Google Analytics is a great web analytics platform, and I am a fan because its free, fast and offers actionable analytics. GA is so common as if it is a new name for web analytics atleast in the SMB space. Google analytics is one of the fastest analytics platforms on the planet. The improved UI and the crisp clear reporting makes it a no-brainer for simple to intermediate web analysis.
With its improved functionality and features, GA is also competing with current leaders such as IBM and Adobe in the enterprise space. Last year, Google also launched its premium version that costs $150,000 annually. Interestingly, Google still needs to make significant improvement to truely become an enterprise solution. In fact, some of the improvements needed are so basic that it would be really helpful for the SMB audience as well.
Let’s discuss some of the most common missing features in Google along with some alternative solutions.
#1. Missing “Or” option in report filters – This might be one of the easiest fixes for Google but can significantly improve filtering functionality. When you navigate to any of the full lists reports you may find there is an option to perform advanced filtering within the report. The option allows you to filter the list to specific keyword or keyword groups. You can use multiple “AND” queries and find the line item you are looking for with precision.
The report spits out results with blazing speed so you can quickly get to the result you need. The limitation to this report is you can only use “AND” filter option, and the “OR” option is missing. The “OR” option is critical if you are digging through your pages report and trying to find a page that contains a page URL parameter or a date.
The missing “OR” option makes it harder to collect a list of pages you are interested in. Unfortunately, the only alternative is to download CSV report and manually find the line item using excel “or” functionality.
#2. Custom Metrics – This too me is a no-brainer feature for an analytics solution competing for space in the enterprise world. Custom metrics is extremely important when you are trying to calculate inter metrics averages and means. It allows the end user to make the reports provide additional insights without spending time in manual excel calculations.
Some of the custom metrics that you may use on a daily basis in GA are -
pageviews per visit
order per visit (applied to the pages report)
searches per unique visitor (site search report)
order per search (site search report)
revenue per search (site search report)
I could go on listing the endless possibilities of designing custom metrics. MS Excel is the only alternative in this case to built custom metrics.
#3. System Integrations – Fast technical advancement in the online space is making it critical for businesses to integrate multiple web solutions. Most businesses are eager to connect the dots between their CRM solution, billing system, affiliate tracking system and media management system to their Google Analytics. Imagine how powerful it would be to know the web activity for your high-value customers or learn the buying habits of your loyal customers. Both IBM Coremetrics and Adobe Omnitue offer solutions to integrate third-party vendors.
Small businesses are getting smarter by utilizing GA code hacks to connect their marketing automation solutions such as Pardot or their CRM system such as SugarCRM to Google Analytics. However, the code hacks limit the data insights and analytics reporting.
There are some alternative solutions and companies that offer integrations using third party tools. One such solution is CRM consulting service called Epicom. (I am not affiliated to this company by any means)
Epicom has developed a custom code to pull basic traffic data from Google Analytics API and feed it to SugarCRM. This integration allows visibility into website bounce rate, pageviews, time on site, unique visitors and other metrics within the SugarCRM interface.
Pardot also offers Google Analytics connector to integrate GA with Pardot landing pages and forms.
#4 Hourly Intelligent Events (Alerts) – Intelligent events in GA is a pretty useful alert feature to report if traffic metrics land below or above the set threshold. It allows proactive monitoring of website performance. There are two options to manage alerts in GA – automatic alerts, and custom alerts. Automatic alerts use internal statistical significant and provides daily/weekly/monthly events report. You can also setup custom alerts, and these alert are trigged when the custom threshold is met leading to email notifications or text messages.
The overview tab provides a quick snapshot of the automated or custom alerts, and you can further drill down to the alert events by clicking details or the daily/weekly/monthly sidebar links.
Upon further investigation, you may find that the hourly alert option is missing. In my experience, hourly alert is one of the most important features for web analytics, marketing and web development teams. We have had several instances of traffic spikes due to marketing or technical reasons and had to wait 24 hours to drill down the cause of the spike.
Hour alert triggers is an important missing feature in GA.
#5 Multi-channel summary – One of the biggest challenges of web analysis continues to be the conversion/campaign attribution analytics. Understanding the attribution to product sales is critical to making smarter investments in marketing campaigns. We know that an average buyer will use more than one channel before converting. However, most analytics solutions are not up to speed when it comes to reporting the channel attribution path and interaction of marketing channels. Interestingly, GA was one of the first analytics solutions to provide the multi-channel funnel reporting. The mult-channel funnel report along with the “top conversion paths” report is a huge eye-opener for most marketing managers as it allows a completely new dimension of marketing analytics.
With the help of these reports average marketers can understand the interplay between PPC, SEO , Referral sites and email marketing programs and invest wisely.
These reports are a great asset to marketer, but if you’re an analytics ninja, then you might already be doing further excel analysis to develop a scoring model . You guessed it right; the missing feature in this case is a quick snapshot of a multi-channel score card. Think about how easy it would be for a marketing person to use this scorecard and make an adjustment to the campaigns to improve conversions.
It’s your turn! Looking forward for your feedbacks, comments and shares.