Google Analytics and Social Media: What Marketers Need to Know

Google Analytics and Social Media: What Marketers Need to Know

Author: Michael Stelzner / Source: Do you track the return on your social media activity in Google Analytics? Want

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Do you track the return on your social media activity in Google Analytics?

Want to discover some valuable shortcuts?

To explore cool hacks for Google Analytics, I interview Annie Cushing.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode, I interview Annie Cushing, Google Analytics expert and chief data officer at Outspoken Media digital marketing agency. She’s a total analytics geek who loves teaching other marketers how to make the most of their analytics data.

Annie explores Google Analytics, social reporting, dashboards, and more.

You’ll discover how to customize Google Analytics reports for yourself.

Google Analytics and Social Media: What Marketers Need to Know featuring insights from Annie Cushing on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
Google Analytics and Social Media: What Marketers Need to Know featuring insights from Annie Cushing on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below.

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Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Google Analytics and Social Media

What’s New in Google Analytics

Starting May 15, 2017, Google Analytics will allow people to do remarketing across multiple devices. Annie explains that if someone visits your site on their mobile device and then comes back to it on their laptop, as long as they’re logged into Google in both places, you’ll be able to target them across their devices. This new capability is a huge step forward for remarketing audiences because few people shop only on their computer, tablet, or phone.

Marketers will now be able to remarket to users across multiple devices.
Cross-device remarketing will be a huge benefit to marketers.

Annie explains that Google previously relied on user IDs to offer remarketing features, but most businesses couldn’t implement the technology very easily. Only advanced analysts could set it up for sites where users were highly incentivized to log in. Because most businesses don’t have sites like that, this new ability is groundbreaking.

Annie says one issue she regularly sees with clients is they seldom use Google Analytics for retargeting. Instead, they use AdWords and DoubleClick.

However, Google Analytics enables marketers to get much more granular with targeting. For instance, you can serve an ad to someone who visited a certain page but didn’t convert or to someone who put something in a cart but didn’t check out. Hopefully, multiple-device retargeting will incentivize more people to take advantage of Google Analytics.

Listen to the show to discover how a retargeting ad saved Annie last Christmas.

Google Optimize

Google recently announced they were releasing Google Optimize, a free tool for A/B testing. For example, say you want to experiment with product page design, such as the placement of the price or Buy button or different font colors or text. In an A/B test, you run two versions of your page and compare how each version performs.

Google Optimize is a free tool for conversion rate optimization.
Use Google Optimize to test different changes on your website.

Up until this point, Optimizely has been the industry standard. At Social Media Examiner, we use Visual Website Optimizer.

Annie believes Google Optimize is perfect for small- to mid-sized or even large businesses. (Google Optimize 360 is the enterprise-level version.) Annie recommends that businesses get what they can from the free version first. Then as your organization develops more sophisticated testing needs (for instance, reducing the bounce rate or increasing the conversion rate), consider paying for more advanced features.

Annie also notes that Google Optimize is user-friendly. To move things around, you simply drag and drop. You don’t have to ask a developer to customize the page for you.

Listen to the show to hear my description of how optimizing tools work.

Ad Blockers and Do-not-track Technology

Annie explains how ad blockers and do-not-track tools impact your analytics data differently.

If you run display ads on AdWords, then ad blockers will impact your overall effectiveness. As people choose to block ads, impressions and conversions will decrease. A lot of publishers, especially those in tech, are pushing back by displaying website content only if ads can appear. Anyone using an ad blocker sees a note that says users need to turn off their ad blocker to see content.

Ad blockers impact your ads effectiveness but not your data.
Ad blockers make display ads less effective.

Although ad blockers will block your AdWords ads, Annie says they don’t impact your Google Analytics data. You won’t get less data because that isn’t what’s being blocked.

However, do-not-track blockers will impact Google Analytics data. Since legislation killed the privacy rules that require Internet Service Providers to get consent before selling your data, more people are opting for tools to protect their privacy. Annie references an HLN segment recommending the use of do-not-track tools.

When I ask if data is under-reported because of these tools, Annie says it depends on your target audience. Annie’s audience tends to be tech-savvy marketers and analysts, so her site likely experiences a much higher level of under-reporting than, for instance, a vacation destination website.

Listen to the show to hear why some people may not use do-not-track tools.

Social Reporting in Google Analytics

When Annie did a post analyzing social reports, she concluded that the best social report in Google Analytics isn’t in Social reports. It’s the Channels report. To get there, go to Acquisition, All Traffic, and then Channels. On the Channels report, a Social line item separates the social from the non-social referrals. (The Referrals report, also under All Traffic, lumps social and non-social referrals together.)

Go to Channels, under All Traffic, to get to the Channels report.
To get to the Channels report, go to Acquisition and All Traffic. Then select Channels.

Annie explains that it’s important to separate social and non-social referrals because social traffic behaves quite differently. Social traffic tends to have a higher bounce rate. This difference makes sense when you think about how people use social media. For example, when someone is enjoying their time on Facebook and sees something they like, they might go to the website, bookmark it or leave the tab open, and then go back to Facebook.

When you click the Social line item in the Channels report, you drill down into an awesome social report. Annie explains that this report is better than the Referrals report because the Social item in the Channels report aggregates traffic by social network.

Annie says that Facebook data in other reports is especially problematic. For example, in the Referrals report, people often think the Facebook line item represents all of their Facebook traffic. It doesn’t. Because the data isn’t aggregated by social network, people actually miss traffic from all other Facebook sources, such as,,, partners, and so on. (Annie…