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December 5 2008

My Predictions for Google Analytics in 2009

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Traffic Sources Section - New Reports?Everyone loves to prognosticate, don’t they? From the guys on NBC’s Football Night in America to your buddies at work, everyone likes to predict, forecast, and make guesses as to who will win the Super Bowl / become the next president / be the next American Idol. Usually, most folks turn out to be wrong – even some of the top experts on TV – but, hey, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

When it comes to blogging, I am not a big fan of prediction posts. However, today, I’m making an exception. I have come up with 5 predictions for Google Analytics in 2009. These are five elements that I am predicting will happen with Google Analytics before the 2009 year is over. This is completely separate from my Google Analytics Wish List that I created a while ago.

My Predictions for Google Analytics in 2009:

1. urchin.js will be eliminated from the system, forcing everyone to officially migrate to ga.js
Ok, so now that I have your attention. 🙂 This has been a long time coming, folks. urchin.js is the Legacy Tracking Code, and they are eventually going to do away with it entirely. I suspect that this will happen toward the end of 2009, so that everyone has more than enough time to migrate over to ga.js.

2. Google Website Optimizer will be integrated into the Google Analytics interface
This is a matter of convenience. Somehow, Google Website Optimizer will be available via your Google Analytics Account settings, to set-up an A/B or Multivariate Experiment. There will also be reports within the GA Interface from Google Website Optimizer as well.

3. New “Blogs”, “Mobile”, and “Social Media” report sections will be added
I predict that this will happen sooner rather than later so that you can analyze these three sources of traffic individually from each other. This also means, from a technical standpoint, that Google Analytics will introduce new default medium dimensions, like “social-media” and “mobile”, breaking them off from the “referral” medium, as they appear by default at this time.

4. New Path Analysis reports will be added
Google Analytics will either upgrade the Navigation Summary / Entrance Paths reports, or they will replace them with brand new Path Analysis style reports. The current reports are very tough to understand, much less usable and insightful. That will not be the case any longer in 2009.

5. The Reporting Section will receive a big facelift; new bells and whistles will be added.
The reporting section in Google Analytics at this time is quite limited. You can only schedule an automatic report to be run on a Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Quarterly basis, and you can only do so much with the Subject and Description lines. Expect some improvements here, with some ability to schedule a report from a custom date range, other file formats (.xls would be nice), and some other neat things.

Will any or all of my predictions come through? We’ll know the answer in a little over 1 year from now.

November 26 2008

The top 15 things to test on your website

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It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about testing (which I love and encourage you to embrace with open arms as I have). I like to use Google Website Optimizer whenever I have an experiment to run, but you can use any program, such as Omniture Test & Target. As long as you are testing, you are “in the game” (and, if you are not testing, why not?).

I found an article within the Google Website Optimizer help section that I’d love to expand upon, called “The Top Five Elements to Test“. This help section article lists 15 specific elements, but it does not cite any examples, which I feel help visualize each point, even though some of them are very obvious. So, I have beefed up this very good list of possibilities below. Enjoy, and, seriously consider testing as many of these 15 things as you can:

1. Title -Short versus Long
Short: High-Quality Product
Long: High-Quality Product that will last for generations to come!

2. Title – Question versus Statement
Question: It’s 10 PM – Do you know where your kids are?
Statement: It’s 10 PM – Your kids are in bed.

3. Title – Formal versus Informal
Formal: Good Evening, Sir / Madam.
Informal: Yo, what up, dogg?

4. Title – Emphasizing selling point A versus B
Selling Point A: 100% Recycled Material!
Selling Point B: 100% Money Back Guarantee!

5. Image – Big versus Small
Big Image: Takes up half the screen
Small Image: 100 x 100 square in the upper-right corner of the page

6. Image – Photo versus Illustration
Photo: A nice, vibrant stock photo, or photo taken by a professional
Illustration: A nice, vibrant drawing, sketch, or animation created by a professional

7. Image – Customer versus Product
Customer: Happy customers, smiling and laughing on a warm sunny day
Product: Close-up picture of your awesome product against a smooth background

8. Layout – Long sales letter versus multi-column layout
Long Letter: A very long page outlining every possible detail and customer testimonial about your product
Multi-Column: A table with visible rows and columns displaying tidbits of information and statistics about your product

9. Layout – 3 page pitch versus one dense page
3-Page Pitch: Three pages, including the landing page, with “Click for More” or “Continue” buttons at the bottom
One Dense Page: All of the information contained in the three-page pitch on one single page

10. Selling Proposition – Quality versus Convenience
Quality: Made with 100% Imported Leather!
Convenience: Never buy another pair of boots again!

11. Selling Proposition – Features versus Service
Features: 256GB of Disk-Space!
Service: 24/7 Customer Support!

12. Selling Proposition – Make Money versus Save Money
Make Money: Make $100 for every friend that you refer!
Save Money: Save $100 on your next trade-in!

13. Conversion Incentives – Free Shipping versus Money Back Guarantee
Free Shipping: We offer Free Shipping to every city in the United States!
Money Back Guarantee: We will refund 100% of your money if you are not satisfied.

14. Conversion Incentives – List All Incentives versus None
All: List every possible incentive imaginable on Landing Page
None: Simply promote the product price, image, and / or availability on Landing Page

15. Conversion Incentives – Telephone Order conversion versus online form
Telephone: Call us at 1-800-555-1234 and get started today!
Online: Fill out our simple online form and get started today!

November 14 2008

Che Sta Accadendo? Another change to the GA Tracking Code?

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My Italian friends at goanalytics.info have probably already noticed this as well – when I logged in to my Google Analytics account today to create a new profile (using an existing domain), I saw a GA Tracking Code that looked different:

<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ?
"https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src=\'" + gaJsHost +
"google-analytics.com/ga.js\' type=\'text/javascript\'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
</script>
<script type="text/javascript">
try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-XXXXXX-1");
pageTracker._trackPageview();
} catch(err) {}
</script>

The Legacy Tracking Code (urchin.js) also has been updated to include these new “try – catch” enclosure:

<script src="http://www.google-analytics.com/urchin.js" type="text/javascript">
</script>
<script type="text/javascript">
try {
_uacct = "UA-XXXXXX-1";
urchinTracker();
} catch(err) {}
</script>

It does not appear that any data collection has been affected, which means you most likely won’t have to change any coding on your website, unless Google Analytics officially releases a statement via their blog. However, I am big proponent of having the most up-to-date code on your website if possible, so if these new coding variables stick around for a while, you may want to go ahead and update your website to match.

Also, as a side note, there is a known bug with the Reverse Goal Path report in the Goals section of your Google Analytics profile(s). If you’re noticing some strange data appearing in there – don’t worry, the folks at Google Analytics are well aware of this issue and are doing their best to repair the report, as soon as they possibly can.

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