Depending on your level of experience in Google Analytics, you might want to have a different learning path. For example – you may already know the basics like standard reports available in your analytics account, how to check # of sessions, visitors, users, traffic sources etc. Based on self-evaluation, the first thing you have to do is place yourself in one of the buckets:
Are you a beginner?
Are you an intermediate user?
Are you an advanced user? or
Are you a power user?
We highly recommend Google Analytics academy as a starting point. Google Analytics Academy offer courses for experts at all levels. All courses are free
If you have finished either one or all of the courses, you might want to start singling out the problems you are facing or insights you want to draw from your Google Analytics account. That would give you a more specific path to follow next.
However, we do suggest not to do all the courses one after the other because that could become overwhelming. If you are a power user, it makes sense to do all the courses because the initial courses will act as a refresher for you.
But let’s assume you are a beginner. What do you do?
The first question you have to ask is – what made you think of learning Google Analytics? Are you trying to draw out one specific insight or are you just interested because you want to get a skill upgrade?
Let’s say you want to get a skill upgrade. What should be your first step? In our opinion, you should head out to sample questions asked in Google Analytics certification. There are many resources out there but here is one example that lists out the sample questions.
This will give you a good starting point on what to look out for when you are doing the courses. If at the end of the course, you still cannot find certain answers, its time to join the community and ask your peers. Here is the Google Analytics community you can join and get involved with the industry.
Let’s say you are trying to get specific insights from your Google Analytics Account. In this case, we’d suggest you start with getting a firm understanding of the vocabulary first. Start with the glossary.
“Experts” talk about some of the metrics or dimensions in Google Analytics without having a solid understanding. Or, it may be that two people discussing about a report understand the same thing differently. One very interesting example is “Time on page”. How that is calculated is very commonly misunderstood.
But “Time on page” is still the next step. There is always a possibility of folks misunderstanding differences between – hits, sessions, users, and events.
Once you’ve had a solid understanding of the glossary, take another look at your Google Analytics account reports and see if this changes anything.
The courses from Google Analytics Academy describe some of these things in quite details with examples. So you’ll benefit from the course.
While understanding Google Analytics reports and the possibilities of using this tool is important, what is also important is your approach towards data. Just reading and understanding a report is not enough. You have to be able to analyze the reports, and most importantly be able to tie it to the goals of your website – whether they are macro goals like making a purchase, or micro goals like click of a button.
There are no courses for changing your approach. Mostly, it’ll come with experience but what you can do from the get-go is keeping an open mind and be open to all sorts of possibilities. For example – just the simplest set of data (like # of sessions) can be analyzed from a lot of different angles.
# Sessions from countries
# Sessions from cities
# Sessions from devices
# Sessions from browsers
and many more. You can keep adding dimensions and try to analyze.
A use-case of this is that a company found more sales happening from Mac users. What does that tell you? If nothing then at least you know 1 more thing about your customer – that they are more likely to use Mac. That information is golden. When you put together bits of information like this, imagine how much gold can you uncover 😉
We’d like to hear more from you what you think is an ideal way to start working with Google Analytics and what beautiful insights have you uncovered in your work. Please introduce yourself and comment below.