We (and Nina Hale, LLC.) would like to extend another thank you to everyone to attended the Google Analytics 2-day ClockworkShop. It was our biggest ClockworkShop to-date!

According to our post-event survey:

  • 93% of attendees were satisfied with the event.
  • 96% thought it was a great value.
  • Lots of people wondered if Aloft gave us a deal due to their wi-fi issues. (They did.) Many thanks to everyone for putting up with that pain. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to get online during a seminar about an online tool. Oy!
  • Everyone enjoyed the lunch options, but a few folks expected pastries to be available in the morning. We’ll make sure to have morning goodies if we do another all-day event. mmm…donuts.

When we first announced this ClockworkShop, Robin Nielson — a student — contacted us to ask if there were any scholarships available. We liked her enthusiasm, so we agreed to a trade: a ticket in exchange for her writing a blog post to recap the event. Robin’s recap follows, enjoy!

Day 1: Intermediate Analysis

Tools to supplement your Google Analytics account:

  • usabilityhub.com: visitors test your web site to test your user interface.
  • usertesting.com: similar to Usability Hub, but it shows a video of the person while they are navigating your web site.
  • clicktale.com: records a visitor’s session on your website as they go through it.
  • crazyegg.com: a heat map tool which shows you where people are clicking the most. This is a great tool since there is an 80% correlation between mouse tracking and eye tracking.
  • kampyle.com: provides customer feedback about your web site.
  • uservoice.com: allows customers to vote on and provide feedback on new ideas or products for your company.
  • hitwise.com: a paid dashboard that lets you see what keywords are driving traffic to your competition.
  • google.com/trends: a free alternative to hitwise.
  • wasp.immeria.net: a Firefox extension which checks individual web pages for code.
  • gasitescan.com: scans your entire web site to ensure that the Google Analytics code is present.

Other sources for data include your content management systems, custom relationship management systems, social media, email marketing systems, and ad platforms. 

Setting up profiles.

Profiles are “buckets” of data that are used to filter your data. When making profiles, there are some important best practices to follow. Since the processing only happens once in GA, changes are not retroactive and can’t be undone. Keep this in mind when setting up profiles. Some recommended profiles include an unfiltered and a test profile. An unfiltered profile will contain raw data and has no filters on it. This is important for trouble shooting. A test profile is useful to test out changes to filters, goals and other configurations before applying them to other profiles (since changes can’t be undone!).

Creating alerts.

Alerts are imperative to set up on your Google Analytics account because these will inform you if something changes, or is broken. Some examples are sudden changes in traffic, goal conversions or revenue. One alert that is essential to every account is when traffic flatlines. This will alert you if the code is accidentally removed from your site. Alerts should also be set for any traffic you’re paying for, including any change in bounce rates for those campaigns.

Consistent messating.

When running ad campaigns it’s important to have a consistent message between the advertisement and the landing page. If your click through rate is high then your advertisement appealed to the visitor. If your bounce rate is high then the landing page is not meeting the expectations that are set by the advertisement. Consider changing your campaign to have a uniform message throughout.

Tracking offline marketing efforts.

Google Analytics can even be used to track your offline marketing efforts. This can be accomplished by using an exact URL in your advertisements. It’s recommended that you offer something in exchange for visiting that exact URL. This avoids the visitor’s typing only your domain only typing your domain without specifying the landing page. For example you could use “www.example.com/freefrisbee” for a specific campaign and use Google Analytics to track how much traffic that landing page receives. If you offer something for free then the visitor is also more likely to type a specific domain. Another option is a vanity domain that redirects to your web site. QR codes can also be used to effectively track print advertisements.

In-site searches.

The in-site search engine is an important tool which can provide insights to your customers. It tells you what your customers are looking for and what vocabulary they are using. Many times, the words that a company uses to describe their content are much different than what is being searched for. These search terms will provide keywords and phrases that can be incorporated into your landing pages and pay-per-click campaigns. If you find that the search tool is not be utilized, then try moving it or making it larger. If there are search terms that are yielding unsuccessful search terms, then that means there is content you are not currently providing.

This is only a small portion of what I learned on the first day. I could easily write a book with the amount of information that was shared with me!

Day 2: Technical

There are different types of Google Analytics tracking code that may be on your web site. The “urchin.js” is an old tracking code that will be phased out soon. The “ga.js” is the standard tracking which supports newer features. The “ga.js” tracking code loads asynchronously from the page. This is recommended because it’s less susceptible to missing tracking on longer pages. Traditional tracking code should be added to the bottom of the page to avoid a delay in loading the page. The critical element is that the visitor may not wait for a long page to load and the code won’t be able to collect any data. This problem can be avoided by using the asynchronous code.

Tracking on mobile devices.

Sometimes there are situations where websites cannot track your data with the standard Google Analytics code. For example if your website has a mobile app that you want to track, then you can use a software development kit.

Non-smart phones typically do not use Javascript or cookies, which are needed for the Google Analytics tracking to work. If a mobile site is using PHP, JSP, ASP.NET, or Perl as their its server-side language, then it’s recommended that you use the wizard for the coding.

Cleaning up your data.

It is important to have clean data in order to avoid mistakes and more work later. One issue that should be addressed is messy URLs. For example one visitor types /careers at the end of a URL, and another visitor types /CAREERS. Both visitors are taken to the same page. Google Analytics is collecting separate data for the same page which will create extra work for you. To avoid this, you can set up a filter that unifies the data, no matter how it is capitalized. Another common issue is having multiple URLs for your homepage. This can be solved with a filter using the “search and replace” filter type.

Setting up goals.

In Google Analytics you can set up two types of goals, URL goals and engagement goals. A URL goal means that a certain page was reached including certain steps leading up to that page (a funnel) . For example, your URL goal would be met if the visitor landed on a thank-you page for filling out a form or on the receipt page. An engagement goal is when a certain metric reaches a threshold. Some examples would be a certain number of pages visited per visit and the time on the site.

When your goals are based on clicks then you should use pageviews to record the clicks and base your goal on virtual URLs that you have used for clicks. When a goal does not have a distinct URL, then it’s recommended that you assign one. If that is not possible, you can give them distinct URLs in Google Analytics. It’s also recommended that you use clear and descriptive names for your goals and funnels. This is because those names will be the labels on the report, and this makes it easy to read your data.

Setting up a goal for your shopping cart tracks the success of your website in contributing to sales and revenue. It tracks your transactions, but it cannot replace your ecommerce platform! If you want to start tracking your transactions, then you will need to add code to the receipt page and also turn on ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics.

Other topics covered include, conversion optimization, cross domain tracking, managing cookies, custom variable tracking, query parameters, event tracking, virtual pageviews and much more. I have only covered a very small portion from the training seminars. The sessions go much further into detail and cover more topics – which is why I highly recommend attending.