Google’s infamous Panda updates and the launch of Google+ may have captured search headlines this year, but we’ve had our eye on a series of updates to Google Analytics that resulted in some very cool new tools for data-minded marketers. Here’s a recap of our favorite new(ish) features and how we’re putting them to use for our clients.
Google Analytics Real-Time
Google has always been great for analyzing past performance but we’ve often wished for a way to gauge the immediate impact of media hit, blog post or Tweet on a client’s site traffic. With Google Analytics Real-Time, we can see how many active visitors are on a site at any given time, which pages they’re viewing, and what traffic source sent the traffic. Sweet!
Social Plug-In Analytics
With a tweak to the standard Google Analytics tracking code, it’s now possible to know which site pages, articles or blog posts are most commonly “liked” or shared, and from which social networks. You can track a variety of social actions, from Google +1 clicks to Facebook “likes” and Delicious bookmarks. And you can compare visitor engagement for visits that did and did not include social interaction to determine whether the ability to share content results in more in-depth site visits or more time spent viewing content.
Using Events as Goals
This one gets a bit geeky, so bear with us. Google Analytics makes it easy to track goals that are tied to a specific set of actions and an outcome (think adding an item to a shopping cart and checking out or completing a contact form). But there are a lot of other on-site activities that can indicate a high level of engagement and interest that aren’t so straightforward. By taking advantage of events as goals, it’s now possible to track PDF downloads, video views (including how many visitors viewed the complete video as opposed to only part of the video), use of site tools like calculators or quizzes or interaction with a slideshow (like clicking through rotating content on a home page).
We can go one step further and tie these activities back into transactional goals, making it possible to determine, for example, whether visitors who view a video about a new product or download a PDF version of a brochure are more likely to complete a “request more information” form.
There’s a wealth of information buried in your Analytics if you know how to find and interpret it. With end-of-year review season rapidly approaching, we can’t wait to put on our spreadsheet goggles and get to work!