Powered by Blogger.

GA Advocate Justin Cutroni Answers Your Analytics Questions

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The following post originally appeared on Justin Cutroni’s Analytics Talk blog.

There are a lot of GA users. As a matter of fact, in Google’s Q1 2012 earnings call it was revealed that GA is being used on 10MM sites. That’s a lot of data and and a lot users!

Those users generate a lot of questions. Recently, I solicited questions on Google+. I hope you find the answer useful in your daily use of Google Analytics.

Please note, if I did not get to your question it was for one of two reasons:
1. It was posted after I started writing the post
2. It may have been a bit too specific. I contacted a few people directly about those questions.

On to the answers!

I'd love to use the multi-channel report in GA, but the 30-day cookie doesn't work for websites who offer a 30-day trial and want to track all of a customer's touch points through free trial and subscription. What suggestion do you have for recording campaign touch points outside of the 30-day window?

Justin’s Answer

This is a great question, and we hear that request a lot. The Multi-Channel funnel reports, and the attribution modeling tool, both use a 30-day lookback window. In reality this has nothing to do with a cookie, it’s how Google Analytics processes the data on the back end.

If you’re looking to identify activity that happened 30-plus days prior to conversion you need to work outside the bounds of Multi-Channel funnels and create something that stores activity and date. You have a couple of options: custom variables or events. 

The easiest way is to use a visitor scoped Custom Variable. Store some type of marketing-touchpoint list in the CV. Then use the Custom Variable reports to look at which paths generated conversions. The hard part is you’ll need to update the custom var with referral info  on every visit. This means custom JavaScript to update the cookie.

Another option is to use an event, If you already have some way to identify your visitors across sessions consider storing the referral information in your system. Then push out some events that list all of the touch points when the final conversion happens. This technique requires a lot more server side code.

I have data coming from a number of different sources so i'm trying to tape together the best possible picture I can of a multi-touch universe. I have a number for the total interactions via a campaign (including some content campaigns which an interaction is an impression) and I want to create an influencer metric using a combination of last touch point / total interactions and first touch point. I am working on a number of full attribution models, but in the meantime. Using the 3 numbers I have (first touch point conversion / Last touch point conversions / total interaction conversion) how would you come to a 'nice' metric that gave an indication of the 'importance' of a given campaign.

I have something in mind - but wanted to pick the brain of some bright things :)

Justin’s Answer

What a fantastic question. 

I think I would do it the same way you are: using ratios. If you’re looking for one number to represent the importance of a campaign, based on the number of first/last/total interactions, I would use a ratio. 

First Touch Influence = First Touch Conversions / Total Conversions
Last Touch Influence = Last Touch Conversions / Total Conversions

You've probably noticed that this is almost the same way that Google Analytics calculates it's assisted/last ratio. But it's simple and easy to understand. Plus, depending on the data you have available, you could also segment these metrics.

You can also create a benchmarks internally using un-segmented data or historical campaign performance. I usually don’t use a lot of compound, custom metrics, but this is fairly easy for anyone to understand.


Is it possible to get back city-state-country e-commerce data without the usage of API? Because we want to use these to track different type of buyers.

Justin’s Answer 

Unfortunately no. These dimensions do not exist in the UI. Also, a quick note, that Google will be deprecating the Data Export API on July 10, 2012. The Core Export does NOT contain the ecommerce geo-dimensions. Perhaps you use custom variables to collect the information that you need.

Setting up many goals is supported, even encouraged. What would you say is a good practice to divide the less important goals (clicking on something, a certain time on site) from the core business ones? (sales, lead generation), so the data doesn't get polluted. Thanks in advance!!

Justin’s Answer

I’m a neat-freak! I like things organized. So I would say yes. If you can group your macro conversions into one goal set, and your micro conversions into another goal set, it would make using GA easier.

"You can organize macro and micro conversions in Google Analytics using Goal Sets."

HOWEVER you do have the option to create custom reports. And when you make a custom report the goal sets don’t matter! So if your micro and macro conversions are a complete mess try using a custom report to organize things. 

I am trying to see how many hits I'm getting against my pages. The catch is that many of my pages are passed a query part in the URL, and I am completely uninterested in this query value. The way things appear to be working is that for each different query parameter, the page is counted as a different page. So the following are all currently reported as different, but I want them reported as the same page:


Even more than the answer, however, I want to know where in the documentation I should have been able to figure this out.


Justin’s Answer

You’re looking for pageviews, which is a very different thing.

Query string parameters are such a pain! I hate it when they magically start showing up in a report. Use the Exclude Query Parameter setting in Google Analytics. Simply enter a comma-separated list of query parameters and GA will strip them out of your data. You only need to enter the name of the parameter, not the value.

Use the Exclude Query String Parameters to remove unwanted query parameters from your content reports.

If you don’t know the names of the parameters, or if they are constantly changing, you might consider an advanced  filter. This is the nuclear option :) An advanced filter will strip off all the parameters, all the time, no matter what they’re named.

You can also use an advanced filter to remove all query string parameters from your content reports.

Hi. I use Google Analytics, and for some reason I get different results when I access in my office and in my home. What explains this discrepancy?

Justin’s Answer

That’ a tough one. I really can’t explain why you would see different data. Once the data has been collected and processed it does not change. My only suggestion is to make sure you are looking at the exact same profile. You might be looking at different profiles, thus seeing different data.

Do you have a post with a list of the different dashboards that you can "plug and play" ?

Justin’s Answer

You’re in luck! Here’s a list of a few dashboards you can add to Google Analytics

How does cross-domain tracking work in Google Analytics? Specifically, after putting the correct additions (trackDomain) to the Google Analytics tracking code, what does cross-domain tracking look like in the GA reports? We have clients that want this working for their sub-domain and their top-level domain (example.test.com & test.com).

Justin’s Answer

Sub-domain and cross domain tracking are two very different things! Check out this article to read about the finer points of cross domain tracking and sub-domain tracking.

As for how the data looks in Google Analytics, there’s really no difference. You’ll notice the sub domain or the secondary domain in the Audience > Technology > Network > Hostname report. And you should see all of the pages from both domains in the Content reports. 

I usually add an advanced filter to add the domain name to the content reports. This makes it easier for me to identify pages on different sites. If you need to separate the data you can create different profiles based on the hostname or used Advanced Segments.

Jon Darch asks:

This might be a stupid question, but when setting up a custom dashboard, how do I create widgets which show a metric (i.e visitors for the last 30 days) with the previous month's figure as a % up or down? I'm sure I've seen others doing this, but can't seem to figure it out! 

If you are able to offer any advice, that would be much appreciated :)



Justin’s Answer

Unfortunately you cannot add a “sticky” date to the dashboard. But I wish you could! You can manually do a date comparison, then you’ll see a % change in some of the widgets, like the tabular widget.

But stay tuned, we might have a better solution for that.

Hey Justin,

When comparing 2 date ranges in the adwords reports, the calculation for 'change in ROI' is misleading/incorrect if the ROI value for either the first or second date range is Negative. 
(for eg, week 1 has -10% ROI, week 2 has +30% ROI; in this case, the calculated '% difference' is -400%, however, I just turned a loss into a profit)
In this scenario, what alternative solution/calculation do you think is more apt? Also, does the GA team have any plans to use a more accurate calculation or even put a warning note against a scenario like this?


Justin’s Answer

Thanks for the heads up! I completely agree that this is not correct. We’re working to fix it. Stay tuned for an update.

Nice one. I created a goal with funnel visualization and few days later. I realized was a wrong goal. I created a new goal so how do I delete the old goal and it's visualization?

Justin’s Answer

Unfortunately you can not delete data from Google Analytics. Once the data has been collected and processed by our system it’s static forever. I would suggest de-activating the goal for a few weeks to ‘clear’ the data. Then add an annotation to remind everyone that there is some bad goal data in the reports.

Hello Justin,

When creating goals (taget URL), how to account for different routes through to the same target?



Justin’s Answer

Different paths to the goal are handled using a Funnel. When you create your goal you can also create a funnel to see how many people follow the defined path and how many people take other paths. The Goal Flow report will help you see people moving in and out of each step.

If you have multiple paths to conversion, and you want to get a sense of how people move through each pathing, you may consider creating a goal, with a different funnel, for each path. It’s easier to separate the data for analysis.

If your goal does not have a defined path you can use the Reverse Goal Path report to view the 3 steps prior to every conversion. Or try using the Flow Visualization report to explore other paths to conversion.

How would you go about investigating (or have any previous examples of) why a site appears to double count visits. Almost exactly 50% of visits have no landing page set and no pageview information and I am sure they are not real visits but something to do with how the site is set up.

Justin’s Answer

This is normally due to events or other hit types. The visit metric is incremented on the first hit of a visit. If the first hit is an event, and there are no other hits, then you would see lots of visits with no landing page or pageviews. So go check for some rogue events.

What do you think is the best practice for adding a mobile web site to the collection of sites/apps we track in GA? Should a m.xyz.com site have its own UA-code, be a new property under www.xyz.com UA-code, or just be rolled into www.xyz.com? Right now we track mobile apps separately from the website, but adding an m. site is not as straightforward.

Justin’s Answer

Before I get to the answer, a quick note on terminology. We use the term ‘web property’ to represent a unique Google Analytics tracking code. This is analogous to a UA number. So UA-1 and UA-2 are web property IDs. 

Each web property can have multiple profiles. A profile is a combination of data from a web property and settings applied to the profile. So UA-1-1 and UA-1-2 are both profiles for web property UA-1.

Now the answer!

I think yes, you should separate your mobile site into a new web property. The user experience for a mobile-optimized site is usually very different than a www site or a mobile app. As a result I would separate that data into a new web property so it’s easier to understand the behavior. If you need to combine the data from the mobile site with other data then you might consider using the API.

We have developed a mobile website & implement tracking code for mobile website

Now we are checking referral sources & found that our mobile website is showing as self referral.

We have verified the same using Firebug & value of UTMR is showing that referral is our own mobile website.

Any help from the community is very helpful for us.

Justin’s Answer

Referral information for the server side code (ie the WAP tracking code) uses server information to include the referral. For example, if you are using the PHP code then the GA uses $_SERVER["HTTP_REFERER"] to identify where the visitor came from. My guess is that there is some issue with that server variable and that’s why you’re not getting valid data send to Google Analytics.

I came across an issue about real time data of Google Analytics.

I am browsing some mobile websites using iPhone, iPad, Blackberry phones & at the same time when i am checking their real time data in Google Analytics Location is showing as United States, where as i am browsing from India.

Justin’s Answer

I've seen this too, and I've always assumed it's an artifact of where the mobile network connects to the public internet. I would say that, for some reason, the routing of your connection is changing the geo-location to the US, rather than India. 

I'd really like to know why it seems that I still can't create a profile that only includes traffic and transactions from a particular sub-domain (www vs www2).

Transactions include those from all domains, and the hostname is always still (not set).

Using a profile that filters according to transaction affiliation half works, since it shows $ numbers for that affiliate (each sub-domain has its own affiliate), but it also shows 0$ transactions for the other sub-domain - and it only shows traffic for visitors who convert. Annoying.

Other question - might as well abuse of your offer :)
Ever since I showed people how to use campaign tracking, they have been using it to track clicks from banners on the homepage to other pages on the same site. Now I've always been convinced that the best use for this is tracking outside referrers (emails, banners, etc). Would there be a better way for them to track the clicks on these internal pages (this works reasonnably well because they are able to modify the URLs themselves in the CMS)?

Justin’s Answer

You’re correct re: filtering transactions. The hostname dimension is NOT attached to transactional data. That’s why you can not filter transaction based on hostname. For a better solution, try adding an identifier to the transaction ID and filter based on the transaction ID, which is part of the transaction and product data. But we’re in the process of fixing this. I know it’s a huge hassle, sorry.

As to your other question, there are a couple of ways to track internal campaigns. You could use event tracking, but I like to re-purpose Site Search to track internal campaigns. Check out the article, it’s pretty easy to implement.

When are service accounts coming to the Google Analytics API? It's still way too hard to do something simple like have a web server pull a top 10 most viewed content list in JSON.

Justin’s Answer

While I can’t comment on what we’re working on, that sounds like a great idea. Let me see what we can do. And thanks for the awesome suggestion!

Hi Justin and thanks so much for the initiative. I just want to know when will GA share more tutorials on goal analysis.

Justin’s Answer

I love that you’re so focused on conversion analysis! Google’s definitely focused on launching more and more educational materials. You can start with our Introduction to Google Analytics webinar, the Goals configuration webinar, as well as the multi-channel analysis webinar (watch the official Google Analytics blog for the YouTube video). There's a lot of stuff on our YouTube channel. And we're working on new ways to create a better learning experience for users.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/l9joLoZOjK4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

How can I see a full report of the most popular time of day (hours with the most visits) on my websites?

Justin’s Answer

Use an Overview report. Then, look for the Hourly graphing option under the Date Selector. Here’s a screenshot.

How to graph traffic by Hour of the day. 

That's it.

Thanks everyone! Those were great. What a variety of questions.

That’s the first installment of Analytics Q & A. Stay tuned, we’ll do this again next month.

Posted by Google Analytics Advocate Justin Cutroni

Most Reading

My Blog List