How do you make web analytics easier? That's a question the web analytics community discusses on an almost daily basis. Google has answered the question 2 ways. First, by creating Google Analytics and giving it away for free. Second, they announced last week's eMetrics summit that a new, beta version is being slowly rolled out to users.
Should I Care?
Based on my experience with WebTrends, Omniture, ClickTracks, NetTracker and Google Analytics (GA), I definitely think this is the slickest UI of any analytics program out there. It stands out for 2 key reasons:
- Improved "Findability" - We're all awash in data. The challenge for any tool is to present the data you need in as few steps as possible. The other challenge is to help non-technical people understand and use the tool. GA V2 automatically puts the report your looking at in context other relevant data and site averages. It helps you see data you should be looking at even if you didn't know you should be. As Google's Analytics Evangelist, and much beloved community member, Avinash Kaushik put it the new version has improved "findability"
- Greater Context - As anyone who has had a paid search campaign canceled after one week of bad results knows, it's important to surround data with the appropriate context (trends, averages, marketing events, seasonality, etc.). GA V2 automatically provides sparklines that place whatever data you are looking at in a graph that shows that data over the past month. It's no substitute for analysis and statistical considerations, but it's a nice safeguard against knee-jerk reactions to metrics.
So the question is...
Is It Perfect?
Far from it. GA V2 is mostly a cosmetic upgrade with the addition of some functionality that most analytics tools already have. I definitely don't underestimate the value of improved UI, but Google can still do more to live up to their claim that this is an "enterprise" level tool, especially:
- The ability to import PPC data from other engines
- A section to put in context for notable events
- Dashboard sharing
- Greater out of the box segmentation
What Else Is There? Where Can I Learn More?
I'll be highlighting more about analytics in general through examples with Google Analytics V2 and critiquing Li's own use of analytics for SearchMarketingGurus :-) I've listed some of the other features below. The Google Analytics tour is a good way to learn about the new version. I should warn you, people get mesmerized by demonstrations and think it's a solution to all of their measurement woes. Remember, it's more about how you use the tool and who helps you use it.
Do you have a breaking interactive marketing strategy or web analytics story? Skype me at alexc360