Now I'm taking a big leap of faith by assuming Google Analytics is your preferred arena for tracking your website data.
So let me explain the importance of having a Google Analytics custom dashboard to help you make the right strategic decisions to succeed with your digital marketing efforts.
I'll be honest, navigating your Google Analytics custom dashboard can become a tedious effort to acquire information needed to make an assessment of your online metrics. The worst part is, once you manage to find it, this same process will need to be repeated the next time around.
What is a Google Analytics Dashboard?
Most users would be accustomed to the standard reporting dashboard when they first log into Google Analytics. The standard dashboard has its advantages but sometimes it's like finding a needle in a haystack, except you're throwing that needle back in each time you log in – Onerous I know!
Dashboards have a number of purposes such as grabbing bits of data from different reports and assembling them into an easy to understand format. You can store up to 20 dashboards per profile and within each of these dashboards we can add a maximum of 12 widgets, with a widget representing a unique report/type of data you require.
Understanding the Custom Dashboard
Most of us understand the power of Google Analytics and how it makes analyzing your website traffic that much easier, but don't you think the standard reporting is a little thin for savvy business owners?
This is where a Custom Dashboard can help!
By taking the custom route you can amalgamate data which otherwise would be difficult to procure under the Standard Reporting dashboard. I switched to using a Google Analytics Custom Dashboard to easily access the website data I require in a quick manner plus the ease of reproducing these reports is helpful.
Note from Ms. Ileane:
I wanted to share a video with you with step-by-step instructions for creating the custom dashboard in Google Analytics. Damion Brown from Data Runs Deep was kind enough to record this video for us. Show him some LUV and visit his blog when you're done watching.
What Should I Include In My Custom Dashboard?
Before I explain the “how” element, I would strongly recommend determining the “what”.
A well structured analytics dashboard will answer a few imminent questions so you can determine your site's performance. The Starter Dashboard is good for a quick website checkup as you'll be presented with data such as Visits, Average Visit Duration, Duration by Country/Territory to name a few.
If you run a local business, mobile or international traffic (as an example) is probably of little value to you. Below are a few key questions to consider with your dashboard:
- Am I receiving less, more or the same level of traffic? I will include page views so if my traffic is increasing but there isn't an equivalent rise in page views, it's worth investigating the pages per visit.
- Do my visitors hang around or scoot off? Key metrics: Average Visit Duration and Bounce Rate. If you run a mini site, sure one page is sufficient to present your good material but this might not be the case for a larger site. Be sure to understand the context of the data for each individual website.
- Who Are my Visitors? Your primary traffic sources would include Visits by Traffic Type, Organic, Paid, Direct and Other.
- Are My Visitors Obeying Instructions? Obeying is a strong term to use but if you're an online marketer, your website will have a purpose and this can be measured by the Goal Conversion Rate. My approach is to establish a unique dashboard for site goals. This makes it dead easy to identify the % of visitors who are doing what I want.
That's basically it, but I will add the following caveats:
1. I have only touched on the concept of an actionable custom dashboard, but you can definitely have more than one. I would recommend limiting too many variables in your dashboard as you might become overwhelmed. If there are several key data points, try and separate them across different dashboards e.g. Site Overview, SEO Metrics and Goal Performance.
2. The other point regarding the Google custom dashboard is that they display the “what” and not the “why”. The “why” element can only be recognized once you dissect the data. The purpose of a custom Google Analytics dashboard is to quickly check information and then prioritize the elements which require attention. It's important to know why things are happening before you show others to avoid the dreaded “So what's happened here?”
How To Set Up Your Google Analytics Dashboard
This section would require a post on it's own, however, it's very easy to set up your custom Google Analytics Dashboard. If you require a step-by-step tutorial, please refer to Google's quick tutorial here or for a visual tutorial watch the embedded video above, or head over to Sharon Hurley Hall's tutorial over at The Daily Egg.
Types of Google Custom Dashboards
#1 The Conversion Custom Dashboard
The conversion dashboard does exactly what you would expect – track conversions! This can range from Ms. Ileane determining her email list subscriptions to e-commerce purchases and having them all in one area is truly poetry in motion for analytics lovers.
If you are still insure on the need for a conversion based custom dashboard, then let me share a scenario with you. What if you wanted to know the exact sources of traffic which was providing the most goal completions – Wouldn't it a whole lot easier to determine where to allocate your marketing budget?
If you are interested in running this type of dashboard, click here.
#2 The Site Engagement Custom Dashboard
What does it really mean when your blog has a 85% bounce rate? Firstly, why is it this percentage and what action can you take? It's time you dig deep to find out.
I will generally set up a custom dashboard which includes “Pages/Visit, “Average Visit Duration” and “Bounce Rate” to determine which pages are performing the best. You can also add Real Time data to your custom dashboard.
Click here to use a pre-configured dashboard which focuses on these metrics.
Now you have the answers at your finger tips in terms of which pages are gaining more traction and the sources of traffic which are providing these engaged visitors.
#3 The Traffic Google Analytics Dashboard
Would you like to see data on which countries your visitors are arriving from and the pages they are landing on?
You are in luck as the traffic custom dashboard is deal for this exercise and you can use the pre-configured dashboard here, however please add your own brand keywords.
There will be some effort required on your end with the “Visits – Organic Non-Brand” and “Visits – Organic Brand” widgets. Simply replace “yourbrandkeywordshere” with your keywords.
Once you're done customising you'll have a good overview of the type of traffic on your website but feel free to test the widgets accordingly.
I hope you have a better handle of your Google Analytics dashboard and importance of customizing to quickly gauge how well your site is doing and the actions needed to improve where necessary. It helps to review your Google Analytics custom dashboard setups regularly to ensure you are receiving the information you need and this might be a matter of adding or removing certain widgets. In no time will you have a solid understanding of your site's health which you can swallow in small bits.
Check out these other cool custom dashboards shared by Google Analytics users throughout the community.
All the best with your tracking!
Please let me know what you think about Google Analytics Custom Dashboards and which one is your favorite in the comments below!
UPDATE: Here's a cool dashboard you can add to your Google Analytics account that will help you quickly measure your email marketing. See the article and download the dashboard from Campaign Monitor here