In any small to large business there’s always constant changes and developments which are being made and deployed to websites which can vary from small development pieces, through to entire global marketing campaigns.
What happens when these changes become a reality? We’re left with huge anomalies with our web analytics data, with no real answer for stakeholders. As
a web analyst, you need to be on top of this data and to be in the know.
The answer? Google Analytics annotations!
Google Analytics has probably one of the easiest ways of recording
changes to your website with its annotations feature. You’re able to select the date within your analytics profile and write up to 160 character per annotation. This is perfect for when your web development team deploy a change to your live website, or when a new intensive PPC campaign is started.
Once these annotations have been added to your reports, they are then logged within Google Analytics permanently for you to go back over the historical data!
Its not only external changes which you can record, but also any changes you make which are in you control, these include new Google Analytics filters, blog posts and so on. You can then go back and directly compare two date frames of before and after an annotation was logged and “Measure This” impact.
Annotating Google Analytics couldn’t be easier, simply log in to your profile, select the date you want to add the annotation and then click on the down arrow at the bottom of the graph as per the below:
Once you click on the drop-down arrow, simply click on the +Create new annotation and add your text. You can opt to share your annotation (visible for all GA profile users) or make them private. Usually, its best to share your annotations so other users also have an explanation as to whats going on with the data. Save your annotation and its then there unless you decide to go back and delete it.
You can also prioritise annotations by starring them in your annotations list as per this screenshot below:
Have a go at adding annotations and see how you get on – its very intuitive and straightforward and is a great way to give questions to your unusual metrics and trends.
I’m interested to hear if other web analytics tools provide a
similar function. I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to non-Google web analytics tools, but I think annotations are such a strong feature, that if other web analytics vendors don’t accommodate this, then they will surely be at a disadvantage. Thoughts?