Data Science

21 Hacks To Make Google Analytics More Powerful

Think you know Google Analytics? Think again.😉

This tool is essential for anyone looking to understand their business, audience, and marketing. Full of data points, it’s a mine of information and can reveal many interesting insights. An easy to use platform with an appealing interface, it’s easy to think you know it all. But we’ve dug deep and pulled out some hacks that can help you make the most of analytics and really enhance your business.

Google Analytics

Hack #1: Beyond Bounce Rates

A bounce rate describes when someone goes on one page of your website and doesn’t engage with any event. They come to a page, have a look around, and leave. It’s wasted traffic. But you can choose what event counts – it might be watching a video, entering an email address, or moving on to the next page. By controlling the variables, you can make sure that the bounce rate means something. 

👉 This is called Adjusted Bounce Rate.

Adjusted Bounce Rate is the process of creating an action to trigger a trackable event in Google Analytics when someone is visiting your website. Typically this trackable event is a web page view that surpasses a pre-defined interval of time. Once the Event in Google Analytics is triggered, the viewer is no longer considered a bounce, even if they fail to visit another page on your website during their session. 


Here is a detailed guide to implement Adjusted Bounce Rate into your application.

Hack #2: Follow The Funnel

A good way to understand how people flow through your website is to set up funnels in Google Analytics. This helps you understand where people leave the website in relation to their stage in the process towards the objectives you have

Most ecommerce websites follow the same funnel – enter, browse, add to card, checkout, purchase. The more steps you add, the more data points you have to work with. Just remember that these steps must be necessary for someone to purchase, or fulfil the set objective for your website.

Hack #3: Go Horizontal To Enhance Commerce

To enhance your ecommerce Google Analytics game, you need to instigate the Shopping Behavior Report. The classic funnel is great, but unfortunately you can’t segment your audience based on user attributes such as device or demographics.

GA - Closed Funnel Analysis

With the horizontal funnel you can segment and create audiences that can then be used for analytics and inside Google AdWords. For example, you might choose iPhone users who added three items to the cart, or users who visit via social media but then abandon shop. Having bespoke audiences can really help enhance your strategy.

Hack #4: Integrate A Testing Tool

Consider integrating an A/B testing tool with Google Analytics, which can offer you many more segmentation abilities. You can know how testing affected response rate, or revenue, and dive deep into data that is essential to understanding your business.

Integrate a testing tool

Hack #5: Segment Your Data

This is a concept that a lot of people don’t seem to understand.

The average of everything doesn’t mean everything inside is good or bad.

You need to go beyond the birds eye view and delve deep into the data to understand more. No matter how your trend is, there are always segments within you data who perform good and bad. Dive in and discover what is relevant to your business. Look at various segments, demographics and usage patterns to discover where your company performs well and where there is space to improve.

GA - advanced settings

Hack #6: Become A RegEx DeveloperVariables explanation

Why not consider learning something called RegEx, which means regular expressions. It’s a sequence of symbol and characters that enables you to

👉  Create filters
👉  Identify one goal matching multiple goal pages
👉  Fine tune your goals

Hack #7: Custom Reports For The Win

There are lots of custom built reports in Google Analytics which are very easy to use. But your business is unique, as are your needs of the platform. You pick the dimensions and metrics, and go from there, to create your own bespoke report that tells you the information you need to know.

GA - Create customer report

You can find custom reports in the Customization section under Custom Reports. You’ll find a walkthrough in this great article from Monster Insights.

Hack #8: Automation

You will find that there are some reports you need over and over again. Google Analytics allows you to automate those reports and sends them to you via email.

Analytics overview

It might be monthly traffic, or specific activity – you choose the parameters, frequency, and let Google Analytics do the rest.

You have two options:

👉  Google API studio & Google Sheets

👉  Data Studio

Hack #9: Bugbears

It doesn’t matter how pretty your website looks or how on brand it is, if you have bugs or it’s slow to load causing people to give up. Google Analytics gives you insight and information on both of these things, and you can also find out if you have bugs on certain devices.

Just go to Google Analytics >> Audience >> Technology >> Browser & OS report and find out what works – and what doesn’t.

GA - Report Metrics

To know more about speed it’s Behaviour >> Speed >> Page Timings. You can then go to Google PageSpeed Insights to find the ways you can fix issues.

Hack #10: Trusting The Data

There’s no point having numbers if you can’t be confident that what they’re telling you is true. You can’t draw conclusions from data that you don’t trust. Trusting the data also means working out which numbers matter enough for you to take action on. Please take the time to fix any tracking which doesn’t give you accurate results compared to your company backend. So many people look at their analytics or run reports and then don’t do anything about them, because they are not sure how trustworthy they are. What’s the point?

Hack #11: Solve Cross-Domain Or Sub Domain Issues

Let me give you an example of the problem.

Prints useful information to the JavaScript console by enabling the debug version of the Google Analytics Javascript. This extension loads the debug version of the Google Analytics Javascript for all sites you browse using Google Chrome. It prints error messages and warnings which can tell you when your analytics tracking code is set up incorrectly. In addition, it provides a detailed breakdown of each tracking beacon sent to Google Analytics.

💡 How it works:

  1. Turn it on by clicking its icon to the right of the address bar.
  2. Open the Chrome Javascript console to see the messages.
  3. On Windows and Linux, press Control-Shift-J.
    On Mac, press Command-Option-J.
  4. Refresh the page you are on.

GA Assistant

Hack #12: Campaign Tracking Audit

One super useful feature of Google Analytics is the ability to track campaign results, and find out the results of your campaign through different channels. This essentially tells you the true results of your campaign within different channels. UTM or Urchin Tracking Module is a simple code that can be attached to any URL to generate Google Analytics data for digital campaigns.

UTM Parameters

They are made of five elements:

  1. Medium
  2. Source: channel from where the traffic is coming from.
  3. Campaign: segmenting your campaigns.
  4. Content: segmenting your ad creatives.
  5. Term: often used as PPC keyword.

Here you’ll find a useful tool to setup your UTMs the right way.

Hack #13: Leveraging Custom Dimensions

Customer dimensions setup

There are many built in dimensions to Google Analytics, but that doesn’t mean you will always get what you need. Custom dimensions let you create more bespoke reports. Custom dimensions and metrics also allow you to combine Analytics data with non-Analytics data, such as your CRM platform.

Here you’ll find a detailed tutorial to custom dimensions.

Hack #14: Letting GA Calculate For You

Consider getting calculated metrics, which will greatly enhance the information that Google Analytics shares. You can have up to five calculated metrics. One example might be asking Google Analytics to show revenue excluding shipping, or perhaps you want to divide the revenue amount by the number of customers to calculate your average order value.

Calculated Metrics Beta

I would highly recommend reading this article to find ideas of calculated metrics.

Hack #15: Using Filters

Filters are just another way to segment your data and get a better understanding of things. They enable you to get rid of the noise and focus on what is most relevant to you:

  • Including/Excluding internal IPs
  • Lowercase campaign tags
  • Lowercase page URLS
  • Lowercase site search terms

Lovers data created a great article with eight different filters that you can try. 

Hack #16: Custom Alerts For Efficiency

Custom alerts can be really useful for letting you know when something is broken and you need to fix it. Rather than trawling through the data every day looking for a problem, be efficient and set up a custom alert to tell you when things have gone awry.

GA - Manage custom alerts

💡 How to use: View >> Open Reports >> Customization >> Custom Alert >> Manage Custom Alerts >> NEW ALERT

Hack #17: Sampling Limitations

When you get past a certain amount of traffic, GA gives you only a sample of your data to analyze. That means you’re not getting a full picture, which could cause problems.

GA - New vs Returning

Ways around this include:

👉  Adjusting the date range
👉  Using standard report
👉  Creating new views with filters
👉  Reducing the traffic per property
👉  Sampling data by modifying tracking codes
👉  Upgrading to premium
👉  Google Analytics API
👉  BigQuery
👉  Adobe Analytics

Hack #18: Analyzing Data In R

R helps you build impressive data visualizations, automate reports, and run models that you could not create in Excel.

Different charts

Some of those models include the Markov attribution model, time of the day data heat maps, as well as creating personas based on PCA/Factor analysis.

Hack #19: Using Search To Create Content

The best way to come up with ideas for content for your blog or articles is to consider what your audience wants. You don’t have to be a mind reader, you can simply look at the search terms and find out what people are looking for, and how many of them are doing so. First thing to do is to setup your site search.GA - Site search overview

💡 Here you’ll find the report: Behavior >> Site Search >> Search Terms

Hack #20: Why Attribution Matters

You need to know where traffic comes from so you can spend more on the marketing channels that work. But sometimes it can be complicated. What if someone saw an ad four days ago, clicked on it, then left. Then a couple of days later saw the same ad on Facebook, and actually came through and purchased. Who should the sale be attributed to?

GA - Conversion path

Google Attribution has many attribution models inside their platform and you can choose whether you focus on first click, last click, time decay, or other linear models. As always, make sure you choose the most meaningful metric for you.

Hack #21: CEO’s Best Kept Secret: RetentionXCEOs Best Kept Secret

One limitation of Google Analytics is that tracking ends at the conversion and there are no possibilities to look for other real value drivers of the business such as loyalty, which can be tracked by metrics such as customer lifetime value or repeat order frequencies.

RetentionX anomaly detection AOV

What if the people who read your About Us page ended up buying more from you in the long run? Wouldn’t you want to know that? If you want advanced analytics functionalities you have to add a software like RetentionX.

RetentionX translates your data into clear actions, through proprietary software that unlocks the power of numbers for your business. It is a sophisticated data science engine that goes beyond existing technologies, and enables you to answer the questions that matter.

Andrew Faulkner, „Making Google Analytics better out of the box“
Aristide Basque, „25 Ways to Improve Your Google Analytics Game“

Data Science Enthusiast, growing revenues with the power of data – Founder & CEO of RetentionX, the leading Software for Decision Intelligence.