Seemingly everyone in the web analytics community is talking about the new dashboard section within the new Google Analytics platform. It’s one of the hottest new features available in the measurement industry today, and now that the new Google Analytics platform is available to everyone, it’s the perfect time to show you what great (and useful) dashboard features you have waiting for you.
First of all, look for a red-colored New Version link on the top-right of the screen, after you log-in to your Google Analytics account. Click on that link, and then you will see the Dashboards tab within the new Google Analytics platform. This is your gateway to viewing your data in the most unique way possible – your way!
The default dashboard will be shown to you – it’s a very basic dashboard that simply shows you the four widget types that you can create or edit. Below is a screen-shot of the default dashboard, but do note that it’s not carved in granite: Anything can be changed, including the name of the dashboard, the titles of the widgets, the location of the individual widgets, the widget types, the number of slices in your pie charts, the number of rows in your tables, and even what traffic segment is shown within an individual widget.
The four widget types are:
1. Metric. The most basic type of widget available (Example: Visits and Bounce Rate in the upper-left hand side of the above screen-shot). You can filter it by essentially any dimension in the product suite (For instance, bounce rate by country).
2. Pie Chart. With the pie chart widget type, you can define what metric is shown (Ex: Visits) and what dimension your pie chart will group your metric by (Ex: Country). You can also apply a dimension here, and you can choose to display anywhere from three to six pie slices in one widget.
3. Timeline. In a timeline widget, you can plot a metric over time, and you have the option to compare that metric with a second metric (Example: Total Goal Completions compared to Abandonment Rate). Filtering / segmenting is available here, too.
4. Table. A table widget lets you view a dimension, and up to two metric contributions for that dimension (Example: Visits and Bounce rate by Country). You can show between five and ten table rows, and as you may have already guessed, you can also apply a filter to this widget type, just like you can with the other three widget types.
My advice: spend some time and play around with the dashboard, and just create widgets and filters for the heck of it. This is the best way for you to get a grasp on how this works. Once you do that, you will inevitably start to come up with widgets and filters within the widgets that are meaningful and that work for you. The worst thing that can come of this is that you need to delete your dashboard and start from scratch – which you can do at anytime!
Note: Google Analytics has let us know that the feature called Multi-Channel Funnels discussed in this blog post is in limited pilot. That means that Google Analytics is testing the feature and its usefulness to a small group of trusted testers, and have not made any plans or a timeline for a full launch.
Google Analytics has introduced “Multi-Channel Funnels” that is currently in limited pilot. This new feature allows you to see how your marketing channels work together in bringing in goal conversions and sales.
In the past, Google Analytics has always given credit to the last channel a visitor entered directly before a conversion or sale. For example, if a visitor clicked on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad, went to your site but did not complete a purchase, then returned to your site a few days later through an organic search and made a purchase, Google Analytics would credit organic search with the sale conversion, leaving you to wonder whether paid search efforts are working.
With Multi-Channel Funnels, you can see how paid and organic searches, affiliates, social networks, display ads, and email campaigns among others, are all working together to bring you leads and sales.
Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels has various reports that help you break down where your goal conversions are coming from:
Multi-Channel Funnels shows you how all of your online marketing efforts align together to generate a lead or sale on your site, and further demonstrates that you can not put all of your marketing dollars into one channel alone.
Last week, I had the complete and total pleasure of speaking at the Florida Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus “2011 Destination Marketing Summit“. You can visit their web site to learn more about who they are and what they do. The conference was held at the Plantation Golf Resort & Spa, roughly an hour north of Tampa, FL.
The title of this blog post was the title of my presentation to this great organization of marketers and IT folks. Clocking in at just under one hour, my presentation was divided into four parts:
A. Preliminary Steps to Take
B. Things to Avoid at All Costs
D. Making Decisions
The first two parts have very little to do with using web analytics at all. Before a marketer even starts doing anything with web analytics, it’s critical to have a proper foundation set. Otherwise, marketers will quickly find themselves in a tailspin of useless reports, meaningless statistics, and possibly, unable to perform necessary technical tasks (like, implementing marketing tags on an Email marketing effort).
The last two parts have everything to do with web analytics and the measurement industry. While we are a Google Analytics Certified Partner and love our Google Analytics platform, I made it clear during my presentation that the platform itself is of little consequence. Users of Adobe’s Omniture SiteCatalyst, WebTrends, Yahoo! Web Analytics, or even those who use server logs and nothing but Excel spreadsheets will all benefit from insights on how to do research and how to make informed decisions based on your research.
Below are the individual slides:
A. Preliminary Steps to Take
1. Find the Right Person – Every company, every organization has that “right person” to champion the web analytics crusade. In all likelihood, that person is you, reading this blog post.
2. Collaborate – Collaboration is huge, because if you are that “right person” who will take over the reins of your company’s web analytics efforts, you will find that you can’t do it alone. Make friends and get buy-in from others in your organization.
3. Tech Check – Are all of your web site pages tagged for your web analytics program? All pay-per-click landing pages tagged, too? What about your marketing URLs – are those carrying referral data? Are your PDF files tagged for inclusion in your tracking tool? Performing routine sanity checks on all things “tech” forces you to collaborate with your friendly, neighborhood IT administrator, and helps avoid post-marketing launch head-scratching.
B. Things to Avoid at All Costs
1. Meaningless Reports – Reports that do not provide context, insights, or do not solve a problem are most likely meaningless reports. Take a long, hard, critical look at the reports you’re generating, and ask yourself if they are doing anything at all for you. If they’re not, stop running them.
2. Lacking Insight – Insight is awesome because it adds such a nice flavor to any statistic or any report you generate. Google Analytics lets you insert insight using Annotations. Omniture SiteCatalyst and WebTrends let you do it via inserting notes into a report. Find a way to incorporate your own analysis and insights.
3. Your Conversion Rate – Please, do not throw anything at me! Your conversion rate is a paradox – a very evil one at that. It’s the metric that we all chase and strive for, yet it is the most harmful and unfair metric of all-time. Got a 2% conversion rate? Good for you – what about the other 98% of your visitors who you’ve neglected, who have most likely performed other important actions? Conversion rate is conversions divided by the number of visits (visitors), and it, by default, pushes aside the overwhelming majority of your online audience.
1. In Your Tool – Great research doesn’t mean great expense. In Google Analytics, you can create custom dashboards and perform a seemingly unlimited number of operations with your website data. You can literally invent your own statistics and computations with Omniture SiteCatalyst. You don’t have to spend any more than you already have spent by researching within your own platform.
2. Not in Your Tool – One of the best, free tools out there right now is called Google Insights for Search. With a few clicks of your mouse and a few keystrokes, you can get trending data, regional interest data, and also a bit of forecasting analysis on what Google thinks will happen, volume and interest wise, on the search terms you insert into the tool. It’s fascinating – and extremely helpful.
3. Design Your Own Tool – Eventually, your web analytics efforts will mature to the point that you’ll need to start creating Custom Reports. Every major web analytics platform allows you to customize your reporting needs based upon what you see fit. Don’t settle for what the web analytics vendors show you by default – crack open their custom reporting solution and pave your own road to wisdom and intelligence.
D. Making Decisions
1. What to Change – Example: Suppose you moved your home page’s main call-to-action from the bottom of the fold to the top-right corner. How did that change impact your bottom line? Using a visual overlay tool, you can clearly see where visitors are clicking around on your web site, and where they are converting from. Google Analytics has the In-Page Analytics report, Omniture SiteCatalyst has the ClickMap report / browser plug-in, and if your tool doesn’t let you see click-stream data on top of your web site, request a free trial from CrazyEgg.
2. What to Invest In – Web analytics tools have gotten so good that they’re starting to become human. WebTrends gives you a few sentences on your dashboard of what’s important and what’s happening with your data. Google Analytics has the Intelligence section, where you can review all significant events that happened on your web site. Use these highly-specialized features to know where to place your marketing dollars (and, where to not place your marketing dollars).
3. What They’re Saying – What people are saying to you in the form of surveys and voice-of-customer tools, and what people are saying on social media is more important and more critical than ever before. Some of the ways that you can evaluate what your visitors / customers are saying is to scan your Twitter and Facebook accounts for certain keywords and hashtags. You can use free tools like Klout and Twitalyzer to evaluate how influential you are to those who may be talking about you. Heck, even your URL shortening tool like Bit.ly or Goo.gl has its own analytics for every URL you shorten, which again can put you “in the know” in terms of your social / brand influence. Who doesn’t like knowing how influential one really is, based upon what is being said?