Google delivered an early Christmas present on Monday announcing some new features that will be coming out soon. You can read the full text at Google’s Analytics blog, but I wanted to both make you aware and give you my take on the new features.
As I said in the comments on Google’s post “Hallelujah”. Because “why” is such an important part of analytics, being able to record the cause of a spike (or dip) is very important. Until now, I’ve had to manage that in Excel or in a screenshot with annotations in PowerPoint or Word. Having those in separate sources meant that as time goes on, my records got messy and it was hard to overlay my info on the GA data. Annotations fixes that. You can now go into GA and on the timeline, make a note of what happened that day. Because we have multiple agencies working together and multiple analysts even within DigiKnow, this is a great feature for sharing knowledge.
Although none of my logins have access to this new feature yet to try it first hand, from the video, I really like how they are handling sharing. Notes can be public to the profile or private to the user. For every other GA customization (reports, segments, intelligence) you have to share the information via link to other users, but with this, it’s just there for everyone. I hope that they roll out this system to those other customizations AND leave in the cross-profile sharing too.
Custom Variables in Segments & Custom Reports
While I think annotations are for the masses, custom variables (launched in October) are definitely for the more advanced GA users. I haven’t really talked about this yet (or played with it), but until recently, you could only have one custom variable per domain. So for a client that I wanted to track two things, I had to jam it into a single field. With unlimited custom variables, you can track anything without having to be cautions of “wasting” the variable. Some great things to track are registered vs. non-registered users, previous purchasers, visitor profiles established through questions/surveys, etc. This is very powerful stuff. Having the ability to segment by and report on these data is an obvious next step.
Code Setup Wizard
Google keeps adding features that makes configuration of complicated things simpler, putting me out of a job. Good. Although setting up multiple domains, sub-domains, etc. is definitely an art, I’m all for a wizard that just makes it happen. There are parts of analytics that should and do require deep thought, but configuration shouldn’t be one of them. Just like the GA URL Builder (for tracking campaigns), having a form or system to make setup easier saves time that can be better spend on more meaningful tasks.
There is also an announcement coming this week about API updates. Probably to give access to these new data points. I’ll update this post with a link to it when the announcement is made, but I don’t think any of you will probably be lining up at the Googleplex to hear that announcement.
UPDATE: Here’s the link to the Google Analytics API updates.
So what’s still missing? We’ll plenty could be added, but the one simple thing that I’m dying for them to add is an import/export or sharing feature for Filters. Given that we are now able to share custom reports, custom insights and advanced segments, it seems like only a matter of time.