Some Google Analytics reports cover everything about your web traffic. Other reports focus on specific key indicators. Is one type of report better?
The answer is yes.
Each report is better than the other.
Focused Google Analytics Reports
A friend of mine, Iqbal, owns a cool startup called Guild. Guild provides expertise to businesses looking to navigate complex changes by connecting them to top-flight consultants. Separately, Guild also offers a website service to consultants and then, in monthly meetings, they review the site’s performance with a high-level Google Analytics report.
Iqbal and I recently reviewed these reports. Tailored to each consultant, the reports contained broad information about traffic sources, location, user-type, and much more. My first instinct was to say that the reports covered too much. On reflection though, I realized that I was wrong – these overview reports have an important role to play.
First, let’s discuss reports that focus on specific indicators or metrics.
In the renowned book, High Performance Management, Andy Grove says:
“Indicators tend to direct your attention toward what they are monitoring. It is like riding a bicycle: you will probably steer it where you are looking.”
If you’d like to sell more red bikinis on your website, you need to take a specific action, for example, use Adwords to advertise on relevant keywords like “red bikinis” or “beach wear.” Once you’ve taken action, you need to be absolutely sure that you know if this strategy is working.
You’d use a highly focused Google Analytics report that monitors the success of your ad campaigns. This report should give you a clear answer to the question: is my advertising strategy selling more red dresses in a cost-effective way? The report should exclude any information that does not directly answer this question. Only information that directly influences action should be in the report.
When Is An Overview Report Better Than A Focused Google Analytics Report?
“If you focus on the wall, you will drive right into it. If you focus on the road, you will follow the road.”
~Guy Adams, The Clown Service
What if you’re advertising so successfully on keywords that you’re poaching clicks from your organic search results? What if you’re spending so much time on Adwords that you’ve completely neglected referral traffic?
Overview reports actually delightfully useful in keeping the bigger picture in view. To quote Andy Grove again, “... because indicators direct one’s activities, you should guard against overreacting.”
These broader reports provide context to your focused actions and help keep you focused on “the road” and everything on it.
Google Analytics reports that offer a birds-eye view of your site’s performance and audience behavior can also inspire new actions that you’ll then monitor with focused reports.
Learn how to find opportunities to act by looking at a broader report with The Simple Way To Grow Your Business With Google Analytics. There you’ll see how looking at different channels at once can highlight growth or optimization areas.
How These Reporting Styles Can Work Together Effectively
These reports work well together. By committing to act on the focused reports you’ll stay disciplined. By allowing the broader Google Analytics reports to provide inspiration and context, you’ll be in control of your wider business strategies and avoid acting “in a bubble.”
I recommend reviewing an overview report like Where Did My Traffic Come From, weekly just so you can stay in-the-know. This way, you can catch any wide-reaching negative impact quickly.
At the same time, and perhaps a little counter-intuitively, you should follow your more focused reports like How Are My Adwords Campaigns Performing or What Are My Top Transactions And Who Made The Purchase, only once a month. This gives your actions time to work and hopefully prevents any overly-enthusiastic changes due to ordinary variability.
Of course, you should always use Teacup’s Achievables feature to monitor the results of any actions. You’ll be able to tie your actions directly to the metrics they aim to change!