Creating a Google Analytics dashboard can be a powerful way to learn more about your website visitors—if you are familiar with the platform and understand how it works. Even then, with hundreds (possibly thousands) of standard metrics available, this can be a tricky proposition. Fortunately, Google Analytics (GA) has integrated a custom dashboard feature that will report just about anything you want to know!
Reports vs. Dashboards
When you first navigate to Google Analytics, you may be overwhelmed by the information you see. Don’t be intimidated! The five reports that are linked in the left-hand navigation offer a view into a variety of metrics, including:
- Real-time Measurements
- Audience Data
- Acquisition Data
- Behavior Data
- Conversion Data
According to PPC Hero, these reports, which are often mistaken for dashboards, may not be at all relevant to the data and information you need. Instead, a true dashboard that highlights specific metrics may be more useful. Unfortunately, in GA, there are no “standard” dashboards. By default, the platform only contains the reports listed above. To have a dashboard that’s more relevant to your needs, you’ll have to create one.
Building a Google Analytics Dashboard
There are two methods for creating a GA dashboard, as illustrated by this blog on Kissmetrics: Custom dashboards, and dashboards that have been created by others. The Google Analytics Solutions Gallery contains thousands of dashboards that others have created and shared. This could be a great resource depending on what your specific needs are.
Creating a custom dashboard is simple. Click Customization in the left-hand navigation menu. Select Dashboards and then, on the screen that appears, click Create. Now you can select a pre-populated dashboard that includes the most common widgets or you can add up to 12 widgets to a blank canvas. A widget is a snapshot of a specific metric. That means you can create the exact dashboard you need to track metrics specific to any campaign you create. And since you can have up to 20 total dashboards, you can experiment with what metrics work best for your needs.
The key to creating and using dashboards is finding the right information. Test different configurations until you find the one that works. For example, if you’re sending an email marketing campaign, you might create a dashboard that’s heavy on audience and acquisition widgets. Or you may find that a behavior widget contains information you’re missing. Play around until you find the combination that provides the information you need.
Automation Increases Efficiency
Once you’ve created one or more Google Analytics dashboards containing the information you want, Online Behavior points out that you can set up the dashboard to automatically email you or someone else a PDF snapshot of that dashboard. You can even set the frequency for the e-mail from daily to quarterly. This automated snapshot increases efficiency by delivering customized reports directly to your inbox. If you see something out of the ordinary or would like to drill down further, additional metrics can be accessed by logging into your Google Analytics account.
One reason that Google Analytics is popular is because of its relative ease of use. The drag and drop dashboards are one example of that. Whether you choose to create a Google Analytics dashboard, or use a template, including the right information and automating reports will help you to effectively monitor your website traffic and marketing campaigns.