If you’re a user of Google Analytics (as the vast majority of businesses now seem to be), you’ll have seen by now that there’s a new interface available. Indeed, you may have already switched to using it. There are some great things on offer, including real-time analytics and flow visualization, which you might find useful. For the time being, Google is offering both interfaces, but once they’ve ironed out any remaining problems, the old interface will be withdrawn, so I’d thoroughly recommend switching to the new one as soon as you can. This will mean that if anything crops up which causes you difficulties, you still have the old interface to return to, while you work it out.
Anyone reading this who has Google Analytics on their website and doesn’t spend considerable amounts of time with it, is probably wasting a lot of money in lost marketing efficiencies. Printing out a graph of the total number of website visitors every month is, quite frankly, useless. Yet it’s all that some companies do with this fantastic tool.
We recently did a two-hour exercise for a client, examining the true results of various advertising outlets they’d used in 2011. To their horror, only one online advertising initiative had generated profitable results, and over a third of the money they’d spent had produced no measurable results at all. Meanwhile, a relatively obscure website, which didn’t even appear to offer any advertising opportunities, was sending a steady stream of good traffic. They’d never have guessed.
The key to this job, as with everything associated with website visitor analysis, is to ignore all the default data you’re presented with, and ask yourself: “What do I really need to know, and can Google Analytics tell me that?” In this case, the client needed to know the amount of good quality visitors which various websites and emails had sent them, and to split that into those they’d paid for and those they’d have got for free anyway. Although in many cases things hadn’t been set up to record that data as specifically as required, we were able to show how various external links could be changed so that the data would be recorded in future. Next year’s annual review will be genuinely illuminating.