How To Use Google Analytics To Create Campaigns, Not Just Track Them

We all know that analytics are good for understanding how a visitor behaved on your website — what pages they looked at, what buttons they clicked or what keywords they used to find you. You can also use analytics to track campaigns like email blasts and paid advertising.  That’s pretty basic stuff.

What many beginning marketers and small business owners don’t know is that you can use analytics data to create an online marketing campaign.

Analytics can answer some of the key questions you might ask when you want to create a campaign: Who are you targeting? Where do they live? When should you start your campaign?

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You can even pinpoint what content will resonate with your audience and combine that with the who, when and where. Using data to craft campaigns means you’re not just guessing — and guessing is gambling. I’m not saying there’s no place in marketing for the gamble; but sometimes, we need the safe campaign success to build us up to the point where we can take that gamble.

Collecting The Data

As we figure out what data to collect, I like to build a document that will start to take shape as an outline for an ad campaign. I set a time period that seems representative of the season I want to target. If I’m targeting Spring Break Travelers to Florida, I look at data from that same time period over the last two to three years.

My major sections are:

  • Timing Target: What time of year are you looking to book, sell, etc.? (If there is no timing target, just leave this alone.)
  • Top Converting Traffic Sources: Look at the All Traffic report under the Acquisition tab in Google Analytics.
  • Best Converting Landing Page: Look at the Landing Pages report under Behavior –> Site Content and view it with Ecommerce info sorted by transactions descending.
  • Highest Visit Count Landing Page: Look at same report as above, but sorted by Visits descending.
  • Top 3 Keywords Driving Conversions: This is trickier because we live in “Not Provided” land. You will need to use PPC or Webmaster Tools Search Query data to help you get an idea of keyword phrases that convert.
  • Top 3 Converting States/Cities/Metros: Under Audience –> Geo –> Locations, look at cities or states and Ecommerce, then sort by transactions descending.
  • Male/Female Conversion Ratio: Under Audience, look at Demographics and then Gender. Apply the Ecommerce info and sort by transactions descending to see who converts more.
  • Top Converting Age Group Demographic: Under Audience, look at Demographics and then Age. Again, apply the Ecommerce info and sort by transactions descending.
  • Purchase/Booking Window: This is somewhat difficult to gauge in Google Analytics. I recommend looking at Time to Purchase under Conversions –> Ecommerce. The tricky piece is attribution — if you are looking at “Last Click Attribution,” which is the default and where many beginners or small business owners start — then a majority of your conversions will be on Day 0. Not extremely helpful. Attribution models deserve their own articles; there are quite a few good ones here on Marketing Land or on Search Engine Land.  The reality is that, for a novice or beginner with analytics, this number is likely something you know from dealing with customers and sales or from an internal reservation or sales software you use.

I then take this data and build a campaign. I start with source. A campaign that focuses on Search Engines as a source begins with a different strategy than a campaign that focuses on social media or email marketing.

Once I’ve determined source, I look for content. I look at landing pages, keywords, and demographics to flesh out the best targeted content for my campaign. My last step is to determine how far ahead of time I need to promote this campaign (if at all). If you’re targeting a holiday or a specific season and your purchase or booking window is long (say 30+ days), then you need to plan your campaign timing accordingly.

Let’s build a campaign with example data now:

Metric Target
Timing Target Spring Break – Feb 20 to March 31
Top Converting Traffic Source(s) Email Marketing
Best Converting Landing Page /rental/blue-swayed-shoes/
Highest Visit Volume Landing Page /rental/
Top 3 Keywords Driving Conversions key west vacation rentals, vacation rentals in key west, key west rentals
Top 2 Converting States/Cities/Metros New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania
Male/Female Conversion Ratio 7:10
Top Converting Age Group 35-44
Purchase/Booking Window 35-45 Days

Now, I’m ready to build my campaign and most of my questions are answered — all using analytics. I can build an email blast with information that caters to women who like a 3-bedroom rental in Key West. Likely, they have a family and are looking to ship about 45 days or so from arrival. Knowing my purchase windows tells me when to start my campaign. This one in particular should be online by January 20 at the latest and run until early to mid-March.

If the best converting rental is already booked, my job is to find rentals nearby that have a similar size, look, feel, location and cost. This allows me to book similar units with a fairly targeted strategy. If you use a CMS software or collect customer demographics, you can segment your email list by age, gender and location. We use PARDOT, but there are others out there that will do a great job, as well.

Now, you have a model and a direction in which to go to start building your first online marketing campaign that originates outside of the “create an email blast for everyone” or “put up some PPC ads.” Your campaign could target Social Media, or even a specific platform such as Pinterest. Successful campaigns are built on what you know about your audience and how you can craft your “story” to hit home with them. Using Analytics to collect this data should get you started in the right direction.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Analytics | Analytics & Marketing Column | Channel: Analytics | Google: Analytics | How To Guides | How To Guides: Marketing Analytics


About The Author: is the co-founder of Ignitor Digital, along with long-time colleague Mary Bowling. At Ignitor, Carrie tackles tough technical SEO roadblocks many small business owners don't even know they have. Her experience with analytics and troubleshooting helps her get to the root of issues. When not working, Carrie loves to cook for friends and family, hang out with her pretty awesome kids, and read books that have little-to-no educational value!

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  • James Munroe

    Great article Carrie. I like the use of a Campaign Data Chart, It’s a lot like what I would do for a demographic chart. Booking/Purchase window links are gold, thanks.

  • Carrie Hill

    @James – thanks so much for the feedback! Glad you like it!

  • Drew Schug

    I really like the matrix you created Carrie. Also the idea of sharing this with creatives or implementing on social media sites such as Pinterest is also a nice touch.

  • Usman Raza

    Nice Post Carrie!

    i think somebody first would need to get training over Google analytics to create the campaigns like you are talk about! but its great way to recognizing your customers and their needs for your product and services at the right time ! Good work!

  • Ali Gammack

    Love the practicality of your post Carrie. GA can sometimes seem overwhelming to many so your actionable ideas are very useful.

  • mikefats

    Helpful. I’ve created a share-able dashboard template in GA, if you’re interested:

  • Carrie Hill

    Mike – that is incredibly useful – thanks so much for creating it for everyone!

  • Sean Swanson

    I love google analytics for exactly all of these reasons. Knowing where people have been, what they are looking at, how many times a page was visited for, how long they visited for and seeing where people are finding the site from. I also like seeing what devices people are using so I can make sure everything looks nice and is working on the most used browsers and devices.


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