The second session I presented at the Hospitality Marketing Summit in Denver was entitled Beginning Google Analytics, and was an overview of how to find your way around the Google Analytics screens, and how to find just the information you need. In other words, to get those who are beginning to use Google Analytics started without all the clutter of a complex product.

A few minutes into the session the hotel had a power cut – and everything went dark! The projector was off, my laptop was on battery, the room and hallway lights were out. It was just me, in a dark room full of people looking for information. It stayed that way for the rest of the session.

Thankfully, those attending were great sports, and wanted to continue. So I went through the “slides” – attempting to describe what I would have shown, and explaining as best I could with no visual aids. To that group, this post is dedicated, as the “invisible” slides are below, with my descriptions below that.

Slide 1: Overview. We’ll be covering Navigating the Google Analytics screens; How to focus on the most important areas; and how to automate repetetive tasks.

Slide 2: As we navigate the screens, we’ll look at date ranges, and how to change them, understanding the graph at the top of most reports, understanding and using the table of data in the reports, and we’ll look at the most relevant menu selections along the left side.

Slide 3: Looking at the Graph, the default shows points for each day in the date range. You’ll find that changing to the other options can be useful. This is useful if you are looking at a month or two. If you are looking at only a few days, Hourly might be useful. If you are looking at longer periods, like an entire year, Weekly or Monthly may make trends appear more clearly.

Slide 4: The pulldown at upper left above the graph says “Sessions” by default. Sessions used to be called Visits. You can change the pulldown to other entries, or add a second metric to see things graphed against one another. Play with this to see if there is anything you’re interested in seeing.

Slide 5: Looking at the All Traffic report, notice that the left column is called “Source/Medium”. The Source is the site a visitor came to your site from. They usually clicked on a link on that site to come to your site. The Medium can be customized, but usually is Organic (organic search), Direct, etc. The remaining columns are divided up in Acquisition (how someone came to your site), Behavior (what they did on your site), and Conversions (ultimate results of the visits). We care most about Sessions, Bounce Rate, Session Duration or Pages/Session, and Revenue or Goal Conversions.

Slide 6: The Date Range is specified in the upper right area. Clicking the pulldown allows you to change the date range (default is past month). You can change the date range by typing new dates, or by clicking on the calendar. If you click “Compare to” you can select “Previous period” (the same number of days as your top date range, immediately before – in other words, if you use the default of the past month, “Previous Period” compares that to the month before it), or “Previous Year” (compares the date range to the same range in the prior year). Click Apply to see the results.

Slide 7: We will look at menu selections for Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.

Slide 8: In the Acquisition section we are interested in the All Traffic report (showing traffic to your website from any source), the Referrals report (traffic to your site that isn’t from a search engine or paid advertising such as AdWords), Keywords (from search), AdWords advertising traffic (if you use AdWords), Social (traffic from various social sites), and SEO – Webmaster Tools data (this will only be present if you have a Webmaster Tools account and you have linked the Webmaster Tools account to your Google Analytics account.

Slide 9: In the Behavior section we are interested specifically in the Site Content area and the Behavior Flow report, which shows where visitors go from page to page before leaving your site.

Slide 10: The Site Content report shows All Pages on the site, where visitors came from, and, optionally, what pages they went to next. The Landing Pages report shows the pages visitors are hitting first on your site, which referral sources send them to what pages, and other information. The Exit Pages report shows the last page visited in a Session.

Slide 11: The Behavior Flow report is a graphical report, showing visually how visitors traverse the site.

Slide 12: The Conversions area has several reports we are interested in. The Goals report shows how your goals (this is customizable, but is most often a page you want to track visits to) are converting. Ecommerce report show revenue by source. Multi-Channel Funnels allow Goals or Ecommerce reports to allocate partial credit to multiple sources that refer a visitor who converts (reaches a goal, or results in an Ecommerce transaction). Attribution reports show specific types of MCF transactions.

Slide 13: There are three ways to automate or simplify your GA time. One is to use Shortcuts – essentially these are bookmarks so you can quickly find the reports you are looking for. The next is to create a Dashboard – which provides a graphical view of summary information – a sort of “at-a-glance” view of key statistics. The third is Email – nearly all the reports can be configured the way you want them, then you can click the Email button at the top and have them sent to you at regular intervals – such as once a month – to keep you up to date without having to pore over reports and navigate all of GA.

Slide 14: Summary: The keys are to focus on: Visitor Source (Acquisition), pages or amount of time on site (Behavior), and Conversions (ideally, Ecommerce). Automate and simplify to save time!

Thank you!