7 Google Analytics Tricks You’re Not Taking Advantage Of

Despite the widespread implementation of Google Analytics, many hoteliers who have access to accounts don’t have much familiarity with the true scope of data available (beyond the summary traffic reports) nor insights into how they can dig deeper. With competition fiercer than ever, now is the time for hoteliers to take a deeper look at their online traffic and fully utilize Google Analytics – an incredibly powerful tool.

Google Intelligence

Google Analytics can provide you with alerts whenever a significant change in traffic occurs. Alerts can be automatically set for web traffic or AdWords. Custom alerts can even be set up for a particularly important metric. This means any changes that are important to you (e.g., when a campaign hits a new high or special offer exceeds expectations) can immediately be acted upon. Google Intelligence Alerts are sent via email or text making communication extremely convenient and timely. This means you’ll be on top of any significant web traffic events, even when you’re doing one of the other many things to run a successful hotel and not checking your reports.

intelligence alerts

Cross domain Tracking for 3rd Party Sites

Google Tag Manager has simplified cross domain tracking making site linking easier than ever to analyze and track. Cross domain tracking allows you to see sessions on two related sites (such as a hotel ecommerce site and a separate booking engine site) as a single session. You track separate, top-level domains as a single entity, combining data for multiple top-level domains together in the same reports. But in order to track the session from the first domain (the hotel site), you need to pass the cookies from the first domain to the second domain (the booking engine site). That means the second domain needs to give permission to do this. With Google Tag Manager that process can easily be implemented in one of two ways: Auto Event Tracking and Auto Link Domains. Both simplify the process of cross domain tracking, for Classic Google Analytics or Universal Analytics, through a few easy steps and Google has given us the step-by-step “how to.”

Event Tracking

Tracking events, such as Newsletter Subscriptions or Event RFPs, on your site can provide deeper insights into marketing strategies and what your online guests are engaging with. Forms have been difficult in the past to track accurately but with Google Tag Manager’s built-in event tracking tags, this is now possible without writing and installing custom Javascript. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when setting up this custom tracking (defining variables, multiple tracking points, different forms on a single page, etc.). Now using Google’s Tag Manager, this user interaction is easier than ever to track and providing hoteliers much needed insights into their online form success (or perhaps lack thereof). First, create a “Form Submit Listener” that will listen for interactions with form submit buttons in the New Tag dropdown options. Next, you’ll set up a “Rule” using a unique attribute to the form. Inspect the form with your browser’s developer tools, looking at the html elements that make up the form to find that unique attribute. The last step is simply creating a tag that will record the event in Google Analytics with the labels that you want.

Event Listener

{Note, sometimes the form on your page isn’t a “form” at all (it’s been created with JavaScript or Flash). In these situations, having the form submit listener won’t work, because no actual submit event is fired. In these cases talk to a developer about manually creating the gtm.formSubmit event push.}

Visitor Flow Chart

You can use Visitors Flow to analyze traffic patterns and compare pathing for volumes of traffic from different sources. Comparing traffic patterns by source will help you identify specific actions by channel. Also, this chart will provide insights into how users are navigating your site, which pages are good conversion leaders and help you find pages that need more promotion on a specific channel. Knowing the pathing for successful conversions can guide a site to a more streamlined navigation structure or identify pages that need a greater call to action. The chart is found under Audience > Visitors Flow.

Custom Reporting

Google Analytics offers useful standard reports but they can be a bit limiting on insights, especially if you are a longtime user of the tool. A little customization can go a long way towards improving the quality of insights gained. Custom reports are easy enough to create that most hoteliers can set up one in under an hour. A customized report can be extremely valuable (and well worth the time to set up) since they will give you data targeted to the specific business needs of your hotel. Also, the ability to allow others to access these reports makes sharing knowledge across your team extremely easy.

Mobile Device Segments

It is incredibly important to understand the devices being used to access your site. Knowing the breakdown of users by desktop, mobile, and tablets (and their traffic sources) will allow you to analyze your site through the perspective of that device. If not done, you can miss important problems that mobile users are experiencing while visiting your website. Those problems can lead to disastrous user experiences, horrible engagement signals being sent to search engines and a gap in a potentially lucrative market.

Google Analytics segments (previously called advanced segments) offer prebuilt and custom options. Perhaps the most useful report for defining and customizing a mobile strategy is the pre-built mobile segment report. This report will identify users that have accessed your site on a device that Google Analytics has recorded as the “mobile device category,” such as smartphones and devices with smartphone-sized viewports (i.g., Apple iPods). Use this report to focus your mobile strategy by understanding who your mobile users are, what mobile users looking for on your site, what pages are converting better for mobile users and what separate mobile keywords should you optimize for.

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Unlocking those Not-Provided keywords

The percentage of organic search keyword traffic coming from keywords that are labeled “(not provided)” has grown steadily in past years. If you’re like many hoteliers your site may be accumulating more than fifty percent of keyword “(not provided)” data. In the past, keyword level analytics data was the focus of organic search analysis and was therefore critical to a successful strategy. In the absence of this data, marketers have become more resourceful with the tools and metrics available, and you can too! While these metrics aren’t found in one all-encompassing report, as keyword level data previously was, they do provide a solid base for understanding organic search performance on your site.

Historically, analytics data has been an excellent source of uncovering additional keyword opportunities and long-tail variations that drove traffic. Marketers are now turning to a few other important tools for these insights. You can still get keyword referral data in Google Webmaster Tools. It also gives you impression vs click data so you have visibility into the keywords people are using and where your site got an impression in the search results. Comparing keyword traffic volumes over time will give you a trending direction for your SEO program, especially for competitive non-brand keywords. Also, AdWords impression data can be used in conjunction with Google Keyword Planner data to identify new keyword opportunities. Lastly, turn to the other engines for insights. Though Bing and Yahoo don’t provide nearly the volume of traffic that Google does, insights can still be made about the keywords that are driving traffic.

Taking Your Analytics To The Next Level…

A good hotelier knows you need to utilize every piece of data to its fullest for finding gains in the market. Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool that is often underused. Take a little time to dig deeper into your analytics. You’ll gain a marketing edge that will separate you from your competitors.

About Keith Paulin

When not trying in vain to improve his golf handicap, Keith leads the team at iiWorks, a specialist company providing Digital Marketing Strategy Services for clients ranging from small business to national and international companies.
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