Google Analytics Limitations and Workarounds

By Jeff Campbell, VP, Product Development


People always seem surprised that Google Analytics (GA) has some rather large limitations. Specifically the limited number of conversion events you can track (“goals”), lack of deep traffic segmentation by source, and ability to create custom funnels. There are plenty of reasons GA hasn’t dethroned the Omnitures and WebTrends of the world, and these limitations are a couple biggies. That said, I’ve found setting up additional GA Profiles with Include or Exclude filters is a simple and effective workaround.

We have very rarely inherited a GA account with more than the single profile – but then again, that’s why they’ve hired us. GA only allows you to set up four conversion events…per profile. Solution: create more profiles and combine where necessary. Google only lets you set up one Funnel…per profile. Solution: set up additional profiles with “Include Only” filters to show only designated traffic types. Solution 2: set up a different funnel process for a second profile with the same traffic. As a Paid Search optimizer, I certainly want to compare funnel conversion/fall-out rates to natural (organic) traffic. Second, I simply don’t want to go through several layers of drill down menus to segment my paid search traffic reports. As a site designer, I’d be interested in if New Visitors seem to exit/struggle with the ‘create an account’ page in the checkout process.

Convinced? Good. Lunametrics wrote up excellent instructions on how to set up new profiles and filters in February; it takes less than 2 minutes to set up a profile/filter. Once you are familiar with these basics, I urge you to dig deeper in the filtering capabilities in order to segment traffic or assign additional/specific goals to those segments. I’ll leave you with one important point: profiles start collecting data AFTER they’ve been set up, they do not back-populate. If you ever, ever think you’d want to see traffic segmented by Paid, Organic, Display, New Customers Only, etc., or to have different conversion goals or funnels from your main profile, take 10 minutes to set it up today!

2 comments:

Jim said...

Jeff -
This is a great post that answers some of the most often asked questions we get here at LunaMetrics. Thanks for breaking it down in such a common sense way!

Also, I hope you don't mind a shameless plug (but it really is useful and right on topic!) - we are having a Google Analytics training event in NYC on June 4. For those looking for insights into how to implement and understand their GA, this will be a great opportunity for hands-on learning.

Jim Gianoglio

John Joubert said...

Great post! I enjoyed what you had to say. Well written too!

 
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