With the new iPhone 4 release last week, there was much fanfare and publicity around the whole world for the fruit-themed company’s latest and greatest product. For most people, they truly enjoy the slick ease of use for basic mobile phone functionality, for others they want it because everyone else has one, and for a minute few it’s used to its complete potential and appreciated fully for what it’s capable of doing. This is the same for Google analytics.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool; now how powerful it is to you depends on how/why you use it. In the majority of cases, Google Analytics is setup as its thought of being a good thing to do, allowing a view for stats and metrics such as number visits, bounce rates average time on site etc. Now this isn’t a bad thing, as the easy access nature these stats are presented in and the straightforwardness (never used that word before!) of the interface is great, but what do you do once you’re aware of these metrics and what do they exactly mean to you? How do you react to a spike in traffic? Can you identify where it’s come from, what the impact has been on revenue or why it happened?
Now Google Analytics has an array of features that has made it a very competent contender in the Web analytics arena when up against the highly advanced (and expensive) analytics suites such as Omniture.
One of the easiest to use features is the Intelligence feature, which highlights notable irregularities, both positive and negative, in your site’s daily/weekly/monthly metrics in Analytics. This feature crunches mass raw data in the account in seconds that flag up specific fluctuations that are noteworthy; you can also adjust how sensitive the alerts should be. Now this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can go ahead and set up custom alerts, so as to alert you when for example a specific traffic source/visitor type and gone above or below a certain threshold e.g. facebook visits to your site has gone above X visits or X sales.
The more obvious popular features for online retailers is the ‘funnel visualisation’, but it’s still surprising the number of eCommerce sites that don’t have such an invaluable function being utilised to see if and where customers are dropping out through the checkout. There is also the ability to create custom advanced segments, now this can be set be dimension or metric, (think viewing statistics for a particular source i.e. Affiliates). Now this is extremely powerful, it allows you to cut the data any which way you like, to identify how and what is truly going on with specific activity that is driving traffic to your site.
For most, not all features will be needed where others are simply not aware of what it is capable of (much like the new Multi-tasking for the iPhone) as every users needs are different, but it is always helpful to try and identify how these resources available to you can help in decision making.