For home repairs and odd jobs, I pretty much just need a hammer and a screwdriver. Yup, that’s it. I can make those two tools do just about everything I need. Maybe that hammer isn’t supposed to be used to make that stubborn jigsaw puzzle piece fit, but by golly it’s GOING to fit in that spot!
Google Analytics is kind of similar. If you know what you are doing, you can wring pretty much any piece of information you could ever want or need out of it.
One of the main aspects that allow you such a wide range of flexibility is the Analysis Options feature. Sadly, this super-cool feature is normally underused. To access the Analysis Options, just click on the little purple icon (shown here) next to the information you want to know more about.
When you click that button, a whole table full of neat stuff pops up. There are 4 options:
- Data Over Time: The Data Over Time report allows you to see how a specific record performed over time. This is extremely useful in specific reports that do not initially provide information over a period of time, like the top content report or the entrance bounce rate report. For more information on Data Over Time, check out Michael’s article, Understanding Google Analytics’ Data Over Time Report.
- Overlay Page: The Overlay Page allows you to see the Site Overlay for specific content on your site, which is a visual representation of the page’s navigation.
- To-Date Lifetime Value: The To-date Lifetime Value Option allows you to see conversion data for any segment, further separating the data into New vs. Returning Absolute Unique Visitors.
- Cross Segment Performance: This option allows you to cross-segment the record against a bunch of other fields.
Please note that not ALL of these analysis options will be available for every single report.
The Cross-Segment Performance option is the one I’d like to explore in more depth today. Using the Cross Segment option allows you to see how specific records performed in relation to other fields.
The first four fields (Source , Campaign, Keyword, and Content) deal with campaign information. These are handy for finding out what sources brought this information your site. The Source tells you ‘who’ sent traffic to your site; is it a referral, from organic traffic, newsletter, or something else?
The Campaign and Keyword options tell you which campaign or keyword drove those people to your site, respectively. So you would use this if you wanted to know if certain keywords or campaigns tended to result in repeat visitors. In that case you would go to the Marketing Optimization section, the New vs. Returning report, click the Analysis Options icon for either new or returning visitors, select the Cross-Segment Performance option, and then either the Campaign or Keyword option. Voila!
The Content field is especially useful for finding information about your ads. If you cross-segment referral records by content, it will tell you the exact page on the referring site that brought a user to your store.
The second set of fields (which include Country, Region, City, Network Location, and Language) deals with visitor information. Country, Region, City all provide you with information on where your visitors are coming from.
One instance where you could use this feature is if you have pay-per-click ads that are targeted on the national level, but you suspect they have appeal to a certain region. You could check under the Marketing Optimization section, then the Search Engine Marketing report set, the AdWords Analysis report, and click the Analysis Options icon for the campaign and then ad group you are interested in. Select the Cross-Segment Performance option, and then the Region option. Maybe your best leads do come from one region, and you can narrow down the area you display that ad for.
The third is the user-defined variable. This is a special field that you can set when a user performs a specific action on your site. This is really a topic for a whole blog article in and of itself.
Web Design Parameters
The next set of fields deal with Web Design Parameters, which are useful in general site design. You have 7 total options: browser, platform, connection speed, screen resolution, colors, Java, and Flash.
Not sure just how useful all this web design stuff is? They do matter, I promise! Check out this incredible blog article from LunaMetrics on a real-life tale of frustration and woe that could have been avoided by checking out these reports.
The final field, Visitor Type, allows you to split any data by new vs. returning visitor.
Okay, so maybe all that information is even MORE then some people want from their analytics, but its nice to know its there if the need pops up! Call me sentimental, call me an analytics geek, but I sleep better knowing I can find out whatever little chunk of data I might need that day.
What analytics stunts have you pulled, and lived to tell about? I’m always looking for the next shortcut or tip.