October 18, 2007, 12:00 AM

How to get the most value out of Google Analytics

Many marketers don’t realize that Google Analytics can be used to analyze data across multiple search engines while also drilling down into the details of e-commerce transactions, analytics consultant and author Justin Cutroni says.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Although Google Analytics is viewed by many marketers as a tool mostly used for analyzing traffic from Google AdWords search marketing campaigns, it also lets marketers analyze click data across search engines and drill down into individual e-commerce transactions, analytics consultant and author Justin Cutroni says.

“A lot of marketers don’t realize how much capability is in Google Analytics, but it’s a great way to see the return on investment in search marketing campaigns all the way down to the keyword level,” says Cutroni, director of web analytics and testing at online marketing consultancy EpikOne Inc., Williston, VT. Cutroni is also the author “Analytics Short Cut,” an e-book recently published by O’Reilly Media Inc.

Cutroni notes that online retailers need to tag their shopping cart pages as well as merchandising pages to get the most value out of Google Analytics, which Google Inc. provides for free. “Information has to come from the e-commerce engine and order management system, so you need to do some configuring to collect e-commerce data and pump it out in a way Google Analytics can consume,” he says.

By adding to Google Analytics that e-commerce transaction data-including total value, shipping costs, tax and number of SKUs per transaction-retailers can also analyze it next to data on search engine marketing results, including how traffic and conversion rates are tied to individual Internet search engines. “Marketers can then figure cost per acquisition and profit margins for search campaigns,” Cutroni says.

Google Analytics can also show data on traffic coming from paid or natural search and indicate how traffic from each source navigated web pages, Cutroni says. A new user interface, meanwhile, has made it easier for users to understand what they’re looking at. “Google Analytics really facilitates analysis,” he says.

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