Google won't tell anyone, but it's a sure bet that Google Analytics is used by a ton of websites and, in turn, many communities. Let's face it, Google Analytics is pretty ubiquitous for the simple fact that it provides great data for free.
While most community forum platforms have some sort of analytics package, using Google Analytics provides companies with rich information beyond what these tend to measure. For example, most baked-in community analytics will not track the original source of your online traffic. Some of these things can be critical to community success.
More importantly, Google Analytics integrates into the total digital experience of your other online properties. With the proper set-up, you can see how members of a community come and go to a website, and even measure influence of a community on other goals (such as company revenue).
Certainly a community manager will always be interested in specific KPIs, such as what we have noted in our Ultimate Community Dashboard, but Google Analytics provides some great context to this data that can be really useful in measuring and scaling success.
I've been using Google Analytics since 2007 and have several years of experience in using it for tracking important metrics. I've had the pleasure to talk with many Community Managers since being here at Vanilla, and there seems to be a great opportunity being missed when it comes to uncovering key information from Google Analytics. I don't think it's from a lack of interest, but rather how overwhelming Google Analytics can be for someone who's never used it. For those that are familiar with it, there is always something new to learn, new insights to uncover.
With this in mind we, at Vanilla, wrote this handy 33 page-guide that covers Google Analytics from the perspective of a community manager.
Here are just a few things in the guide we cover:
- How to create a personal dashboard for the most important metrics that matter for you about your online community.
- How you can segment your data by community roles or different member levels.
- What Google's Social Hub is and how to use it.
- How to learn what your members and lurkers are searching for within your community.
- Creating annotations to keep track of campaigns.
- And much, much more.
It's important to note this was written to be platform agnostic, so it doesn't matter if you use Vanilla Forums or not. We also made it easy to jump to the areas of interest, and provided links to deeper resources. If you're a Vanilla customer, we've also created some bonus chapters from a tactical perspective, so you can quickly supercharge your Google Analytics to include even more data from your community.
We hope you find this content useful. Make sure you get your copy of A Community Manager's Guide to Google Analytics and share it with your other community manager friends! Happy measuring!