Google Analytics Ready for Battle

By Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development

Last Spring, I posted workarounds to a few of the larger limitations of Google Analytics (GA). With today’s announcement at eMetrics in DC, GA has finally addressed these and several other shortcomings of the web analytics package. In fact, in this beta tester’s opinion, the Omnitures, Web Trends, and Coremetrics of the world should be very concerned about the new (free) competition in the enterprise-level market.

Several times, I’ve heard (and made) references similar to “Google Analytics gets you 80% of what you need to analyze your website data.” “For the remaining 20% of deep analysis, you need to pay the big bucks for an enterprise level solution.” I think those days are over.
Of the announced additions, Advanced Segments and Custom Reporting have had the biggest impact for this user who loves to slice, dice, and segment visitors as many ways as possible.

Advanced Segments

Not only does Advanced Segments eliminate the need for Profiles, you have back-populated, detailed data on the fly that rivals Omniture’s premium Discover service.

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Google Analytics Advanced Segments

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Google Analytics Advanced Segments Traffic Data

Using conditional statements on Visitor, Source or Content selections, here are a few questions I’ve been able to answer, fast:

  • Does my PPC traffic behave differently than Organic traffic in the checkout funnel?
  • Is it worth it to buy PPC at night? Do people buy? Should certain keywords be turned off?
  • Does international traffic use the site differently than U.S. traffic? Higher average order size or conversion rates?
  • After pushing offline marketing hard in XYZ city, did it bring new visitors from that particular city to the website and did they buy?
  • From bounce rate to conversion rate, I want to see how Display traffic compares to PPC traffic without having to mash up two separate reports.
  • What do my repeat visitors who don’t purchase have in common? Keyword searches, type of content viewed?
  • Even though it’s not one of my 4 tracked goals, how many people saw the newsletter sign-up thank you page?

Now, there are a few weaknesses, as with any new feature. First, the Dimensions & Metrics can be tricky to understand – but if you learn by doing, play with it. Second, the Test Segment button let’s you see how many people qualified for your custom-built segment (which is great), but many times the results seem higher than they should (or plain incorrect). Finally, once you are seeing the data on your various segments on every report you pull, it takes a few extra moments to display the reports. I should hope Google cleans out it’s intertubes to speed this up soon.

Custom Reports

Tired of flipping between report tabs to see Bounce Rates and E-Commerce Conversion Rates by keyword?

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Google Analytics Tabs

Design your own layout, flip free. Or add 10 tabs, if you’re a born flipper.

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Google Analytics Custimized Layouts and Tabs

I’ve found the most value out of a report I’ve named “Landing Page Effectiveness”, where finally, one can see – by landing page – bounce rates, exit rates, goal conversions, transactions and sales on one flip-free report. This has been a huge help in quickly finding page testing opportunities. This report is much easier to build than the Advanced Segments and the custom reports stay with users in other GA accounts. The one weakness I’ve found is there isn’t a set metric for e-commerce or a single goal conversion rate – and you can’t yet build your own metric to track. My feedback has been sent in, let’s hope changes are made soon.

Overall, I’m in love with these reports because they are just fancy online pivot tables, letting me see, sort, and segment my data how I want. For free. No doubt GA has closed the gap on the competitors with these latest (and long awaited) features, now the key question is what’s next…?


Bryson said...

You had me at "segments". Why don't I have access to this right this instant? Also, better tracking of mobile devices would be appreciated. Thanks for the preview.

Anonymous said...

Great Post...!

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