Ian Lurie // Jun 23 2011
It’s no secret I’m a Google Analytics fan. But Google Analytics version 5, coming soon to a browser near you, addresses some major shortcomings. Here are ten features you’ll want to check out, the moment they’re available:
Important note: This is a separate beta and is rolling out on its own. So you may have access to Google Analytics v5, but not to multi-touch attribution. Go here if you want to sign up for the beta.
This is the big one. The brass ring. The Big Woo. You can now track how different channels, like organic search and pay-per-click marketing, contribute to each conversion on your site. Until now, you could use first- or last-click attribution.
If you don’t know what this means, and the implications for marketing, read my 2-part post about attribution.
A simple example: I can do a quick Venn diagram showing how much different marketing types contribute to each other:
Why it’s good. You can finally show how SEO, PPC and other marketing efforts contribute to sales, leads and other stuff. SEOs will love it because they can show how SEO, which is often a first- or second-click driver, contributes to sales previously attributed 100% to PPC, which is often a last-click driver. And PPC-ers will love it because they can recommend increased budgets if/when PPC is assisting other channels.
Why it’s bad. It might make your brain hurt. Could force managers to learn math.
In the previous version, Google Analytics had a single dashboard. Now, you can create lots of dashboards. For example, you might show different data to different parts of your team, or create a dashboard that focuses on a single channel:
Why it’s good. You can customize Google Analytics for different clients/stakeholders.
Why it’s bad. Choice is not always a good thing. By the time you’ve created your 99th dashboard, you may want to kill Google.
Everyone should be using this feature, all the time. You can quickly add an advanced filter to any report:
Why it’s good. Zooming in on specific issues, keywords and other datapoints has never been easier.
Why it’s bad. May cause folks to use advanced filters as a shortcut, when custom reports will be more efficient long-term.
Add one line of code to your site and you can track the average load time, page by page:
Why it’s good. I’m obsessed with site speed. I care about this stuff. Seeing it in a report is a good thing.
Why it’s bad. I’m not convinced of its accuracy yet. Time will tell.
We have a lot of clients, and that means a lot of sites. Clicking through 10 pages of domain names was… annoying. Now, I can just type in the domain and zap, there’s my site:
That’s just one example. The reports search box has a nice type-ahead function.
Why it’s good. Keeps me from going insane.
Why it’s bad. No downside I can think of, actually.
Much of the navigation in Google Analytics v5 actually makes sense, and no longer makes me feel like I’m navigating through a chimp-infested jungle.
For example, click the little settings button on any page and you get (gasp) access to all profile-level settings: Advanced segments, Annotations, etc.:
Why it’s good. Fewer clicks is always good.
Why it’s bad. It’s yet another change to Google Analytics’ navigation structure.
Strictly nerd stuff here, but I love the fact that I can now set up a goal based on a previously-defined event. For example, I can now set a goal that fires when someone watches an entire video.
Why it’s good. It just is, ok?
Why it’s bad. It’s really, really hard to explain the difference between goals, events and pageviews to most clients. The reason—the distinction doesn’t really make sense.
You can now apply filters to custom reports, then save that as a new custom report:
You can also place multiple tabs in a custom report (which may have been available in v4, but I never noticed). And you can create a so-called ‘flat table report’, which then lets you drill down on multiple dimensions, metrics, combinations of both, etc. Want to see which operating system + search engine combination drives the most traffic? Go for it:
Why it’s good. This report type gives you more database-style access to Google Analytics.
Why it’s bad. Will further bury people overwhelmed by the amount of data and number of options.
Before you barf on your monitor at the mention of a keyword cloud, read a little further: Google Analytics v5 lets you create a keyword cloud based on visits, of course, but you can also create one based on, say, bounce rate, or average time on site:
Why it’s good. Create fast, easy visualizations for the c-suite, for yourself, or just for fun.
Why it’s bad. Doesn’t let you use metrics like conversion rate (yet).
I do have some pet peeves:
Regardless, Google Analytics version 5 is a huge step up. Multi-channel attribution alone makes it a must-have tool.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More