Why You Should Customize Your Google Analytics Channels – Here’s Why #152

Maybe some day we’ll be able to customize TV shows on the fly to come out the way we want. A customization that we can do today, though, and one more essential to our businesses, is customizing the way our Google Analytics channels capture traffic.

In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Stone Temple’s Mark Traphagen explains why you should perform such customization and shows you how it’s done.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why with Mark & Eric. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Over a half million views on YouTube!

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Resources

  • Google Analytic’s Social Channel Is Broken: Here’s How to Fix it
  • Why You Should Tag Your Inbound Links
  • See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Transcript

Eric: Mark, you’re saying we should customize our Google Analytics channels, but let’s start with what those channels are.

Mark: Sure, Eric. In the Acquisition section of Google Analytics, you’ll find a Channels tab. Now, click on it, and you’ll see the default channels Analytics provides. These channels segment your traffic into the most useful sources, such as Organic Search, Referral, Social, and Email.

Channel Section in Google Analytics Screenshot

Eric: So, with those channels, you can quickly see how much traffic each of these high-level sources of traffic are sending.

Mark: Correct. In most cases, these default channels are fine, but in some cases, they might be misattributing some of your traffic.

Eric: But how can that be happening?

Mark: Well, each of the channels is really a filter. It filters your incoming traffic by a set of rules for each channel, but if you use custom UTM tags for your inbound links, some channels may not catch traffic from those links that you would want there.

Eric: Can you give an example of that?

Mark: Sure. Now, I first noticed this problem in our social channel. We use custom UTM tags for all the links we share out through our social media accounts and the other links shared via our social share buttons on our content.

That tagging is super-useful, as we can go into Analytics and see, with much more precision, exactly which social sources and campaigns are the most effective. 

The problem is, the default rules for the Google Analytics social channel don’t recognize the custom medium tags we use.

Eric: What happens to them, then?

Mark: They get dumped into Google Analytics’ junk drawer, the Other channel. I noticed one day that there were social sources such as Facebook and Twitter in that Other bucket. I realized that Analytics didn’t know what to do with the custom medium tags we used, so it dumped that traffic into Other.

Custom Social Media Tags are Misplaced in Google Analytics Screen shot

Your social media traffic is probably underreported by Google Analytics. Here’s the fix!Click To Tweet

Eric: How do you fix that?

Mark: This is where a superpower of Google Analytics comes into play. Now, it turns out that you can customize the rules for the default channels and even create new custom channels of your own, if you want.

If you go to the Settings, choose the property you’re using, and go into the View tab, you’ll find Channel Groupings under Channel Settings. Now, you can edit the social channel and add new rules to capture all of your custom tags. 

Channel Grouping Function in Google Analytics Screen Shot

I won’t go into all the details of that here in this brief video, but I wrote a complete “Guide to Customizing the Social Channel” for Marketing Land.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why with Mark & Eric. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

Subscribe to Here’s Why

See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel



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