Tomorrow I’ll be mentioning a major development in Google Analytics which could revolutionise the information you get about user behaviour on your website. But who’s using Google Analytics, and who’s making the most of it? I’ve only dealt with one or two companies over the past few years which don’t have any website traffic analysis in operation at all, or which are trying to get by with some sort of 1990s-style log analysis like AWStats or Webalizer. So it’s good to see that almost every business which is serious about online marketing at least now has the facility to see what’s going on with their website.
We currently have around 40 to 50 clients, nearly all of them in the engineering and scientific sectors. If they’re a good cross-section of businesses, then I’d say about 90% are using Google Analytics and the remaining few are using some other system such as WebTrends or Piwik. These are all good systems, although the juggernaut that is Google Analytics now has so many users that its support and development is way ahead of anything else. And of course it’s free, so what’s not to like, other than the slightly disconcerting feeling you always get when joining in with a near-monopoly?
The companies which don’t have Google Analytics, in my experience, have gone that route because somebody in IT at head office has some sort of moral objection to it, and has convinced management (with technobabble, probably) to support that decision. Some companies – particularly in Germany – have fallen for stories that Google Analytics is in some way illegal. In that case, the mysterious body which would apparently prosecute them would presumably have to charge almost the entire internet.
If I were in marketing at one of these companies, I would continue to push for Google Analytics to be installed (it takes just minutes to set up). It can be added without affecting existing systems. There’s so much to gain, and nothing to lose.
However, I’d be surprised if more than about 5% of companies using Google Analytics are really getting much productive data from it. Our client base is of course an exception; I’d say we’ve helped most get to an above-average level of proficiency, and of course we set up reports for their Google AdWords campaigns which at least hint at the depth of data available. But we can only provide a basic level of support and encouragement; few clients really find the time to progress into setting up event tracking and goal-setting, which is where they can really get results.
There are some third-party courses available in using Google Analytics, but Google itself has just stepped into the market with the launch of its online Analytics Academy, a three-week, online video based course “designed for beginner to intermediate users of Google Analytics who are looking for a comprehensive introduction to digital analytics.”
This free course can be undertaken at your own pace, and although it’s already been launched, you can join in and catch up at any time. However, if you do it right away, you’ll be able to take advantage of a course forum which is open until the end of October. I can’t vouch for the quality of the course in advance, but I’d be amazed if it wasn’t an excellent investment of your time. That link again: Google Analytics Academy. Best of luck.