Monday, December 7, 2015

Unit 4 Collecting Actionable Data with Google Analytics-Lesson 4.5 Collecting Campaign Data

For each user that comes to your site, Google Analytics captures a number of attributes, or dimensions, about where the user came from. These dimensions are source and medium. The source is the name of the website that referred the user to your site. The medium is the mechanism, or how the user got to your site.

Google Analytics detects 3 default mediums without any customization:  organic, referral, and none.
Organic:  this represents traffic that comes from organic, or unpaid search results
Referral: any traffic that comes to your site from another site that is not a search engine
None: this medium is applied to users that came directly to your site by clicking on a bookmark or typing in your URLinto a browser.  (Source: Direct/Medium: None)

Link Tagging
Tracking social, email, and display campaigns in Google Analytics. Link tagging is adding extra information to the link that users click on to get to your site. This extra information that you provide is stored in campaign tags and overwrites the default categorization that would normally be assigned.

Campaign Tags

  1. Source 
  2. Medium
  3. Campaign
  4. Term (optional)
  5. Content (optional)
Link tagging is important in situations where you have multiple display ads. You want to know which ad is leading users to your site. One ad may have a tagged link and the other may not.  The ad without a tag will not display campaign information and the one that has been tagged will. If you don't tag ads properly this will lead to incorrect data in your reports. 

A helpful tool called the "URL Builder" can be found at  to help you build these campaign tags correctly. 

Unit 4 Collecting Actionable Data with Google Analytics-Lesson 4.4 Setting Up Goals and Ecommerce

Setting up goals in Google Analytics is one of the most important parts of implementation. Goals are the way we map the data in Google Analytics to the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you defined in your measurement plan. There are two types of conversions, macro and micro. Macro conversions are the primary business objectives. Micro conversions are the relationship building activities that lead up to macro conversions.

Once you have enabled goals, you will have the ability to view conversions and conversion rates. Different goals can be created for different views. There are 4 different types of goals: destination, duration, pages/screens per visit, and event. In a previous blog post I showed the setup of a destination goal.

Destination Goal: a page on your website that a user sees when they complete an activity.  For example, a thank you page, or a receipt page.
Event Goal: this triggered when a user does something specific. For example, downloading a PDF or viewing a video.
Pages per visit Goal:  triggered when a user sees more or fewer pages than a threshold that you specified
Time on site Goal:  triggered when a user's visit exceeds or falls below a threshold you set

Unit 4 Collecting Actionable Data with Google Analytics-Lesson 4.3 Setting Up Basic Filters

Filters can exclude data, include data, or change how the data looks. Filters help you transform the data so it's better aligned with your business' needs. Data you want to view should come from your customers and your potential customers, not your employees. By creating a filter, you can exclude traffic from your internal employees.

Filters can also be used to clean up the data. For example, sometimes a website will choose the same page regardless of the case of the url, uppercase, lowercase, or mixed case. Since Google Analytics treats data as case sensitive this can result in the same page showing up multiple times based on the case in your report. To prevent this separation, set up a lower case filter for all urls (lower, upper, mixed) to force all urls to a single case.

There are three parts to a filter, a condition, a field, and an action. Filters are divided into two categories: predefined filters and custom filters. Predefined filters are templates for some of the most common filters. Custom filters let you customize to fit any unique situation.

Filters are applied in the order they appear in your configuration settings. Filter order matters. Once you have created a filter it is added to your filter library, and can be reused. Remember to try any new filters on your test view first. This helps prevent mistakes and ensures that you understand the effects of the filter before adding it to your master view.

Unit 4 Collecting Actionable Data with Google Analytics-Lesson 4.2 Understanding your Account Structure

A Google Analytics account is a logical way to group data.  Configuration settings are applied to the entire account. Within each account you can have one or more properties that collect data. Each property is assigned a unique tracking I.D. that tells Google Analytics exactly what data should be collected, stored, and reported together.  An organization would typically create separate accounts for each unique business or distinct business units. Then you can create unique properties within that account for different websites, mobile applications, or other digital assets.

For each property, you have the ability to create multiple views.  "Views lets you define a unique perspective from a parent property." For example, you may want to create a separate view for specific geographic regions.  Google recommends having 3 views for each property:  an unfiltered view, a master view, and a test view.  *Warning* Once data has been processed, it cannot be reprocessed. Also, once a view is deleted it can only be restored within 35 days of deletion. This is why having a backup view, or the unfiltered view is important. One more note, once you create a view it begins reporting at the date of creation and does not account for any historical data that has previously been collected.

Unit 3 Understanding and Using Google Analytics Data-Lesson 3.2 Key Metrics and Dimensions Defined

This unit covers the types of data in digital analytics tools. Google Analytics is an analytics tool that records two common metrics:  Dimensions and Metrics. Dimensions describe characteristics of users, their sessions and their actions. Metrics are quantitative measurements of users, sessions, and actions. Metrics are numerical. Every report in Google Analytics will contain both dimensions and metrics. They are most commonly seen as a table, with the first column displaying a list of values for one particular dimension, and the rest of the columns displaying the corresponding dimensions.

A few of the common dimensions in Google Analytics are user, session, and interaction.  An example of a user dimension is a geographic location. An example of a session dimension is a traffic source. An example of an interaction dimension is an action a user takes on your site, it could be a page title. Metrics help you understand the behavior of your users. Metrics count how often things happen. For example, the total number of users on a website or app.  This would be considered an Audience metric. A behavior metric tracked is the average number of page views. This is calculated by the total number of page views divided by the total number of visitors, to give you a page view average. Google Analytics can also be configured to track conversion metrics, as I've discussed in a previous blog post.

The metric called Visitors or Users measures the number of unique users that visit your site during a specific time period. Visitors can be divided in to two groups, new and returning users. Sessions also known as Visits, are defined as a period of consecutive activity by the same user. A session persists until a user stops interacting for 30 minutes. This is the default session timeout length. This can be changed in Google Analytics configuration settings.

Page view counts every time a page is viewed.  Google Analytics can also track other interactions, such as each time a video is viewed.  These are called events. Events require customizations to your implementation. These events keep a page view "active." By default, once a visitor stops engaging, or generating events for more than 30 minutes their session expires.

All of the time-based metrics rely on hits or a stream of user activity to be calculated properly. Google Analytics tracks when each interaction happens.  They take the last interaction and subtract it from the first to determine the length of the visit duration.  To calculate time on page they take the time they landed on a particular page and subtracts the time from the next page view.

Another important metric to understand are bounce rates.  Bounce rates are the percentage of sessions with only one user interaction. The goal is to have this number very low if possible.  For example, when I first setup this blogger site my bounce rate was 99.99% something ridiculously high. Bounce rates are counted when someone lands on your site and then leaves immediately. A bounce is counted if they only visit one page and do not generate any other events or interactions. There is no second interaction to track visit duration or time on page.

Why might you have a high bounce rate?

  • Setting the wrong expectations
  • Poor user experience on landing page

Understanding and Using Google Analytics Data-Lesson 3.1 How Google Analytics Works

Google Analytics has 4 main components: data collection, configuration, processing, and reporting.

Google Analytics collects user interaction data from websites, mobile apps, POS, kiosk, or any other digitally connected device.

Website:  To track analytics, a small piece of javascript code is placed on every page of a website. This collects data about how users are engaging with your site.  Javascript can collect information about your URL, language, browser, and operating system used to access the site. This piece of code can also store information about the referring source that brought the user to your site.  This information is then packaged and sent to Google Analytics.  These packages are referred to as hits or interactions. These pieces of information are automatically tracked, Google Analytics has many other possible customizations depending on your measurement planning process. Every time a user views a page tagged with the Google Analytics a hit is sent.

Mobile does not use javascript, there is a different method to collecting information depending on what specific operating system the site visitor is using.  Also, page views are not tracked, activities are.  You will need to customize which activities you would like to track on mobile using a custom piece of code. Every time a user completes an activity that has been tagged with Google Analytics, a hit is sent.

Because mobile apps are not always connected to the internet, analytics cannot be sent in real time. Google Analytics can store data and then dispatch once reconnected to the server again.

POS, Kiosks, etc.;
To track interaction data in Google Analytics using different types of devices requires a knowledgeable developer.

The other three components of Google Analytics are Processing, Configuration, and Reporting. Processing transforms the raw data into something more useful.  The data is either categorized as mobile or non-mobile. At the same time, the configuration process takes place as well. If you have added filters to your data or chose to include or exclude certain types of data from the final report. For example, you may add a filter that excludes reporting hits from your own employees. Once the data is stored in the database, and has been processed and inserted it cannot be changed.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Guide to Dealing with Your Feelings While Out of Work

This chapter of What Color Is Your Parachute? covers ten things you can do while you're unemployed to deal with your feelings. Being unemployed is tough!

1. Catch up on your sleep.  When you're depressed, your body feels rundown. Take naps, sleep, and catch up on your sleep. Sleeping during the nighttime could be difficult at this time. When you've caught up on your sleep, you usually turn into a happier more upbeat person. This will also help you to feel better.

2. Take care of your health.  Make sure you are exercising a little bit, drinking water, and eating right.  This will help you feel better. These are common sense, but sometimes we forget and need to be reminded.

3.  Take care of our physical space.  Sometimes our surroundings mirror how we feel.  If our space is a disaster, we may feel terrible.  Tidy up, get organized, and continue to hunt for that job.

4.  Get some fresh-air.  Get outside, take a walk, get some exercise, and get out of the house. When you're out of work you don't leave the house regularly and this could make you feel down. Do it everyday.

5.  Help others. Volunteer. There are plenty of places that need extra hands. I have recently volunteered at a food pantry, and the amount of help they needed was crazy! They were so busy and needed as many people as possible. I'm sure wherever you are, someone nearby could use your help. Maybe even a neighbor.

6. Take mini-adventures.  Pretend you're a tourist in your own city.  Visit museums, zoos, parks, aquariums, etc. Just get out of the house, and get moving around. If you're a foodie, check out what restaurants your local newspaper is featuring.

7. Learn something new. Read up on something you've always wanted to learn.  You now have time to learn about something you're interested in, and maybe even gain a new skill from this.

8. Talk with your friends and family. Talk to your friends and family about your feelings. Someone who will just listen.  It helps to give your thoughts and feelings a voice.

9.  Get physical. The book discusses punching pillows, but any sort of physical activity will do. Maybe pop in a kick-boxing tape? Or Just Dance for Wii? Ha!

10. Keep a gratitude journal. This is a great habit to have.  Everyday, write down things that make you happy, glad, or grateful. Looking back at this will remind of the good things you have, and that being unemployed is only temporary.