Posts Tagged ‘analytics tips’

Mar 18
2014

universal-analytics-thumb

Google is planning to roll out Universal to all Google Analytics accounts, and that might be a little scary. What does that mean for you?

Essential Guidance from an Early Adopter

E-Nor is proud to have had the opportunity to serve as early beta testers for Google Analytics Universal and also to partner with TiVo on a particularly interesting implementation of Universal to track the usage of their mobile app. We’ve also performed Universal implementations for a wide range of websites.

Since we have a little hands-on experience with Universal Analytics, we wanted to answer some important questions and outline steps you should be taking for a smooth transition. Below are some tips (along with a video from our principal consultant, Feras Alhlou) to make the migration a little more understandable.

Benefits of Migrating to Universal Analytics

Before we even get into the tips, what’s so great about Universal Analytics? Google has made some significant improvements in the evolution of analytics. For example, updates that might normally require changes in code can be done right from the Universal Analytics interface. Most notably, the system is evolving to support the multi-device/medium world we live in today – that is, tracking not only websites, but mobile apps and even allowing the import of offline data – so you can have a truly 360 degree view of all your engagement and marketing efforts.

While this post won’t explore the more advanced topics, the basic steps for Universal migration – outlined in the sections below (and in the video) – will allow you to take advantage of all features that Google Analytics Universal offers, now and in the near future.

1. Transferring your property to Universal Analytics Process Technology is DIFFERENT from upgrading your code.

As shown in our video, if you go to the admin section of your account, you may see a message from Google encouraging you to migrate your property. Also, under the settings for each property, you’ll see this:

universal-analytics-upgrade

This is simply asking you to upgrade your property to the Universal Analytics infrastructure. This will NOT affect your data. It’s just moving everything behind the scenes at Google to the new “processing technology”.

It might be a little confusing, but it’s necessary to understand that the Universal property transfer is different from upgrading your code and tags to Universal Analytics syntax, which eventually will be required. We’ll discuss that step later.

2. No immediate action is required (as of yet).

Although a full migration to Universal is recommended, you don’t actually have to take any specific steps for Universal right now. If you don’t upgrade your Google Analytics properties to the Universal infrastructure, Google Analytics will at some point do it automatically. However, if you want to go ahead, you can proceed by clicking the upgrade link in your property settings (shown in the picture above).

3. ga.js (Classic) tracking code will still work once my property is transferred to Universal (for now).

For now, ga.js will continue to track correctly, even if your properties have been automatically transferred to the Universal infrastructure. So your data will be fine and your tracking will still work.

Note: while Google Analytics may continue to support ga.js up to two years more, you don’t want to wait too long to upgrade your code to Universal Analytics, because at some point, ga.js will sunset and your data will no longer be recorded reliably.

4. You can replace ga.js (classic) with the analytics.js (Universal), but don’t forget some caveats!

You must upgrade your infrastructure for the new analytics.js code to work!
First, before you swap out ga.js for analytics.js, you must make sure to upgrade your corresponding Google Analytics property to Universal as described in tip 1 above. Although you can use the old tracking code with a Universal property (at least in the near future), you CAN’T use the NEW analytics.js tracking code with the CLASSIC infrastructure. Again, if you see the upgrade notice on the admin screen pictured above that says “transfer not started”, your property has not yet been transferred to Universal, so click on that and follow the steps if you want to use the new code.

If you initiate the transfer of your property yourself, you should wait 24-48 hours before switching to the analytics.js tracking code.

Update your tags’ syntax!
Also, at the same time that you switch to analytics.js, you must update any events, virtual pageviews, social actions, custom variables, and Ecommerce tracking that you have already coded for your site.

In the offsite link example below, an event is coded using Classic syntax:

<a href="http://www.anotherwebsite.com" onclick=" _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'link', 'offsite', this.href]);">Another Website</a>

For Universal, you would need to revise the event as follows:

<a href="http://www.anotherwebsite.com" onclick="ga('send', 'event', 'link', 'offsite', this.href);">Another Website</a>

5. Subdomain tracking is supported, but cross-domain tracking needs code revision.

The Universal tracking code supports subdomain tracking without any revisions; you can use the default tracking code on two or more subdomains, such as www.mysite.com and blog.mysite.com.
To track across different domains, you need to make separate tracking code revisions on the different sites. For details, see E-Nor’s Google Analytics Guide: Best Practices for Implementation and Reporting.

6. Google Tag Manager: Replace the classic tag with the Universal tag.

If you’re using a Google Analytics classic code in Google Tag Manager to track your website pageviews, you can simply switch to a Google Analytics Universal code. However, as mentioned, don’t forget to update any other Google Analytics classic tags, such as for events and Ecommerce, that you may have added to your Google Tag Manager container. Third-party tag management systems should also provide the option of upgrading your Google Analytics tags to Universal.

7. New Implementation? Don’t waste time – go Universal!

If you’re tracking a new website, don’t waste time! Either with the native Google Analytics tracking code or through Google Tag Manager, choose the Universal option and join your fellow Web analysts as we march into the next generation of tracking.

On the Horizon: Enable the Demographics and Interests reports in Universal

While the Demographics and Interests reports are currently available only in Google Analytics classic, they should soon become available in Universal as well, at which time you can follow the instructions provided by Google.

Download Our Universal Analytics ebook!

Thanks for checking out the article. Hope it helps.
For more on Universal Analytics, click here to download our free ebook.


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Feb 26
2013

browser-bar-google-analytics

What in the….? “Google Analytics” is a browser?!

(For the quick answer, skip to the “Conclusion” below…)
We ran into a confusing situation the other day with a client. They were getting traffic from a browser called “Google Analytics“. It threw us for a loop, because obviously, we’re familiar with Google Chrome, Firefox, the awesomeness of Internet Explorer (sarcasm), Opera, and Safari. Haven’t had the chance to use the Google Analytics browser though.

That’s cause there isn’t actually a Google Analytics browser as you might have guessed. So we were weirded out to see that in our reports. What does it mean when you see on your reports that a large number of visits are coming from “Google Analytics”?

Browser equals Google Analytics

Here’s what we figured out:

On a hunch, we decided to segment for mobile traffic only.
Google Analytics - Advanced Segment Mobile

The number of visits from the browser “Google Analytics” essentially didn’t change (the change was so minor, we could assume this was due to sampling). Thus, it looks like this traffic is pretty much mobile traffic.

Browser = Google Analytics - after mobile advanced segment

For this client in particular, they saw a spike of traffic that corresponded to this number. We asked if anything special happened around the time of the spike. They confirmed that they had recently launched a new version of their mobile app.

Need Help With Google Analytics? Click Here

Conclusion: The Answer Is…

After some more digging and testing, we concluded that when the browser says “Google Analytics”, it’s mobile app traffic! Apps using either the iOS or Android SDK for Google Analytics will report their usage under the browser “Google Analytics.” Not sure when Google will change that, but hopefully, that will help anyone trying to solve that mystery explain to their executives or clients where this traffic is coming from. One method of preventing this from happening entirely is to report mobile app traffic to an entirely different account than your web traffic.

Apr 11
2012

Google Analytics Site Migration Stress

If you have been around marketing and analytics for a while, you know that getting a solid reading of your analytics and optimization is a journey, not a destination. You understand that data is not clean, and 100% accuracy is not attainable. So I think the most we can ask for is to establish processes and educate people on how to keep things under control and still have faith in their data.

This post addresses practical analytics processes to maintain and improve the quality of your data when upgrading or redesigning a site, or migrating to a site/new content management system. While the examples in this post are Google Analytics specific, the approach is applicable to other analytics solutions.

The old adage of Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance is so very true here. Those 5 P’s can make a world of difference before a site migration or upgrade.

You definitely don’t want to end up with this scenario (no data)

Google Analytics Site Migration Issues

If you have done your analytics implementation right, you should have maintained different documents; a reporting/metrics doc (marketers) and a solution design or an analytics technical specs doc. In such documents you define what code to add, what custom tracking you are doing, where customization have been implemented, etc. When you plan to migrate or upgrade your site, it’s time to clean the dust off these documents and put them to work for you again!

Google Analytics Site Migration Goals

1- Site Migration/Upgrade Analytics Planning – Marketing

First of all, review your site goals, and ask questions such as:

  • What micro conversion am I tracking now and do you want to track on the new site?
    • Downloads
    • Video/multimedia user actions (play, forward, stop, etc.)
    • Have a new blog and I want to measure comment submissions
    • I really want to get an understanding of social interactions on my site
  • Are my macro conversions changing?
    • I didn’t have e-commerce, now I do
    • The site didn’t accept paypal/google checkout, but now we need to track it
    • I am using a marketing automation platform with tens of landing pages and lead capture forms. How do I want to see lead conversions in my reports?
  • Any custom segments that you track closely?
    • Your reports might include members vs. non-members segments, member classification, user segments, time-stamped user actions, content groups, etc. this type of data is typically available in your reports based on GA customization and need to be discussed with your technical team
    • Make a note of this type of data and ensure this customization is carried over to the new site
  • Third-party System Integration
    • Identify parameters you are passing to third party systems or integrations you’ve done CRM solutions (e.g. SalesForce.com), or other rich data integration work you’ve done (and rightfully got recognize for!)
    • Social: this post would be not as popular if it doesn’t have the word “social” :) . Look for how your are measuring your socially active users. You might be using GA’s social tracker natively or you might have integrated with AddThis or ShareThis
    • Mobile: if you, like many, are launching a mobile site, add your measurement plan for your mobile site to the to-do list. And don’t forget about any niche mobile analytics tools that you have previously implemented (and actively using)
    • In addition to your web analytics solution, review the long list of tags/pixels you currently have on your conversion pages such as AdWords conversion tracker and other pay-per-click tags, doubleclick, affiliate, or maybe a niche heatmap tag, or a phone tracking tag, or the testing code such as the Google Website Optimizer (and the list goes on and on, I know)
    • If you are using a Tag Management System (TMS), you’ll have less issues with migrating your tags, but then add an item on your to-do list to engage your TMS vendor and seek their support during the planning and implementation of your new site

Have your new or updated goals list ready and then reach out to your friendly webmaster/analyst/consultant to help you implement.

2- Site Migration/Upgrade Analytics Planning – Technical

Google Analytics Site Migration Profile Configuration

Sit down with your developer and go over:

  • Your standard GATC
    • In most cases, you’ll use the same GA account (same UA number). I have seen situations where clients prefer to start a new GA account altogether (with a new UA number) especially if the historic data is a bit messy and they want to have a fresh start
    • Any code customizations you have done
    • If your current site has sub-domains or you have cross-domain tracking, assess how the new site will be structured and if the domain/sub-domain structure will be intact or is changing
    • If you are using events or firing virtual pageviews, look for code updates necessary to maintain the same data collection method
    • If your URL structure and page naming convention is changing, document impact on:
      • Filters, Goals, E-commerce variables, Custom variables, Advanced segments (that your users are actively reporting on), Custom Alerts, Custom reports with filters, Dashboards with filters
  • URL Redirects: redirects are very useful and commonly used on websites. However, they are real culprits if not properly set up and cause all sort of issues such as breaking sessions, dropping parameters or linking to older posts. And while you’re at it, review your URL query parameters and decide what you want to exclude in your GA/Profile Settings.
  • Site Search (or Internal Search): if your internal site search has changed along with the site upgrade, then update the search query parameter in your Admin/Profile SettingsGoogle Analytics Site Migration Site Search

3- Post-Launch Analytics Validation – Technical

Webmasters & Developers

  • Ensure your GATC is on all your pages and then run your favorite site scan software
  • Ensure you are collecting data only from your production web properties. Look for development and staging environment domains. Review your hostname reports and filter out what doesn’t belong there.
  • Pay extra attention to key pages
    • Landing page/static pages that are not part of your site template
    • Conversion pages (thank you pages, form completion pages, e-commerce purchase complete pages, etc.)
  • Site Speed Report (under Content) will be your best friend after site launch. Look for Average Load Time, Page download time and other related metrics and spot any spikes and investigate root causes, with pages, server or redirection time

Don’t forget to plan your configuration changes across all your profiles and not just the main profile.

4- Post-Launch Analytics Validation – Marketing

One quick way to see the before and after is to set up a date range comparison (equal number of days, and days of week before and after launch), then monitor the following:

  • Audience
    • Run a quick report on traffic/key metrics/conversion by browser. Also, review your mobile traffic and behavior on various devices. If you see significant variances in any of your key metrics pre/post launch, let your designer and webmaster know immediately. The new site might be experiencing browser/device compatibility issues.
  • Traffic Sources
    • Look for new traffic sources that didn’t exist before (new self referring sources?)
    • Look for a sudden spike/drop in direct or referring trafficGoogle Analytics Website Redesign Compare to Past
  • Content
    • Review your Pages report, is the reported page names what you would expect to see?
    • Setup a report on your 404 page and have it emailed to you/your webmaster on a daily basis
    • Review your reports on any internal (on-site) campaigns
  • Conversion
    • Goals, e-commerce numbers look ok?
  • Automate
    • In our Analytics Reporting Framework, step #6 was about “automation” and automation comes very handy here
    • Set up Auto Alerts (intelligence) on all vital metrics
    • Look for abnormalities in your default alerts
  • Annotate
    • Do take a minute to add an annotation when the site goes live and include a meaningful description of major changes (page names, goals, etc.). Trust me, the person who comes after your will love you for helping them making sense of all these changes (when they come back few months down the road and no one is around to tell him what happened that day)
      Google Analytics Site Migration Annotation
  • SEO
    • It’s not uncommon that site migration has an impact on ranking and organic traffic. The idea here is to be aware of the changes and communicate findings with your SEO team so they can monitor and update as needed. Look for the Organic Traffic Report and drill down when you see issues.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Preparing yourself before updating your website will lead to less headache in the long run. By following these suggestions, your site will not only have that fresh new look you develop, but also have the functionality for ease-of-use for visitors and the ability to track the necessary data for you.

PS. Proper planning for a site migration includes SEO considerations and PPC considerations, content and many technical aspects but that’s something I’ll leave for another time (and probably to someone else)!

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