Analytics users — pretend like GA costs you money, try and get some ROI

Every morning a huge swathe of London’s commuters pick up their free copy of the Metro. They flick through the adverts and maybe read a few articles, and then leave it on the floor. As a free paper, it’s great — but people will ditch it as easily as they pick it up, because it didn’t cost them anything.

If something is free, people don’t expect a lot from it. It’s the same with GA.

Either they don’t expect any value, or — worse — they suddenly see meaning in stuff they never heard of before (and they don’t know what it means..) — People install GA, and suddenly become all about bounce rate. Or maybe they browse around a bit, and they’re like ‘Oh my returning visitor percentage is really low that’s bad’. Sometimes they dig reeeaaallly deep and start freaking out that the content form on their website has the worst exit rate of anything.

You see, many people seem to view Google Analytics as a piece of code you put on your website, which gives you access to a set of reports accessed via

I guess you could say it is, the same way as you might say a Ferrari is an Italian car you leave parked in your garage.

Google analytics is a powerful tool for capturing a huge range of information about the usage of your website, app, or device.

For free, you get a huge tool kit that allows you to collect and analyse huge quantities of data, rapidly. A tool that integrates with hundreds of tools and apps, many of which are also made by Google and are also free.

It’s hugely customisable, and lets you do amazing & cool things that are really technically quite hard without it. Like capturing detailed information about specific user interactions, and just ad-hoc exploring the data with rich visualisations and correlating it with other behaviour — and launching ad campaigns and making website personalisations on the back of it.

Why am I saying this?

Two kinds of people think they get GA when they don’t.

  • Marketers, who say they have ‘very good’ understanding of GA, when they don’t have the faintest idea. (Sad thing is, you probably don’t know who you are)
  • Business owners who sense that they need to look at reports in GA and come up with actions on the back of them…

A bit more on that second one — so many times I’ve seen people look at metrics in Google Analytics and work out what it means for their business. That’s upside down thinking. You need to think ‘what metrics are meaniningful for my business, and how can I get them — and how can I do it totally for free at the same time’. The answer, is Google Analytics + customisation!

I guess the problem with GA, is that it’s free. People don’t think to question it enough. If a business was paying for an analytical tool, maybe they’d try and get some ROI out of it.

Business owners — pretend like GA costs you money, and ask yourself — “how can it make me more money?”

Where can I begin?

You could think about what you want, but you still need to learn how to do it, and I really don’t reccomend you go try to learn everything all at once.

Ask yourself — what metrics are meaningful for my business.

Try Googleing some things, or here’s a nice example:

# Of users per page — This guy wanted something GA didn’t have, and explains how easy it was to add it.

(I’ll try and add some more later.