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This Is What You Need to Know About Google Analytics

Even if data and numbers scare you, a good gangaprepreneur knows to use this free tool to their advantage.

The cannabis industry isn’t new, but using digital business tactics to run a cannabis business mostly is. Since legislation has long kept the industry below ground, marketing tactics used within it have been a bit different, to say the least. But as the laws start to catch up with the science, the industry is going mainstream -- and that means that if you own a cannabis business, you need to brush up on more traditional approaches to marketing. Before you can create a marketing plan or adapt the one you have, you need data to drive it. While gathering data doesn’t sound very exciting, there is an easy way to do it: use Google Analytics.

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Related: Why Using Data Is Essential to Your Success

Getting Started 

Google Analytics is a free service available to users around the globe. The reason it is free is that Google hopes that if you use it, you will be more likely to use Google AdWords, but this is not a requirement. Given the stigma that still plagues the industry, you might find that Google AdWords is simply not the best choice for you—though it is the best advertising service for integrating with Google Analytics. Getting started with it is straightforward. 

You go to Google Analytics and create your account.  Once your account is verified, you take their code and add it to the code on your website.  Once the code is there, Google Analytics starts collecting the data needed to give you insights.  However, the service collects a lot of data and provides so many insights, it can feel overwhelming.  Not to mention that not all of these insights will be helpful to you.  To make Google Analytics work better for you, let’s take a look at some ways you can customize it.

Configuring Your Goals

The best way to cut through the noise is to configure your goals. These are used by the system to target the specific data needed to help you see how well you are meeting your goals every day, week, month, etc. This is done in the administrator section of Google Analytics. 

Now, if you are using Google Analytics to inform your marketing plan, you might not think you will go into this with goals in mind. However, even without a marketing plan, you likely have at least a loose idea of what some of your goals should be.  For small cannabis businesses, this might be things like getting visitors to go to your contact page or fill out a contact form. If you have a storefront, you will want them to check your location and store hours. And if you sell online, driving visitors to make a purchase is your overarching goal. Keep in mind that for this to be effective, you need to break macro goals down into micro goals. Your macro goal is always going to be to increase business. But what you need to focus on with Google Analytics are the micro goals that allow you to reach the macro goal. You want to increase business -- now ask yourself what can make that happen. Those are your goals.

Related: 5 Ways to Create a Better Cannabis Customer Experience

Increasing Indicators of Success

One problem that many small business owners run into with Google Analytics is that they just don’t have enough indicators of success on their website to inform their marketing plan. While page views and contact forms provide information, the more detailed the picture, the better you can adjust your marketing approach.

So, what are some things you can do to increase your indicators of success? A simple way to start is to add an email or newsletter signup to your website, allowing Google Analytics to track how many people are signing up for it. Downloads are also strong indicators, so include items such as white papers and eBooks.To get the visitors who aren’t interested in downloading and reading files, add a video; Google Analytics will let you see how many visitors play it and how far they make it through the video before stopping—hopefully, the majority make it to the end.

Looking at Important Reports

If you are feeling like you are too in the dark to form solid goals and really just need an idea for how to get started, below are the reports to look at.

  • Audience Overview: With this report, you will see how many visitors you are getting, when they visit, what pages they go to, what links they click on, and even the browser used to view your site.
  • Acquisition: Just as important as where visitors go on your site is where they come from. Likely sources are search engines, websites that link to your site, and other pages on your site.
  • Landing Page: This report shows you which pages on your site are often the landing page—or first page viewed—by visitors. This indicates which topics on your site are the most popular.
  • Keywords: SEO should be part of any business's marketing plan, but determining which keywords should be used can be difficult. The keyword report on Google Analytics shows you which keywords are driving the most traffic, helping you see what you need to target.
  • Conversions: This report allows you to see which visitors are converting into potential or actual customers. Things tracked in this report include how many people signed up for your email list, who is visiting your store, and other similar items that are considered strong indicators of a future purchase.

Related: 9 Business Ideas for People Looking to Cash in on the Marijuana Boom

Enhancing with Other Tools

While Google Analytics is good on its own, not every business owner wants to log in and check multiple reports every day. To make it work for you, you can incorporate other tools to enhance your experience. One such tool is Quill Engage. You decide how often you want them to send you reports by email, and they will compile the important data for you.  In addition to giving you the data, it will also compare your current data with past data so you can see trends in your performance. 

Google Search Console is another good addition. This tool focuses specifically on searches that bring people to your site and the pages they land on. While Google Analytics itself does this, Analytics and Search Console do this in different ways.  And this means they can come up with different results. For a more robust picture of visitor activity, you will want to use both. Google Tag Manager is another Google tool that will enhance your work with Google Analytics. If you are unfamiliar with the term, tags are the snippets of code that allow you and others to track the performance of your advertising efforts. The problem with these tags is that the more you add to your website, the slower it runs; plus, the more you have, the more you have to track.  Google Tag Manager handles to code for you to keep everything nicely organized and your website running smoothly.

Putting it All to Work

Once you have the data in hand, you are ready to put it to work for you. Look at where you are doing well and determine how you can maintain that momentum; look at where you could improve and figure out the strategies that will help. Then, it is time to create the marketing plan that will help you grow your cannabis business.