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“Pics or it didn’t happen!” This is the usual retort when you recount a particular event you experienced in all its awesome glory. Today, events are only as important as the proof that they actually happened.
And you know who would demand proof more than anyone else? Your boss — be it a C-suite exec or the consumer that dictates your revenue. So next time you claim you own an impressive website — show, don’t tell: flash a bit of Google Analytics their way.
Of course, you might want to add a few aces up your sleeve, such as:
Don’t you feel like a complete tool (pun intended) when you can’t read Google Analytics properly?
Here are a bunch of Google Analytics tools that can help you decipher the hieroglyphics and focus on the awesome.
Google Analytics on iOS – Google Analytics goes native on the iOS through this free, downloadable app designed specifically for Apple users. It has all the default bells and whistles of the real thing, only tailored specifically to Apple’s iOS, allowing you to view your Analytics data on the go.
MetricReview – If you haven’t had enough of Analytics analysing your website, you might as well let MetricReview analyse your Analytics. It’s no joke – this tool analyses your Analytics installation and setup, showing your points of improvement and better yet: how to fix them up real good. Try it free of charge, and they’ll show you 12 points of improvement. Cough up $49 for the full audit, and you’ll get all 38 points that they can spot, plus more features.
Handsome Stats – An Analytics representation tool that turns all the bewildering, brute data into a gentlemanly snapshot, Handsome Stats gives you a “beautifully clear” view of all the important metrics you want to keep on top of in one glance. If you’re really into the handsome part, you can customise the one-page report with your company colours and let users log in to view your handsome stats.
GAget App – If transferring your Google Analytics screen from a desktop view to your iPhone through the free Analytics app from iTunes doesn’t do it for you, you can use GAget to view a simple, minimalistic and lovely picture of your most important metrics all laid out with your website design as the backdrop.
Xtra.ga – Extra! Extra! Google Analytics in your email! If you’re too busy kicking ass and taking names for your organization to drop by the incredibly confusing Analytics dashboard, why not take a look at your stats via email? Xtra.GA sends you all your important numbers via email in a frequency you decide: daily, weekly, or monthly.
More Metrics – Your Google Analytics dashboard appears so perplexing because of all the information, options and representations. You know what it needs? More data. Seriously though: Analytics may be powerful as it is, but More Metrics can add, uh, more metrics to customise your experience by completing the bigger picture of your online performance.
Fishead Analytics – One more thing we’d like to add to the list for you Apple users out there is Fishead Analytics, a native iOS app that simplifies Analytics for practical use in iOS devices. It’s free and it supports practically everything your device throws at you – even retina display. Fishead is more intuitive and faster to use in the iOS platform than the native Google Analytics app.
If you’re a big fan of Analytics – as you should be – then you probably use Google Chrome as well.
Here are a few Chrome extensions certain to make your life easier when you show your boss just how all-encompassing your analytics awesomeness truly is.
Page Analytics by Google – Google’s Page Analytics shows you on-page performance data that allows you to see how visitors interact with your website. It’ll show you important metrics, in-page clicks, and even allow you to segment and compare website performance by date – all in real time.
Client for Google Analytics – A free plugin that allows you to customise the data you take from your analytics account and present it in graphical format. You don’t even need your analytics account to be open to use it; just sign in and you can grab data in real time from your analytics. It’s like creating bite-sized finger food out of the grand buffet that is your analytics data.
This might take a bit more selling, but when your boss gets wind of how cool analytics conferences are, you’ll get approval:
Loves Data Analytics Conference – Some of the biggest movers and shakers in the analytics game will speak and demonstrate at the Loves Data Analytics Conference, to be held in Sydney and Melbourne this 2014. Unless you’re B2B, your clients will probably know nothing about this geekfest of analytics, but they’ll be thankful for what you learn from it when you apply your skills to improve their user experience, among other things.
You know how it can get mundane when you use the same old Google Analytics dashboard over and over? Spruce it up a bit to show the most relevant bits at one glance.
One of these dashboard templates can help.
Enhanced Ecommerce Analytics – Track your full customer journey by customizing your dashboard with this template. Fair warning though: it only works with Enhanced Ecommerce. Segments include users who made a purchase, spent more than X amount, added something in their cart from X category, and so on. Sweet, right?
Audience Snapshot – A straightforward template showing a top-level view of your website visitors and the important metrics concerning them, including where they are, how engaged they are, and what devices they use to access your website.
Responsive Design Analytics – This template turns your dashboard into a comparison of website visitors from all sources versus mobile devices, while also displaying which screen sizes your visitors use most frequently to view your website. It’s perfect for responsive website design insights.
Sessions by Hour of Day – This template shows you the breakdown of acquisitions, behaviour and conversions of your visitors based on the hour of day so you can figure out key times of the day you can launch more aggressive marketing efforts.
End to End Paid Search Report – This one’s an expert favourite: see all the acquisition, behaviour and outcome metrics of your end-to-end paid search efforts in one report by looking at impressions, clicks, CTR, percent of new visits, CPC, cost, transactions, RPC, and revenue.
[Engagement Pack] Core Remarketing Lists – This “pack” creates a data set of your visitors you can sort and then list down for remarketing. It’s a core set of 20 lists based on user engagement such as frequency, recency, page depth and visit duration.
Australian and New Zealand Segments – This one’s for the Aussies and Kiwis (like me) who need to find data on our local markets. These segments allow analysis of Aussie and Kiwi traffic in greater detail, including geographic breakdown and visit duration.
Contact Form Submission – If your website relies heavily on contact forms, this template should give you the performance snapshot you need for acquisition and lead gen metrics via submissions.
UX Report – Working with user experience optimization? This template gives you UX metrics of top page performance in one glance.
Okay, so you’ve got your tools prepared, your extensions locked and (down)loaded and your templates ready to rock, but you might want to read some of these blogs first.
Analytics Talk – Justin Cutroni is the Jay-Z of Google Analytics… who works at Google. His blog is an oasis of resources on digital analytics for business where you’ll find a tonne of blog posts on the subject and a very useful blogroll of similar blogs.
Google Analytics Blog – The official Google Analytics Blog might be a bit preachy – after all, when you’re that powerful, you’ll love yourself too – but it’s also quite useful. As it publishes breaking news to announcements from Google to user tips and advice, every analytics geek from novice to warlock would do well to keep an eye on the Google Analytics Blog.
Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik – Avinash is the Jay-Z of Google Analytics in India. He’s a thought leader sharing good advice and influential ideas on his blog, which is a straightforward resource hub of information on analytics. Also, this will be the last Jay-Z reference, we promise.
AnalyticsPros – The AnalyticsPros blog is called Analytics Prose (neat, huh?), a collection of great advice from various analytics professionals and innovators. It’s a company blog, so it’s irrevocably attached to the company, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer a lot of good strategic, tactical and actionable advice on analytics, as well as news and announcements concerning the industry at large.
Annielytics – A cute portmanteau of the blogger’s name and her field of expertise, Annielytics is more than just a blog – it houses an online class full of tutorials on analytics and SEO, an analytics dashboard API course and a comprehensive list of marketing tools Annie magnanimously shares with the world, and of course, tonnes more information for the analytics geek.
Jeffalytics – Annielytics was cute, but Jeffalytics is just pushing it. Don’t hold that against Jeff though: he’ll make it up to you through his blog that’s full of information on analytics and related subject matter, including marketing, career advice specific to the industry and useful announcements and news.
KISSmetrics – The KISSmetrics Blog is one of the most popular and widely read blogs on marketing performance and analytics. The subject matter the official KISSmetrics blog covers can be staggering, ranging from analytics to blogging to social media and beyond. The KISSmetrics blog is a full suite of information that you can use to master your analytics craft and reinforce your knowledge with useful tips about related topics. It also doesn’t hurt that they have a neat brand name.
Loves Data – Loves Data hosts the conference we mentioned above, and by virtue of that authority alone, you should know what you’re dealing with when you visit their blog.
LunaMetrics – LunaMetrics is a Google Analytics, SEO,and PPC consulting service, and their blog is a treasure trove of information on the above subject matter. They’re right up there with KISSmetrics in terms of level of awesome. They also offer training in analytics and AdWords, and an analytics tag manager that helps data geeks level up.
Advanced Web Metrics – This is the official blog for the official book Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton, the official Jay….– okay, scratch that. Brian is a leader in the industry of data analytics and has been innovating the field since its earlier days. His blog expounds upon the premise of his book on advanced metrics measurement to gauge online success.
MOZ – MOZ is a gigantic provider of SEO, PPC and basically online marketing help when it comes to Google, and this includes analytics. Their analytics blog category is inundated with insight from their experts, creating a veritable mountain of useful analytics information, tips and advice, and expert analysis.
Online Behavior – Online Behavior is all about marketing measurement and optimization, and the data that analytics provides underpins most of these endeavours. The website provides articles, videos, even cartoons and full blown guides on analytics, marketing measurement, conversion optimization and much more.
Must Read Articles
Google Analytics 101: How To Configure Google Analytics To Get Actionable Data – Let’s start off with the basics.
ConversionXL’s Georgina Nunn delves in-depth into the fundamental analytics setup so readers have a strong foundation – and the right analytics settings, at least – to follow more nuanced discussions on the subject matter. ‘Coz really, otherwise whatever they’re saying wouldn’t have mattered as everyone was doing it wrong.
Georgina starts off with organizing and structuring your analytics views and separating raw data, and goes in linear fashion to other facets of the powerful Google Analytics interface until she breaches the divide between analytics and Google’s other services, such as AdSense and Webmaster tools, which she expertly advises you integrate with your analytics.
We can’t stress enough that newbies to the analytics game should read everything Georgina says (or writes) in this lengthy, very helpful article word by word until they’re completely enlightened. Even intermediate and advanced users would get a kick or two out of this guide.
By the end of the guide, you should be a couple inches taller due to all the additional brain cells you just gained learning as much as possible about analytics from one place. Seriously, this is the place to start.
Complete Guide To Universal Analytics – Should You Upgrade? – Earlier this year, Google – being Google – rolled out Universal Analytics, an enhanced version of the already plenty powerful classic analytics that takes into account the phenomenon of visitors using multiple devices to view websites and all the data this provides website owners.
MarketingLand’s John Lincoln went ahead and created his ultimate guide to the new analytics, which makes a strong case for the switch to universal from classic and helps interested users set it all up and go about their business.
This article is highly recommended for everyone seeking out the barebones basics of Universal Analytics who wonders what the hell all of it is for and how to make the best of it when clearly you couldn’t even effectively wrap your head around the classic analytics. John walks you through some fundamental advantages, as well as initial steps to set up your own Universal Analytics operation.
Just so it’s clear, if you’re wondering if you should head on over to learn more about Universal Analytics, here’s a list of people we think should definitely check it out:
Universal Analytics: The Benefits and How to Upgrade – Since we’re on the topic of the new Universal Analytics, let’s include this brief, but quite useful, post on Seer Interactive’s Blog by Amanda McGowan that contains a lot of the same actionable information as John’s complete guide above, but presented in an infographic.
Call it your Universal Analytics cheat sheet. The little infographic bulletin on the benefits of Universal Analytics and your options if you want to go about adopting it is a perfect little poster to pin to your analytics team’s office walls to let them know they should make the switch to universal now.
At the end of the brief blog post, Amanda directs us to more valuable resources on the new Universal Analytics, which are all quite useful.
Migrating to Universal Analytics Using Google Tag Manager – Let’s close our discussion on Google’s Universal Analytics with this post from ConversionXL’s Yehoshua Coren on how to use the free Google Tag Manager to migrate from classic to universal.
Probably more importantly, this means the tech team won’t unintentionally mess up your tracking when they update the code as much as they used to. Or, at least, it would be a lot easier to fix it.
The guide starts with the basics and moves on to intermediate level settings and finally to custom metric and beyond, giving the readers a bigger picture of how to migrate to the shiny new Universal Analytics version via Google Tag Manager and effectively manage your performance tracking via tagging.
Yehoshua ends with an important note: it may be pretty darn intimidating at first, but this is one of those one-time things – setting it up maybe a bit tiresome, but it helps you save time and effort in future deployment and tracking implementation.
Google Analytics Checklist for New Projects – The very concept of analytics is founded on accuracy, and its implementation relies on proper installation, which then leads to proper monitoring, which produces accurate results.
What happens when you fail to set up your analytics properly is that you can get trolled by your own data. This article by Geoff Kenyon is an unassuming, straightforward take on his suggestion for a checklist whenever you apply analytics to new projects. You can use it on ongoing projects too if only to check if you messed something up and have been looking at inaccurate data all this time.
Geoff starts with the basics like excluding internal IP addresses and listing the tracking code only once to ensuring proper tracking implementation via auto-tagging and UTM parameters and beyond. It’s all very geeky for the layman, but quite useful for someone intent on mastering analytics from the ground up.
This is especially useful if you base your marketing decisions on data-driven campaigns, which you should. Your marketing investment relies on the accuracy of your data upon which your decisions will be founded, and Geoff’s checklist is sheer awesomesauce for that purpose.
How To Take Control Of Your Marketing Channels With Google Analytics – So you’ve gone through the checklist above and everything looks peachy – now take it a step further and integrate marketing channel data into your analytics with a bit more intimacy via the Google URL builder.
This guide written by Alan Morte of Three Ventures explains how a bit of strategic planning and a plugin can help you integrate essential marketing channel data into your analytics efforts via appending specific UTM parameters to your webpage URLs.
Think of UTM parameters like breadcrumbs that allow analytics to track more specifically fine-tuned information about your visitors than is otherwise possible.
You’ll be guided through the impact of collecting marketing channel data, as well as a breakdown of the hierarchy of UTM parameters, including a snapshot of what it looks like to work with Google’s URL builder and how your new analytics data will look – and it all starts off in good style: with a meme.
Alan is even so kind as to offer a secondary post about visualising all the data you’ll get out of this integration via UTM parameters. What a nice guy.
How to Analyse and Report ‘Average Visit Duration’ in Google Analytics – Have you recently heard how Facebook is implementing two new updates to try and clean out its users’ news feeds of clickbait articles? The social networking giant will notably be implementing the tracking of the time spent metric to figure out if an article a user clicked from Facebook gave any value at all to the reader, or if it was simply empty clickbait.
Facebook is already on the bandwagon – and rightfully so given the rise of average visit duration and similar metrics that purportedly hint at viewer engagement – so why aren’t you? This article on average visit durations by Web Analytics World’s Himanshu Sharma breaks down the inherent pitfalls on relying too much on average visit duration metrics and calls for a more useful refinement of analytics KPI.
He shows some concrete examples to explain how to make the most of the average visit duration metric and use it to derive median duration, duration per channel and other more insightful values than just banal averages. This is a must-read for the average Joe so he can more confidently derive conclusions that dictate business decisions via Google Analytics.
How To Implement Google Analytics Demographics Reports – We’ve been talking about the fundamentals so far, let’s extend into something a bit more intermediate, but which plays an integral role in a foundational concept in marketing.
If you can glean significant input about your target demographic via Google Analytics, you can effectively use real time data to customise, tweak and refine your buyer personas, the fictional profiles that you target in your marketing efforts.
This is how important it is to learn more about analytics demographics reports, and Dave himself is pretty excited about it in his article: you can actually use data-driven insight to refine and improve your marketing.
Dave goes into more detail in this article and discusses how to implement demographics and interest reports via your analytics. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the rabbit’s hole that is Google Analytics.
Google Analytics: Tracking Demographics of Ecommerce Visitors – Another useful article on demographics tracking but this time with a focus on e-commerce visitors, this piece by Practical Ecommece’s Feras Alhlou breaks down e-commerce traffic demographics tracking in concrete examples of age and gender brackets, as well a social sharing performance.
Feras packages his discourse and the importance of demographics tracking specifically for e-commerce by starting with a suggestion: “say you’re running a paid search marketing campaign…” and instantly the importance of the subject matter is all the more highlighted.
If you’ve ever seen a paid ad dashboard of any sort, you’re sure to have encountered target viewer settings, the most fundamental of which are demographics data.
You can set this information so your ads target the demographics that are most likely to view and click your ads and even consider closing a sale outright. Obviously, for purposes like e-commerce, Google Analytics’ demographics tracking is quintessential in decision-making and overall strategy.
It’s a brief, to-the-point read and highly recommended especially for e-commerce website owners.
16 Secret Google Analytics Advanced Segments Worth Their Weight in Gold – We started off with the fundamentals and waded into intermediate territory. Let’s touch upon some advanced analytics stuff now, courtesy of Josh Braaten of Search Engine Watch.
In his article, Josh outlines 16 segments provided by various experts in the industry that are practical gold mines for analytics users in terms of the insight they give. He lists them down and provides links to more in-depth discussion after a brief synopsis. We highly recommend you browse all of them, as we guarantee that more than a couple would be relevant for your website or business.
To give you a taste of what Josh talks about, he mentions a segment for Converters by Count of Visit, which shows the purchase decision of visitors based on number of visits. Now, cross-reference this to the pages they visited each time, and you can get a clearer picture of the webpages that help return visitors make their minds and lead to a close sale.
Josh also talks about the Brand Interest Segment, wherein outlined are some key insights, such as how many people did not view your brand pages (About, Mission and Vision, etc), how many people viewed brand pages but not content repositories (your business blog, for instance) and how many visited both. Combined with other metrics and segments, this gives you a basis to assert branding effectiveness and recall relevant to traffic or conversion or something else.
Trust us, these 16 segments are all exciting and relevant, and you’re sure to use a couple of them for your own analytics tracking.
Are you an analytics expert yet? We’ve gone through a treasure trove of resources that should set you in the right path to Google Analytics mastery.
Once you reach Jedi Master levels of analytical skill, your data-driven marketing decisions should lead to greater return on investment. If you ever lose your way, come back here and pick up where you think you lost it.