All of your efforts to get Google Analytics installed on your website will be in vain if you don’t even look into the reports. I have seen many online marketers (especially beginners), struggling to drive traffic but ignoring this game-changing tool.
There is one imperative tip every online marketer should remember, if you decide to install Google Analytics on your website then your future business decisions should be based on the analytics data you obtain from it.
A few months ago, one of my friends started an online business and was having a hard time while installing Google Analytics and growing audience. She wasn’t a techie so she got overwhelmed with all the dense technicalities and eventually approached me for help.
I installed Google Analytics on her website and configured specific features to generate accurate reports. After a few days, I asked about the website’s performance and she responded “I am so busy and didn’t checked Google Analytics” and further added, “I don’t even know what to check”.
If you are one of those marketers and wondering what reports you should keep an eye on, then this is for you. Below, I have selected and explained 13 essential Google Analytics reports every marketer should know.
Another thing about Google Analytics reports is that without creative customization they are largely just “suggestive”. Meaning that the information they display will not point you to a specific direction or help you extensively in making business decisions. You yourself have to extract only useful data from it which from my experience, will only be a fraction of what appears on your screen. So, to get the most useful and actionable data from analytics reports, you have to make use of custom reports and fragmentation through segments.
Note: If you can’t manage to log in to your Google Analytics, I will teach you how to get important reports right into your inbox at the end of this article.
Active users reports display daily, weekly, bi-monthly and monthly website stats. This report is helpful when you are looking at your daily website visitors. You can see this report by navigating to Audience >> Active Visitors.
Most startups and new online business owners are especially interested in monitoring daily visitors. So this report can be helpful to figure out if you are able to drive more visitors.
Whether you have a local or an international business, you will always be curious to know exactly where in the entire world, your core audience lies. Or in other words, where your services will be of most use. With Google Analytics location report, you can see where your audience is located.
You can access by navigating to Audience >> Geo >> Location.
This report initially displays the data for top 10 countries but you can always change the primary dimension to display reports by city, region or even by sub-continents.
With this report, you can break down the overall traffic of your website country wise and see where most of your audience is located.
New vs Returning Visitors
Google Analytics is pretty intelligent when it comes to differentiating between new and returning visitors. It does so by injecting a small piece of code containing an ID into the visitor's browser on his very first visit to your site.
On the next visit, the GA code will check for this ID on the visitor’s browser and if it exists it will categorize him as a returning visitor.
The new vs returning visitors report is helpful to see the number of new visitors you are acquiring. You can find this report under Audience >> Behavior >> New vs Returning Visitors.
Taking this further you can analyze the behavior of new and returning visitors.
Your website should not just be user-friendly but also device friendly. If your audience uses mobile phones or tablets to access your website then you have to focus on optimizing your site for those particular peripherals.
But how would you know the number of website visitors who are browsing through a mobile or tablet?
The answer is, using the Google Analytics device category reports!
Navigate to Audience >> Mobile >> Overview to see this report.
You will see reports generated for each device category.
You can further break down this report to view which mobile brand your audience uses by clicking on the devices report.
If you want to see the traffic flow for a specific source or country you can use user flow reports. For example, you can check where do the visitors from the United States navigate after visiting the landing page. Whether they leave your website or move around to explore other pages in it.
Top Traffic Channels
Your next most important report should be the channels report. This displays the top marketing channels which drive traffic to your website. There are eight types of default channels in Google Analytics.
- Organic Search
- Paid Search
You can access these in multiple reports, but for a basic Google Analytics reporting setup you can navigate to Acquisition >> All traffic >> Channels.
If you are running any paid advertisement you would see the display and paid search channels. This report helps you explore which marketing channels is best for your business. Organic search refers to all the traffic that is coming from search results (i.e Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL).
The landing pages report displays the top pages that are ranked on Google search. This shows the complete picture of how your pages are performing along with impressions, clicks CTR and average position on search results.
To view this report you will have to first connect Google Search Console with Google Analytics. This will allow access to all the search results in GA.
To access this report navigate to Acquisition >> Search Console >> Landing Pages.
The search console report provides the complete SEO data of your pages. You can click any page to check the keywords that it is ranked for. You can also check the performance of your keywords after having an on-page or off-page SEO update.
Most website owners start with paid campaigns to drive traffic and generate sales. It is quite important to measure the performance of each campaign because chances are, you might be spending big bucks on your ads but not getting any results.
The Campaigns report in Google Analytics lets you know all about your marketing campaigns. Whether it is a newsletter, Adwords or any custom campaign tagged with UTM parameters, the all campaigns report displays them all.
You can view campaign reports in Google Analytics by navigating to Acquisition >> Campaigns >> All Campaigns >>
If you don’t know how to build custom campaigns, you can use the utm.io url builder, it’s easy and helpful.
Behavior Flow report in Google Analytics displays a visual representation of how traffic flows on your website. It displays the pages on which visitors land and on what pages do they navigate to next.
You can access this report by going to Behavior >> Behavior Flow.
This report is helpful in determining your site engagement. You can determine if the visitors find your content helpful and clicking on any CTA button.
All Pages Report
This is the most important report I keep an eye on every week. Which post has the highest page views, the average time spent by users on page and bounce rate. You can change the primary dimension to view pages by title and content groupings.
To access this report navigate to Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages
Event tracking in Google Analytics lets you record specific actions. The action might be a pdf download, a form submission or a video play. You can track everything by simply inserting a piece of code to your analytics tracking code.
To view this report, you must have set up event tracking. For example, you can track your “Contact us” page form and determine how many visitors actually use this form to contact you. Diving a bit deeper you can set up scroll tracking to measure for how long visitors scroll your page.
“To get the most useful and actionable data from analytics reports, you have to make use of custom reports and fragmentation through segments”
You can view this report by going to Behavior >> Events >> Overview
Referral reports in Google Analytics show the list of sites which are redirecting traffic to your page. You can view this report by going to Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Referrals.
This report usually doesn’t include organic search and advertising visits. You can look into this report and analyze how visitors from these referrals behave on your site. You can further evaluate this report to see how long users stay on your site and which pages they visit.
Goal Completion Report
Defining goals and setting them in your Google Analytics account should be the most important step. Setting up goals can help you measure if you are achieving your business objectives.
The goal report in Google Analytics displays the number of each goal conversions within the specified date range.
You can access this report by going to Conversions >> Goals >> Overview.
Bonus: Getting Reports in Your Inbox Automatically
If you have come to this point, note a bonus tip and implement it now. Each user’s time is precious and most marketer’s schedule is quite hectic so Google is considerate enough to introduce a dedicated feature just for those busy bees. The Google Analytics automatic email feature sends reports directly to your inbox on daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.
You can send every report to Google Analytics via email. It might be a little tempting to set up automatic emails for all 13 reports I mentioned above but it might be a time wasting process to view each report separately in your inbox.
What about getting all the reports together in a single email within one report? Sounds interesting? Here’s how to get it done.
Step1: Create a new dashboard
Click on Customizations from the left menu
Click on dashboards
Click on create button
Enter your dashboard name, select blank canvas and click create a dashboard.
Now, go to any of the reports that is important to your business. For instance, the all pages report.
Click on the add to dashboard from the top navigation menu.
Choose the dashboard you just created from the drop-down and select how you want to display the reports i.e timeline, table or both of them.
Click on the “Add to Dashboard” button.
Each report in the dashboard is known as a widget. This way you can add up to 10 reports into a single dashboard.
You can add essential reports to this dashboard like I did above.
Step2: Set up email
Now that you have your important reports in a single dashboard. It’s time to set up the automatic email.
From the dashboard click on ‘email’ from the top navigation menu.
Now enter the email address you want to send reports to and select when you want to receive them.
This report will be in a pdf format. From the frequency drop down select how often you want to get this report (i.e daily, weekly or monthly). You can also select the day of the week on which you will get the report.
From the advanced options, you can select for how long you want to keep receiving reports in your inbox but note that you can set this email for a maximum of 12 months. Once you have this done, click on the send button.
For your ease, I have created a dashboard including the essential reports mentioned above. You can directly import it by clicking on the button below.
So far you would have understood the importance of Google Analytics for your business. I am sure you do check your inbox once a day and this way your websites daily performance will come right to your virtual doorstep... If you are following any other way to look at the reports let me and others know in the comments below.
Noman Karim is a Content Marketer at Marketlytics, conducting in-depth analysis of latest marketing trends and aligning them with his personal prospects to produce stage-managed and engaging content. He is a passionate blogger, a cat hoarder and is an enthusiastic writer when it comes to analytics, online marketing, and SEO.