Why Google Analytics Implementation Should Not Be a One-time Project?
If you want to make good business decisions on the basis of Google Analytics data, you have to be 100% sure that the data you collect is reliable.
At first glance, everything is running smoothly. 500,000 pageviews a month, an average session duration of 2.5 minutes, 3.5 pages per session and these indicators have been changing positively for some time. Moreover, six months ago you hired a company which specializes in Google Analytics to audit the Google Analytics implementation. So what could be possibly wrong with this data?
Well, the data might not be correct anymore or cover your website fully (and for sure you are missing on the new capabilities of Google Analytics)
Your website evolves, Google Analytics evolves and so should your implementation.
Over the last 6 months, your website has probably changed. I don’t mean that you have redesigned it, but you have probably changed some features, slightly changed the URL structure and carried out a promotional campaign (with a dedicated landing page). And if I’m right (and most probably I am), your Google Analytics data might no longer be reliable (and fully cover your website).
Let’s assume you have implemented a newsletter form on the website that is available on the home page, a search results page and a product cart. But neither you nor your IT department thought about implementing the events or virtual pageviews that would be sent to Google Analytics with successful registration.
After three weeks you want to verify how the newsletter form works and which page generates the highest number of registrations. And what happens? You realize that there is no data in Google Analytics concerning the newsletter form. The number of registrations won’t be a problem – you will probably find them in your database. But there will be no information on which page a particular user filled out the form. Therefore you won’t be able to answer your question.
The IT department changed the URL structure, including the URLs of each of the checkout steps. However, you forgot that six months ago the auditing company configured goals based on the website URLs. Changing the URL structure demands the verification of the configuration of elements based on the URLs, especially the goals. Without that verification, the data is no longer correct.
Two months after changing the URLs, you want to check the effectiveness of the conversion funnel and you see that there are no completed goals. You cannot make any decisions about the conversion funnel without any data.
There was a promotional campaign with a dedicated landing page containing a registration form. It might be the silliest mistake that can be made, but it’s easy to forget to implement the correct Google Analytics tracking code on the landing page (or forget about adding Google Tag Manager container snippet).
Two weeks after the campaign, you want to verify the effectiveness of the campaign but, surprisingly, you realize that there is no data. Why? Because someone forgot to implement the tracking code. So how now to evaluate the campaign? That’s a good question!
Auditing Google Analytics (and any other analytics tool) every now and then is not enough
In order to maintain the correct Google Analytics implementation, an audit has to be conducted at least once a month, and ideally twice a month.
In fact, you should set up an ongoing data quality assurance processes.
There are two possible ways to implement data quality assurance processes
The first is to appoint a dedicated person in the company who will be responsible for setting up data quality assurance processes.
However, if your analytics team consists of one or two people, then in my opinione they should focus on data analysis. It might be better to protect them from being involved in the more mundane, data quality assurance processes (which take up a lot of time, are a necessity, but do not give any immediate payback).
The second – hire a company that will set the processes and maintain the tool for you.
This way you will free up your internal resources that can be dedicated to data analysis. Plus, if you cooperate with a certified partner, you will be able to access new features of analytics tool faster and reap all the benefits before your competitors do.
In any of these scenarios two awesome features of Google Analytics should be used:
- Google Analytics Custom Alerts — set up alerts that will inform you via e-mail whenever there is a drastic change in any crucial metric. Basic alerts include drastic changes in number of visits, bounce rate, percentage of new visitors and conversion rate. You will find a great list of custom alerts here.
- Google Analytics Dashboards — create dashboards that will show you trends of your crucial metrics and schedule them to be delivered to you by email every week. If any metric goes out of the trend you will be informed about it right away. You can find a list of useful dashboards in Google Analytics Solution Gallery.
Now it’s the time to answer tough questions
When companies prioritize their budgets they sometimes come to the conclusion: we don’t have enough funds to hire an auditing company and we don’t have an appropriate person in our organization who has the necessary skills and abilities to perform this task.
Well maybe you don’t either.
But do you have the time and the money to waste due to a lack of correct data? Can you handle the costs of bad decisions based on conclusions that were themselves based on flawed data?
I guess the answers are obvious.
If you need an audit of your current analytics tool (Google Analytics, AT Internet, Adobe Analytics or Webtrends) or you would like to set up a comprehensive data quality assurance process, contact Mavenec today to learn more about our approach to ensuring data quality.
Psst. If you want to lift your conversion rate (and I am sure you are) you might be interested in our Free Ultimate Conversion Rate Optimization Toolkit where we reveal our conversion rate optimization secrets in a set of actionable guidebooks — check it out!.
Author: Bogna Mikołajewska
At Mavenec, I’m responsible for managing projects and delivering the results to our clients. I graduated from International Business at Warsaw School of Economics. Privately, I’m a big fan of movies from around the world and Italian cuisine.