No matter the size of your short-term rental business, you should be collecting and analyzing data from the users that visit your vacation rental website through Google Analytics and Tag Manager.
This data can help inform many decisions regarding your marketing strategy and your own personal channel (at no charge to you!). Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager give you the technical tools you need to optimize your website visitors’ experience and maximize direct bookings.
This type of data is extremely valuable for vacation rental managers because it will give you insight into what's working and what's not. But how do you get this type of data?
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a complimentary Google product that enables you to collect data about your website visitors, including:
- How many visitors you’re getting each day
- What country those visitors are coming from
- What devices they are using to view your site
- How much time visitors spend on each page of your website
- The number of pages visitors are looking at during their session
- How much time visitors spend on a given page
- Day of the week and time of day you receive the most visitors
Google Analytics has the power to give you an incredible amount of data that can help you identify strengths and weaknesses of your website. You could even use this information to help inform your property management SWOT analysis to help with your marketing.
How can you put Google Analytics to work for your vacation rental business?
Though Google Analytics is very powerful, setting up your account is pretty straight forward. (If you use MyVR to manage your short-term rentals it’s even easier!)
After you set up your Google Analytics account, you’ll be given a snippet of code - or a tracking tag - that you’ll place on each webpage from which you want to collect data. That data will then be relayed into your Google Analytics dashboard in real-time. If this code is placed on your Home page, for instance, you will be able to see how many hits you get to that page each day, how long visitors spend there, where in the world they are viewing from and more. Follow these instructions for more details.
There are other types of data that you may wish to account for that Google Analytics cannot track on its own, including button clicks, video views, and form submissions. That’s where Google Tag Manager comes in.
What is Google Tag Manager and how can I implement it for my property management business?
Google Tag Manager (GTM) is another free Google product that will help you manage multiple different tracking tags, including your Google Analytics tag.
To best understand GTM, it’s helpful to understand what problems it solves.
Before GTM existed, people would place their Google Analytics and any other tracking tags on their webpages. Websites could potentially have hundreds of tags on each page, and different pages needed different code. The snippets, or tags, were simply hardcoded into the HTML. So, in addition to the amount of work required to keep up with the management of all this code, every time a tag needed to be removed, changed, or added, the process would require a new code release for the website.
Managing this was complicated, time consuming, and left much room for error.
Google Tag Manager simplifies the process by providing one single tag to be placed on every page, which dynamically collects data for all the tags you create in the GTM dashboard - completely centralizing your data collection!
Google Tag Manager can also assist with more complicated work, such as setting up triggers which will conditionally specify which tags should fire under what conditions (for example, GTM can fire particular tags when it detects a form submission). GTM does all the heavy lifting.
Note: you should not place both the Analytics tag and the Tag Manager code on your website. Once you use GTM, you should manage all of your tags (including your Google Analytics tag) through that single platform. Otherwise, you defeat the purpose of GTM, which is to centralize your tags in one easily managed location and risk counting traffic twice.
MyVR has built in support for GTM. For detailed instructions on how and where to go to configure GTM in MyVR, read our help article on the topic.
When you invest the time and energy it takes to maintain a beautiful website for your vacation rental, you want to make sure it’s working hard to send potential guests your way. And if you need help setting up a website for your vacation rental in the first place, we’ve got you covered there, too!