There’s no question that businesses in today’s world rely on the internet for marketing. As such, resources like Google Analytics go a long way toward helping us understand the trends related to our businesses, but it takes more than just glancing at the numbers. These tips will help you get much more out of this invaluable tool.

Use audience data to enhance custom reports

The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re customizing your reports to classify site visitors by distinguishing demographics. Once you do this, you can go to audience views, which will tell you how those groups are interacting with your website. By gathering this information, you can get a clearer picture of your target audience and identify which groups you can better target with future marketing campaigns.

Use goals and set a monetary value

By using the goals feature in Google Analytics, you can chart your progress and see why leads aren’t turning into sales. This feature works much better when you assign a specific monetary value to your goal because this step shows you where you’re losing money. By identifying “funnel exits,” or visitors who fail to follow through with a desired objective, the Goal Flow report outlines the weaknesses in your website. This can help you see where you need to tweak your site to push visitors to follow through with the desired objective (making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, etc.).

Compare current and past trends

This is another valuable analytical tool, especially if you’ve been improving on the flow of your website. In Google Analytics, there’s an option to Compare to Previous Period, which allows you to compare a current period (for example, the past 7 days) with another time frame (the first 7 days of the previous month, for instance). By looking at how these time periods compare, you can see if your site is performing better, worse, or if there has been little change. Once you have this information, it will be easier to determine if your efforts are paying off, or if you need to try a new strategy.

Many people don’t realize just how valuable Google Analytics really is to the website owner. By exploring the various features and staying apprised of new updates, you can get even more out of your analytical reports. In turn, that will help you improve your marketing campaigns and your website’s performance. You can also take Google’s certification program that teaches you the ins and outs of using Google Analytics.