Google Analytics was launched in 2005, and was called Urchin. Since then, it’s seen numerous changes and massive growth. The standard Google Analytics is available fee of charge from Google, and is also offered in two additional versions: the subscription based Google Analytics 360, (previously Google Analytics Premium), targeted at enterprise users, and Google Analytics for Mobile Apps.
It integrates with Google Ads and Google Search Console, and to make life easier for everyone, Google introduced Google Tag Manager, which allows website owners to integrate the Analytics and similar codes relatively easily, and without requiring specialised knowledge.
In October 2012, Google launched the latest version of Google Analytics, the so-called “Universal Analytics.” The key differences from the previous versions included cross-platform tracking, flexible tracking code to collect data from any device, and the introduction of custom dimensions and custom metrics.
Analytics is not about “all the data,” Analytics is about reducing uncertainty. And the best part of analysis is that it never ends. Each success offers a further opportunity to learn, act and measure. And this is why I love Google Analytics.
Anything you need to quantify can be measured in some way that is superior to not measuring it at all ~ Gilb’s Law
Understand What Your Users Are Doing
Analytics is an excellent tool for understanding your online business. It allows you to see the various ways customers use your site, how well different parts of the site are running, and what’s not achieving its objectives. And visitors’ interaction and time spent on your website is just one of the ways in which the data can be analysed.
Data can be compiled into detailed reports that show you exactly how your website is being used. And once you start compiling data, and digging into the implications, you can just go deeper and deeper and find meaningful insights until you’re lost in all the data, the same way I’m getting lost in telling you how wonderful Analytics is.
Understanding Your Analytics
All of this information can be extremely daunting to read at first. Trying to make heads or tails of all this new jargon and numbers and percentages everywhere, is confusing. But once you start, you just can’t stop.
The insights that can be gained from Google Analytics could make a huge difference to the success or failure of your business, because it can tell you exactly where you should be spending your limited time to have the greatest impact.
The main navigation is on the left-hand side of the screen, where you’ll see eight different options: Dashboards, Shortcuts, Intelligence Events, Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversions. The first couple are internal tools for Analytics, and the rest are the different categories that Analytics breaks your data down into. We’ll cover each of these individually in later articles though.
Presenting Data To The Client
According to the majority of the leading Google analysts, people like Avinash Kaushik, Justin Cutroni and Daniel Waisberg to name a few, one of the best ways of dealing with this data in terms of presenting it in a meaningful way is to turn that data into the story of the users. Stories are unforgettable, and this technique will make it easier for the user to understand as well as help present the data in the right way.
Analytics not only provides solutions to commonly occurring problems, but is highly proactive in finding solutions to problems that haven’t even occurred. This makes Google Analytics one of the leaders in the field of digital research and development.
Interpreting Your Data
There are many ways to analyse and interpret the data generated by Analytics. Ideally, you want to find a way that works for you at bringing the data alive. Some people sketch on paper, some brainstorm the underlying concepts. The important thing is not to get into a state of data paralysis.
Data paralysis is what happens when you have so much data, you get caught up in it and don’t actually do anything with the insights it provides. The trick here is to summarise and segment your data, so that you can cut out the unimportant, or what’s immediately actionable. Focus on the most important questions, objectives or issues, and resolve those before working on the next set.
I Love Analytics
In conclusion, Google Analytics is AWESOME! A powerful tool helping you make better decisions about your website and your online strategy and objectives.
Avinash Kaushik, probably my favourite Google analyst, wrote:
“You know you live in the world of Web Insights when you realize that every piece of data you look at drives action and not just action but action that adds to whatever bottom line Outcomes that our companies are trying to achieve for our company customers (note that important difference, not outcomes that your boss wants, not outcomes that his/her boss wants, but Outcomes that your customers want).