When it comes to analyzing your website statistics, there are few programs that can touch Google Analytics (GA). With its ability to review website performance and online campaigns by tracking goals such as sales, pageviews, lead generation and downloads, it is surely one of the most useful tools for marketers.
But with so many other Internet applications and jobs calling on our time, it's easy to forget to sign in and check what with happening with GA. And while you're not looking, you could miss out on a surge or drop in site activity that could have more serious implications for your business.
But as always, Google is spookily aware of the needs of its users and GA makes it easy for you to set up alerts (or intelligence events) of different kinds to let you know what's happening. These can be sent to your email, phone or laptop so you can be kept up to date, whether you are on the road, in the pub or by the pool.
Setting up alerts is reasonably straightforward. As with everything computers, it's not what you've got...It's where you click! There are different alerts you can choose whether you want to be notified on a daily, or monthly basis or if you want to create custom alerts that tell you when there are anomalies in your site's traffic to your site. You may be running several sites at once, or several campaigns and with GA you can oversee up to 50 website profiles.
Basic alerts: the five step setup
First! You will need to access Custom Alerts under Profile Assets menu in the Admin settings.
Secondly! Choose any additional profiles that the alert should be applied to.
Thirdly! Decide how often you want to be alerted. Choose from monthly, weekly or daily. Of course, if you have just launched a massive promotion, or are simply the sort of person who gets fidgety when you're out of the loop, you might want to receive hourly updates, in which case you'll need extra information. See this video by Zach Crawley on "How to get hourly updates on Google Analytics".
Fourthly! You can narrow down or widen the field when it comes to which part of your website you want to monitor. You can choose as to whether visitors are responding to campaigns, keywords, from which country, etc. This is one of the most useful features of GA alerts as you can really fine tune your data.
Fifthly! Choose what metrics you want to examine. What were visitors doing on your site while they were there? Is this a first visit? How long did they spend there? What pages did they look at? Are they helping you meet goals? Were they wearing a sweater at the time?...Well maybe not that last one. GA is thorough, but not magic!
Finally! Set some thresholds. You don't want to get an alert every time someone stumbles across your site looking for pizza or conspiracy theories. How much does site traffic have to change, increase and decrease and by what percentage, before you are sent an alert. This section lets you really pin down when an alert is vital.
What kind of alerts should I be using?
Of course, what kind of alerts you want to set up will change depending on what you are using your site for. You might specifically want to check on how a new promotion is going or your latest sales drive. But if you just want regular check ups on how your site is ticking over, there are basic alerts that are very useful.
- Error pages - It is frustrating and off-putting trying to navigate websites that are not functioning properly. So as an administrator you will want to be informed of any problems - 404 errors in particular. GA can help you set up alerts about specific errors on your site. It is a good idea to track your errors (with a virtual page view of event tracking) to find the problem areas on your site and monitor them specifically.
- Traffic drop or site flat-lining - The flow of traffic to your site is important to you and you will want to know if it has dropped and what the reason might be. You can set alerts to warn you when it has dropped by say 20%. You also need to know when your traffic is suddenly flat-lining. If a site with steady flow suddenly flat-lines, this needs to be addressed quickly and is worth setting up a daily alert for.
- Hostnames report - If you are running GA, every time your website is viewed Google saves the domain of the site on which it was looked at. So if someone is posting your page as a link, running it through Google Translate, on a website hosting service, or even on a cache, GA will register the domain at which that content is hosted. This allows you to see how people are coming to your site but also if they are taking your content and source code without permission. You can set up an alert that allows you to know when any such dastardly deeds are afoot.
With tools such as Google Analytics you are able to monitor your web traffic on a daily basis and react to problems in real time. Read our blogs to find out other ways you can improve the way your site works.