Articles in the Custom Data Solutions Category

August 18 2009

New Google Analytics Feature: Secondary Dimensions

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Back in May of this year, Google Analytics announced the release of some new features that will soon be available to everyone worldwide. This announcement includes two new features that we are very excited about: Pivot Tables and the subject of today’s blog post, Secondary Dimensions.

What are Secondary Dimensions?
Secondary Dimensions allow you to add in a layer of data to any report table within the Google Analytics interface. With secondary dimensions, you can save time and effort, while simultaneously obtaining valuable insights within your report data. All you have to do is visit any report – Keywords, All Traffic Sources, or your Top Content report – and look for a new drop-down menu directly underneath the scorecard, shown in this image:

Secondary Dimension Drop-Down

Then, you can start diving deep. For example, segment your Traffic Sources report by “keyword“, and you’ll get this:

Secondary Dimension: Keyword

You can also do fancier analysis, like segmenting your Traffic Sources report by City, while using the Comparison to Site Average view to evaluate the percentage of New Visits from each location, which can help you evaluate your geo-targeted marketing efforts:

Secondary Dimension: City

With the power of Secondary Dimensions, you will be able to take your analysis efforts to the next level. Because every standard dimension is available in secondary dimensions, you have virtually limitless possibilities. Try segmenting your Keywords report by Landing Page, your Top Content report by Visitor Type, or your Map Overlay report table by Source for some fun (and useful) information! Secondary Dimensions are addictive, so consider this your only warning!

Next time we will talk about another new Google Analytics Feature, Pivot Tables (or Pivoting), and show you how to use Pivoting in conjunction with Secondary Dimensions for even greater reporting power!

August 10 2009

It Takes a Village to Raise a Culture of Web Analytics

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The last 2 years have seen an influx of business men and women getting involved with Web Analytics. Owners, Presidents, VPs, Directors, Marketers, IT personnel and even Administrative Assistants have all taken an interest in this still relatively new dimension of the internet.

While it’s great that so many folks are diving head-first into the ocean of analytics, it’s very important to understand that one individual cannot do it alone. Everyone — even one man / one woman shows — needs a village…a community of individuals that can support, educate, and collaborate with one another to install, upload, and subsequently measure and take meaningful, useful insights from their analytics data.

Each person needs to rely upon any one (if not all) of the following types of people to truly achieve Web Analytics success:

1. The Web Analytics “Champion”
Each organization needs that one person who stands proud and champions the cause to their colleagues. This person takes command and learns everything possible about Web Analytics, and can eat and drink metrics and reports for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This person can calculate search campaign ROI and Average Order Value figures in their sleep. He / She is the quarterback / point guard / captain of the team.

2. A Colleague who Shares the Vision
Forging a relationship with a co-worker who can get as excited and enthusiastic about Web Analytics as the “Web Analytics Champion” is key to promoting a culture of data insights throughout your organization. It becomes contagious to the rest of the company when they see that others are being positively influenced by Web Analytics, and they’ll want to be a part of it.

3. A Friend in Need is a Friend in IT
No matter what type of Web Analytics program you choose to run with, a technical / IT person is going to be necessary at one point or another. IT folks can help you upload any necessary scripts, code your website’s pages, manage APIs, parse server log-files, fix and repair bugs, and anything else needed for Web Analytics success. Making friend(s) in the IT department is a crucial, often overlooked step.

4. Don’t Forget the Marketers
At the end of the day, the purpose of Web Analytics is to understand the behavior and actions of your website’s visitors. Marketing / advertisement is what drives traffic to a website, be it a pay-per-click ad or a couple of months of hard-nosed SEO optimization work. The marketing department is going to need reports and statistics from Web Analytics to be able to refine their efforts, and evaluate which are working and profitable, which ones are wastes of money, and which ones have potential.

5. Sell, Sell, Sell!
Sometimes, the concepts and the philosophy of Web Analytics are hard to explain throughout an organization — anyone who has ever heard “Why Should I Spend Any Time with This?” will understand. This is a great opportunity to get a sales rep, or even the VP of Sales on board with Web Analytics. They can probably share with you some persuasive techniques that can be used to attract interest.

6. Who’s The Boss?
Not Tony Danza — unless he IS your boss. The Senior VP, Chief Technical Officer, Executive Vice-President, or perhaps the CEO themselves should be on board the Web Analytics gravy train. This is, understandably, a vital part in the ultimate success of building a culture of Web Analytics within your company — important colleagues or co-workers who were on the fence before may be strongly persuaded to jump on the bandwagon if a supervisor, partner, or even the owner supports the efforts.

In a lot of situations, people do not have the ability to take the reigns and create this prosperous culture of finding actionable insights. They work alone, in a small group, or in large companies where teams are spread across several offices, making building a community near impossible. Fortunately for us, MoreVisibility is that culture of Web Analytics. We are a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, a Google AdWords Qualified Company, and have an entire organization of colleagues who champion the cause for Web Analytics.

July 8 2009

Tracking bit.ly (and other short URLs) in Google Analytics

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Yesterday, during my normal browsing / question-answering time over on the Google Analytics Help Forum, I ran across a thread where a few folks were not seeing traffic from their bit.ly URLs in their Google Analytics profiles. For those of you who do not know what they are, or might have seen them somewhere before, bit.ly is a URL shortening website, where you can enter in a long URL and make it very short. Websites like bit.ly, SnipURL, Tiny.cc, and several others have become mega-popular over the last few years, as they have become vital in allowing people to share links via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I’ve even started to see them appear in some newsletters and promotional emails as well.

While bit.ly type websites are great, they actually present an analytics tracking challenge. These sites typically redirect users from their website to your destination website, which causes Google Analytics to treat any visitor clicking on one of these links as “direct”, even though they really originated from your Facebook page, your monthly newsletter, or a press release (So technically, not tagging these URLs will also pollute your direct traffic segment, which was our blog post from earlier in the week).

So, what can you do to properly track your shortened URLs in Google Analytics? Take the following 4 steps for short URL tracking success:

1. Grab Your Destination URL – Copy the URL of the page that you ultimately want your visitors to land on.

Example: http://www.website.com/page.html

2. Run it through the Google Analytics Tool: URL BuilderThe URL Builder Tool will append the necessary query parameters to the end of your destination URL. This is the same page that is used when marketers want to track their non-AdWords cost-per-click traffic in GA.

Example: http://www.website.com/page.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-media&utm_content=status-update&utm_campaign=social-media-traffic

3. Run your new URL through bit.ly (or your favorite URL shortener) – Copy your newly created URL and paste it into the URL shortening tool – you should now have a very short, but analytics-trackable URL.

Example: http://bit.ly/MrOle

4. Test your short link – Click on your short URL and make sure the long string of query parameters that you copied from step 2 appears in the address bar of your favorite browser. If the query parameters are there – and your destination page has the Google Analytics Tracking Code correctly installed – you should begin to see visits from your short URL in your All Traffic Sources report, within the Traffic Sources section. It’s a bit of a manual process – especially if you have a lot of short URLs everywhere – but it’s completely worth the time that it takes to run them through the URL Builder and appropriately track the visits off of these links in Google Analytics. The hard part will be figuring out what to use for the Source, Medium, and Campaign dimensions, because that is what is going to control how the data appears.

My advice: use a short, common-sense naming convention, and you really can’t go wrong.

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