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ABC—easy as acquisition, behavior, conversions. As early as last week, many Google Analytics users noticed some big changes to the Web analytics platform. The all-too-familiar left side navigation got a facelift.
In this blog post, I’ll provide what I’ll call an “elementary” run down of the October 2013 Google Analytics makeover. I’ll also provide some commentary on the pros and cons of these new Analytics features.
Where Did the “Traffic Sources” in Google Analytics Go?
Your “Traffic Sources” tab has been replaced by the “Acquisition” tab. Similarly, the “Content” tab has been renamed “Behavior” and the “Goals” tab has been renamed “Conversions.” According to Google,
“Acquisition in Google Analytics contains some of the most popular reports in our product and are accessed daily by active users. That’s why we’ve been thinking about how to evolve these reports to better present your key metrics in intuitive groups while improving channel flexibility… [They] provide a window on your users’ Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion (ABC) cycle: how you acquire users, their behavior on your site after acquisition, and their conversion patterns.”
If you select the “Overview” option in the new “Acquisition” tab, Analytics presents you with a fun bar graph of your different marketing channels—followed by visitor “Behavior” metrics and goal-completion “Conversion” metrics.
This new overview basically eliminates the need to use the Analytics standard Dashboard feature—and allows you to oversee your channel volume (Acquisition), efficiency (Behavior), and effectiveness (Conversions) at a glance.
While Analytics comes loaded with default standard channels, you can edit and customize them in a way that reflects your businesses’ marketing strategies. For example, you might want to create new channel groupings for your Houzz profile, a microsite, or a paid Twitter or Facebook ad campaign.
If you don’t understand how to smartly set up your channels, you could easily skew your data, so be careful.
Search Engine Optimization
Even though Google decided to take away our organic keyword data by moving to secure search by default, most SEO nerds realized we could still access this data through Google Webmaster Tools. On some profiles, a feature is now available to link your Analytics and WMT accounts so that you don’t have to compare and translate from one platform to the other. Thanks for that one, G. I guess you don’t have to sleep on the couch tonight after all.
The “Audience” tab remains the same, although the “Demographics” profile on some of our accounts have expanded to include age and gender stats rather than the traditional language and location stats. An “Interests” category has also been added.
According to Google,
“The Demographics and Interest sections include Overview reports, along with new Age, Gender, and Interest Categories reports. They allow you to better understand who your visitors are. These are the same demographics & interest categories used to target ads on the Google Display Network. Use these insights about your visitors to refine your ad campaign strategies. Not all of your visitors may have demographics associated with them, so these reports may only represent a subset of your visitors and may not be representative of your overall site composition.”
Where do Google’s visitor demographics and interests come from? According to the search engine,
“When someone visits a website that has partnered with the Google Display Network, Google stores a number in their browsers (using a “cookie”) to remember their visits. This number uniquely identifies a web browser on a specific computer, not a specific person. Browsers may be associated with a demographic category, such as gender or age range, based on the sites that were visited.
“In addition, some sites might provide us with demographic information that people share on certain websites, such as social networking sites. We may also use demographics derived from Google profiles.”
What’s Missing—Calls Data for All Channels
For some markets, such as the home services market that we predominately serve, the ratio of call leads can greatly outnumber the ratio of Web leads. Calls data is not currently incorporated into all channels (this can be made possible through AdWords for paid search, but not organic). You could mistakenly think your organic search marketing campaign is not yielding results because your leads are coming in through the phone and not through your online contact forms (call tracking can remedy this!).
Other Potential Downfalls to the New Acquisition Reporting
When I heard about the new Google Analytics features, I knew exactly who to talk to in order to figure out if this was going to be a helpful tool for my clients or other businesses in Blue Corona’s target market—Zack Perini.
According to Zack, small to medium-sized business owners might run into the following problems with the new Acquisition reports:
- Small traffic volume – many businesses simply don’t have enough traffic and online conversions to make this data relevant or worthwhile.
- No actionable takeaways—if your data isn’t relevant, it’s then hard to figure out any actionable takeaways from it.
- No calls data—I already mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating. Most of our target market feature ratios of call leads to webform submissions well over 1:1, so this will be misleading.
- Requires you to customize—most business owners don’t even take the time to set up goal tracking (or they set it up wrong). It’s therefore unlikely your average business owner will take the time (or know how) to customize his or her channels.
“This update would’ve been much cooler in my opinion if it came with a long-range month-over-month view,” Zack said.
But don’t worry. Zack already came up with a way to do this on his own. So if you want a better picture of the effectiveness of your online marketing strategies, give us a call. While the new Google Analytics features represent an improved way to see what’s working and what’s not when it comes to your online advertising, it’s not entirely flawless.
About The Author:
Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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