Startup Growth Series

How to use Google analytics to make data-driven decision for measuring your startup growth

Credit: Wole Ogunlade.

Wole Ogunlade is a growth strategist for early-stage startups. He has mentored early stage businesses on platforms like Google LaunchPad and the Tony Elumelu Foundation programme for entrepreneurs. You can schedule your free 30-minutes growth strategy session

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Google Analytics is the most-used analytics tool.

Many top marketers depend on it to make data-driven decisions about their businesses; like identifying trends, problem areas, successes, and potential next steps for their startup.

As at July 2018, approximately 40 million sites have installed Google analytics


Most people grossly under-utilize the power of Google analytics.

They simply install the Google Analytics code on their website and do nothing else other than occasionally checking their dashboard.

Imagine that what most people do is to:

  1. Log in to their google analytics account
  2. Look at the "confusing" graph....and
  3. Close the page to look for something else to do

Asking the right question from Google Analytics

Smart marketers know there is gold hiding in google analytics.

They know how to find it by asking the right questions.

But they also understand that the journey to data-driven marketing starts way before they configure google analytics.

The journey starts with knowing the right metrics to measure.


Before you get started with google analytics, you need to identify and document key objectives that are indicators of the growth of your business.

The real problem is that Google analytics could be meaningless if you don't have specific metric you want to measure with it.

That is why you have to have specific metric(s).

In case you have challenge identifying what key metric to measure for your startup, then you should read this post..

In that post, the goal is to help you to:

1. Identify your Business’ Objectives

2. Identify Goals for each Business’ Objectives

3. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for each Goals

4. Identify Target for each KPIs

5. Identify Segments / Cohorts of people for each Objectives

What next? 

After breaking down what you want to measure, you can now begin to evaluate how you can use Google analytics to find the answers.

HINT 1: To put what you should track with GA in perspective, you can ​ read Andrew Chen's example​ of a hypothetical photo sharing product. 

HINT 2: Dashboard Junkie has several premade templates that answer the questions you'll want to ask GA)

Here are few questions that Google analytics can answer for you:

1. Google Analytics helps you to answer data-driven questions like:

  1. Who are my visitors?
  2. Where do my visitors come from?
  3. What actions are my visitors taking?
  4. What are the results of my visitor’s actions?

2. Google Analytics can help you calculate the ROI of your campaigns

It can measure the impacts of paid traffic, SEO and other efforts on your key metrics.

3. Google Analytics can give you an “X-Ray Vision” of the conversion rates on your funnels.

This is good for eCommerce tracking and measurement of event-based metrics. When you know where your traffic is leaking you will be able to take the appropriate action.

For example,

A report like the image below shows that majority of the traffic that visited the “product categories” page did not proceed to “shopping cart”.

Based on this data, you can proceed to analyze the “product categories” page to see what should be modified in order to improve conversion.


The problem with google analytics

As efficient as google analytics is, it has its limitations

Fortunately, there are other good solutions that make up for these limitations. These products can work as stand-alone.

Or you can have a data analytics stack that combine Google analytics with them.

However, setting up Google analytics and other analytics platform to your website can be a complex engineering job for new users.

That problem can be taken care of by Google tag manager

It makes working with Google Analytics a lot easier.

It also works with several other analytics platforms.

How Does GTM Work?

Google Tag Manager makes it easy to implement the tracking code of any analytics platform on your website and be able to manage everything from a web interface.

Here is a list of applications you can track, out-of-the-box with GTM.

Chris from Simply Marketing wrote a guide to set up GTM to work with GA

Additional resources

There you have it.

You can go from not-knowing-what-to-track to mastering how to track your business with combination of google analytics and other tools.

Below are other helpful reading list:

On Google Analytics:

  1. WPCurve – Startup metrics
  2. SEOBrien
  3. Seriously Simple Marketing - Over 15 Posts on Analytics
  4. DashBoard Junkie - Free Google Analytics Dashboard 
  5. Koozai - 13 free GA tools
  6. Appspot - GA Demo and tools

Google Tag Manager

  1. iPullRank – a complete guide
  2. SemRush
  3. DigitalFuel

Conversion Rate Optimization

  1. List of my favourite CRO blogs

In the next lesson....

In lesson 10, you will learn how to actually set up a growth hacking plan that works for your startup. Discover classic examples and guidelines that have worked for successful companies that you can copy.

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