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Key Takeaways from Evolve with Google Analytics

Published: October 8, 2014

Author: Caitlin Halpert

While the turnout was small at Evolve with Google Analytics, hosted this week at Boston’s World Trade Center, the content was incredible and led to great conversation within the intimate group of attendees. We were also fortunate enough to share the convention space with eMetrics and Predictive Analytics World, which provided a greater opportunity to share ideas.
The biggest takeaways from the event came up multiple times across sessions and fell into one of two categories. I’ve recapped these learnings below. Hopefully this will spark some ideas and inspire you to learn more to better use Google Analytics for your business.

Plan your upgrade to Universal Analytics if you haven’t already.

Universal Analytics is going to replace classic analytics as some point in the future, so it’s best to get on the bandwagon now and enjoy the benefits early. UA requires fewer customizations to enable all features and will be the implementation that supports upcoming GA features. Here are some great tips from all of the speakers at Evolve:

a.     Involve developers early in the process since they will be essential to the proper implementation

b.     Plan the entire implementation before starting

i.     Know what your goals are and how GA will help you measure those goals

ii.     Consider upgrading to Google Tag Manager at the same time. You will already be placing new code, so consolidate as many dev steps as possible

iii.     Plan on integrating Enhanced eCommerce and custom dimensions if applicable

iv.     Consider how you can integrate offline actions from any internet-enabled device using Measurement Protocol

c.     Don’t forget about the impact on event tracking – classic GA event tracking will not mesh with UA

d.     Don’t feel rushed; the transition can be slow. If you’re uneasy about flipping the switch, you can always run both codes in parallel until you’re ready to pull the trigger

Always be testing & remember that GA data can help support your tests.

e.     Set testing goals based on GA data

f.      Prioritize different tests based on impact and create a schedule to avoid ad hoc tests

g.     Include qualitative data with Google Analytics’ quantitative data. By combining usability studies, user surveys, heat maps, etc., you’ll better inform the direction of your testing as you get to know your customers

h.     You should have learned something even if B doesn’t mean A. There’s no such thing as a failed test, only a failed hypothesis

i.      Apply learnings to other pages/sites, etc. within the company and to future tests. Just because simplified landing pages are better generally doesn’t mean that a stripped-down version of YOUR landing page will perform better

j.      Lastly, conversion rate is only a part of the picture. Long-term revenue improvement is typically going to be more telling, so a lower conversion rate that overall increases orders/revenue (via repeat visits) should be more than acceptable. The bottom line is this: don’t confine yourself to a single metric that may be missing a piece of the puzzle.

Beyond these two big ideas, here are some great tips and tricks I picked up from the expert speakers:

Google Analytics tips

·       Use a URL with a unique utm_campaign code to test implementation of different tracking on key pages by reviewing real-time reporting while performing the actions you are testing

·       Create at least three account views: Unfiltered, Test, Reporting. You’ll always have a consistent data set in your unfiltered report, and you can avoid polluting your Reporting profile by testing and perfecting any changes before implementing

Google Tag Manager tips

GTM has incredible benefits by decoupling tagging from the development cycle and allowing for flexible control within your department.

·       Place the container code after the opening <body> tag

·       Generate your tags. Remember to apply firing rules and publish the new code

·       Check implementation via real time (See above)

Many thanks to all the presenters this year, especially Feras Alhlou and Eric Fettman of e-Nor, Mike Bradbury of Randstad US, Matt Stannard of 4Ps Marketing, Judah Phillips of SmartCurrent, Bobby Hewitt of Creative Thirst, Justin Rondeau of WhichTestWon, and Justin Cutroni of Google. I hope to see you next year at Evolve with Google Analytics!

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