Get 13 super smart business owners with their own Google Analytics accounts in a room for the morning, add in some fresh coffee and over a hundred training slides, and anything is possible.

Each was there because they believe, as we do, that managing a website is a lot easier if you have a basic understanding of Google Analytics and its core metrics. Just as understanding terms like profit, expenses and assets makes managing your financials much easier, understanding terms like bounce rate, page views and users is helpful for managing a website.

For three hours we gradually layered the information down with frequent breaks for quizzes, card games and chocolate. We are a relaxed bunch, so questions and insights were fired at Abby and me from all directions. And, as is frequently the case, it was they showed us that the stuff was slowly being absorbed.

Questions and insights like…

Once I remove all my spam traffic my numbers look great in some areas and a disaster in others.

Every Google Analytics account involved in the training had spam in it – some more than others. Those with low visit counts were especially affected. Their high proportion of rubbish traffic made their total visitor count look great, but engagement data a mess.

Early in the course we showed a quick way to filter out spam data to reveal the real numbers beneath. For some it was a revelation – the site they thought was busy with prospects was 80% spam and very, very quiet when it came to local traffic.

Why am I paying someone to manage my advertising when I don’t have any goals set up to measure its performance?

After we had removed spam data from the accounts we then helped people set up their first Google Analytics Goal. Think of this as configuring an account to track all the things that show the website performing successfully. Typical measures include contact forms being completed, or sales made. About 20% of participants already had goals set up – the rest went along with a simple scenario that we suggested. By the end of the training, about 50% had set up a goal, and all got the importance of setting them up to measure the success of their efforts. If you’re paying hundreds of dollars a month to Google for advertising, this is a critical step.

Now if I could only reduce the bounce rate from my home page, life would be so much better.

This from an attendee who had to leave the room to convince her web developer to give her access to her own Google Analytics account for the first time. From that standing start she picked up that her home page was her top landing page by a long shot, and it bounced 75% of the traffic it received. She left with attending to that at the top of her to-do list for the week.

The stats from our new website are both good and bad. Good because our engagement has improved, but bad because the conversion rate looks to have plummeted.

This insight came from a design company who had rolled out a new website two months earlier. Thankfully, they had kept the same Google Analytics code across both sites. So now it was easy to see that their fancy new, redesigned home page had delivered a lower bounce rate but also was now hiding the next-step conversion choices they wanted prospects to take.

This is just a smattering of the questions and insights we heard – they kept flying right to the end.

The post-event survey results tell us that the format size and style of training works; allowing business owners to get down and dirty in their own Google Analytics account while being trained along the way seems to hit the mark. Contact us today if you would like to join the next group.