Yep, it’s another Kaushik post

As always, Avinash Kaushik does an excellent job of explaining complex ideas in simple terms. Thank you Avinash and the following article is another one (of many) must reads from Occam’s Razor.

The Biggest Mistake Web Analysts Make… And How To Avoid It!

sharp focusThe single biggest mistake web analysts make is working without purpose.

We work very hard. We torture SiteCatalyst. We send out a lot of data. Then we resend it again and again. And yet our work results in very little impact on the business in terms of action taken by company leaders.

Why this sad state? Almost always we dive into the ocean of data first. Sadder still, we don’t ask questions later. We never ask questions.

No questions. No tie to what’s important. No impact from the data.

Result? Our work lacks purpose. It is that simple.

My normal recommendation to address this supremely corrosive issue is to encourage each company to go through the process of creating a Digital Marketing and Measurement Model . It is a fantastic five step process that forces the engagement of key stake holders to produce a blueprint of why digital exists in a company, and what it is trying to accomplish.

digital marketing measurement model roles

No touching Google Analytics. No going to web analytics conferences. No tweeting for help.

Just doing the four things, in five steps above, will deliver what we lack… purpose.

1. Why should you come to work?
2. What should the focus of your work be?
3. What level of performance indicates success or failure?
4. What dimensions, if analyzed, will deliver juicy business insights?

Unfortunately a very tiny fraction of companies, or Analysts, want to put in this lifesaving effort up front.

If you fall in the “Analyst unwilling to do the hard work” category, I’m afraid I can’t help you.

If you fall into the “Analyst really wanting to do the hard work but does not have the connection to Superiors, or other teams, and looking for any way out to identify business purpose” category. I have a very very simple approach for you to follow. You are going to love it.

But there are two prerequisites: 1. You are going to have to throw away the shackles, and think like a business owner. Even if you work in a multi-headed hydra called “global corporation.” 2. Have the courage to move beyond the office politics/bickering, move from waiting for a savior to tell you what the purpose should be to investing some time in figuring it out yourself.

If you meet the prerequisites, and have a pinch of business savvy, we are together going to change the world!

My recommendation calls for you to take a structured approach and answer five questions. The insightful answers will help you create your own understanding of the purpose of the digital existence. You’ll end up creating something very close to the DMMM above.

The result will be an astonishingly high level of focus for your digital analytics work (even on day one) and hyper-relevant insights to the business. That, in turn will simply blow people’s mind (relevant insights always do), creating love for you. And love like that is hard to come by. (Conveniently that type of love also translates into a sweet raise. 🙂

Perhaps I’ve over-promised. But I’m just so excited about this process and its power to make our professional lives better.


In my experience the best teaching happens with real world examples, rather than spouting theory. Hence, I’m going to useCredit Karma as an example to illustrate the process. I don’t know anyone at Credit Karma. I’m not an expert in the credit score reporting business. So I’ll be just as blind as you might be walking into any business and going through this exercise.

Here are the five questions (plus one special bonus in the end) I/you have to answer to get a very good sense of the business to bring astonishing relevancy to our data analysis:

#1. Why does the site exist?

This is the holy grail. But here’s the trick: We are not looking for just the obvious answers. We want to identify as close to 100% of the purpose for which the site exists, how it makes money/gets leads/raises donations (as the case may be).

In the case of Credit Karma my first job is to identify what the Macro Conversion is. The single biggest reason for the site’s existence.

Luckily except in the case of the most incompetent websites, this is easy to find. In our case it is right there staring us in the face on the home page: Free Daily Credit Card Monitoring!

macro conversion

Just to be sure, since I don’t know them at all, I might poke around a few pages to make sure. But usually it is pretty clear.

And in this case the cool thing is that they give you one score, the TransUnion one, for free. No credit cards required to sign up! My favorite report is the Credit Report Card. Great visualizations and really great data. Sign up today! [Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with nor do I know anyone at Credit Karma.]

OK, back to being the business owner.

The next thing to answer this question, and ensure that I’m not a newbie Analyst who will only focus on 2% of the business success, I have to figure out the Micro Conversions.

To do this you’ll go to the main sections of the website. You’ll look for other calls to action. “Sign up for the mailing list.” “Order our catalog.” “Download the trial version.” Et al.

After 10 minutes of browsing, I found all these valuable Micro Conversions:

micro conversions

Some are pretty straight-forward. Affiliate links (Take Offer, Compare Rates) that link to other sites from which Credit Karma makes commissions. Advertising on the site is a Micro Conversion (the SavvyMoney ad above with the link Manage Your Debt). The Write A Review call to action (the more reviews there are on credit cards, the more valuable the site is for comparison shoppers the more people will come and do business with them). In the same vein, completed Compare Credit Card offers is an important Micro Conversion (and a sign of deeper engagement with the site). Finally, the links to connection on social platforms are Micro Conversions as well.

Now you have a fantastic understanding of the business objective (make money via credit reporting) and the Goals (a combination of Macro + Micro Conversions).

And, I can’t stress this enough, you are not just looking at 2% of business success, you are looking at 100%.

Bonus: Identifying Macro and Micro Conversions also gives you a list of Ecommerce Tracking to set up on the site, and Goals to set up in the Admin interface. You’ll also note small things like outbound link tracking (using Events) to set up for social actions and ensuring all affiliate links are tagged with our company’s tracking parameters.

Don’t open Google Analytics or Yahoo Web Analytics yet! We have more work to do…

#2. What parts of the website should you focus on first?

One of the biggest problems we have with digital analytics is that we have waaaaaay too much data. And because the reports only show the top ten rows, we might not easily be able to see what matters.

Hence it is very important to figure out where to focus your analysis first. My method for doing that is to browse around the site and answer this question:

~ What content on the website is directly tied to driving Macro and Micro Conversions?

~ What sections of the website might be most valuable to the visitors?

~ What content areas seem very expensive to create (hence more important to measure if they are adding any value!)?

~ What cross-sells and up-sells do you see being pimped across the site?

~ What does the top nav and left/right nav groupings tell you about priorities?

You can quickly see how those simple questions help you understand what data might be the object of your analytical horsepower.

Another 10 or 15 minutes of exploring various links and pages yields the answers I’m looking for.

content areas

For me, as a lay person and not a credit score industry veteran, the most important section would be /learning. The more the website visitors are aware of how important credit scores are, the more likely they are to sign up.

This was a bit hidden but the second most important piece of content would be the Credit Simulator (/preview/simulator). I can go play with the simulation and be informed (scared, actually) of the implications of taking credit and become a more qualified lead for Credit Karma.

The other sections I found valuable, using the framework outlined in the questions above, were: /help/howitworks (no one would sign up without looking at this page, we have to A/B and MVT test this to the max), /tools (this creates a great affinity for the brand, even if people don’t sign up) and of course /creditcards (if they don’t sign up, let’s at least get an affiliate click :).

You can quickly see how you’ve got a short list of things to do in the Content section of Google Analytics. The filters to apply to those reports, to understand which KPIs would be most important as you value this content.

Rather than letting the data take you somewhere randomly, let this approach put you in the drivers seat and then you take data for a ride to a specific destination. That is what being successful is all about.

Awesome, right?

#3. How smart is their digital marketing strategy?

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know how deeply fond I am of the Acquisition, Behavior, Outcomes framework. We covered Outcomes with the first question and behavior with the second. Now it’s time for acquisition.

What I try to probe, without talking to anyone at the company, is how savvy the company is in digital marketing. I’m also trying to figure out all the places they might be doing advertising. I want to know if they have even a simplistic understanding of how to rock social media.

traffic sources overview google analytics

Here’s my process for doing that…

~ Visit (or Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia etc). Run a bunch of search queries with the intent of looking for the company’s products and services. I’ll do at least five or so brand-related queries (“credit karma reviews”), and at least ten to fifteen non-brand/long tail queries (“free credit scores,” “best credit score website,” “credit score reporting scams,” etc.).

I make a note of: 1. Organic search rankings (rank, page titles, snippets). 2. Paid search ads (title, creatives, urls shown). 3. Competition (who comes up first consistently, ppc and organic). 4. Search Plus Your World results.

~ Visit sites like (in this specific case) Yahoo! News/Finance to see if I get display ads when I read articles or stories about credit cards, credit scores etc. Do the same with some of the top sites I can think of related to the industry (brokerage sites, financially savvy consumer sites, etc). Finally, checkout at least a couple of blogs relevant to the topic.

I’m trying to see if I bump into my company’s ads (display, text, any other type). It will be a great reflection of how well thought out their acquisition strategy is, or how sub-optimal it is.

~ No business, B2C or B2B or here2there, can exist without a robust YouTube strategy. So off to YouTube to do some relevant searches to see what videos show up.

Do I see any promoted videos in the results (to control the message)? Do I discover a brand channel by the company (to create a deeper connection with customers)? How lame or awesome are their videos (you want to teach and pimp both at the same time)?

~ Social is all the rage these days and I do believe that every business of every type should have a social presence that is the epitome of conversational marketing. So visiting their Twitter/Facebook/Google+ pages is critical.

Do they have a social presence? How many followers/likes do they have in comparison to their competitors? Do they reply to questions, or just shout? Do they pimp offers or try to make people’s lives better? Is there any consistency in their contribution?

One special thing I’m also checking is if they have the +1 button on their website. Search Plus Your World and the social graph has become quite important. People search now, see their friends/social graph liking/endorsing brands and pages. Those often catch the eye of the searcher more easily, sometimes, than paid or organic results.

All this goes into creating starting points for what I’ll do when I get into the web analytics tool. Will I analyze Search first or Campaigns? Will I focus more on referring sources or social traffic first? Will I measure the value of YouTube first or Display ads?

Additionally the above investigation also gives me a set of insights I can deliver to my CxOs. Channels where they should exist but don’t. Things they might be doing badly in Social or YouTube or wherever. Missed opportunities in Organic search or SPYW. Things like that. And these recommendations will come from my own digital marketing sophistication (earning respect from my Senior Leaders).

Bonus: In the digital marketing savvy section I’ve also started to pull out my Samsung Galaxy Tab and Nexus S to preview the mobile and tablet experience of the company. If it stinks that tells me a lot (remember the year of mobile was 2010!). I’ll also run a couple of quick searches on Google or Yandex or Baidu to see how the landing pages look on my mobile phone and tablet.

Super Bonus: Only for the most passionate amongst you… run a quick query in the iTunes App Store and the Android Market to see if the business exists there in the form of an application. If yes, download it. Play with it. Download some competitor offerings.

Most companies that are on the bleeding edge of digital marketing savvy are leveraging Google, Yahoo!, Email Marketing, Blog ads, Social channels AND mobile experiences AND mobile applications. The analysis above, will bring remarkable brilliance when you dive into the data. You’ll take your company from bad to good in terms of acquisition-savvy, or from good to great.

#4. How well are they doing in context of their competition?

It is almost criminal to dive into doing any analysis of a company’s website data without first getting a little bit of context about their competitive performance. Context after all is king .

Here one simple example of how it can be helpful. You log into CoreMetrics and you see a line traffic going up or down. Is that good or bad? You don’t know. No one at the company will talk to you. Why not jump on to a free competitive intelligence tool and figure out the answer for yourself?

I’ll usually start with looking at the company’s data in (if they are US-based with primarily US-based traffic) orGoogle Trends for Websites . And in five seconds I’ll end up with a graph that looks like this:

credit karma competitive analysis

The above data is from Compete. I’ve included not just the data for Credit Karma, but also for two relevant competitors, and

Initially I was wow-ed by the spike in the blue line (Credit Karma), that is quite spectacular. But then I see that it might be an industry thing, as the competitor spiked as well. Good context.

While at Compete I can also dig into a whole bunch of metrics like Visits, PageViews, udience segmentation, and so much more.

Now, I better understand visitor acquisition.

Time to understand a bit more about the visitors themselves. My BFF? Google/DoubleClick AdPlanner , perhaps the largest source of demographic and psychographic data out there.


The above data is for I can also quickly run queries for Credit Karma (and others) and compare and contrast the demographic profiles of people who visit the website. Are our competitors particularly stronger in some Educational categories or Incomes compared to us? What are our areas of strength?

While in AdPlanner I also highly recommend looking at “Sites also visited,” a fantastic way to understand who a site’s real competitors are. What are the clusters of options when people consider a credit report? This is also a great place to get ideas for websites you can show ads on, exchange links, etc.

The last stop of my journey is Google Insights for Search , your direct source for all Google organic search data from across the world. Here I particularly like to look at a metric I call “share of search.” How often are people looking for the generic query for the industry, for me (/my company) and for my direct competitors?

Think of it as unaided brand recall

credit karma keyword share of search analysis

Just look at that massive spike in queries for Credit Karma at the end of Dec! What the heck happened there? Great question. What where the related keywords people searched for? Check the Google Analytics reports. Was this traffic any good? Check the Google Analytics metrics. Are we going to dominate the world and crush our competitors? Time will tell!

The purpose of competitive intelligence analysis is to understand your place in the world, to highlight from an industry/ecosystem perspective what your strengths and areas of opportunity are, and to collect a list of questions like the ones immediately above for analysis in your web analytics tools.

Is that not simply orgasmic?

#5. What is the fastest possible way I can have a impact on the business?

One final thing.

I look for a low hanging fruit to fix/analyze. Something I can quickly analyze, find insights for and get fixed to show the value of data (and my employment at the company).

Here are some examples of things I consciously look for:

~ Any obviously important links that might be broken (404) or misdirected.

~ Horribly constructed landing pages for the top organic/paid keywords.

~ Something absolutely important missing from the site’s information architecture.

~ A missed opportunity for promoting a micro conversion more prominently. (Why is the Credit Score Emulator so hidden, and not on the home page of Credit Karma?)

~ Overpimping of social icons when there has never been a social post (or all posts are sub-optimal).

~ No “related items” after a product is added to cart. (Aw, come on! Has Amazon taught us nothing?)

~ 17 display ads on every single page on the website. (Why, oh why must we inflict torture?)

And other such things. Depending on the website you are analyzing, and your web-savvy/UX expertise, you might find other things. But the criteria to apply is that you are looking for big, obvious broken things that can mostly likely be fixed quickly and for which the impact can be quickly measured.

You are trying to find something with a clear purpose to show the power of actions taken through data.

One of my most beloved low hanging fruit for lead gen/ecommerce websites is to identify and improve the checkout abandonment rate .

That would be measuring the efficiency of this process for Credit Karma:

funnel analysis

For a lead gen/ecommerce website there is no faster way to improve the bottom line. The potential customer has already discovered us. They’ve survived our website. They’ve gone from consideration to purchase. Now, all that remains for us to make money is to get them through these three simple pages. Let’s make sure we do that! 100% of the time! (I love being aggressive in this case.)

This is directly tied to business purpose. It is absolutely focused on something important (getting the macro conversion). It is small (3 pages), and it is very well defined. And it is easily measureable (hello my dear funnel analysis, I’ve missed you!).

That is how an Analyst achieves glory. Through data. Powered by a clear purpose.

So five simple questions that help you focus on the end-to-end view of the business (Acquisition, Behavior, Outcome) without ever touching the data (except CI) and help you create your own Digital Marketing Measurement Model.

What I love more than anything else is that it forces you to become the Marketer for the couple hours you’ll spend on it. It forces you to think like a business owner for that time. It forces you to pull out any UI/UX chops you have.

It is rare that Analysts get to flex those muscles. It is important, though because I don’t know of a single Digital Analyst who has become great without flexing those muscles.

And now, my dear, you are ready to log into your web analytics tool!

But before you do that, I have one last parting gift for you…

Special Bonus: #6. Any technical notes I can make for the future (analytics or coding)?

As I’m clicking around I also like to make note of these things:

~ Randomly view source to see if the javascript tag for the web analytics tool is there. You just want to spot check if the tool is there (for GA just do View Page Source and Ctrl F and ga.js).

I do not encourage you to do to this until much, much later, but you can use a web analytics site audit tool for more thorough checking. But don’t do it now. Don’t get sucked into technical implementation hell just yet.

~ Things that might hinder SEO.

For example: Link text – is it descriptive? URL structures – are they clean (as on Credit Karma) or a jumble of technical gibberish (as on )? Exit links – are they wrapped in javascript (can’t be read by search bots) or clean? How clean is the link structure? These and other such small things are both a task list and a sign of how savvy the company is when it comes to SEO.

~ When I click on various external ads (search, display, YouTube), I also take a quick peek at the URL window to check for campaign tracking parameters. So important to have them.

~ Make note of windows that pop up. If they are links to the company’s blog or their ecommerce/travel reservation/lead gen platform, is it on the same domain or a different domain?

Latter means tracking challenges, technical nightmares.

~ If they have an internal site search engine, and in this day and age it is criminal not to, then I do a quick search and see if my query shows up in the url stem. For example, on this blog it would look like this:

This would be awesome. The “s.” It means we can configure it in Analytics in two seconds (no IT begging involved) and start doing amazing internal site search analysis .

If the parameter does not exist… well, then IT begging will be mandatory. 🙂

Remember. You are not a technical implementer or a javascript tagger – two valuable roles. You are an Analyst. Your primary objective should be data analysis and finding insights. So the first five questions and the answers you’ll find are your focus area. The sixth is a gift you can give the javascript tagger/technical implementer in your company.

That’s it. My humble attempt at sharing with you everything I know about avoiding the single biggest mistake Digital Analysts/Marketers make: Execute their jobs without a clear business purpose.

If any of the above makes you feel that I hold data secondary and understanding what data is in service of first then I’ve succeed in my mission with this post.

As always, it’s your turn now.

What are the approaches you use to identify business purpose? Do you dive into the data first, and still find insights without doing the above mentioned five investigations? Is there a strategy outlined above that you feel works better than others? What are your favorite low hanging fruits to fix for a digital business?

Original POST

Analytics? Let’s defer to Avinash Kaushik

Want to get up to speed on the world of digital analytics relatively quickly? Follow Avinash Kaushik‘s blog Occam’s Razor. He writes and speaks on analytics in way that is easy to grasp and you can start implementing some great ideas right away. Here’s a recent post:

Speed, Focus, Smart Insights: 5 Google Analytics Custom Reports FTW!

SplitsStandard reports stink. Custom reports rock!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are quite familiar with this sentiment. I’ve expressed it often. 🙂

The primary reason is simple: You are unique. Your business is unique. Why would a report created for everyone work for the special someone that you are?

There are other great reasons as well.

Custom reports allow you to deeply focus (by eliminating the rif-raf metrics and dimensions, they save time and show just what you want). When shared, custom reports allow you to deliver deeper relevance. Custom reports allow you to package up entire datasets for deeper analysis.

I’ve shared a whole bunch of custom reports in the past. You can download them into your Google Analytics account via one click (along with some lovely Advanced Segments and a Dashboard). Just go to the GA Solutions Gallery and click Import: Occam’s Razor Awesomeness.

You can download a bunch more, that are not yet in the bundle above, by following the links at the end of this post. Seven more! The include single custom reports that replace all/most current standard reports in GA on Mobile, Content, Paid Search and Acquisition. Your life will be simpler. Grab the above, then grab the ones at the end of this post.

Today, I want to share a few of my recent favorites that solve day-to-day challenges in clever ways.

But, before we go there I want to share an important concept. Many custom reports are wrong because we mess up the fundamental data model in analytics. We mis-align metrics and dimensions across Users, Session, Hits. If you want to create accurate custom reports (or apply advanced segments), this post is mandatory reading: Excellent Analytics Tip #23: Align Hits, Sessions, Metrics, Dimensions!

With that life-lesson out of the way, here are the super-cool custom reports that truly unlock the power of Google Analytics…

If you use Adobe or IBM or… you’ll find these concepts to be extremely relevant. They all allow you to create deeply custom reports, so just recreate them there. If your digital analytics tool does not allow you to create these types of reports, ditch it before it gets you fired!

In each of the above five amazing custom reports, you’ll learn various techniques – how to create a flat report, how to use filters, how to create micro-ecosystems of data, just get cool visualizations you can in PowerPoint, etc. – and you’ll have a link you can click on to download the report directly into your Google Analytics account.

Here we go….

1. Hostname [Domains with your GA code]

This report demonstrates the power of getting something out of Google Analytics that you might know exists there.

There are many metrics and dimensions in GA that are hidden because they are not in any standard report.

I suffer from the problem that tons of people scrape the content from this blog and repost it as if it were their own. Silly problem (and an ineffective strategy for the scrapers). I was worried that if they scrape the content from my blog, they likely scrape my GA code as well and now I have polluted data!

There is a simple way to understand the impact, create a custom report to draw out an otherwise hidden GA dimension: Hostname.

Here’s my custom report…

hostname custom report google analytics

I wanted to capture how many sessions and users were being “added,” I wanted to know their bounce rate (ha!), and some sense for how deep the engagement might be on their site (as I have set up some behavior goal-types on my GA account and also, hurray, assigned goal values!).

Here’s the resulting output… a simple and effective report that caused me to step off the ledge…

hostname custom report data google analytics

So, yes, people are scraping content. It is not a big deal.

So the Sessions and Users numbers are tiny – completely ignorable. (This is why I think it is such a distraction to have Analysts wrap themselves into a pretzel and spend a ton of time and custom coding to “eliminate internal company traffic.” Look, just grow the pie, just do better marketing. Make the internal traffic so small that you can ignore it!)

I’ll admit it hurts a bit that their bounce rates are so much lower than mine. 🙂

On a serious note, some of these values are ok. For example, shows users who are reading the blog via Google Translate and are likely non-English speakers. If this number is big, consider providing translations. Just check each source to see if you need to be worried. And, in my case even if the number are 10x more, I would not really worry in context of the 1.2 million overall Visits.

Custom Report Download: Just grab the Occam’s Razor Awesomeness bundle, the report is in there.

Bonus: There’s lots of goodness that is hidden in Google Analytics. Explore here: Dimensions & Metrics Explorer

2. Social Media Performance Analysis

This report demonstrates the power of custom reports to reduce the time you spent hunting and gathering.

Let’s say you want to analyze your social media performance. At the moment you will have to go to the Acquisition folder, and at the very minimum look through all these reports to pick out the best bits…

google analytics acquisition reports

That’s a lot of stuff, right? The All Traffic folder has Social spread out in Channels, Treemaps, Source/Medium and likely in Referrals. In the Social folder you’ve got lots of other stuff (which might be un-tied to All Traffic), that you likely need some time to internalize.

For most people, you don’t need all this digging around. You can create one destination where you, and everyone in your company, can wallow in the trough that is social data!

I call reports like this one micro-ecosystems. It brings together everything you need in one place. (There’s a Paid Search micro-ecosystem you can download at the end of this post.) We have three tabs of data. The first one gives you the overall end-to-end picture (Acquisition – Behavior – Outcomes). The second one will focus on analyzing content performance on our site from Social traffic. The third one will be on device analysis (because of our hypothesis that so much of Social consumption is mobile!).

Here’s what the first tab, ABO, looks like in the configuration mode…

social media custom report definition

Always, always, always, no matter what you report, ensure you have acquisition, behavior and outcome metrics. You’ll see all three above.

I want to know what Social Network people are coming from. I want to know Users (valiant imperfect effort at people!) and how often each User comes (acquisition metrics). How much content they are consuming (I use session duration only on rare occasions due to time imperfections) and do they get what they were looking for are go hunting (behavior metrics). Finally, what value was delivered to my business (even for a non-profit such as myself, an outcome metric).

To aid further discovery, I’ve created a drilldown for country to optimize my social participation.

Do notice the clever use of the filter (Social Source Referral Exact Yes) above. I want to give the Google Analytics team big love for this life saver. It was deeply frustrating to keep track of social networks (they come and go every day!). Now with Social Network dimension and Social Source Referral filter, you don’t have to worry about it. Uncle Paul is keeping track of it on your behalf! Give him a hug next time you see him.

Here’s the delightful report…

social media custom report ABO

I can easily see all the sources I would expect, and some I did not expect. Again, this is thanks to Uncle Paul’s clever mappings. I can see that Pocket drives most repeat visits, and people are most curious (5% internal search rate). They are also delivering the highest Per Session Goal Value.

I’ve never expressed much engagement with Stack Exchange (or Quora), clearly a mistake I need to rectify.

It also confirms some truths I already knew, Twitter and LinkedIn. But I have stronger numbers for some metrics, but it is clear I can do more to increase the Per Session Goal Value. (I would do that by creating advanced segments for, say Quora and applying that to my Goals Overview report and comparing it with Twitter and LinkedIn.)

Before I go there, I can click on the network I’m most interested in and see where the traffic is coming from…

social media custom report ABO country

There are huge differences for me between Twitter and Facebook. Insights I will use to shift my participation on both channels.

Such a simple collection of metrics and dimensions, such lovely immediate insights.

The second tab is more fun. We always worry about our tweets and posts and reshares when it comes to Social. We don’t analyze what people are interested on our site (mobile or desktop) enough. So, here’s the tab configuration…

social media custom report content analysis

I’ve switched the dimensions so that I look at the Landing Page first, and then drill down to which Social Network is most effective. For metrics, I’ve chosen Unique Pageviews and Pageviews (remember pages are hit level metrics, don’t pick Users and Sessions, they are session level dimensions). Then Page Load Time and Bounce Rates – interesting contrast, right? Finally for outcomes I’ve picked Page Value (remember, it is imprecise to measure session level metrics like conversion rate, goal completions, for hit level dimensions like pages).

Here’s the gorgeous beast…

social media custom report content analysis data

First, look at the contrast between Page Load Time and Bounce Rate. Even accommodating for the fact that Page Load Time is sampled and could always be measured better, there is a lot of goodness here. Work for me to think about and my IT Team (one person 10% of the time!) to action.

The thing I’m most surprised about is the long tail of Social interest. I now write once a month, so much of the stuff above is old. This is a good reminder. Most Social strategies consist of spamming the fresh and moving from fresh to fresher to freshest. Forgetting the truth above. The value in monetizing the old (and still relevant and valuable).

It is also clear above that certain types of content delivers higher value outcomes for my little business here. That in turn will help me figure out what to amplify using social channels. Fewer Google Analytics posts, more broad marketing and business consulting posts! Goodness. I should stop writing this one. 🙂

Tactical and strategic insights. Lovely.

I can also then drill down specifically and optimize for each Social Network by clicking on any of the posts above…

social media custom report content analysis data detail

A new layer of insights.

It should not matter that my insights and guidance above are for a content site and you have an ecommerce website. On Social we create content (hopefully that informs, entertains, provides utility – my mantra for social success). You can use the same process, for your hardcore ecommerce money making venture, to identify actionable insights.

Lastly, remember the hypothesis that most Social consumption is mobile?

I have a tab called Device Analysis to help me dive deeper into people’s behavior by device when it comes to Social, here are the ABO metrics…

social media custom report device analysis

Turns out that at least for me, the prevailing wisdom is not true. Yes, mobile, mobile, mobile and mobile. I hear you Gurus. But, my report does not bear that out. I need to ensure my social strategy is Desktop, Phone and then Tablet (I have to admit this small number was a big surprise).

This will influence the content I’ll write (length, type, images, etc.), and it will influence the promotion I might do using advertising options (for example, as Edgerank chokes all of us, I buy ads on Facebook to share my content, above data helps me target that better).

My Device Analysis report has a built in drilldown. Just pick the platform, click. Here’s the report for Mobile…

social media custom report device analysis detail

It was really fascinating to see the goal completions and conversion rates for Apple vs. Samsung. They did not go with what the prevailing wisdom was. If I were a real business I would use these insights in my ad-targeting strategies. But, I’m too poor (other than FB above), so this report is just for demonstration purposes for me. You can, and should use it though as a part of your Social Media Marketing strategy.

Custom Report Download: Log into your GA account, click: AK: Social Media Performance Analysis Report

Bonus: The very best use of custom reports is when you apply relevant advanced segments to them. This is how you find really rich insights. For example, I found it extremely useful to look at the broad cluster of Social Traffic and contrast it with Users that became Loyal to the website…

social media custom report advanced segments

A much smaller number than you might expect, but these are golden people to me, a part of theavinash army of analysis ninjas! I learn from what works for them, and try to get more of them.

I would not get to this if I did not use advanced segmentation.

3. Business Outcomes Analysis

This report demonstrates the new amazing metrics in Google Analytics, thanks to Enhanced Ecommerce, and the new wonderful ability you have to understand the business outcomes delivered from all those cookies/visitors/users.

All you people (like me) with non-ecommerce websites, hang in there. See the second tab below, that’s for you. We’ll come back to it. Patience padawan!

I don’t like having more than six or so metrics (as you’ve seen above, and will below). Humans and only take so much in at one time. But in this case, more to demonstrate the power, I’m going to go a bit overboard.

For my ecommerce business, I’ve chosen my acquisition, behavior and outcome metrics…

google analytics business outcomes analysis ecommerce

We start with Users. So far so good. Deep breath.

The first new metric is Buy-to-Detail Rate, it measures the number of products purchased per number of product-detail views. I love this, and think of it as an efficiency metric. (Do you know what % of Sessions contained a Product Detail page view?) Product Adds to Cart and Product Checkouts are just what they imply. Clever new behavior metrics.

Ecommerce Conversion Rate, Transactions, Average Order Value and Revenue are buddies you already know so well.

I worry that Analysts are way too locked into Adobe or Google Analytics’ monthly view and rarely look at longer term performance. Partly because the graph on top only looks at one metric (and that too over 30 days unless you change it, dang!).

Hence, the dimension I’ve chosen to look at is Month of Year. I want to compare my key metrics over time. I’m also using a new dimensions not enough people are using, Traffic Type, and of course finally, our long-time lover, Source/Medium…

google analytics business outcomes analysis ecommerce dimensions

My resulting report is so sexy, :), that I have to break it into two pieces to show you clearly in the limited pixels I have available here. You’ll see it all as one report when you download it below.

Here are my acquisition and behavior metrics. It would be super convenient if the team at Google would be so sweet as to actually say June-15, July-15, Aug-15, but we push on regardless. You can see the three months and the trend of the various key metrics…

google analytics business outcomes analysis ecommerce data1

Aug-15 is partial above, so that explains the low number. But, June is unusual. While we got lots of traffic in July, it was clearly irrelevant to the ecommerce business because the Buy-to-Detail ratio was significantly lower.

The other signal is the June’s much traffic also had higher Add To Cart and Checkouts.

Is grabbing as much traffic as you can all it’s cracked up to be? Maybe not.

Here’s the other half of the report (because I love you so much, I’ve added the Month dimension here manually)…

google analytics business outcomes analysis ecommerce data2

You can see the other end of the story here. So far in Aug we are either trending with the June numbers or doing better. Bodes well for this month. But, really calls into question what the heck were we doing in July!

It is rare that we look at all key metrics trended like this over time. Hence, I love the above report.

I can choose a month, July since I’m so curious now, and I can drill down to Traffic Type…

google analytics business outcomes analysis ecommerce traffic type

You can see the key metrics trended for each channel. You can clearly see the important patterns above (what the heck is going on with Paid Search and Display!).

The big difference for me was Referral, in contrast to the other month. And, now I have the capacity to drill down and look at the Source/Mediums for that Traffic Type…

google analytics business outcomes analysis ecommerce source medium

YouTube… I’m going to kill you! What the heck man! Why are you not selling stuff for me!!! Reddit, you’re up next.

(All kidding aside, YouTube is a See-Think channel, it is supposed to be bad at Do. More: See-Think-Do-Care business framework.)

I can compare and contrast and it took me only a very short amount of time to discover what was going on in July, and now I can fix it.

I want you to try and imagine how long looking through three levels of drilldowns across eight metrics and three months of data would take in standard Google Analytics report. Wait. That’s a waste of time. Download the above report instead.

Custom Report Download: Log into your GA account, click: AK: Business Outcomes Analysis

I’d promised to share a non-ecommerce version of the above report. And, here it is…

google analytics business outcomes analysis non-ecommerce

I’ve simply added a second tab to the ecommerce report.

I can’t use the same metrics, but I’ve kept the spirit alive in choosing my metrics as Users, Goal Conversion Rate, Goal Completions, Goal Value and Per Session Goal Value.

I dare you to be more obsessive about outcomes!

I’ve kept the dimensions exactly the same, because I’m recommending the same type of analysis as the above ecommerce version.

Here’s my beautiful report…

google analytics business outcomes analysis non-ecommerce-data

To make the non-ecommerce tab work you’ll need two things. 1. You’ll need to have identified goals for you site. (And if you have not, really, what are you doing on the Internet?) 2. You’ll need to have identified the economic values for those goals.

If you do, your report will be just as beautiful as mine above. And, you can do the same analysis that our e-com brethren are doing above. Including the relevant drill-downs to Traffic Type and Source/Medium…

google analytics business outcomes analysis non-ecommerce-data-referral

It is really, really cool that while serving the world with our content, we can also ensure that long term survival of our digital adventure.

Custom Report Download: Log into your GA account, click: AK: Business Outcomes Analysis

4. Campaign Cost Analysis

This report demonstrates something that will most likely won’t work for you, but something I desperately want you to care about if you want your business to really win. The reason your boss is not more in love with digital, dare I say, is what this report is demanding you do.

We usually measure the outcome of our web strategy using things like conversion rates and revenue. We just did that above!

But, that is just sales. What about getting closer to measuring profit? Or, at least revenue net of marketing or acquisition costs?

You’ll agree with me that that makes a lot of sense, right?

Yet, we rarely do it.

The problem is not the capability in the web analytics tools we have. The problem is our willingness to just do it.

Let’s establish that cost is important.

Here’s my custom report that helps my clients understand the truly end-to-end view of performance of their digital marketing campaigns…

campaign cost analysis custom report setup ecom

Except for the first one, I suspect you know the other metrics quite well. The first one is the one I’m most interested in.

The dimensions are Source/Medium, then we drill down to Campaign, and then by Device Category (as there are massive differences in performance once you get to Mobile and Tablets).

Here’s how the report looks like when you have all the data flowing in as it should…

campaign cost analysis custom report ecommerce

You can see how much money you spent, how often you showed up on the advertising channel, how many people ended up on your site, resulting in what number of sessions (Clicks and Sessions never tie, if they are close, just move on). Then you get to the interesting bits, focus on performance (Click-Through Rate), Cost-Per-Click, and Per Session Value.

The contrast between the last two are particularly important.

If you are paying $1.33 per visit to your site, is the value of $1.66 sufficient to deliver a net positive outcome? Especially, after accounting for your salary?

I kid a bit of course, but this is a deadly serious matter.

Most of the time, we don’t think about this carefully enough.

Notice the red arrow above. We only have cost data for 4.35% of the sessions. This is really poor because, in this case, over 35% of our traffic comes from Paid efforts (Email, Display, Social, Affiliates, etc.).

We can only answer smart questions about one: Paid Search.

This is shameful.

You can import cost data for all your Paid efforts into Google Analytics. For Email.For a billboard if you have cleverly added a url there. For Display. For Social. See an actual example of how to import non-Google ad data into GA.

Please invest the time in doing this. Your boss is going to love you infinitely more (because they will make decisions an order of magnitude smarter).

Custom Report Download: Log into your GA account, click: AK: All Campaigns: Cost Analysis: Ecom

I’ve also created a slightly tighter version of this report for non-ecommerce websites, because cost is important to all of us. As I’d mentioned above, I run some ads on Facebook to get FB to show my posts to more people who like my brand page on Facebook.

Here’s the report configuration…

campaign cost analysis custom report setup non-ecom

Just a bit more focused on the metrics side, with the same dimensions and drilldowns.

Here’s the report from a non-ecommerce blog, who uses email marketing to stay in close contact with it’s Think and Care audience clusters…

campaign cost analysis custom report non ecom

The cost data for the email campaigns was uploaded into Google Analytics, and you can easily see how the end-to-end picture helps us understand the complete value that email marketing provides. Look at that CPC! Sweet.

You can get this type of data for all your campaigns, and I urge you to invest in that.

Custom Report Download: Log into your GA account, click: AK: All Campaigns: Cost Analysis: Non-Ecom

#5 Key Metrics: Map Overlay Visualization

This last report demonstrates using custom reports for purposes it was not really created for, creating a nice visualization.

I present a lot, internally and externally. Hence, my objective is to try and simplify the data presentation as much as I can. In aid of that goal, one strategy I use is to pull out the Map Overlay view in Google Analytics to show the data.

What do you think of this…

key metrics map overlay dashboard

There is such little space in this blog to see four different sets of data well. Yet, I bet you can see lots of interesting trends and patterns above. Pick the same states (dark ones or your fav state…) and look across. Interesting, right?

Here’s the most obvious one. Traffic is so lop sided (California and Texas), and yet Per Session Value and Avg. Session Duration is so much more diverse! Are we simply getting sub-optimal traffic from California? And, why not more from Nevada? And, what is going on in the middle of the country in terms of time spent? What is up with that square state, and why don’t they spend more money with us when they do spend time?

Really nice. And, no numbers.

Clearly, this is more for presentation (after you’ve already done the analysis, and have some of the answer above). But, in front of a group of people, your boss, perhaps it is all you need to move focus away from data and to shift it to having a discussion.

I snagged the four pictures above from a simple custom report I’d created for this purpose…

map overlay custom reports

I’ve used the Explorer report type in all reports above, in this case I’ve used the Map Overlay.

I’ve set the Zoom Level to Country, and set it as the United States. You can change both to your needs (World, Continent, Sub-Continent, Country).

I’ve further set the dimension to Region. Again, you can set it to your needs (Region, City, Metro).

This report is here so that you’ll make your own clever use of the Map Overlay, but also to inspire you to take away the data as much as you can when you are done with your analysis. Your job is to not impress people with your data, you job is to drive the discussion forward about what to do and what the business impact will be from those actions.

Custom Report Download: Log into your GA account, click: AK: KPIs: Map Overlay Visualization

Bonus: Speaking of data visualization, more inspiration for you: 7 Data Presentation Tips: Think, Focus, Simplify, Calibrate, Visualize and, the even richer and more amazing, Data Visualization Inspiration: Analysis To Insights To Action, Faster!

So there you go, five new custom reports (six actually) that I hope will bring a new layer of insights to your company, while speeding up the time it takes to get to those insights.

Custom reports are a powerful tool in your arsenal, I hope you completely ditch the standard reports and build your Analysis Ninja-dom on these micro-ecosystems.

As always, it is your turn now.

Do you have your favourite custom reports? The ones you can’t live without? If so, would you please be so kind as to share links to them below so that we can all benefit? What changes would you make to any of my five custom reports above to make them even more effective? What can I take away? What can I add? Is there a clever strategy you use that I have not?

Please share your custom reports, your suggestions, your critique and your lessons from the front-lines via comments below.

Thank you.

PS: As promised, here are seven more custom reports I’d shared earlier on this blog…

Download the Page Efficiency Analysis V2, Visitor Acquisition Efficiency Analysis, and Paid Search Performance Analysis reports here: 3 Awesome, Downloadable, Custom Web Analytics Reports

Download the Paid vs. Organic Search Performance, PPC Keyword/Matched Query, End-to-End Paid Search reports here: Google Analytics Custom Reports: Paid Search Campaigns Analysis

Download the Content Efficiency & Keyword Drilldown Ecommerce report here: Produce Actionable Insights: Mate Custom Reports With Adv Segments!

Original POST


The Ultimate Guide to 150+ Google Analytics Resources for 2015

Originally posted on KISSmetrics.

Are you ready to get the most out of Google Analytics? If so, we’ve collected the ultimate guide to over 150 Google Analytics resources you can use, including the top official Google Analytics channels, Google Analytics integrations, tools for Google Analytics, and articles about Google Analytics.

Official Google Analytics Channels

Stay up to date with the latest Google Analytics news, and get support when you need it via these official Google Analytics channels:

  1. Google Analytics Blog – The official Google Analytics blog for news and features updates.
  2. Google Analytics Help Center – The official Analytics Help Center where you can find tips and tutorials on using Google Analytics and answers to frequently asked questions.
  3. Google Analytics Developers – The Google Analytics developer platform provides access to the resources used to collect, configure, and report on user interactions with your online content.
  4. Google Analytics Product Forums – Use this group to ask and answer questions, search for existing answers to questions, discuss this product, and meet other Google Analytics users.
  5. Google Analytics Academy – Improve your Google Analytics skills with free online courses from Google.
  6. Google Analytics Training & Certification – Educational resources for users of Google Analytics and those who want to become Google Analytics certified professionals.
  7. Google Analytics Partners – Whether you need the help of an implementation or analysis expert, or you are looking for a turnkey solution for your business, Google Analytics technology and certified partners are ready with a solution.
  8. Google Analytics Solutions Gallery – This solutions gallery contains in-product solutions (such as dashboards, custom reports, and segments) to deepen your use of Google Analytics and accelerate your learning curve. Whether you’re a newbie or guru, they will help you learn more about your data through the power of Google Analytics.
  9. Google Analytics URL Builder – The URL builder helps you add parameters to URLs you use in Custom Campaigns. Then, when users click on one of the custom links, the unique parameters are sent to your Google Analytics account, so you can identify the URLs that are most effective in attracting users to your content.
  10. Google Analytics on YouTube – The official channel for all videos about and related to Google Analytics. Learn more about Google’s web analytics and online advertising products.
  11. Google Analytics on Google+ – Follow Google Analytics on Google+ for the latest news, tips, and trends from the Google Analytics team and friends.
  12. Google Analytics Academy on Google+ – The Google Analytics Academy provides a foundation for marketers and analysts seeking to understand the core principles of digital analytics and improve business performance through better digital measurement.
  13. Google Analytics on Facebook – Community page for Google Analytics. Please keep discussions on-topic. For customer service inquiries, please contact Google directly.
  14. Google Analytics on Twitter – News, tips & trends from Google Analytics.


Read the rest of the listicle HERE.