Background and Industry Implications:
Google Analytics has launched several new products over the past quarter that can offer significant benefit to clients. To utilize each product, the site must implement the Google Analytics code, which is free.
In September Google Analytics did away with its 24-hour waiting period, so results are now available in real time. Initially clients had to opt in with an additional download, but as of November this is available to all. This is especially relevant in time-sensitive and/or crisis periods, such as during the launch of a product, a world event that spurs interest, a new indication, or a recall.
In October the company previewed Google Flow, available now, which brings all available analytics into one easy-to-read format. Previously analysts had to dig for much of the information that is now available at one click, including origin of referrals, time spent on individual pages, and bounce rate.
In early December Social Data Hub was launched, allowing marketers to see how their content is shared on select social networks; unsurprisingly this (at press time) includes Google+ but does not include Facebook or Twitter (full list of participants here.) While marketers will still need to employ a social listening service for a fuller view, Social Data Hub allows a snapshot of some brand interaction on social sites.
In years past it was more difficult to base goals on actionable metrics and measurement was limited to those such as site visits, page views, time spent, etc. With newer functionalities such as real time reporting and visitors flow, CMI is able to take more immediate steps towards optimizing campaigns, as well as steps towards more insightful, conversion-based optimizations. This allows enhanced tracking of customer interaction with our brands in easy and cost effective ways. For example, visitors flow does a great job of visualizing how people move through a website, what content they consume and what pages engage visitors. Although this is technically available in the older “goals funnel” report, what is great about the visitors flow is that it does not require setting a specific action as a goal in order to utilize the tool. Additionally, it is able to handle very large data sets, laying it out in a consumable fashion that can more easily show strengths and weaknesses of digital campaigns. This information is very useful for marketers and analysts.
Given that Google Analytics is free, these changes are significant and make it a very powerful tool. They even provide capabilities that paid site analytics platforms do not offer. We believe that, based on client need, Google Analytics can now serve as the exclusive platform for site analytics. It also can provide–at no additional cost–further insights by supplementing other paid platforms that may be in use on a site. Once implemented, an action plan for setting up conversion goals should be created, allowing for the eventual modification of keywords, banner campaigns, or site attributes based on findings. Overall, Google Analytics should assist with action based learnings, in a much quicker timeframe than ever before.