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Make Google Analytics Work for You

The marketers I know are still reeling from Coca-Cola ousting their CMO, and I can hardly believe it myself! Now more than ever, we have to focus not just on our marketing results, but proving our methods to our C-suite, our boards and even our marketing colleagues.

I’ve written before about marketing based on data instead of intuition, and our ability to synthesize our endless metrics is once again proving vital. The digital landscape gives us more numbers than we could ever use, so how do we get the right ones to drive our objectives and prove our successes?

Thankfully, my dear old friend Google Analytics has everything we need for answering our “value” questions about the cost of our online presence or eCommerce sites. Consider this post to be version 2.0 of my earlier 4-part series about Google Analytics.

I love this worksheet from Avinash Kaushik, and I’ve adapted it to use with my clients who need to focus their analytics efforts and take things step-by-step – whether that’s a marketer in a new role or a group of non-marketers.

As you may have seen, I’m honored to hold a new role as President of American Marketing Association’s Chicago Chapter. With that in mind, I’m going to walk through the worksheet using a growing nonprofit as an example, but these principles apply to any business.

Step 1: Your Top 3 Business Objectives

Yes, I mean it when I say top 3. (I’m incredibly serious about keeping it simple.) So list the top 3 objectives for this quarter, and revise the goals for next quarter as needed. This is a living document, but we have to take it piece by piece.

For our sample non-profit, our objectives are simple:
1) Raise awareness of the organization
2) Collect donations
3) Build our supporter database

Let’s focus just on that first objective for now.

Step 2: Goals

Like everything else, our goals have to be clear. When we’re tracking things as seemingly vague as “raise awareness,” our goals establish how we measure those results. For this example, increasing traffic to the site by unique visitors, the amount of time on the site and driving traffic to the pages that demonstrate our expertise are key.

Step 3: KPI

This step is easy! We know exactly what KPI within Google Analytics will tell us whether we’re on track to meet our goal.

Step 4: KPI Targets

And finally, for each KPI, set realistic targets. As you’re pulling these together, be sure to do a review of these targets so far; Google Analytics makes it simple to pull reports from this quarter last year, last quarter, etc.

Step 5: Work Through an Example

The last step is my favorite part: working through an example of your KPI metrics. Pick one of your favorites and, using a month of data, track what is working and what isn’t. Let’s look at the referral sources for our newsletter signups to see what is working best.

It’s truly that simple! View the completed worksheet here.

So remember, as you’re constantly working to show your marketing prowess and give credibility to the invisible work we as marketers do, Google Analytics is your friend! It helps you justify the value of your web expenses and your job as the web developer or marketing analyst!

This worksheet makes it easy for you, your team and your colleagues to stay on track and celebrate your successes. My latest way to describe this focus is: Prevent the creation of the wild, wild west in your marketing department with team members chasing their own set of metrics. Instead, focus on team objectives.

Food for Thought: Potato Salad

State Fair Potato Salad

Photo via epicurious.

It is summer after all, so here is the recipe I consider ‘best practice’ for how to infuse flavor into a potato salad. Yes, just like you should infuse actionable insight into the analytics you present to your C-suite!

This recipe is old as the hills, and it is called State Fair Potato Salad. Its “secret sauce” comes from infusing the warm potatoes with the juice from a jar of sweet pickles! So easy and so brilliant!! It will make your brains fall out (if the summer heat hasn’t already)!

Bonnie Massa is Founder and President of Chicago-based Massa & Company, Inc. She works with companies and nonprofits to make the best use of their information about customers, partners, donors and sponsors. With more than 40 years of experience in marketing and predictive analytics, Bonnie is passionate about helping clients make informed, data-driven decisions to increase the value of their customer base. She strongly believes that making pasta and ice cream from scratch are worth the effort, and she spends much of her free time testing and re-testing that theory.


Since 1985, Massa & Company has helped businesses reduce their marketing costs and increase sales by turning data into actionable insights.


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