New Google Analytics Development

I’m a big Google Analytics fan. It can provide you with incredible insight into what exactly is going on in your site. Conversely, if used intelligently, it can also tell you what isn’t happening – this can often be more important than the former.¬† For instance you can observe where people are dropping out of your conversion funnel.

Advanced analysis like this does however require you to understand some of the key concepts around web analytics. To explain, you shouldn’t worry too much about the minutae, but focus on getting to grips with the bigger picture. Having said that, please don’t misunderstand me, I do want to capture every possible sale – but I’d rather focus on getting getting my conversion funnel right for hundreds if not thousands of individuals than focus on where did a single visitor go, or do.

Despite Google Analytics being quite intuitive and relatively easy to use, not many individuals truly get to grips with it. In its latest incarnation, with the addition of enterprise capabilities late last year, it almost starts to compete with analytics tools like Omniture or Coremetrics to name a few.

In some respects, many of these tools are very similar to one another. In fact I believe that to be able to use them¬† effectively its not necessarily the tool that should be the focus of your attention, rather the training of the users using them. I equate this to a hammer and chisel. In the hands of a master you can end up with Michaelangelo’s David. In the hands of an amateur you may just end up with a pile of rubble.

In fact I remember that during the dotcom boom my former company toyed with the idea of repositioning their business model to take account of all the web traffic the site was receiving from the USA. Fortunately I heard about this plan and pointed out that all of this traffic was coming from one location – Reston Virginia. This happenned to be where some of the server farms for AOL were located. What my colleagues and senior management were in fact observing was the global traffic for the then mighty AOL being routed through one set of server farms. Fortunately technology has moved on and many packages have now mapped the geographic location of many AOL IP addresses – although arguably a little late in the day.

I was pleased however to see that Google have recognised the need for users actually needing to know and being able to use their analytics product. To this end they have now introduced a Google Analytics exam – similar in nature to the Google Adwords exam that you can currently take. My colleague Tom Simpson has covered this in some detail on his new blog Thoughts on Digital Marketing. Having worked with Tom for a little over a year now I recognise what a talented Search individual he is so I would recommend keeping tabs on his blog.

If you are currently in the process of implementing a new analytics package, ensure that you budget sufficiently for training. It is important that you turn all those metrics into actionable data rather than purely pretty board, or management reports.

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