Google Analytics, a free feature offered by Google to website owners who want to understand user interactions on a site, is setting a new course for marketing businesses as they try to appeal to consumers.
According to a recent Google marketing report, eight in 10 shoppers are influenced by the Internet before making a purchase. And for every dollar spent on Google advertisement, businesses make $2 back, the website claims.
Dr. Todd Bacile, assistant professor of marketing in the College of Business at Loyola University New Orleans, said Google Analytics is the most widely used analytics software on the Internet.
“With analytics, you can analyze who is visiting your site, how they found your site, what they are doing on your site. And if a firm sells its products online, you can also track sales, promotional expenses and the return on investment for various ad campaigns,” Bacile said. “In sum, it is possible to segment and analyze the data in numerous ways to identify which of your online marketing initiatives are working.”
Bacile is bringing this technology into the classroom in his College of Business e-marketing classes. So far, more than 100 Loyola students have already attained their Google Analytics and ad certifications working with Bacile.
Should consumers be worried about what companies know about them? How could they better protect themselves?
What is the difference between Google Analytics and Google Ads?
Ads are trying to get you to visit a site, while analytics assesses customer behaviors while on a site. You have probably seen Google Ads while searching. They either look like the sponsored ads at the top of your Google search results page. Or they appear on Google’s “display network,” which includes third party websites offering advertising space. As an advertiser, you are bidding against other advertisers in a real-time auction every time your ad is eligible to be displayed to a consumer. This means your ad costs may vary every time your ad is shown or clicked on.
Can they be integrated to work together for best effect?
Google owns both, and they do work well together by allowing a website owner to integrate information from both platforms to assess if your site is meeting your desired objectives. The information from ads can show you cost information and which ads are more productive at getting consumers to your site. This traffic information from different ads can also be assessed with analytics to understand not only how much traffic is coming from different ads, but also if different ads result in more sales, more time spent on a site, viewing certain pages of content and many other factors that are important to your business.
How you are using Google Analytics and Google Ads in your classes?
A local marketing manager told me, “If you send me a student who is officially certified in Google Analytics or Google Ads, I will give them a full-time position immediately.” As an educator, we often try to determine skills that are in demand within industry, so I took this business owner seriously. In doing so, I set out to create “in-demand students.” These would be highly desirable students that marketing managers would want to hire. To create “in-demand students,” I re-organized my electronic marketing courses to teach students about these Google platforms and prepare them to pass Google’s official certification test in analytics or ads. Over 100 of my students have become certified in Google Analytics or Ads, and many have immediately found internships or full-time employment working in some capacity of digital marketing.
How are your students putting these skills to work in the workplace?
This past semester, I actually had students working on Google Analytics consulting projects for local businesses. These companies have websites, but may not fully understand how to interpret information using Google Analytics. Student teams used analytics to produce a written report discussing various aspects of each company’s web traffic and customer behaviors on their site. In addition, each team made recommendations as to how each company can make Google Analytics a more valuable tool moving forward. It is this type of experiential learning that is making it possible for me to produce in-demand students and get these students ready to enter the digital marketing workforce.
You focus more on Google Analytics in your courses, why is that? Why is Google Analytics so important for marketers?
Nearly all businesses have a website, yet not all choose to run Google Ads. That being the case, Google Analytics is more widely used than ads. In addition, analytics is really the future of marketing because you can get into the mind of your consumers and see exactly how they are behaving online.
What is the biggest challenge facing Google Analytics?
The only challenge is a website owner not knowing how to use it. Cost is not a challenge, because it is a free tool to use. Data privacy is not a challenge, because it is not suffering from data privacy threats that other companies like Facebook, for example, are suffering from.
How can students and residents learn more about Google Analytics?
Well, they can take my course. It’s the only university-based analytics course in the city that I know of. In fact, a retired medical doctor just took my course this fall because he was curious as to how it worked. For those who are unable to take my course, there are also online tutorials offered directly from Google where you can get certified in these platforms. These range from beginner to advanced, are offered online from Google directly and are free.
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