Creating A Custom Google Analytics Dashboard

by on September 20th, 2019 in Google Analytics, Marketing

After launching a marketing campaign of any kind, it is important to understand how effective it was at driving additional traffic to your website. Arguably the best tool to measure effectiveness is Google’s free Javascript library which is called Google Analytics. Google Analytics returns a multitude of data, most of which may or not may be helpful to understanding the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. For this reason, it is important to know how to filter the data to only the relevant information so the effectiveness can be quickly analyzed.

This article will describe how to set up a custom dashboard in Google Analytics with only the information that is most relevant to analyzing a marketing campaign. The article assumes that Google Analytics has already been set up to track statistics on the website. If not, see this article for details on setting up Google Analytics. The article is meant to be a step-by-step guide to getting a custom dashboard set-up. The final dashboard will look like this.

Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Create Blank Dashboard

To begin creating the dashboard, navigate to the Google Analytics dashboard and click Customization->Dashboards in the left-side navigation menu. Then, click the CREATE button under the Dashboards heading.

After clicking the CREATE button a pop-up window will appear with the following options. Choose Blank Canvas, input a name, and click “Create Dashboard”.

Step 2 – Add Widgets

You now have a blank dashboard and are ready to start adding widgets. The dashboard will automatically open to a popup to create your first widget as shown below.

There are several different types of widgets to choose from. You are also able to choose how the widgets are displayed on the dashboard. For quick interpretation of data, it is important to choose the appropriate display type for a certain piece of information. In the remainder of this article, I will describe how to set up eight different widgets that I find to be most useful to analyzing marketing campaign effectiveness.

Step 2a – Sessions by Day

The first metric I like to track is the number of sessions that occur per day over a certain time period. This metric is displayed best in bar format. Click BAR to choose that format. Then, choose “Sessions” in the “Create a bar chart showing” dropdown box and “Day of the month” in the “grouped by” dropdown box. The rest of the settings can be left as default. Click Save. You have now created the first widget and it should show up on the dashboard.

Step 2b – Organic Visits by Day

The second piece of information I like to know is how my organic traffic is changing on a daily basis. Organic traffic shows visitors which came to your site from a search engine such as Google or Bing. This will show how your SEO is improving over time. The settings for this widget is identical to the previous one, but you also need to scroll to the bottom and add a filter with the following options in each dropdown box. “Only show”, “Traffic Type”, “Containing”, “organic”. Click Save.

Step 2c – Most Viewed Pages

The next widget I create is most viewed pages. For this widget choose a table and pick the display options “Page”, “Sessions”, and “Number of Sessions per User”. Click Save.

You may find that there is a lot of unnecessary data showing up in the chart which may be different than mine. If so, you will need to set up a filter to get rid of the data. In my case, everything I do not want has “fbclid” in the URL.

To get rid of whatever data you don’t want, open the widget back up by hovering over it and clicking the pencil icon that appears in the top right corner. In the popup window click Add a filter and select “Don’t show”, “Page”, “Containing”, and whatever keyword you need to filter out. Press Save.

Step 2d – Average Visit Duration

Next, I add Average Visit Duration to see how long the visitor is actually staying on the website. The options to select for this widget at 2.1 METRIC for the view and “Avg. Session Duration” for the metric.

Step 2e – Sessions (& Goal Completions) by Channel

The next set of data is useful is you are conducting a marketing campaign on a social media channel such as Facebook. Set the next widget as a table and choose “Default Channel Grouping” and “Sessions” in the dropdown menu. Optionally, you can also choose “Goal Conversion Rate” as shown. This metric will track the number of times a user-created goal was reached. Creating goals is outside of the scope of this article. The interested reader may refer to this link for more information regarding setting up goals.

Step 2f – Sessions (& Goal Conversion Rate) by City

For all my social media advertisements, I limit my target audience to my local area. So, if I see that my traffic has come from somewhere outside of my local area, I can be fairly certain that the visitor did not view my advertisement. To set up this data point, create a new widget with a table as the display type and “City” and “Sessions” in the dropdown boxes. Optionally, a goal can be tracked by picking “Goal Conversion Rate” in the third drop box. You should also set a filter to not show any city that contains the terms not set to get rid of data that is not useful.

Step 2g – Active Users

Next I like to add a widget to see how many users are currently online. This widget is best viewed as a pie chart. Select “Active Users” for the metric. All other defaults are fine. This metric will let you know how many people are viewing your website in real-time.

Step 2h – Sessions by Channel

The last widget I add is number of sessions by channel. This widget will let you know where your traffic is coming from. For this widget use a pie chart showing “Sessions” grouped by “Default Channel Grouping”.