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I am curious what other reports have been presented to stakeholders within an institution. I have provided reports on the twelve metrics but this seems less than meaningful to make strategic decisions. Any best practices for google analytics reports that anyone can suggest?

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two reports that have greatly helped me are event tracking (which you have to set up, but it is very helpful) and goal funnel visualizations - which can give you tremendous insight as to where site visitors might be dropping out of a pre-defined, desired navigation path - which can help you make very focused decisions as to what content to address based on the results you are seeing.

If you are tracking campaigns, from e-mail or ads for instance, the campaign report is very useful, especially when combined with the size of the campaign.  As in, we sent out 300 e-mails and received 30 site visits.  If you also track conversions, you can link campaigns and conversions.

Also useful is the landing page report.  Not only does it show that not everyone starts at the home page, it includes bounce rates, which can guide improvements on those pages, as well as larger strategy decisions.

I find much of the useful reporting comes out of custom reports. However, there are still some standard reports in GA that can give you valuable insight:

  1. Landing pages (as per Michael): where do users enter your site. Drill down into sources and look at the bounce rate. Segment bounce rates by source/medium.
  2. Site search: if you have Google Custom Search on your site, this is very valuable. What are users looking for? Where do they start the search? Do the results match? You can also use the site feature to track searches not using the Google Custom search. Input the correct parameter passed to your search via a GET request.
  3. Anything to do with conversions and goals. Straight out of the box, conversions by source is extremely useful - telling you where your most valuable traffic comes from. Agree with Justin on the funnels, but I wish you could set up a funnel for event goals. We use KISS Metrics for this. I am just getting into the Multi-Channel Funnels and it looks very interesting.
  4. Most of the reports under Traffic Sources are useful. One of the more important pieces here is to make sure your GA account is linked with your Google Webmaster Tools account so you can utilize the Search Engine Optimization section.

Beyond those standard reports, most of what we use comes from Custom Reports and Advanced Segments. Take custom reports filtered with segments and create dashboards.

One example of an advanced segment that everyone wants to see is Social Media traffic. Depending on what you SM tools you use, you segment will vary. Here's ours:

https://www.google.com/analytics/web/permalink?type=advanced_segmen...

We've also been able to get some good insight into visitors by using GA to track clicks as virtual pageviews and then analyze the clicks in a pivot table using Medium as the pivot.

Beyond that, Custom Variables are also good to to use to segment specific behaviours.

Thanks for suggestions. All have been helpful. I am trying to work with leadership on setting goals for site but right now we don't have a set of business goals so it is hard to set up goals/funnels if no one can decide what they would like users to do but I think I can come up with some to demonstrate how this would work which might start the discussion. Thanks again.

This thread seems like what I've been looking for all day. I just reposted on the SEO group boards, but I'd like to share my frustrations in this forum, too, as it seems most appropriate.

Some of my premonitions about site analytics, at least living through GA, seem to be answered within, knowing that custom reports, funnels, and goals is the path I will need to go down.

http://cuwebd.ning.com/forum/topics/higher-education-analytics-more...

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