Questions Information Action — CXL Growth Marketing Minedegree Review

Who are my visitors? Where are they coming from? How are they behaving on my website? And what are the results of those behaviors?

All essential questions worth understanding when optimizing a website, marketing campaign, funnel, or customer journey. And the answers to those and many others are all possible thanks to Google Analytics (GA).

GA is a web analytics service that allows you to track and report traffic on your website and measure your advertising return on investment.

GA’s utility correlates with its popularity. As of December 20th, approximately 84% of all websites use it to track their website’s traffic.

However, the power of GA is dependent on the user. Having access to GA is a significant first step into finding actionable insights, but knowing how to use it effectively is where you’ll achieve actual gains.

This past week I dived into the Google Analytics for Beginners course by CXL Institute. It’s a treasure mine of information, and the instructor Chris Mercer knows his stuff.

If you’re having issues allocating your marketing resources or answering broader business questions, you can learn more about resolving those problems here.

In my last post, I covered what it takes to be a data-driven growth marketer, and its more to it than channel expertise. And how your effectiveness as a marketer is dependent on your ability to rely on data when making decisions.

Well, the Google Analytics for Beginners course is the perfect follow-up because before you do any optimizing, you need to ensure GA is set-up properly to make the right decisions about what to optimize. You also need to know when and when not to use GA.

GA is great for storing data and decent with reporting. However, when paired with Google Tag Manager, which is excellent at collecting data, and Google Data Studio, which is incredible for reporting data, you’re able to take your data analysis game to a higher level.

Although Google Data Studio might outperform GA in reporting, GA’s reports are still stellar.

They’re divided among five categories, Real-time reports, Audience reports, Acquisition reports, Behavior reports, and Conversion reports.

Realtime reports allow you to monitor activity as it happens on your site or app. The reports are updated continuously, and each hit is reported seconds after it occurs.

Audience reports provide insight into the characteristics of your users.

Acquisition reports help you discover how users arrive at your website.

Behavior reports help you discover how users interact with your site or app.

Conversion reports help you track completed activities, online or offline, that are important to your business’s success.

But before diving into the reports, you need to ensure your account, properties, and views are set-up correctly in GA. Each impacts the other. Make a mistake with one, and it can negatively affect your entire data-analysis efforts.

Your settings on the account level are pretty basic. However, make sure that you configure user permissions correctly to protect the account while providing the right of amount access to collaborators.

You can also manage your filters from the account level, which allows you to apply or remove them from different views (more on views later).

If you’re actively working within GA with multiple people, it can be challenging to keep up with account changes. Luckily, GA records all changes made, giving you the 30,000ft view. There you can see what changes were made, by who, and at what time.

The property level allows you to customize your tracking and link other Google products.

Pay close attention to your tracking settings. Points of interest are Session Settings, Referral Exclusion List, Search Console, Custom Dimensions, and Custom Metrics.

Views are one of the most powerful features available in GA. It enables you to customize GA to obtain what Mercer calls the Useful Truth.

Remember, GA is great at storing data, but it does an okay job at reporting. However, with useful features like filters, goals, and UTM parameters, you can customize GA to get a clearer picture.

Filters allow you to make data easier to read. For example, the Source/Medium report shows you where your users are coming from but often, depending on the source, GA will fragment traffic into separate sources that would be more useful combined.

A simple solution is to apply a filter that combines those fragmented sources into one, which provides you with a better understanding of how users arrive at your website.

Goals allow you to track your users’ milestones, report on their journey, and understand how they are traversing through the different phases of your funnels.

There are three user journey goals you should be tracking, awareness, engagement, and completion. Awareness goals track when your users are aware of the journey. Engagement goals track their interactions with your offers as they progress through the journey. And completion goals report the intended action your users take at the end of their journey.

To track user journey goals, you can use GA’s four built-in functional goals, destination goals, duration goals, pages per session goals, or event goals.

Once your account, properties, and views are set-up correctly, you’ll be in a position to analyze your collected data effectively. However, diving into GA without an analysis framework can be detrimental to your efforts and drain resources.

The QIA (Questions, Information, Action) Framework allows you to approach data analysis in a structured way that keeps you from falling down the rabbit hole.

It starts with a question you or someone on your team wants to be answered. Then you think about the information that’ll you’ll need to find to answer the question. The last and most important of the three is action. Action is the next step you’ll take based upon the answers you’ll get.

Once you walk through each of those steps, you can begin your data-analysis and be on your way to making better-informed decisions.

There you have it, a high-level overview of what I learned from the Google Analytics for Beginners course taught by GA and measurement marketing guru Chris Mercer (or Mercer).

There’s much more involved, and hopefully, you checkout CXL’s Growth Marketing Minidegree Program.

The top practitioners in the world teach the curriculum, and you’ll learn the theory and practical steps needed to be a real data-driven marketer.

Next week I’ll share with you my learnings from Mercer’s Intermediate Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager for beginners courses. See you then. Respect!




I help people plan, design, and build customer journeys that convert.

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Christopher Mc Neil

Christopher Mc Neil

I help people plan, design, and build customer journeys that convert.

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