A key challenge for anyone who wants to learn how to use Google Analytics is not having a website. Unless you have your own website, the common assumption is that you can’t get hands-on experience with the tool. BUT YOU CAN.
In this blog I share how you can learn Google Analytics for free, without a website.
Google Analytics: The Problem
As some of you may know, I recently taught the Digital Marketing course at George Brown College. One of the key components of the course had to be Google Analytics, as it is one of the key skills to learn as a marketer. Knowing how to use this tool enables you to become a more data savvy marketer, which means being able to read data, draw insights and conclusions, and ultimately allows you to optimise your marketing strategy.
If you have previously attempted to learn Google Analytics, you may have already realised it can be quite difficult to learn how to handle the tool, and use it to your advantage unless you have access to a website.
In other words, if you don’t have access to a website that you can link to your Google Analytics account, you are not able to see real numbers which will put your learning into practice. Without access to real time website data and traffic, learning through courses becomes very theoretical.
Is this you? Well, you’re not alone.
Many people do not have a website, including many of my college students. Therefore, while teaching the course, I needed to establish a way of learning the tool – without setting up a new website – which would allow the theory we had covered to come to life.
Google Analytics: The Solution
Thankfully, there is a solution to this problem.
As some of you may know, Google has their own e:commerce website called Google Merchandise Store. This website allows shoppers all over the globe to purchase Google, YouTube and Android branded merchandise online.
However, this website also has its own Google Analytics account, which Google has made available for anyone to use. I know – amazing!
So, if you want to practise or learn Google Analytics using real numbers that have meaningful data behind them, then all you need to do is connect the Google Merchandise Analytics account to your own Google Analytics account. Doing this will enable you to see real time numbers and data, just as if the website was your own.
How to link Google Merchandise Store to your own Google Analytics account
- Make sure you have a Google Analytics account set up
- Open a new Google tab – search for ‘access demo account google analytics’
- Select the first option
- On the page, click the link ‘ACCESS DEMO ACCOUNT’
- This will take you to the Google Merchandise analytics dashboard
- Click on ‘Demo Account’ – ensure ‘Master View’ is selected
- You’re in! All of the numbers are there for you to play about with
Being able to spend time looking through the metrics and data within this dashboard is extremely beneficial as it allows you to add another layer to your learning. Within the dashboard you can review topics such as shopping behavior, website conversion, product performance, checkout behaviour, sales performance, etc.
Google Merchandise Store Homework
Here is a short task, similar to the one I issued to my students, which will encourage you to think as though you were the Marketing Manager for the Google Merchandise Store.
In short, you are going to conduct an e-commerce business review by analyzing what happened in 2019 (January 2019-December 2019); which will lead to insights and recommendations to implement for 2020.
- Audience Analysis
In general, who is the primary customer for the GMS? Translate the data to bring to life as a marketing persona.
- Business Overview
Identify the website visitor traffic for 2019. What are the main channels people use to get to the GMC? How does this compare to the previous year 2018? Do you have any ideas on why this might be?
Can you identify the total revenue, number of transactions, average value and overall e-commerce conversion rate for 2019?
Can you identify if there is any seasonality to the business–general website traffic and/or transactions/revenue? Think of the four seasons to identify trends over the four quarters.
- Acquisition Analysis
Think of a specific target audience (e.g. Age Group – 18- 24 , Country: USA). Describe how the target audience got to the GMS website. Can you identify if there are better channels for generating sales vs. users who just browse?
- Behaviour (Engagement) Analysis
Describe how your target audience shopped the GMS website. Can you identify the top three most shopped product categories, or the top ten most browsed products?
- Conversions Analysis
Can you compare how your target audience segment performs vs. All Users for average value and overall e-commerce conversion rate?
Try and describe how the target audience moves through the shopping process and checkout processes
- Forward-Looking Recommendations
This is where the analysis and insights come together. Make four recommendations for what you’d do to grow the Google Merchandise Store business for a specific audience segment in the next year:
- Continue to keep doing something that’s working
- Change something you’re doing to make it better
- Stop doing something that’s just not working
- Start doing something new
Let me know how you get on!
Google Analytics can seem tricky to begin with, but I hope this recommendation allows you to feel more confident using the tool. Practise makes perfect, so take the time to explore the dashboard, learn the metrics, study the data and put your learning to the test!
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