Google Analytics is a powerful tool if you know how to use it. You get an incredible amount of data as a site owner from this tool, and it’s absolutely free. So why not put it to good use?
Like any tool or resource, it doesn’t help you if you don’t know how to use it. There are many ways to slice and dice the data based on your business goals. Which is why creating customizations in your Google Analytics account is important for easy access to your most important metrics.
Did you know that there are quicker ways for you to access your data? And did you know that you can get report templates from real business owners looking at this same data? You can do both. These advanced features could make your analytics game that much more powerful.
I’m going to show you three ways to use Google Analytics reports that will save you time and give you better insights into your data.
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1) Google Analytics Shortcuts
The first reporting trick is a shortcut. It’s a quick way to access reports keeping your filters, segments and secondary dimensions intact. Shortcuts can also be added to dashboards, which we’ll talk about next.
Sometimes you need to dig deep into data, and it can take a minute or two to drill down and add your dimensions and segments. You then have to do it all over again the next time you want to run that report. Big waste of time.
Here’s how to create a shortcut:
Once you’ve created your report, navigated to it, added your filters, etc. click ‘Shortcut” as shown below.
Give it a descriptive name.
Once you create a shortcut it will appear in the left side column under “Shortcuts.” You can now access this report anytime without having to recreate it. Time saved!
2) Google Analytics Dashboard
A dashboard is a compilation of up to 12 widgets and is completely customizable. It allows you to create a report that combines your most important metrics on one screen.
You can start with a blank template or you can import a template from the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. Once you import a template, you can modify it to your needs. This is a great place to start to see what dashboards others have created for their businesses. Google allows you to have up to 20 dashboards per account, which is all you need.
You can also email yourself dashboards, and set a regular time for them to be emailed to you automatically, saving you even more time!
To get started go to the “Dashboards” label on the left:
This is where you can choose to start with a blank dashboard or import one from the gallery.
If you choose “Import from Gallery” you’ll get a list of the most popular published dashboards. Just click the “Import” button to add it to your dashboard.
Once you’ve added the dashboard, now you can customize it by clicking the “Customize Dashboard” button on the top right.
You can choose a different layout as shown below.
If you started with a blank dashboard, you can click “+ Add Widget” to start adding your data to it.
Dashboards consist of different widgets that you choose, but you can also add advanced segments to them to customize them even further.
Once you click “Add Widget” you’ll get another pop-up.
Give your widget a descriptive title, you can edit it any time.
You’ll need to decide which kind of widget you’d like to add. A standard widget takes a look at a pre-selected date range, while a real-time widget looks at live metrics, the data of people currently on your site.
Widgets fall under six different categories. These are all different ways to display the same data.
- Metric – A metric is the standard small area you see on most reports in GA. It consists of a single number and a small thumbnail graph.
- Timeline – A timeline is a graph that plots your data over time.
- Geomap – A Geomap is based on location, it highlights the area on a map in a darker color.
- Table – A table compares metrics across different options. You can customize how many metrics are shown and how many rows to include.
- Pie – A pie chart is good way to see the proportions of groups as they relate to each other.
- Bar – A bar chart, you can configure the labels and settings.
Here’s an example of Users displayed in three different ways. As a metric, a timeline and a table.
Once you choose the type of widget you’d like to add, click “Add a Metric” to find the one you’re looking for.
After you make a selection, click “Save.”
To access your new dashboard, click on it under “Dashboards” on the top left side of Google Analytics. You can modify, delete, rename, or share your dashboard as needed.
Now that you know how to create dashboards, you can create one for every area of your business giving you the ability to make better decisions based on data. This is extremely powerful!
3) Google Analytics Custom Reports
Custom reports are, well… custom. You choose each metric, dimension, and filter, and decide how they should be displayed.
No longer are you stuck to the reports that Google Analytics provides for you. Custom reports give you complete power over the data you see. You can also add your custom report to any dashboard, or create a shortcut to it.
To access Google Analytics custom reports click “Customization” at the top of your account.
Select “New Custom Report” to start from scratch, or Import a Custom Report from the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.
Name your new report, and choose the metrics, dimensions, and any filters you want to include.
Here’s a sample of what this step looks like. You can add metrics or dimensions as you wish.
Be sure to click ‘Save’ at the bottom of the page. Now you have a custom report that gives you the exact data you’re looking for!
Add it to a dashboard, create a shortcut, or setup and weekly email to yourself.
In the left navigation, select Overview to see a table listing of all of your Custom Reports. You can create Categories to organize reports into different groups. Within each report you can also create several reports by adding a “report tab.”
Use the Actions dropdown menu to Edit, Copy, Delete, and Share individual reports. When you share a Custom Report, only the configuration information is shared, but your data remains private.
What To Do Now
It’s a time investment to get your reports setup the way you want them, but once you do, it will ultimately save you time, and have you looking at your data more regularly.
Like Brian Tracy says, every minute spent planning saves 10 minutes in execution.
What shortcuts, dashboards, and custom reports do you use in your business? Please share in the comments below. Get more digital marketing knowledge delivered right to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.