Google Analytics for the Cannabis Industry

We’ve got a really sexy topic. We’re going to talk about google analytics.

Now, I know people in the cannabis industry don’t get too excited about analytics and data, but the fact of the matter is businesses that track their data, that use the data to get better succeed, and those that don’t get lucky, I suppose, occasionally.

I think it’s something in the 85 to 90% of mainstream website owners have Google Analytics installed, and in order to do that we’ve all gone to the same place, which is on google.com/analytics, where you sign up for an account, put some code on your website, and then you just you collect enough data which gives you insights. That’s what they recommend that you do, and that’s what everybody does to get started.

But they sort of sell the story short. They make it sound like everything ends once you do that third step, which is to log into your account after you’ve collected data, but there’s actually a few little things that you should do to get the most out of it.

The first thing is that you should make sure that you have goals configured. There’s a section in Google Analytics where you can say what your marketing goals are. If you’re a small cannabis business, for the most part your goal is going to be somebody filling out your contact form, or if you’re a retail cannabis business, it’s going to be to figure out what your store hours are or when your store is open. If you’re selling stuff online the goal’s going to be that they make a purchase.

It basically is just training Google Analytics to recognize what makes you successful. It is sort of scary to set up a goal because you need to go into the administrator section, you need to make sure you have the rights to do this. You think you could screw up your data, and you actually can. You can configure these things and you can mess up data, so it does get scary, and you think Google would make it easier.

So, let’s talk a little bit about the goals, though. I think a lot of times, again somebody thinks, “Goals, well, my goal is I want more business.” It’sreally crucial to break it down to micro goals. What would be steps or actions that people would take that might hint at the fact that they could become a customer? Wouldn’t you say that that’s kind of an accurate way to look at it?

Well, I think it’s easy for me to say you should configure Google Analytics to recognize when somebody fills out your contact form, but if you’re in the situation where that happens once a month, then it’s probably not a big effort to do that and it’s probably not going to give you that much insight.

There’s other things you can track as well to be indicators of success. We call them micro goals, or just steps along the way. You might not have a lot of people filling out your contact form, but you might get people downloading this free pdf that you put out there. A white paper, whatever you’ve invested your time into creating. You could track that.

I just did one, I did a product launch for one of my cannabis clients, and I tracked how many people played the video, how many people made it 25% of the way through the video, 50%, all the way to 100%. Then I was able to track how many people made it all the way through. Basically, anything that you do in your marketing perspective, there’s a measurement component to it. What you want to do is make sure that if you’re spending any effort at all creating marketing programs, creating a reason for somebody to come to your website or to engage with you, you want to have a measurement plan to go along with it. It doesn’t need to be complex, it should be about as complex as your marketing strategy in the first place.

I think a lot of times, people will say, okay, I’ve got a measurement plan, I’m measuring lots of stuff, I’m getting lots of data, but really, the point of view sometimes that I think people miss is that the reason we collect this stuff is so that you can better position your cannabis product or service.

I read a great analogy the other day that said imagine if you played golf but you only practiced at night, when it was pitch black. So you got no feedback on a whether or not the ball was going straight, or far, or anywhere. There would be no chance for you to get better, and I think that’s what happens when people don’t set up these goals and collect data. It’s like playing golf in the dark. You can’t possibly get better.

You can’t really compare what happened in the past to what’s going to happen in the future, you can’t predict things, you can’t optimize your budget, you can’t optimize your efforts. What I always try to tell people is to look at it as basically 80-20-ing your efforts. Analytics helps you figure out what the 20% of your efforts are that deliver 80% of your results.

Now, yes, you might have fewer results if you focused only on analytics, but is also makes you much more efficient.
One of the things that is powerful about analytics is, especially the free version of analytics is the dizzying number of reports and configurations of those reports.

How do you help someone break it down and say here are the three or four things we should be looking at?

So beyond goals, the reason why Google Analytics exists, and the reason why it’s free is because the Google AdWords advertising platform, pay per click platform … What they determined was not enough people were going to spend money on pay per click if they didn’t know what was happening on their website. So in order to get people to spend more money on pay per click advertising, they gave away a free website analytics tool to measure how things would work.

When I first started in this, you had to have an AdWords account in order to even get into Google Analytics. It was like, you had to have this in order to get that type of arrangement. It’s still the tightest integration between products, so one of the things you want to do is you want to make sure that if you’re running any paid advertising through Google, that you hook that into Google Analytics and make sure they’re integrated tightly. Although, with that said, we all know the challenges of Google advertising when it comes to cannabis.

Then it gives you just a whole wealth of information about your campaigns, whether it’s paid search, or remarketing or any type of campaign you’re running. Display advertising, you can measure that in Analytics.

Then there’s other integrations of Google products that are probably the next … If step one was PPC, you’d want to measure Google Search Consoles. You’d hook it into Google’s Search Console and you’d do something similar for your organic search results.

These two reports, configuring them allows you to have a pretty good idea and some granularity around your traffic generation efforts through Google.

A lot time I’ll work with folks that, we really have kind of a primary goal in mind for the cannabis business. Sometimes if you have that, you can then go to Google and say, how can we measure our results in that?

So for example, we had a client that was spending way too much on pay per click, mainly because they were getting no organic traffic. Our overall objective was to increase their organic traffic and significantly decrease their paid spend without significantly decreasing their paid traffic. Does that make sense?

What everybody looks at from the first perspective is overall how many people are coming in. So, if you’re getting 10,000 visits from PPC, for example, and that’s somewhat commensurate with your budget as well, and you cut that down, you might get fewer visits from PPC but if you look at your organic search reports you see how many people are coming in from search.

If that’s increasing then you can sort of do it on a timeline, you can compare side by side. You can do segmentation, you can say, how’s my paid performing compared to my organic, you can look at the two together and see if the total is higher, and basically you would do some kind of comparison between what your baseline for where you were at before, and then compare it to what you’ve achieved since you made the changes.

The cool thing is, and this is a tip that I like to tell anybody who is sort of casual user of Google Analytics, they realize that it’s important but they’re not necessarily sure if they’re going to take the efforts to log in every day, or if they don’t look at trends,there’s a free tool out there called Quill Engage, and that one allows you to sign up with their account and then it will send you a report every week, or every month, or both if you want, to let you know how you’re doing compared to previous month, previous week. And it tells you growth trends. It’s basically like an outsourced analyst that you can use, and it’s a free tool just to get started.

So Search console is a great integration that I would recommend everybody sets up. It’s very painless, you just need to verify that you own the website in your search console accounts. If you’ve already done that it’s just linking the two. If you haven’t done it yet, you can use your Google Analytics administrator access to verify that you own the website. Setting up Search Console basically tells you the data that Google wants to tell you about what search queries are popular for your site, but more importantly, what landing pages … or more granular, what landing pages are driving traffic.So, which pages on your site are getting the most organic search traffic.

There’s a lot in there. It’ll show you positions for the search terms for those pages, tell me this, and maybe you don’t know the answer. Why are those two separate places?

Because it’s actually not part of the data you collect for Google Analytics, so the reason … basically the data you collect from Google Analytics is all collected through a JavaScript snippet, which you can run through Google Site manager, or you can just place the code on your website. That JavaScript collects all kinds of data based on somebody’s browser, their location, what pages they view, the cookies on their machine, all kinds of crazy behind the scenes stuff. Probably getting a little bit more advanced than we need to. That’s all collected and then stored in your reports.

Google Search Console is actually not collected via the same method. It’s not collected via JavaScript. It’s actually just a reporting mechanism into another absolutely different Google database, and that’s their SEO database, or their Webmaster database essentially. So the reason why the data’s not really linked very well together, or it’s just loosely linked is because it’s butting up two different data sources from two different systems.

When you combine the two, and you have this level of granular data, as granular as you can get with the data, you can then start to make better decisions. Search traffic is good, but search traffic that converts is better, and that’s where these two combines can help you out.
Sowhat is Tag Manager? In general tracking things on the internet is not difficult, but every single piece of advertising you do, whether it’s Facebook, or Twitter, or Google, or Pinterest, whatever you’re advertising, in order for them to measure your results, they’re going to ask you to put something on your site. A piece of code, we call them tags. Just put this little tag, or this little pixel on your site, and we’ll be able to track our advertising efforts and give you reports and tell you your return on your investment.

Now they all say that this is a harmless thing to put that on there, but it ends up being like, death by 1,000 cuts, because if you’re putting a pixel for every single system, you might have 10, 20, 30 different pieces of JavaScript bloating down your website, or making it run slowly, or just code that you don’t understand what it means, or it could just, it could break your website.

So Google Tag Manager is almost like a Rolodex of the different tags you want to do. You put them in there, and then Google handles the delivery of them. They make sure that it’s done in a valid way so you don’t break your website. They make sure that it runs after all the front end pieces of your site load, so after the whole website loads, then Google will end up sending out this data. It’s basically just like this super tool that handles all these little, seemingly small pieces of code, and it just handles it for you.

One of the advantages, the main advantage, is that instead of having to talk to your website owner, your website developer, webmaster, whatever you want to call it, instead of having to let them know every time you want to add a tag or remove one because you stopped using a system, you just put it into Google tag manager and you can publish it yourself. So you can get it out on the web without having to talk to somebody to write code in order to make it work.I suppose a couple other benefits is on a system like WordPress, it makes it easier to inject page by page code too.

You can do so many things. Were finding all kinds of new hacks for Google Tag Manager. Even the SEO community is starting to find some really cool uses of it that I never even imagined. It’s like the Content Management System for anybody’s scripts they want to run.

As far as loading, it only can be faster because they load it asynchronously. That’s a big term to use but basically the code on your website, whether the HTML or the JavaScript, it’s all read from top to bottom, and what asynchronous means is they make it so that it runs at the bottom. So even though it shows up early, it just runs at the bottom and that makes your site faster because it doesn’t block any of the front end pieces that you would see as a user.So there you have it, the best of Google Analytics for the cannabis entrepreneur!

By |2017-09-11T16:26:15+00:00September 11th, 2017|0 Comments

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