Google Analytics: Tips for Communicators

Quick note: The next OCG meeting is Wednesday, January 8. Happy new year!

Whether you’re new to Google Analytics or simply trying to step up your game, the tool has a lot to offer.  Niquette Kelcher, content strategy manager for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, met with OCG members in December to discuss how communication professionals can get started with analytics and how Google’s tool can help.

Know the goals
It’s tempting to just dig into the data, but without a strategy going in, you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed by numbers.  As communication experts, you’re probably poised to answer questions about business goals, but don’t be shy — interview other employees in your organization if you need more info. Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What are the business goals?
  2. How is the website supposed to support/achieve these business goals?
  3. What data can you capture to show how the website is/isn’t meeting these goals?
Let’s take a look at a high-profile example, the Affordable Healthcare Act. One of the business goals is to increase the number of Americans with affordable healthcare. The new website,, aims to inform Americans of their options and to sign up 7 million people by March 2014. However, when the site launched in October 2013, it repeatedly crashed because it couldn’t handle the high traffic. Regrouping, the repair team said the website must serve 50,000 concurrent users and 800,000 people a day. The page response time, a dismal 8 seconds at launch, needed to be less than 1 second. These website goals are all measurable, data that Google Analytics could capture and measure over time. (Note: It’s unclear what was using at launch, if anything, but today the site uses a monitoring software program from New Relic Inc. On December 1, the team said they had met these goals, among many other goals.)
Install Google Analytics
…if you haven’t already. Get instructions here.
Establish a baseline
After installing, let the data collect for an amount of time (determined by your business cycle). You want to establish a baseline as early as possible. Just a few of the questions to ask include:
  • Who is your audience?
  • What is traffic like now? Look at visits, unique visits, pages/visit, bounce rate, etc.
  • How are users progressing through the site? What are they accomplishing? Is that what they should be doing? Does it accomplish a business goal?

Measure the business goals
Explore the Google Analytics features and determine which ones you will use to measure the business goals.  Scroll down on this page and read about the available features.

Make improvements
Check out these resources to get you on the right foot:

Stay apprised of changes
Google Analytics is always changing. This means features come and features go. Keep up-to-date on changes via the official Google Analytics blog.

Questions about this topic?

Dec. 4: Google Analytics for the Rest of Us

Please join us today at noon to discuss “Google Analytics for the Rest of Us” with Niquette Kelcher, web and content strategy manager for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Just looking at the Google Analytics dashboard can be overwhelming! Take a ground-floor tour of the powerful Google Analytics program. Learn what Google Analytics is and isn’t. Learn to think strategically about all that data.

A meeting to discuss the OCG website will follow the general meeting and last until 2:00. All are welcome.