Search Real power of Google Analytics

The power of Google Analytics is not only found in the standard out-of-the-box reports. These reports aggregate all data without segmentation. The trick with Google Analytics (GA) - and what makes it different from other analytics packages - is you need to think ahead.

GA pulls all the data together, and presents it in excellent reports. However, once the data is pulled in, it can't be filtered. The filtering needs to happen before the date is gathered. This is where profiles and filters come in.

Profiles are essentially big-picture segmentation. Profiles alone are no different amongst one another. However, profiles can have filters, which make them different. For example: Let's say you are running a University site (for the clarification, let's say you are able to add the GA tracking code to every department on your .edu domain). When setting up GA, you would create one profile. This profile wouldn't have any filters built into it; therefore it is receiving all data from all departments.

Search Real power of Google Analytics

Great, so you have a lot of data about where people are visiting. But what about each department? They don't want to have to filter through the hits that didn't occur on their pages.

Enter the next profile. You would create a new profile, but still base it on the original profile (if you are asked to add a new tracking code, you did it wrong). Now in the profile, add a filter based on only hits to a certain directory (/admissions, for example). At this point, this profile will only return data based on traffic to the pages in the /admissions directory. You can then add your admissions staff to this profile so they can run their own reports. You also still retain the ability to look at your domain as a whole (something you lose if each site has its own GA tracking code).

This is a very elementary example, and in reality you would add more filters (ex., exclude on campus users). However, the point is that you only need one main profile for your campus. You then base secondary profiles on this profile to segment departments.

GA is an awesome marketing tool. I will discuss more in the future (using it for campaigns, segmentation, regular expressions, cross-domain functionality, tracking external links, etc...), but remember to have a strategy before relying in-depth on your data. Even with this requirement, it is still the best free analytics package on the market.

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