January 24, 2022 Content Chat Recap: How To Use Google Analytics For Content Marketing

A #ContentChat header image featuring an array of flowers with a box overlay. Inside the box is text that says today's topic is how to use Google Analytics for content marketing, with guest Karen Hopper.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for marketers that provides the audience insights we need to best tailor our content and optimize our website experiences. However, it can be difficult to get started with Google Analytics given the multitude of reports you can pull and the potentially dizzying user interface.

In this #ContentChat we explain where to get started with Google Analytics for content marketing with Karen Hopper, a self-proclaimed data testing nerd that works in performance strategy at Razorfish. Read the full chat recap below, where we explain what Google Analytics is, the most common ways to use Google Analytics for content marketing, and our tips to help you gain the most value from the platform.

Q1: At a high level, what is Google Analytics and what do you commonly use it for in content marketing?

Google Analytics is a tool that tracks website data, helping content marketers understand how many people visit their website, how those visitors got to their site, and what content those visitors read (just for starters).

A1: Google Analytics is a tool to track website data – things how many people visit your website, what they’re looking at, where they came from, and what they do once they’re on your website. It’s incredibly powerful for understanding trends and content performance! #ContentChat https://t.co/0DjHEEGqhf

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A1: Google Analytics is a platform that allows content marketers to see what content is most read, and where those readers are coming from. It can also help you understand what topics are driving conversion. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

A1: GA is a website data tracking tool. It allows you to see the volume and type of traffic coming to your site and what those users do once they reach your content. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

A1. The definition! Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) January 24, 2022

Google Analytics can help validate your content direction and ensure you’re creating content that is focused on your audience’s needs.

A1b: I use it to make sure the content is having the intended purpose, whether that’s building an engaged reader base, generating leads, or converting sales! Just a few little things. 🙂 #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Q2: How can content marketers get started with Google Analytics? What initial steps should they take?

Head over to www.analytics.google.com to set up or access your dashboard. Karen recommends following Google’s step-by-step guide to help walk you through the process.

A2: Getting started is pretty simple – Google has a step by step guide and video here: https://t.co/R5BibC6AVf

The TL;DR: put a short bit of code on your website, and set up a property in analytics to receive the data. The best part? It’s free (and easy)! #ContentChat https://t.co/egdBO4HqAF

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

One thing I would add to this, however, is you will want to consider where you put that code, with respect to data privacy. For example, you may want a data opt-in form, with GA’s code only loading upon acceptance. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

A2b: Google has a robust help library for both marketers and developers, so if you’re ever running into an issue with technical setup or understanding the dashboard… Google it! Seriously – we’ve all been there before and have knowledge to share. 🙂 #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Melanie and Christian recommend these next steps once you start working in Google Analytics.

A2: One critical step I always take when first diving into GA: Set up conversions (although I think this changes in GA4). What are the most important actions you want to track with your content? Form fills, purchases, downloads etc. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

A2.
🤔 Set up Google Tag Manager
🤔 Set up your Google Analytics account + code snippet via GTM
🤔 Do the data privacy stuff (anonymize IP)
🤔 Create 3 data views in your property (All data, Main + Test)
🤔 Set up goals, categorize content
…#ContentChat

— Christian Lipp 🌱 (@SEMgalore) January 24, 2022

Q3: There are so many different reports and metrics in

Google Analytics, where should content marketers start? Where is our time best spent?

Karen recommends that content marketers focus on the ‘Acquisition’ and ‘Behavior’ dashboards in Google Analytics. Acquisition will show your overall traffic sources and behavior will show you which pages your audience is viewing.

A3a: I’m sure you’d agree that key aspects of good content are attracting an audience from distribution efforts and getting them to convert once they’re on your site. The top two areas to see that in Google Analytics are ‘Acquisition’ and ‘Behavior’ dashboards. #ContentChat https://t.co/ylSygWqnBZ pic.twitter.com/NZnRCF3ydc

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A3b: ‘Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels’ will show you your overall traffic sources, like Organic, Paid, and Email. Then if you click on any of them, the report expands into more detail. So handy to see where your audience is interacting with you on the internet! #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A3c: ‘Behavior > Site Content > All Pages’ will show you exactly which pages your audience is viewing, and how many of them view it. You can use this search bar at the top right to search for behavior on particular pages – just have the URL handy. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/OacLXXMEH2

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Similarly, I love the “Insights” the AI provides in each section. It can point out issues you might otherwise overlook given the amount of data. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

If you’re running experiments using Google Optimize, ‘Behavior>Experiments’ will show your results.

A3d: If you’re running any experiments using Google Optimize (which is also fun!) you can see those results right here in the dashboard as well, under ‘Behavior > Experiments.’ #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Get a high-level view of how individual content campaigns are performing by visiting ‘Acquisition>Campaign>All Campaigns’. This is where UTMs become vital for understanding the full impact of your content marketing.

A3: In addition to the Acquisition and Behavior reports @nochillfilter already mentioned (and I use daily) another one of my favorites is Acquisition > Campaign > All Campaigns. This helps give a high-level view of how individual content campaigns are performing. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

If you’re not using utms yet – it’s never too late to start! You should be tagging every single one of your owned or paid promotions with the channel you’re promoting it in and what that promotion is to help GA sort your traffic. https://t.co/3pCbzlHcld #ContentChat https://t.co/gi82FEyahc

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A3.
🎯 Campaigns: Think about a strategic UTM concept first
🗂 Content: Analyze which URLs + #content areas get the most traffic and help reach your goals or events
💡Google Analytics is most helpful when adding a second dimension to your standard report.#contentchat

— Christian Lipp 🌱 (@SEMgalore) January 24, 2022

Visit ‘Acquisition>All Traffic>Source/Medium’ to see where users come to your site from.

A3b: I also love the Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium report! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

I use that report a lot! And that data is helpful when tracked via @SEMrush, so you can see if a contributed blog post’s anchor link back to your site is driving any traffic. But that’s a different day’s conversation. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

Q4: Why should content marketers set goals in Google Analytics, and how do they do so?

Setting goals in Google Analytics enables you to track micro-conversions that ladder up to your overarching business goals. Karen says that these Google Analytics goals include things like visiting a product page or submitting a lead form.

A4a: Built in Goals are handy for being able to keep track of the micro-conversions that indicate your audience is moving towards your ultimate business goals – things like visiting a product page, or submitting a lead form. #ContentChat https://t.co/jM0zfI6FkB pic.twitter.com/u4BGEKktwj

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A4. over the years i have come to understand, just how important these ‘micro conversions’ as part of the bigger picture #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) January 24, 2022

Follow Google’s step-by-step guide to set your goals, and be sure to validate them before publishing.

A4b: Google has a great step-by-step guide on how to do this in the Admin section, but make sure you go through the process of validating them before you publish – otherwise they may not work. #ContentChathttps://t.co/R4GHWLxJkr

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

That’s a great point — especially when we are logged in as administrators, we may not catch issues with what we thought was our process/URL. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

Agreed! And don’t hesitate to double-check them if something looks off in a report. If you have multiple people at your org using GA or altering tag code, mistakes can happen. Don’t ignore your GA for two weeks and then find that the data wasn’t recording properly. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

The WORST. I once had an IT department accidentally delete all of my GA code off their website and we didn’t have any data! Thankfully we caught it after a few days, but it was a minor heart attack moment. 😅 #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Although goals aren’t 100% necessary, they will help you get the most value from the platform. Shruti and Christian explain a few benefits of setting goals in Google Analytics below.

A4c: That said, Goals aren’t 100% necessary – there are ways to get by without – but they help you get the most from your platform. For example, you can see how your audience is converting on different goals on the Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels report! #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/mYVsbKqj8a

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A4. Setting goals in GA allows you to;
👉Measure your performance
👉Analyze the metrics that matter the most
👉Make changes based on results
👉Assess if your marketing activities are contributing for/against the very objective they are to achieve#ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) January 24, 2022

A4. You shall not do #Onlinemarketing without goals 😀
🎯 Think about goals to measure your success
🎯 Goals can be set in the goals sections of the data view, e.g URL based or on events which you can set up via GTM
💡Goals can be imported to @GoogleAds#Contentchat

— Christian Lipp 🌱 (@SEMgalore) January 24, 2022

Q5: What common challenges do content marketers often face with Google Analytics, and how can they overcome these challenges?

Google Analytics can be difficult to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the platform. Start small, and focus on answering just one question at a time.

A5a: GA is challenging because it’s overwhelming and not intuitive.

Learning analytics is like learning a language – don’t expect to be able to do everything at once. Start small, and focus on just answering one question at a time! #ContentChat https://t.co/Cg0MtPBnH5

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A5c: Ultimately, my biggest advice to overwhelmed marketers is try to stay focused on one metric or data point at a time as you’re learning, and try to ignore the rest of the platform. Otherwise it’s easy to fall into a black hole of data! #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Set up recurring reports to be emailed to the appropriate team members. This will save you from spending time on ad-hoc reporting.

A5a: The two most common challenges I see with GA adoption by content marketing teams are:

1) GA becomes an ad hoc reporting time suck and
2) It’s difficult to create a dashboard for reporting results to the leadership team. #ContentChat https://t.co/IZyNlHSr1V

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

A5b: To combat losing yourself in a google analytics data black hole, marketers can schedule recurring reports and have them emailed directly to themselves or their wider team.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

With a little customization, many of the Google Analytics dashboards can be used in presentation slides or planning documents.

A5c: Google Analytics does have a Dashboards section, with a few (older, mind you) Dashboards with widgets you can customize to meet your reporting needs. The Newer GA platform is closer to slide-ready with its data visualizations. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

Continue to explore Google Analytics to fully understand its capabilities. It’s easy to forget about the platform until you need to run a report. But it can be a great tool to help in your day-to-day work if you know what you need.

A5: Not using it enough. Especially if you’re a one-person team, it’s easy to get sidetracked onto other projects and just look at GA at the end of the month for reports.

Also, creating dashboards & reports from it that are high-level & easy for execs to understand. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

Karen recommends you take a Google Analytics course (many are free!) to learn how to use the tool to its fullest potential.

A5b: If you’re a true beginner or want a more structured approach to learning the platform, I recommend going through a training course like Google’s free course or the Bounteous paid courses. @Bounteous taught me GTM! #notsponsored #ContentChathttps://t.co/R5BibC6AVf

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Q6: How does Google Dashboard and Google Data Studio integrate with Google Analytics? Is it necessary to use all of these tools?

Google Data Studio is a tool to visualize your Google Analytics data. It is incredibly helpful when creating data reports or presentations to distill key information for your company executives or wider team.

A6a: Google Data Studio is another free data tool that you can use to visualize the same data that appears in Analytics. Google controls both, so it’s straightforward to build out visualizations and there’s a library of built-in options. #ContentChathttps://t.co/YwkyfvqTlV https://t.co/Q9KSW3FmCY

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A6b: It’s particularly helpful if you want to visualize changes in your data or if you’re reporting out to senior stakeholders – they love a good data viz! But make sure you’re still focusing on your ultimate business goals with the data you choose to display. #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Agree! I find they respond better to Data Studio reports, so I’ve started shifting some of my reporting to those rather than sending out GA dashboards. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

Google Data Studio is also helpful for integrating data from other sources, like Google Search Console.

A6. Depends on the goals!
With filters + 2nd dimensions you can get insights fro the standard reports.
Dashboards help you to have reports ready or customize.#GoogleDataStudio comes in handy when you want to visualize even more or have other sources like GSC.#ContentChat pic.twitter.com/s3v1sIGHZp

— Christian Lipp 🌱 (@SEMgalore) January 24, 2022

OK, what’s GSC? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

Google Search Console @googlesearchc .Or other tools to make use of the visualization options in Google Data Studio#ContentChat

— Christian Lipp 🌱 (@SEMgalore) January 24, 2022

However, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with Google Analytics before working in Data Studio.

A6c: That said, I don’t recommend trying to use Data Studio until you have a strong working knowledge of Google Analytics terminology because you’ll need those same metrics and dimensions to make anything in Data Studio. #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Q7: What lesser-known tips or tricks can you share for using Google Analytics to its fullest potential?

Build segments to help you examine the differences in behavior between your audiences. This can help you test ideas and improve the results of your content.

A7a: I have SO MANY tips and tricks! One of them is segments, where you can build an audience of your website visitors based on any characteristics. #ContentChat https://t.co/gJjKQbnpao pic.twitter.com/aUZ4U81EN6

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A7b: You can segment on:
👯Demographics (age and gender)
💻Technology
💘Behavior (events! sections! products!)
🚦Traffic Sources
🤑Ecommerce and purchase details

Then you can examine differences in behavior between audiences – and hypothesize why they exist. #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

A7c: These hypotheses can be turned into test ideas which leads to more impactful content and website experiences. And just like that, you’ve got a testing program too! 😎😎😎 #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Use secondary dimensions to help find trends across different reports.

Another trick I love is secondary dimensions. It allows you to add another breakdown to a report, such as “device category” (mobile vs desktop) to “channel grouping.” It’s handy to see if there are trends across different reports, especially looking at mobile users! #ContentChat https://t.co/gJjKQbnpao pic.twitter.com/loMFJnZLxa

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Good point, Karen! Secondary dimensions bring Google Analytics to life. Especially when UTM parameters are used in a strategic way to differentiate and measure source, medium and content 😀#ContentChat

— Christian Lipp 🌱 (@SEMgalore) January 24, 2022

Filter out internal traffic to preserve the quality of your data.

A7: Make sure you’re finding some way to filter out internal traffic. This is a little more difficult in the remote-work age, but there are ways to do it. You don’t want internal data inflating your numbers and throwing off your content analysis. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

Agreed! Sometimes clients balk at first about asking employees and consultants to block their IP addresses, but once you show them how those clicks muddy your data, they typically find a way that works for their culture. #ContentChat https://t.co/jJTsl8v6sp

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

Use Google Tag Manager to configure, deploy, and help organize all your code snippets. Google has a walkthrough to get you started.

What about Google Tag Manager? Is it something content marketers need to be putting into place?#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

I looooove tag manager. If you’re serious about analytics at all, I recommend going for it! Some aspects do need help from a developer – but so does installing analytics on the site anyway. Learn more about how to get started here: https://t.co/uIc55vpD9Z #ContentChat

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

Definately. This is also a deep dive thing to learn to get all the options of it. But the basics are straight forward, easy to learn and so helpful to organize all the little code snippets from your favorite #onlinemarketing without coding 😀#Contentchat

— Christian Lipp 🌱 (@SEMgalore) January 24, 2022

GA4 will become the main version of Google Analytics for most teams in the future. However, GA4 is still missing many of the third party API connections.

Have you transitioned any clients to GA4? If yes, how has that gone? Any tips? #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) January 24, 2022

I have to chime in on this to note I had a client start a new website using it and none of my 3rd party tools could connect with that data. I am guessing that will change soon? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) January 24, 2022

It’s a completely different platform, and the backend is similarly structured differently. It’s going to take a little while for third party APIs to catch up – one of the reasons my clients are holding off.

— Karen Hopper got vaxxed and so should you 💅 (@nochillfilter) January 24, 2022

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