The Perfect Google Analytics Dashboard

perfect-1 Analytics

Michael Wiegand Apr 5 2012

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Building dashboards is a big to-do for any marketing professional. The temptation is to cram it full of juicy data and a novel worth of narrative explaining said data.

Well, you shouldn’t. Trust me. There is such a thing as the perfect dashboard. And I’ve already built it for you.

The Anatomy of the Perfect Dashboard

I get the skepticism, I really do. But hear me out.

A good dashboard should:

  • Inform on business health quickly,
  • Make time comparison easy,
  • and Encourage deeper investigation.

To do this, you’ll need 5 key elements.

1. Bottom-Line First, Always

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The amount of Revenue (or Leads) should be the first thing seen. Always.

All for-profit businesses are in this to make money.

2. Path to the Bottom-Line

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Under your most important metric, show how you achieved that metric.

To do that, you’ll need to demonstrate:

  • Customer Engagement
  • Customer Acquisition & Retention
  • Customer Volume
  • Customer Conversion

The funnel above does exactly that. You know you made $394k in Revenue. But how did you get there? This funnel tells you how, precisely.

That Revenue was generated from:

  • 411k Pageviews (Engagement)
  • during 75k Visits (Acquisition & Retention)
  • from 57k Visitors (Volume)
  • leading to 2k Sales (Conversion)

3. Clearly Visualizing Growth

Google Analytics visits and revenue report

Beyond the key bottom-line metric, you also need a visual timeline to demonstrate growth (or lack thereof).

Aside from being the lone piece of eye-candy in the dashboard, it clearly helps you understand:

  • How Days of the Week affect traffic and revenue
  • How Weeks of the Month affect traffic and revenue,
  • and how Months of the Year affect traffic and revenue.

Understand the timing and seasonality aspects of your business through this timeline.

You can also demonstrate growth in specific channels:

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4. Show Detail Sparingly

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This is where most people get in trouble with dashboards.

How much detail should I surface to the top?

Knowing which keywords and referrals are most vital to your site is nice, but this isn’t an FBI mission briefing, it’s a dashboard. Show just enough detail to encourage further investigation.

I’ve found 7 to be the magic number here.

A top 5 won’t change much from month-to-month. And a top 10 will lull you into thinking you have more of the big picture than you do.

7 splits the difference nicely: enough consistency to show important trends and enough variance to warrant deeper investigation.

5. A Brief Glimpse at Content

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Discovering how good (or bad) your landing pages are can be very beneficial.

It’ll give you a better sense of how folks find you and how sticky the site’s core pages are once they arrive.

I like to exclude homepage here.

Download the Perfect Dashboard

Now that you know the rationale behind the dashboard, give it a shot!

Get the Perfect Dashboard Now:

The Perfect Dashboard for E-Commerce Sites

The Perfect Dashboard for Lead Generation Sites

Configuring the Perfect Dashboard

Despite the simplicity of design, there are a few housekeeping items to attend to when you first load these dashboards in your profile.

Here’s a short tutorial video on configuring the dashboard:

There is a hidden form on this page that contains values From the GA tracking
cookies. Click the button to show the extracted values.









tags : dashboardsgoogle analytics

25 Comments

  1. Thank you thank you thank you!

    This is exactly what I needed right now.

    I don’t know if you can answer this but, can you say which niche/market this site is in?

    I think it’s interesting that none of its top pages have more than 1 minute time spent on page. Is that low to you?

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      This site is a bedding retailer, Jordan. Light on long-winded content, big on browsing and products. So under a minute on page isn’t necessarily a bad thing for them at all.

      Thanks for checking out the dashboard, sir!

  2. Michael,
    You outlined a great approach to dashboards. I also like Avinash’s recommendation to split the data in 3 columns by Traffic Acquisition (1 column), User Behavior (middle column) and Outcome (3rd column) = Revenue or conversion. It is not always applicable, but your tip of putting revenue on every dashboard is right on.

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      Hey, Lyena. Avinash is my hero. His approach is fantastic. That said, I tried to make this template universally applicable to hardcore analysts and interns alike.

  3. Awesome! This is super handy just for a 1 page summary for myself, maybe even for clients to use.

    I had one question though, I’m trying to separate the non-branded keywords into Organic and CPC, but this filter = ‘Only show’ ‘Medium’ ‘Exactly matching’ ‘CPC’ is only showing (content targeting) keywords. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      Hi Dan. Great question. If you’d like to match both Organic and CPC, just remove the medium filter altogether!

      Also, to get rid of (content targeting), (not set), (not provided), and the like, just add more values to the “Don’t show” keyword filter so it looks more like this: (brand 1|brand 2|brand 3|content|not). Make sense?

  4. Ankit

    Wonderful! Just add E-commerce conversion rate in left column to make best (it’s perfect now!).

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      Thanks for giving it a go, Ankit! Although I’m calling it the “perfect dashboard”, it’s really just a solid starting point, more than anything. If you find a metric important enough to your business to add to the left-hand column, go for it!

  5. You totally rock. I am embarrassed to say that I have not even SET up a dashboard yet because I figured that all the stuff I wanted to know, I should go inside… but look! One click, a few adjustments, and it’s done! I watched your video too. Thank you for that !

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      Thanks, Kristi! I was hoping this would be few-tweaks-and-go thing. Glad it worked out for you.

  6. Bryan

    LOVE IT! Thank you for the effort that you put into this. I was simply too lazy to set this up on my own and that’s a shame but again I thank you for your work. Hope to contribute something as useful back to you in the near future.

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      Cheers, Bryan!

  7. Nice dashboard. Really like your simple approach. Only issue I find is that its difficult when working with many clients to get the revenue part dialed in. This is awesome for an e-commerce site with conversion tracking – do you have a similar design/idea for content sites or those without an e-commerce capability?

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      You know, that’s a great idea, Will. I figured most sites would have at least rudimentary goals set up, which would make the Lead Gen dashboard totally applicable to them, really.

      But for publishers and other content sites, I see a few main differences needed:

      Increasing the size and prominence of the Top Landing Pages widget. So it’d show 10 or so pages, instead of 5-7.

      Time on Site would need to be worked into the left-hand column.

      Pageviews would end up becoming the bottom-line metric instead of Goal Completions or Revenue.

      Does that make sense?

  8. This has been the single most useful piece of information on creating effective dashboards for GA I have found.

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      Cheers, Anthony!

  9. Manny

    Very informative and share worthy. Thanks. I wonder how many would have done the dashboard correctly without using your links :))

    You got to love dashboards, custom reports and segments. Unfortunately I like so much to use custom reports that I use simply too many. Guess I’ll have to cut some off :)

  10. Taryn

    This is great. Came at the right moment while I’m tweaking my analytical dashboards. Thanx!

  11. brian

    Truly excellent post. Incredibly useful advice. I will add this to every site I work on! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Jack

    Iv’e been pushing off setting up my dashboard ever since Google Changed to the “new” analytic form. Finally decided to take the plunge and this just the perfect post I was looking for. Thanks!

  13. Haskel

    Dido that! Been trying to figure out this new system for the longest time. I googled the term “easy set up google analytics” and found absolutely nothing. A freind just sent me this link. Could not have een easier or better, great job! Thanks

  14. Neil

    Hi Michael many thanks for such a great blog post. Some really sound advice here.

    I was wondering how you’ve created the dashboard profiles as links as I’ve had to customise a few more widgets and need to apply this to multiple profiles. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Michael Wiegand

      Michael Wiegand

      Hi Neil,

      Make all the changes you need to the widgets. After you’re done, right under the dashboard title there’s a “Share Dashboard” button that will generate a link to a template styled exactly like the dashboard you’re looking at.

      Hope that helps!

  15. I am an illustrator / designer. I have just started learning about ga.There is so much information its rather overwhelming, but your article has helped a lot. My goals are to:
    1. See who is coming to the site and from where (Location and website)
    2. What page they clicked on first and what image is most popular
    3. How long they stayed and when / where they left

    The problem I am having is finding a way to track what pages and images they clicked on specifically.
    Would you suggest a different type of dashboard since I am illustrator or am I making it more difficult than it needs to be?
    Thanks for your help,
    Donnie

  16. Thank you for an excellent post.

    Before a huge fan of Google Analytics dashboards myself, I’m happy to see that others share my passion.

    I’ve recently published a number of my own dashboards on http://www.dashboardjunkie.com and the below dashboard is a variation of your above dashboard.

    http://www.dashboardjunkie.com/sales-cockpit-dashboard

    I think it’s important to include an “AdWords” widget as that is also a crucial part of what online businesses should be doing to attract business.

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