly in your analytics,  if you were to move jobs or handover to someone, it should be clear what your mediums and sources are.

Step 2- Create your User Defined channels

When you have worked out what mediums you need, you’re going to have to tinker with your Admin settings in order to tell Google how you want your channels to show up in your Acquisition Reports.

Here are some examples of Default Channel Groupings that have some User Defined channels for the marketing teams to identify how well their marketing campaigns are doing and how their website traffic actually got there.

There are a few ways you can tackle this, you could create a Custom Channel Grouping (beta) but that means you have to build up the Channel Groupings, including Google’s system defined channels, from scratch which I personally find a big fat ball ache, and prone to error.

Instead, I want you to head over to your Admin> View> Channel Settings >Channel Grouping and select Default Channel Grouping.

VERY IMPORTANT : What you are going to do here is changing the way that Google crunches your data and it does this from the day that you create them. If you make a mistake you can flat line your data. So it is very VERY important that you do this in your Test View first. When you are happy with the data coming in, create the same changes to your Reporting View.

Just in case some of you are going “what you talking about Jill”, let me back up quickly and explain.

Google recommends that you have 3 views in your Google Analytics account:

  1. One Raw Data View, think of this as your backup file
  2. A Master View or Reporting View ,you can call it anything you want, this is the view you put filters on, set up goals etc
  3. A Test View is so you can check things work and don’t bugger up your data.

If you want to know more about what your account structure should look like, check out our explainer for getting your Admin Account Properties and Views in order!.

Identify how you will define your new channels in your tagging conventions. When you create your User Defined Channels you need to use and keep using (consistency is key here) how you are going to tag your mediums in your UTM links. Below are some examples of NEW channels you may want to create and how you may want to name them.

Let’s say I wanted to tag traffic from SMS messages. I can create a rule where the Medium = sms and every time I track a link from an SMS it will no longer go to Direct, but will be moved to my nice new channel and show up in the Acquisition Reports.

How do you do this? It takes a few jiffy seconds! Click on the ‘define a new channel’, and provide Google with the details on how they are going to process your super UTM and tracked traffic to your website.

Then scroll down to the bottom and hit save! Always scroll down and hit save. You are working in a browser and if you don’t do this, all your work will be gone.

Rinse and repeat for all your new channels.

You need to be aware that these channels run in order so you want to put your more specific channels at the top and you’re more generic channels at the bottom.

I have given some guidance here on how you may want to tag your mediums, I have used ‘medium matches regex’ so it is not case sensitive. Tip Brian Clifton has a super post on using Regular Expression.

Again, you are going to follow this step in a test view and then when you are happy, roll it over to the reporting views you are using.

Step 3- Agree on Source names

The source tag is easy to work out and define, as this is where the link lives.

But again, you need to have consistency across the board, you don’t want fragmented reporting due to inconsistent tagging, see the example below.

In this case, the marketing team were using ‘facebook’ and ‘’ for the Paid Social campaigns.

Another question I get asked is what the source should be for Email. I personally like to put the source in relation to the data bucket.

For example I am sending out my newsletter, I would put this down as Medium = email and Source = Newsletter+Database

Or I am sending a triggered email campaign to people who downloaded content, I would put Medium = email and Source as content+trigger and the campaign name, something like: Q12017analytics+white+paper

Tip: adding a + in the middle as turns it into a space in your reports, much easier on the eye!

Campaign Tagging Structure

So you’ve learnt how to track your campaigns in Google Analytics, now what?

As mentioned earlier in the post, you will need to maintain a log and this your the bible!! This is the list of all your links which everyone in the team (internal and external) will use so that your website traffic goes into the right bucket. We have such a document if you would like it, head over to our Resources.

But in general this is what you are going to agree on, no more getting your sources and mediums mixed up no fragmenting data with people having 40 million different ways to say the link was on facebook. Nice and tidy structure to help that computer programme understand where the link came from.

MEDIUM utm_medium= big buckets for marketing channels, defined by system and user defined
TRAFFIC SOURCE utm_source= where the link lives
CAMPAIGN utm_campaign= campaign name
AD CONTENT utm_content= more info to help slice and dice data eg banner , mpu, text links etc
KEYWORD utm_term= used for Adwords

Step 4- How to Understand Attribution and Assisted Conversions for your User Defined and System Defined Channels

What is attribution? 

Short answer, it is a fancy way of saying ‘who gets the credit’.

If you haven’t used attribution models in Google Analytics before it can be little confusing, daunting or a mixture of both. But what exactly is attribution modelling and why is it so important?

According to Google, attribution modeling is:

An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. For example, the Last Interaction model in Analytics assigns 100% credit to the final touchpoints (i.e., clicks) that immediately precede sales or conversions. In contrast, the First Interaction model assigns 100% credit to touchpoints that initiate conversion paths.

In layman’s terms, attribution modeling allows teams to determine the value of their marketing channels that led to a conversion.

Everything north of the Multi-Channel Funnel Reports is pulling in data from the core reporting API, which works on the last click win rule.

When we marketing folk like to see what is assisting in conversions, all that lovely work we have just done works in our Acquisition>Channels Report, last click win. BUT the reports in the Multi-Channel Reports run on the MCF Channel Grouping.

So how do you see if your Paid Social for example, is assisting in conversion?

There is a very quick way to do this.  In your Conversions> Multi-Channel Funnels> Assisted Conversion Report click on the drop down and select copy MCF channel grouping template.

Now rinse and repeat the same process that you have just done for your Default Channel Grouping User Defined channels.

Unlike the Default Channel Grouping, this MCF Grouping is part of your personal tools and assets, and is only changing the way your current, and future data is being displayed. That means if you create this, you need to share this asset with people in your team.


  • It is vital for anyone responsible for driving traffic to your website to understand how Google Analytics processes your traffic.
  • It is our responsibility to tell Google what we want to happen to our inbound links, do not expect them to put them in the right bucket.
  • Use the option to add a Secondary Dimensions in your reports, in this case, adding Source/Medium to identify if you have any flags that need looking at urgently.
  • Work out what channels you have, and need, that are not part of the Default Channel Grouping.
  • Work together with your wider teams, agencies, anyone who is responsible for your marketing to get them to understand how you are going to Tag and Log your inbound links.
  • Agree on a naming convention, consistency here is the key
  • Keep a log of all the links you create: use our channel planning template as a starting point. 
  • When you are ready to tinker with your settings, do this in your Test View first then when you are happy, recreate in your Reporting View
  • Don’t forget about Assisted Conversions, copy your MCF Grouping and repeat the steps in your Default View so you can see how your channels, including any new ones, are working at assisting conversions for you.

Hopefully by reading this far into the post you have seen the importance of getting your channels and tracking in order, but how do you do this?

This is your to-do list, you need to own this, consistency is key, so you want to bring in your team members, and brief your agencies/consultants so you are all on the same page.

And for the love of marketing, keep a log! I have seen people report fragmented sources or teams working in silo and tagging more than one different campaign the same name! (Rolls eyes).

To help you, we have created a UTM explainer that you are more than welcome to use.

Happy Tracking!

Found this post interesting?


We have a whole module on Tracking in our Online Google Analytics Course.

And, as no one likes a blank sheet of paper, we’ll walk through a process to work out your channel planning process so you marketing goes into the right place

You know you want to have a look 👀

Head this way my measurement loving friend.


Favourite Metrics from Influencers

What is Your Favourite Digital Marketing Metric?

We have been asking key influencers across the Digital Marketing landscape a number of questions around digital marketing metrics. Questions like, what are your favourite metrics? What top metrics would you take to the board? As marketing departments engage in digital transformation, why ican it be so damn hard to be a data driven marketeer, why the struggle? In this part 1 of 3 blogs we’ll be sharing what Rand Fishkin, Dave Chaffey, Edwina Dunn, Brain Clifton, Matthew Tod,Tink Taylor and Mathew Eisner had to say when asked.

What is your favourite metric and why?

Big thank you again guys for giving up your time to respond to the questions!

To make the most of these metrics, I have mapped the answers to a basic funnel using.Building Awareness Unique Visits – Rand Fiskin talks about Keyword Opportunity Metrics Audience Share- Edwina Dunn loves Customer Commitment (brand love) Engage Audience Engagement Segments – Brian Clifton goes into detail about engagement rate by segments (using Google Analytics)  Achieve Conversion to Marketing Goals ROI- Tink Taylor, because Sales is what matters.  Build Customer and Fan Relationships Net Promoter Score – Dave Chaffey, how satisfied are your customers. K Factor- Matthew Eisner, do your customers do some work for you and get you more customers? Matthew Tod- doesn’t have one favourite metric……read on to find out what he had to say. Ready to read? Let’s go!

Building Awareness

Rand Fishkin, former Wizard of Moz, Founder SparkToro

My favourite metric……. is Keyword Opportunity. It’s a metric that the SEO world has only recently come around to using, and tries to estimate the relative click-through rate to the organic, web search results for a given keyword. With Google introducing so many types of rich data in search results, there’s a huge difference between ranking #1 for a query with 10 blue links vs. one with a Knowledge Graph, three ads above the results, a news block, an image block, etc. Keyword Opportunity helps us prioritize the right keywords to target, not just the ones with high volume.More about it here and in the KW Explorer tool.

Edwina Dunn, CEO Starcount

My favourite metric is customer commitment (brand love)because just using spend, value or frequency places no value on the degree to which a customer is truly engaged with the brand; too often a valuable customer may be disloyal and spending with others also and so we have to fight constantly to keep our share of spend.

Engage Audience

Brian Clifton, Author and Director of Data Insights & Analytics

My favourite metric is engagement. This not something you can directly lift out of your analytics tool – you need to give it some thought. In Google Analytics Engagement Rate is obtained as a segment i.e. a segment constructed to include all visitors that have done something of value on your website.

What constitutes “value” is what requires thought. Mostly, value is defined as completing a call-to-action. These include the obvious candidates of:⦁ visitors who clicked an email link (made contact) ⦁ visitors who completed a contact, subscription, or survey form (made contact) ⦁ visitors who logged into a private area (existing customers, members, subscribers) ⦁ visitors who add-to-cart but did not purchase ⦁ visitors who transacted with you ⦁ visitors who commented on a product, post or article However, engagement should also include softer metrics such as: ⦁ visitors who viewed specific content that requires genuine interest (or effort to find) e.g. special offer related to previous content viewed. Amazon does this very well with their “People who viewed this product also viewed…” ⦁ visitors who’s visit goes beyond the “site average”, such as spending x minutes longer on your site, viewing y pages more. INSERT PIC

Basically any action that constitutes real visitor engagement on your site should be included this segment i.e. its a count of visitors that engage with your brand in some shape or form. Then calculate what percentage of your total traffic this represents – I guarantee you will be surprised, and not in a pleasant way! Around 150 years ago, John Wannamaker famously stated:“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”Amazingly I find that is still true today.

Achieve Conversion to Marketing Goals

Tink Taylor, Founder of dotMailer

My favourite metric is ……. ROI Because …… Sales is what matters… not opens, clicks, reads, visitors etc

Dave Chaffey, CEO Smart Insights

Customer satisfaction rating (with online experience or overall multichannel brand experience).Why? Since marketers need to go beyond the web analytics and commercial metrics to get direct insight from consumers to get their perception of your online brand / multichannel experience.

Building Customer and Fan Relationships

Matthew Einer Global Marketing Manager 

Favourite Metrics: K-factor/viral coefficient – if you can create a product where users onboard each other, all you have to do is hit a single node in each network of people to gain adoption.

One metric to rule them all?

Matthew Tod, Director at D4td PLC

My favourite metric is ……. one that I know impacts the whole business not just a digital channel. For example the number of people who are doing high quality pre-purchase product research in a digital channel prior to purchase in ANY channel is always interesting. Because …… single channel thinking is for numpties, those who don’t want to progress and those who are to lazy to figure it out!

So what next?

Interesting right? For any marketeer, metrics, data and all those numbers can quite frankly give even the most astute data geek the night sweats! If you want to find out more about Google Analytics and how to report more effectively to the board, we have a number of free resources ready for your download here – enjoy!

Google Analytics

Google Analytics: 5 Awesome Ideas To Focus On

Are you writing and managing a blog or website? Then say hello to your new best friend: Google Analytics Google Analytics: those two words sound shivers down most marketers spine. For many of you, it’s a maze, a web of complicated data, “tough beans!” some may say. Yes it can be a little bit of a head bend, BUT it needn’t be. Practice makes perfect and there are some simple things you can do to get more out of your data with our top 5 Google Analytics Tips. Analytics is a super cool tool that you can use to pull insights to improve the metrics that matter to you the most. You should be using it to answer questions about your site and blog, like; where are your readers from? Which post is engaging people for longer, are they returning, which marketing channels are doing better to drive traffic to your site? This is all key information that will help you to create better content, distribute it across the right channels and drive ROI through the roof. As everyone is at a different stage in their analytics journey, we’ve focused on 5 awesome Google Analytics tips that you can use today, without (much) additional tinkering.

1- Get to know more about your readers

When you log into analytics you will find the reports on the left hand side. Audience will have data about who is going to your website eg what age, gender, locations, do they return, are they on a mobile? Acquisition will let you know how they got to your website e.g do your visitors come from google organic, social media, or email campaigns? Behaviour is focused on what they do when they get to your website e.g what pages of your site are popular with your readers? Conversions will be about what you want them to do e.g sign up for blog alerts, share content on social media etc Start off with Audience> Overview at a high level it will tell you how many users you have, how many pages the average user’s session will be, and how long they stay on your site. overview google analytics pic If you want to get a little more granular, you can head to Demographics> Age or Demographics > Gender to see how old they are, and if they are male or female. If you want to get this data you have to enable this feature in your Admin settings. Head over to Admin> Property Settings and turn the toggle on enable demographics report pic What we really like about this report, when you have enabled this feature, is that you can drill down to see how old your readers are and if they are male or female. It always surprises me how these cohorts behave and there is the option (in all the reports) to see how well the age and genders do in regards to your conversions. If you found out that most of your readers where within in a certain age range and gender, would you change your tone and style of writing? demographics age google analytics pic You can also find out where they are coming from. Head over to Audience> Geo> Location will tell you where they are from, down to the City. This will give you a basic overview of who your customers are, a mini persona so to speak.

2- Get context with data ranges to understand if you are going in the right direction

If your reports just focus on last month’s data, you will struggle to understand if you’re moving in the right direction. We would recommend always comparing current performance to 2 out of these 3, time comparisons. % year on year Month on Month Today v Yesterday If you business is older than a 1 year (hurray!) , use sequential and last year comparisons. If your business is less than a year old use sequential and average comparisons. For example, instead of just reporting on what happened last month, you can say something like this…… “So our January 2017 traffic is down 25% compared to December, but we are up 30% compared to last January 2016”. To change the date ranges, head over to the top right of your reporting area and click on the little triangle at the end of the date range, now you just need to highlight the date range and to compare you just need to tick ‘Compare to” and select previous period or previous year. See this isn’t as hard as you thought right? These Google Analytics tips are a doddle when followed correctly.

3- Compare to the site average

Averages suck. Yes it’s great to have a baseline number for your metrics, but it won’t help you see the good, bad and the ugly. In all of your reports there is a hidden trick to pull your data up by its socks. When you look at your reports they are typically pulled into a grid with average metrics pulled into the report. Hidden away, top right of table you will see 6 little boxes, the 4th one across is one of our favorites, this is the Comparison option. compare to the site average icon google analytics pic When you click it, you get a visual like this, just play around with the drop downs to change the report. This allows you to see (compared to the site average) how your marketing channels are doing in terms of getting you new users, which ones are better at getting you more revenue etc.

4- Annotations: Sticky notes on your analytics

Have you ever looked at your analytics reports and seen the a spike in your traffic and you asked yourself “I wonder what happened there?”, or more recently a client of ours said “we’ve had a burst of organic traffic in 3 days!”. There’s an option to add little sticky notes onto your analytics to help you understand what those blue spark-lines are doing. To create an annotation you just click on the little triangle under the reports and select + create new annotation. You can then amend the date and write up to 160 characters. You have the option to make them private (only you see them) or public (anyone who has access to the account can see them). Use this to note when you launch a new blog, make changes to your website homepage, or launch a campaign. You can also view these under your personal tools and assets at View level.

5- Site Search

This is one of our all-time-favs and Google Analytics trick that SO many business owners and marketers miss out on. Think of your site search like a little pot of gold at the end of rainbow. It’s full of surprises and such a great Google Analytics trick. If you have a little search bar on your website so that users can quite literally ‘search’ for something, then we have some good news. You can track and record your visitors that use this feature. But what’s even better, is that you can find out what they’ve been typing in!! Bingo! This for us is a little gold mine, it tells you exactly what people are looking for. If you don’t have the information people are searching for on your website, write about it! Create a landing page or blog post. Or if you thought it was obvious to people where to find it but they are getting stuck, improve the user experience to help people get what they need faster.

To get this you need to go to your View settings at admin level and turn the toggle for Site Search Tracking ON. One last step is to pop in what your query parameter is, you can find this by looking at the URL when you use your search facility, for this example for the website Book Machine the URL puts the letter s before the search term, so you would add the letter S. In other cases it is the letter Q. When you have done this, it will only start to pull in data the day that you turn it on, so get it turned on asap! When you want to see the results, head over to Behaviour> Site Search and you can drill down to Search Terms.

As you can see, Google Analytics doesn’t have to be this super-duper complicated platform that you try to avoid using. By implementing a few simple Google Analytics tips like these, you can get to know your audience, look at year-on-year performance, site averages and really get to know more about what people are searching for on your website. Well done fellow marketer! You superhero you. If you’d like to find out more about The Colouring In Department’s cool stuff, you can download some of our free marketing templates here.


How to Turn Data into Insights

How do you turn data into insights?

We all know that we should be data driven, heck, it is a buzzword these days!

Yet so many of us are ‘data rich, insight poor’.

But when you are looking into the abyss of what can look like data vomit, how do you turn these data points into insights for your company’s growth?

This post is a starting point before you dive into the deep dark woods of analytics. You know the phrase “If all you have is a hammer then everything you see is a nail.” Abraham Maslow. So you need to focus.

In this data insight post we’ll cover how to set your goals.

Establish Goals and Tracking

For starters you need to have, at a minimum, your objectives and goals set up. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so what is it that you want to achieve? What are your companies long and short term goals? Think about your goals from a macro and micro level.

Why? Because setting clear goals and objectives help your company to reach its goals. Say for example you had a site converting at 4%. Say for every 100 people, 4 parted with their cash, what did the other 96 people do? Knowing what these micro moments are helps you to understand your audiences behaviour. By tracking their behaviour, it gives you insights into what triggers and activates your visitors. Example Goals Could Be:

  • Visit duration goals
  • Pages/visits goals
  • Event goals
  • Engagement
  • URL destination goals
  • Track leads
  • Track file downloads
  • Highest driving social media channel
  • Open and click through rates for email
  • ROI on PPC campaigns

You need to make sure that your business and marketing programmes are designed to be measurable. Make every effort to track everything that is critical. For example campaigns that are tagged correctly, make sure that your analytics are setup on your marketing machines for things like your email, ppc campaigns, paid social right through to your  apps and/ or websites. Bottom line: every business with a digital presence should have analytics set-up for maximum data insights. Once you have all of these set up, you will have lots of juicy metrics looking back at you! We’ve created a bloody awesome goals template to help you get startedYou’re welcome. You Need Solid Facts, not Fluff! A useful exercise from the  Lean Analytics book by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz is to map out your business on 1 page aka a ‘1 pager’

Know the difference between your numbers

  • Lagging metrics are historical, things that have already happened, such as sales last month.
  • Leading metrics are forward looking, the metrics that help predict tomorrow, such as number of marketing qualified leads, or free trials of your product in your pipeline.
  • Correlated are two variables that are related but may be dependent on something else, for example, the number of people drowning and ice cream sales.  You wouldn’t look at a correlated graph and conclude that we should ban ice cream sales to save lives.

Causal is an independent variable that directly impacts a dependent one, for example, summertime. It is summer that is the causal effect in our case example here for sales of ice creams and number of drownings.

Now, if you find a leading, causal metric, you have found something that can drive growth and know what causes it, now you can grow your company at will. None of this is possible though if you do not have a solid set of objectives, a fully tracked analytics suite, and looking at the data points that matter. Se those objectives marketers!

Post it Not Reporting You should have your big business data available for the entire team to dig into, ideally on some form of shared drive like Google Drive.

But to avoid the data vomit we talked about at the start of this article, can you put the company’s top level metrics on a post it note?

Post it note reporting

Task for you: Write down your companies top-level metrics on what we like to call, ‘post it note reporting’ Why? To keep you focused on the metrics that really matter for your business. You should look at this high level pulse point of data and use it to make changes to your business and remember If a metric does not change the way you behave it is a bad metric. Not all reports are created equal Not all metrics are equal to the same person, so my final tip is to make a list of who are you reporting to? What do they care about? Yes you will have a high level business report for the state of the business, but what do the rest want on their post it note? What metrics matter to them? For example: Your VP of marketing may want.

  • Unique Visitors
  • Number of Free Trials
  • Return on Investment
  • Churn Rate of Paying customers

Your CFO may want

  • Cost per Visitor
  • Cost per Acquisition
  • ROI
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue

If you want to report like a boss you can download our Reporting Template Here. 

If you want to dive into the nitty-gritty process of building fantastic dashboards, we have a module in our online Google Analytics course. Head over here to get the full details, but short version, learn our process (with a handy word doc template) and see how to use Data Studio to make it look all shiny and glossy.


How Can You Measure Content Marketing ROI

How do you measure content marketing and validate that your work is bringing in the big bucks?

We all want more bang for our content buck, but unfortunately we’re not mind readers (sigh). Making your life as a marketer that little bit harder. You need to be able to tell what content is driving ROI. So how do you measure content marketing?

To improve your content and the channels you’re using to publish your content on, focus on these three key things:

  1. Event Tracking
  2. Segmentation
  3. Testing

1: Event Tracking

If you are not tracking your content assets and your business objectives via website goals then you can’t measure its performance and define its ROI.

Are you using event tracking on your website or app? No? Then you’re missing a massive trick! We have a handy guide on Events for you, using a chicken analogy.

What is Event Tracking?

Event tracking, according to Conversioner is:

“A method that is available in Google Analytics. It lets you record user interactions with various web elements like a menu system driven by Flash. You can do this by attaching a piece of code to an element in the website. When you do so, all activity on that element will be displayed and calculated as Events in the interface for the Analytics report”

As event tracking can track all your users interactions, from a content perspective that would be things like:

  • video plays
  • flicking through gallery images
  • downloading ungated content
  • sharing on social media
  • or scroll reach (i.e reading your long form content)

How to set up event tracking?

For a more detailed description, check out the Event Tracking page on the Google Analytics developers page here: Event Tracking

When you have set up the tracking you will find all this lovely information in Behaviour/Events>Overview

event tracking

One of the best things about having Event Tracking set up is that some of them will be goals  for you, BUT, you can not create an Event Goal until you have the Event data inside your GA account. So you really, really need to have this set up. Those PDF downloads, video plays, and scrolling down the pages will not track themselves.

As we are on the topic of goals, split them into Macro Conversions eg the big hitting goals such as making a purchase or a lead from downloading content via a web form, and Micro Conversions eg the smaller interactions that lead up to the big goals such as reading your blog, watching a video, interacting with your live chat etc. we have written about this topic What Marketing Metrics Matter.

2: Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

If you have created events and goals you can find out how well your content marketing is impacting your bottom line. To really see the impact of your content, get familiar and start building Advanced Segments in Google Analytics.

  • Does downloading un-gated content (eg PDF downloads) trigger goal completions?
  • Do customers spend more money with you if they watch a video?
  • If visitors read the blog, are they more engaged and more likely to return to your site?
  • Do more women or men flick through my images? Etc etc

content segments

How do you make data insightful? Context!

How do you get context? By comparing your data sets over at least 2 of these time comparisons

date range context

So instead of saying 10 people downloaded content this month you could say 10 people downloaded content this month, compared to 8 people last month and 4 people from the same period last year. Those that downloaded the content completed x goals with a value of y.

3: Testing (testing and more testing!)

With solid data to measure progress, you should have an always test mindset.

You can test anything!

Words – little things can make a big difference. Do people convert more when you used the words “kids” or “children”.

Images – what style and placement of images work best for your customers and prospects?

There really are a million things you could test, but how do you work where you should test and in what order? Use Chris Goward’s PIE framework!

Potential: How much improvement can be made on the pages?

Importance: How valuable is the traffic to these pages and do they cost you a lot of money to get there?

Ease: How complicated will the test be to implement form both a technical and political viewpoint?

When you have your order, form a clear hypothesis to test. Your hypothesis should be measurable, have a goal of solving a conversion issues, and you are looking to gain some insights on how to improve moving forward.

Does changing the call to action from “Watch the video” to “See the solution” get more people to view your content? Does adding images to your blog engage users? Never stop testing folks!

Now it’s your turn!

What techniques are you going to use from this post first?

Will you set up event tracking to track your users interactions with your website?

Or are you ready to dive right into advanced segments?

Whatever technique you choose, there are a few free tools we’ve created to help you along the way here.


How to Get Buy in For Your Content Marketing Strategy

How do you get buy in for your budget and content strategy?

In this post I (Aiden *waves*) will give my tips on how to get buy in for investment in your content marketing strategy, and it all comes down to the numbers.

There is one thing that motivates all bosses, investors and business owners. The bottom line!

You know in your gut that you need to do more content marketing, and be better at it, but to do this right, and be effective, you need a strategy and investment to make it happen.

The Content Marketing Association quoted that 9/10 marketers are doing some form or marketing, but it is not always effective. Why? No planning, no insights, no measurement, and with that, a hard sell to get buy in from your boss among the chaos.

So, how do you get buy in?

Bring it down to the raw numbers, the bottom line. Outline what your business objectives are and assign a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) next to it.

For example.

Let’s say your business needs to acquire 224 new customers with an average order value of £50 and and a revenue target of £11,500 over the next 12 months.  

You look in your web analytics and see that you have 35,000 unique visitors to your site and you manage to turn 224 of those visitors into customer. This means your business is running a 0.64% conversion rate.

But you want more.

You want to do better, you want to crush that KPI and get more people converting. You know that by having stronger, relevant and original content on your website will support this.

Make your case by showing how using content marketing can improve your conversion rate and the impact on the bottom line.

Argue that if you improve your conversion rate from your current 0.64% and 35,000 visitors to the site but convert at 1%, this would generate  350 customers with a value of £17,500.

You are losing money by NOT investing in content marketing!

The real win is showing that not only can you improve the conversion rate on your existing baseline KPI but you can get more traffic to your site, through an inbound marketing approach.

Let’s say that your site improves traffic to from 35,000 unique visitors to 45,000 unique visitors, and you converted 1%. that would give you 450 more customers, with your average order value of £50, that would be a revenue stream of £22,500.

Now, if you walked into your boss/ investor/ owners office and showed them their current, existing baseline stats, and what it could be…….what they are missing out on, you are on a stronger footing to start that conversation about investment in your content strategy.

If you would like to use the template that I have mentioned in this post  you can access the content marketing buy-in google sheet here, feel free to use, comments and feedback welcome. To download, select FILE and make a copy, and then you can plug in your numbers! Hurrah!


Ideas for Your Content Marketing

We recently asked clients what some of their biggest challenges were in marketing.

Aside from the obvious analytics and metrics, ideas for their content marketing plans came up top!

Successful content needs to be relevant and helpful to your buyer, and answer the questions they are asking.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your content giving value?
  • Am I providing solutions to my customers pain points/solutions?
  • Is my content unique?
  • Does it inspire?

It also needs to hit them along the buyer journey in a “one of a kind way”, i.e. it shouldn’t appear anywhere else on the web, in what Rand Fishkin called Uniquely Valuable.

To be ‘Uniquely Valuable’ your content needs to be:

  • A massive upgrade in aggregation, accessibility, and design
  • Information that is not available anywhere else
  • Presented in a clearly different voice or style

Coming up with content ideas

It can be hard to come up with ideas or brainstorm quickly. Do you ever find yourself staring at a blank word document? You have a blog to write (and a deadline!), social media posts to publish, but you are sat there, at your desk, staring at a blank document trying to come up with ideas for your content marketing – sound familiar?

To help you create some high-value ideas for your content marketing strategy, we created this formula:

content ideas

In this post we’re going to share with you our formula for coming up with ideas for your content marketing strategies.

Let’s break each section down.

Source: What are you basing your content angle on?

Curated: assembling content around your brand and themes. Think Buzzfeed and their curated content eg “34 times twitter was the weirdest place on the internet”. You can also try:

  • Searching top <target industry> blogs
  • Twitter advanced search
  • Twitter advanced lists
  • Medium
  • Pocket
  • Feedly

Created: original content based on themes and pain points of persona. This is going to be your brand-spanking-shiny-new content that you are going to create from scratch. Think:

  • Blog posts
  • YouTube Videos
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts Interviews
  • Free resources
  • E-books
  • White papers
  • How-to guides

Co-market: partnership or influencer based content where you are sharing resources and audiences, for example GoPro and Red Bull collaborated on a stunt called “Stratos” where Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space pod more than 24 miles above Earth’s surface with a GoPro strapped to his person. You can also collaborate with social media influencers with companies such as:

Recycle :what content can you repurpose and reuse? Ideas include:

  • Do you have a number of blogs that could be made into a book?
  • Do you have a PowerPoint from an industry event that could be turned into a blog pots?

Once you know what your source is going to be, you can focus on your theme.

Theme: The pain point you’re going to focus on.

Your theme needs to have a purpose and to have a purpose you need to have a deep understanding of your customers and the things that keep them up at night.

Get obsessive over your customer and all the questions they have on a topic that you love talking about.

Dig into your personas and try to flesh out an umbrella theme and the sub pain points or issues that are associated with it.

Let’s say you are the owner of a knitting shop and you’re focusing on content to build links and drive more inbound traffic to your site.

umbrella theme

An umbrella theme could be.

“People who want to learn more about knitting”

  • Problems/ issues and pain points could be
  • Avoiding knitting pain from tension
  • Running out of yarn, how to source, buy, and store
  • How to fix problems/ losing a place in pattern, dropping a stitch
  • How to read knitting patterns

Tip: use the free Google Trends tool to see when a popular time would be to publish your content.

Format: How are you going to deliver your content?  There are many to choose from and you need to select based on your resources and budget, here are some examples:

  • Videos
  • Inforgraphics
  • Podcasts
  • Blog posts
  • Quizzes
  • Case Study
  • PPT
  • Ebook
  • Industry Report
  • Checklist
  • Customer Reviews
  • Book review or reading lists
  • Data sheets
  • Curated Lists
  • FAQ’s
  • Detailed product information
  • Webinar
  • Calculators
  • Tips and tricks
  • White Papers

Ideas: Once you know your format, what ideas can you use. Below are some examples.

  • Top 10 tips
  • How to
  • News
  • Competition
  • Q&A
  • Checklist
  • Jargon Buster
  • Compliance/ Law
  • Interviews
  • Polls
  • Futurology
  • Debates etc

Now, let’s put it to action with a use case with the umbrella theme for our knitting example

Source- Creating brand new content

Theme- Avoiding knitting pain from knitting tension

Format- Blog posts


  • Q&A with a doctor or health professional on how to avoid tension injury when knitting
  • How to: A detailed how to guide on avoiding knitting tension problems
  • Interview: with well known influencers on how they tackle pain from knitting tensions
  • Top 10: Ways to get tension problems and how to avoid
  • Facts and Figures: How many people suffer with tension problems caused by knitting

Next time you are brainstorming your content ideas, give the formula a try and do get in touch and let us know how it works for you!

Source + Theme + Format + Idea = Engaging Content

To find out more about content ideas, we have a number of online courses and free downloadable resources here – enjoy!


What KPI’s Would You Take to the Board


What Marketing Metrics Matter

How do you build a KPI dashboard for the boss?