Last month Google officially retired the old version of Google Analytics meaning that everyone will now use the new version 5 which has been in beta test for around a year. This coincided with a flurry of activity with new features introduced. So it’s a good to time to think about how you’re using Google Analytics to improve the results from your digital marketing.

Most businesses will have been using the new version, but users will likely need education or training to understand how to use the new features. It’s also a prompt to check that Google Analytics is set up to tailor analysis and reports specific for your business, more on the details of this in my article next month.

In this post, I will summarise the main changes introduced over the last year, so you can check you’re “up-to-speed” on these. I’ll start with the most recent:

  1. Google Website Optimizer now integrated as Content Experiments. GWO was originally a separate tool which meant that hacks were needed to link the results of AB tests on pages to Google Analytics. Tests can now be integrated and results presented in reports familiar to Google Analytics users. Google announcement of feature.
  2. Page value (re-) introduced. This feature was missing from the new Google Analytics for a while. It replaced $Index value, a measure that was little used, but useful to those in the know to work out which content and campaigns were most influential in generating sales value – hence the term. If you haven’t used it, take a look at the content reports which show the value of this. Google announcement of feature.
  3. Google Analytics Remarketing. Recently announced at the end of July, this is perhaps the biggest recent change affecting search marketing. You’ll know that Remarketing is a feature of Google AdWords more generally known as “behavioural targeting” where you can follow-up an action by a site visitor with an advert on a third-part site in an ad network. Google announcement of feature.
  4. Visitor flow visualisation. Not so new, but a reminder about this great new feature showing how customer journeys fit with the newer features. Evangelist Justin Cutroni’s post gives details on how to select different traffic sources, create custom nodes and apply advanced segments. Google announcement of feature.
  5. Social Analytics / Social Reports. I was on the Beta programme for this major new feature and wrote a review when it was known as Social Analytics. Now it has been renamed to social reports. It’s value is in showing how each social network is contributing to visits and sales including “assists” before the last click – vital for answering questions about social media ROI. Google announcement of feature
  6. Multichannel funnels. Now also part of social reports, this feature helps marketers understand attribution of media when there is a complex “path to purchase” involving multiple visits. Google announcement of feature.
  7. Mobile measurement. Google has always had good reporting on types of mobile devices used to access a site, but in June 2012, it introduced a plug-in for app measurement that has simplified reports of Acquisitions, Users, Engagement and Outcomes. Google announcement of feature
  8. Real Time reporting. You’ll know that Google has a 2 to 3 hour lag for most of the data in its reports for the current day, that’s why it doesn’t show the data for today by default. This weakness in Google Analytics compared to other analytics tools such as Site Catalyst which have near real time data was partially addressed in this update which gives reports for some areas only. One of the key uses is being able to give marketers greater visibility on how events external to a site such as Social, TV and advertising campaigns influence your website audience, in order to optimise performance and prove ROI. Google announcement of feature
  9. Search Engine Keywords report. Google Analytics has always had keyword reports, for natural queries, but this enables you to compare with number of impressions and average position data. To set up this you need to integrate with Google Webmaster Tools where the feature was originally introduced (and it was criticised for accuracy, take care). Google announcement of feature.

I hope you find this round-up useful. It’s good to see that Google are committed to making enhancements to what is a fantastic free tool to help marketers and that there is now an enterprise version for those who need the support. Having all these new reports is great, but marketers and their agencies still need to put the time into analysis to get the most value from them to improve their business. To help here I have written an Ebook on Google Analytics that looks at the questions to ask and where to go to find out the answers. It’s updated for the new 2012 version.

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.