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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Google Analytics Upgrade

On May 8th, Google announced its first major upgrade to the free Analytics package since the Internet giant acquired Urchin and MeasureMap. Why? Because Google wanted its analytics package to be as intuitively usable to a mid-level marketer as it would be to a senior developer or “mom & pop” wholesaler trying to get a toe hold into an online identity. But before you get too excited, this is a staged roll out; over the next several weeks, Google will be migrating all existing Analytics accounts to the new interface. Each account will be notified by email once the account has been migrated, where for a minimum of one month, you will have access to both the original interface and the new interface.

1. Thanks largely to the acquired MeasureMap team, Google analytics now has the ability to create customizable dashboards – greatly improving data presentation by establishing top level summaries – you don’t have to hunt and spreadsheet data to find out where your visitors are coming from or other actionable metrics to make those all important business decisions. Half the importance of analytics is being able to deliver the data so that any decision maker can instantly see what is working and what is not working – with a dashboard, you can make sure you are watching the metrics that are important to you without having to do any work manipulating generic reports.

2. Reporting capabilities are now almost as good as any high-level expensive product on the market. First of all, you can now establish remote scheduling and emailing of previous built reports. Second, contextual help and tips are available with every report to help you build up your own capabilities at acting on effective analytics. What’s more, reports now include time trending capabilities as well to recognize market fluctuations in both the short and long term.

3. Reports have also become more robust. Sampled data reports allow you to quickly generate reports for larger segments with high confidence ranges. They are also less cluttered and easier to read. What’s more, Google has added levels to each report so that you can drill down for more information – find metrics/keyword in a CPC report – find visitor navigation paths for each static page – zoom into specific locations within a map overlay in the Geographic Domain report.

4. The best upgrade, in my opinion – plain language descriptions of all the data – allowing any user the ability to quickly interpret what action needs to be done to improve their website.

In my opinion, Google’s upgrade is one of the most worthwhile that Google has done on any of their products in a long time, because for the first time it wasn’t necessarily about innovation so much as it was taking a complicated product (one that is an absolute necessity for anybody with a web property) and making it completely accessible by all people in an organization. But more so, they made it sophisticated enough to handle all the data, and yet intelligent enough that the answers seem almost intuitive to any user. In other words, you don’t need an MBA to be able to read your analytics reports and recognize what needs to be done to improve your website, you just need Google Analytics.

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