New Google Analytics Features – First Impressions

So I have access to the new updates to Google Analytics now. My first impressions of the updates are very positive. The two big additions (aside from the API) are the custom reports and segmentation.

The custom reporting actually went a little beyond my expectations. The big thing here that Google has done is that you can create reports that are very deep (4 levels or so) and that you can correlate across different report dimensions easily. Now Google just needs to implement more variables and events to take this to the next level.

The segmentation works well too, but it’s a little clunky in it’s setup. Here, I like the buckets that you start with in Omniture’s Discover. The creation of a segment seems a little more intuitive when starting from the idea of a visitor, visit or page view.

I do think that with the additions of the custom reporting and segmentation that Google has become more of a serious option for larger businesses. 

How does analysis become reporting?!

I’m not sure of others’ experiences, but ts has seemed to me that most of the time I provide a very insightful analysis to management and they are very pleased, the inevitable followup on their part is, “can we start getting this every week?” So while Web analysts want to provide analysis as opposed to becoming report monkeys, are we just creating more work for ourselves with our great analyses? More importantly, how do we get management to stop turning every analysis into a “regular report?” I think that the answer here is 3 fold:

  1. Learn how to set management expectations
  2. Have alternative (or more in-depth) anlayses planned at all times
  3. Assert your expertise

I think that if you do all of the above with an already existing base of established reporting, you can have success as a true analyst and not a report monkey. First though, how do you set clear expectations to management?

Email is all about setting expectations

One of the most important parts of a successful e-mail marketing campaign is setting the expectation of how often the recipient can expect to be emailed and what they will be e-mailed. The same goes for analyses of Web data. First, inform management of the analysis that you will be performing. This can enable them to ask some questions up front so that “feature creep” doesn’t occur later in the analysis (or worse yet, afterwards). Also, you’ll want to make management aware that reporting on this information on a regular basis and simply trending it isn’t the end/best result. Inform them that you will be delivering actionable insights after which it is their responsibility to act (unless the necessary resources are within your sphere of influence should you be so lucky).

Alternatives and the next big thing

One of the best ways to convince management to not make an analysis a regular report is to have the next few things lined up and planned out. This way, you can then tell them what was planned next and that regularly reporting on what you just delivered will decrease the number of analyses that you can deliver that are actionable.

You Are an Expert in Web Analytics & Analysis

If you weren’t, you’ve done a good job in fooling people that are signing your paycheck. We all know that convincing the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) that you know more than them will usually fail. This is where it is your responsibility over time to build your own personal brand as an expert. This isn’t going to happen over night. You’ll have to prove yourself. My recommendation here is to plan EVERY week what you are going to deliver to management to wow them. If this means slowly delivering great things then so be it. Trust me the result is worth it. One of the most important things that I learned in grad school is the following, and it was sort of a career epiphany:

  • Being good at your job and being successful are two TOTALLY different things.

These are just a few of the things that I try to keep in mind so that analyses don’t turn into boring reports that eventually and inevitably get ignored.

How do you ensure that your big ideas and analyses don’t get ignored? This also reminds me, if you haven’t read it, you should also check out the book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die…” You can get the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287