Getting started with Google Analytics is no small task. Since starting to use the platform in 2006, I have seen incredible advancements and expansion of the reporting capabilities of GA. For those just starting out and viewing Google Analytics for the first time, it can be daunting. So, just where do you begin? How do I configure GA to track XYZ? And, where do marketers find value in Google Analytics?
To answer these and the many other questions you may have about Google Analytics, I’ve compiled a list of 15 free resources offered by Google to help you learn how to implement GA and develop data-driven marketing strategy using all the features it has to offer.
Where to Learn Google Analytics
The GA Academy is where all those new to Google Analytics should start their educational journey. The first course “Google Analytics for Beginners” offers the fundamental knowledge on setup, navigating reporting, campaign tracking and Goals. However, the Academy isn’t just for beginners. Offering courses on Advanced Google Analytics, Ecommerce Analytics and Google Tag Manager Fundamentals, there is likely something to learn for all levels.
The Google Digital Garage is the runner-up resource when it comes to learning Google Analytics. The Digital Garage is collection of courses that covers a breadth of digital marketing topics. In here, you will find two courses targeted to Google Analytics that overlap a bit with the Academy but are worth your time (either as a refresher or as part of Google’s course structure).
From quick tips to deep dives, the Google Analytics YouTube Channel has you covered. Head straight to the Playlists and pick the topic area that best fits where you are in your GA education journey. These aren’t just product walk-throughs (though some are) but educational videos for marketers, developers, and analytics junkies that show a wide range of capabilities GA offers.
Originally, the Analytics Blog from Google was purely focused on Google Analytics but with Google’s launch of the Analytics Suite it now covers other products like Data Studio and Optimize. However, using the “Analytics” label can help you narrow the content to just those posts that are more relevant to your GA education. Today, the Blog primarily focuses on product updates but buried in the archives are incredibly valuable resources such as How to set up Analytics on your AMP page and many more.
The Google Analytics Twitter feed is not a typical corporate software feed of product updates and unanswered pleas for help. The team has done, and continues to do, a great job of curating Google Analytics resources from across the web. If it’s a helpful tip, trick, or configuration, and Google thinks so to, you will likely find it here.
Often duplicated from Twitter (or vice versa) but offering a cleaner view into Google’s own content, the Google Analytics Google+ page should not be overlooked as a resource to learn GA. Again, helpful articles directly from Google and industry thought-leaders are the main drive but the comments and discussion are the bonus.
Think with Google is a diverse collection of resources classified into either Consumer Insights, Marketing Resources, or Advertising Channel. Within the Marketing Resources you can find a sub-section dedicated to Data & Measurement with case studies, industry perspectives, and analytics thought-leadership. Here is where you take Analytics from collecting data and reporting on numbers to understand its role in your organization and developing a data-driven marketing strategy.
How to Find Google Analytics Help & Support
This is the closest thing you will get to “support” with Google Analytics (unless you are on 360/Premium). Here is where you will find a community of real-world GA users (and sometimes Googlers) that are running into the same issues as you are. This is not some dead forum either. With GA installed on over 29 million sites, posts to the forum typically receive replies within hours (or even minutes). This should be your go-to first stop in troubleshooting anything GA as it has likely already been asked.
With almost daily posts, the Google Analytics Google+ Community is an industry moderated community where you can find curated content, questions, discussions, and even job postings. Though I do not believe it is officially run by Google, I am going to sneak it on the list because the moderators are all exceedingly proficient in Google Analytics (and justifiably could be building the product).
If straight-forward, dry product documentation and feature overviews is more your style, then the Google Analytics Help Center is for you. All kidding aside, the Help Center cuts through the forum-style Solutions Community with a drill-down navigation that takes you on a self-guided tour to Analytics enlightenment.
Useful Google Analytics Tools & Demos
In 2016, Google Analytics introduced the Demo Account. Calling it a Demo Account is a little misleading, it is the live data for Google’s Merchandise Store. For those just starting out, it is a great opportunity to jump into Google Analytics and see what it’s all about. As an instructor at The Startup Institute: Boston, I utilize the Demo Account to showcase to students the different reports available in GA and encourage them to study this account as many do not have access to a live data set as robust as this.
The Solutions Gallery, like the Solutions Community, is a user-generated resource center. The Gallery is a collection of pre-configured assets that you can easily import into your Google Analytics account. These assets include Attribution Models, Audience Definitions, Channel Groupings, Custom Reports, Dashboards, Goals, and Segments. This is where you will find how the leaders in the Analytics industry, like Avinash Kaushik, configure their GA to maximum potency.
From necessity to really cool, the Demos & Tools collection of GA resources showcases the power of GA. The most necessary of tools in this collection is the Campaign URL Builder, a must to ensure that your tracking codes are setup properly to be read by GA. From there it only gets more complicated with the Enhanced Ecommerce Demo Store, Google Sheets Add-on, Query Explorer for testing API calls, and more.
I say “almost” because there is one resource from Google that deserves a mention but unfortunately is no longer useful, that is the Google Analytics Academy Google+ Community. It appears to have fallen into a state of disrepute with spam posts and no clear moderation. This is truly sad, as it could have been exceedingly beneficial to extending the Academy’s reach into the user base to improve educational content (which I am sure that was what it started out as). Hopefully Google is able to revive this Community.
Even though Google Analytics is free and has now grown into the industry leading web analytics platform, Google provides many ways to help you discover and learn the platform. As you work your way through these resources, I strongly encourage anyone to simply install Google Analytics, roll-up your sleeves, and get to work. There is nothing more valuable than a DIY attitude and getting your hands dirty to build a deep understanding of Google Analytics.