4 Growth Opportunities Hidden in Your Google Analytics

April 24, 2018

You probably already know how awesome Google Analytics is. This freemium web analytics tool gives you tons of insight into how people find and engage with your website – where they came from, what they click on, and where they go.

But if you’ve spent much time on this platform, I’m pretty sure you’ve realized just how overwhelming it can be. There’s just so much data. So how do you filter through it all and find actionable insights that will grow your business?

I’m going to show you four opportunities to grow your business that are hidden in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Tracks Everything

Google Analytics tracks every visitor across hundreds of metrics.

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Each of these metrics can be sorted, filtered and analyzed based on hundreds of dimensions. This results in millions of different reports you can look at. They do a decent job of offering you some starting reports that can tell you a bit about how your site is performing and where you should focus your energy. But if you want to get real value out of Google Analytics, you’ll have to dig deeper.

My digital marketing agency uses Google Analytics every day to monitor our work and provide insights for our clients. Over the years, we’ve learned a few tricks that I’d like to share with you.

Here are four ways to dig into Google Analytics deeper that will allow you to grow your business:

Growth Opportunity #1: Goal Tracking

Goal Tracking is critical to optimizing your website. You have to know which priorities you’re optimizing for, otherwise you’re just throwing data at the wall and hoping something sticks.

If you actually sell products on your website – this is absolutely critical. It’s so important, in fact, that you should probably go set that up before continuing on to the next 3 opportunities.

Once this is set up, e-commerce conversions are easy to evaluate. If the customer buys, it’s a conversion, and their total cart value is the conversion value.

But what about other business goals like lead capture or trials started? Many businesses use their website to drive conversions that don’t have an implicit dollar amount.

The good news is, Google can still track those conversions for you and tell you which pages are performing the best. But it can only tell you how much that is actually worth if you give those actions a value.

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Is a verified account really worth fifty cents to your business? Or is it worth $5.00? Or nothing?

This might seem trivial at first, but if your site drives multiple actions, it can become important. For example, let’s say you let customers sign up for a free trial of your product, but you have 3 different tiers – basic, premium, and business.

Do you really want to treat all conversion the same? Or do you want to optimize to convert more high-end customers that pay four times as much?

What if you also have a goal for e-mail subscribers? That lead is certainly worth something, but probably less than a trial user. If you look at your e-mail subscriber to paying customer ratio, you’ll get an idea of the value that a conversion is worth to you.

If your marketing team can get 200 new e-mail subscribers, is that effort more valuable than getting 10 new trial users?

Now you can see why assigning values is so important. It will help your marketing team focus on the highest-value growth opportunities.

There are a few different ways to set them up depending on your business needs. Google has put together some advice to help you implement the feature.

The key is to think of all the desirable actions that a user can take on your site, figure out how much they’re worth, and start tracking them. The metric will be available in nearly every report so you can see how different factors contribute to achieving your goals.

Growth Opportunity #2: Goal Flow

Once you have meaningful goals set up, you’re halfway there. It’s great to which pages and products are performing best, but it’s even better to know where you can improve them. That’s where behavioral flow comes in.

Goal Flow is a special behavioral flow report that shows you how customers are moving from each step of your conversion funnel. This is especially important if you want to see how different versions of your funnel are performing or where customers are dropping off.

You can find the report under Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow

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It’s most helpful if your site has a multi-step funnel because it will narrow down to just those pages and whatever other data you’re using to filter it. The filter allows you to compare different segments of visitors to see how their behavior differs.

For example, you can compare the flow of visitors from different Internet browsers to look for issues with the checkout process on a specific browser. Or you can compare device type to see if mobile users are behaving differently than desktop viewers.

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Growth Opportunity #3: Better Attribution Models

Now that you know which pages are converting on your goals and you’ve optimized the conversion flow, you just need to drive a lot of traffic to those pages from your top performing channels. Right?

Well, not exactly. The problem with most conversion tracking is that it relies on Last-Click Attribution, which gives all the credit to the most recent click that generated the conversion.

For example, when 1stdibs sends this e-mail to their customer:

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Some people will click-through, shop around and buy something. In Google Analytics, this sale will get credited to the e-mail marketing campaign. But that oversimplifies things quite a bit.

Sure that e-mail closed the deal, but if it wasn’t for the great content that got the customer to sign up for e-mail alerts, the conversion never would have started. And what about the Facebook ad they clicked on last week that got them thinking about your brand so that they were primed to buy when this e-mail came through?

We know that customers often have to interact with your brand multiple times before they make a purchase. And this isn’t just for consumer products; B2B sales usually require multiple interactions before landing a client.

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And it’s not just about closing the deal. Studies have shown that customers will spend almost double if they’ve interacted with your brand 7+ times online.

That’s why it’s important not to just focus on the final conversion, but everything leading up to it:

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To do this, you need to use a multi-channel attribution model which will share the credit among all the key interactions online.

Of course, every customer’s journey is unique and you can’t know exactly which interactions had the most influence on an individual customer in any way that’s efficient. But you can examine your customer behavior and use a model that closely follows the average case.

Kaushik has an in-depth guide explaining the different attribution models and when to use them. But if you want the quick overview check out this graphic:

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While Google Analytics defaults to Last-Interaction modeling, it lets you analyze and compare different models. Head over to Conversions > Attribution > Model Comparison Tool:

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Here you’ll see the ability to change the attribution model you’re using or compare two side-by-side:

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We can already see something pretty important – organic search is being undervalued by almost 24%!

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This knowledge can completely change your business.

For example, without this knowledge, you might undervalue the importance of SEO in your success and put more budget toward PPC that should go into creating content that will rank your site for more keywords to help customers discover you.

Maybe once a customer lands on your site, they start to receive retargeting ads that ultimately drive the sale. But unless they landed on your site initially, those ads never would have found them.

There’s a lot more you can do with multi-channel attribution, too. I highly recommend that you spend time looking through the different reports found there to see what business assumptions you might need to update:

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Growth Opportunity #4: Analyzing Internal Site Search

Does your site offer an internal search feature? Have you ever stopped for a minute to see how your customers are using it?

If not, how do you know it’s actually helping them find what they need? How do you know it’s driving them to pages that will convert instead of distracting or confusing them? What if customers aren’t using the search feature at all because they simply don’t notice it?

Avinash Kaushik, the Analytics Evangelist for Google, says that every business should ask themselves five questions

  1. How frequently do users use my search box and what are they looking for?
  2. Where do people begin searches and what do they find?
  3. Are users satisfied with what they find?
  4. How do different groups of users search my site?
  5. What business outcomes result from users searching my site?

To find the answers, you can turn to Behavior > Site Search inside Google Analytics:

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Before you can use this data, you’ll need to make sure everything is properly set up. The process for this depends on how the search tool actually works on your site, so you can check out this guide which will help you figure it out.

As with multi-attribution models, there are tons of insights buried in here, so I really encourage you to look around. I’ll highlight a few of the most helpful…

1) Frequency data: If you head to the usage tab it will break down the number of visitors who used site search during their visit versus those who did not. You can then filter that by any secondary dimensions, like the source of the traffic.

2) What customers are looking for: The Search Terms report will obviously show you which keywords people are looking up most often. But it does so much more.

Anna Lewis points out just some of the Ma href=””>many awesome insights found here:

  • How many pages it took for people to find what they wanted
  • How many visitors gave up and left the website
  • Which keywords did not have good enough results so users had to refine their terms
  • How persistent visitors were with their query, by how many pages of results they looked through
  • Most common queries
  • Trends and identifying new searches which can help you identify products to stock or content to write about
  • Identifying common misspellings or other ways to phrase something
  • Which areas of the site people choose to search for over navigating through a menu for
  • Which queries lead to users being engaged with the website
  • Queries that have good conversion rates

It essentially lets you examine customer behavior based on what term they searched for. This can be really useful if there are some common, shared queries because you can treat those customers as a specific segment and optimize their experience to increase conversions.

3) Where customers begin their search: This can tell you at which point customers feel like search is their best option to find what they want. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it could be a sign that these pages are hard to navigate and people can’t find what they’re looking for naturally through the navigation.

Find this information under Site Search > Pages.

4) Search results satisfaction: This one can be a bit hard to judge by simply looking at numbers, but the biggest signal for search result satisfaction is “% Search Exits,” which shows the number of customers who leave your site immediately after performing a search.

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“% Search Refinements” is also helpful because this shows you how many customers are performing more than one follow-up search when the initial results didn’t provide what they were looking for.

You can also look at engagement metrics like “Time after Search” and “Average Search Depth,” which show you how customers are behaving on the site after completing a search.<

5) Outcomes and conversions: The keyword report will actually report the end conversion rate for different search terms and that’s probably the best indicator of the success rate that your search function is providing customers. The exit rate, on the other hand, shows you how many customers are leaving, probably because they aren’t finding what they need.

With all these reports, there really are no good or bad metrics. Sometimes a high number is good: lots of customers are using site search because it’s an effective way to get what they need. Sometimes a high number is bad: lots of customers are using site search because they’re having a hard time navigating your site.

But you should monitor these metrics and ask yourself “What does this mean?” or “Why is this changing?”


Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can drive a lot of great business insights, but only if you know where to look. If you haven’t spent much time digging into these reports, you’re probably missing out on some huge growth opportunities for your business.

But it’s not too late! Google has been collecting this data for you since you first added the tracking code to your site, so all you have to do is follow these steps, pull up the report, and learn from the data.


Eric Siu is the CEO of digital marketing agency <a href="">Single Grain</a>, which has helped venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies grow their revenues. He's also the founder of two marketing podcasts, Growth Everywhere and Marketing School.