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A Web Analyst’s New Year Resolutions

, Posted by Phil Craig in Phil Craig, Web Analytics

Phil Craig gives us a full run down of his new year’s resolutions for 2017, something that every web analyst would be wise to follow. 

Whilst 2016 was the year of the celebrity death, 2017 is the year of the digital analyst (not death, hopefully). I don’t know why, but it is, because I say so. There is no better way to start the year than by coming up with a list of things you should be doing to better yourself.  

After extensive googling of ‘Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2017’ I went with the first result, taken from http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/. It’s based on their own research institutes survey. And it’s technically a top 11, not 10. Never mind.

Anyway… in a genius stroke, I will subvert and tenuously link this list into a digital analysts’ list of New Year’s resolution. Some might be a bit tricky, but here we go!

1. Lose weight/eat healthily

Shed a couple of pounds in your reporting setup. Why not consider looking through your reports and working out if they are:

  1. Still valuable to the end user?
  2. Correctly tagged?
  3. Filled with too much data – making information difficult to decipher?
  4. Overwhelmed with spam or ghost referrals? This is rife in Google Analytics

Why not consider a quick tagging audit of your site and your reporting setup? By removing defunct reporting and spam referrals, marketers can start to see diamonds through the dirt. If people trust the data, they can start making better decisions.

As for healthier eating, maybe have a banana while you’re auditing.  

2. Improve yourself

Google is constantly improving their analytics suite in their general takeover of everything. If you haven’t heard about it already they have been slowly improving their 360 suite, which I will refer to over the course of the blog.

I’d like to talk about GTM’s new ‘improvements’ which have been in place for a while now. The main problem with GTM has been that it couldn’t be scaled to enterprise level; it was very much “I hope no one else is working on anything at the same time” kind of setup. Google introduced ‘workspaces’ which allow different users to edit tags independently of each other before pushing live to the main ‘default workspace’. Currently each container is limited to three workspaces, so it’s not huge scale but it does allow a level of version control. There’s also a new feature which asks you to name the changes you have made when publishing. This adds another level of publishing history that was lacking in the past, and ensures that when you are blaming someone else for something you can find out that you made the changes yourself.

The interface has changed a lot also. I’m not sure if I’m a fan just yet, but the overall improvements in version control kind of make up for what I’d become familiar with.  

Another big change is the container snippet code itself. Whereas in the past we had one piece of code to be placed in the head tag, now we have two, one in the head and one near the footer. You know what this means –  it’s for onsite optimisation. Which leads me nicely out of this.  Self-improvements, optimisation – see what I did there?

3. Make better financial decisions   

This one is easy, phew. The whole point of analytics is to get a greater return on your investment. Standard campaign and channel reporting aren’t cutting the mustard in a lot of cases. The more intelligent way to get the best bang from your buck is to use attribution reporting.

Google Analytics already has attribution modelling as standard in the conversion reporting section. Google’s new 360 suite takes that existing information and supercharges it in Google Attribution 360. As well as standard attribution reporting there are added features. For example, the TV attribution analysis tool will allow you to review online activity around the time of a TV spot. Something that previously would have taken a lot of man power to understand. This could be invaluable for certain marketers.

4. Quit smoking

Yeah! Stop smoking, you smelly person. Unless you really enjoy it, then don’t.

5. Do more exciting things      

Do more exciting things with your data, whether it is using a data visualisation tool to make your dashboards more interesting to stakeholders or if it’s using a DMP to actually target the right users.

Once again, Google is trying to grab this market in their 360 Suite. Data Studio is a pretty easy to use plug-and-play dashboarding tool. The dashboards in GA are sometimes not great and I think it’s because they diverted their attention to Data Studio over the past while. Another great thing about Data Studio is that you can add your own notes beside charts, so when you share  your monthly dashboard, you can add relevant information against it.

The Audience Center (always annoys me when you have to spell it that way) is Google’s Data Management Platform (DMP). As the majority of businesses use Adwords, they will be drawn towards the integration capabilities of this tool. It will allow you to spot your most valuable customers using first and third party data.

6. Spend more time with family/close friends    

Get to know your client’s/stakeholder’s needs. Spend more time with them, buy them a coffee, give them a foot rub, read them bedtime stories. If you know what data makes them tick and drives their decisions, you can really hone your analytics knowledge to fit their needs. I think a lot of analysts get bogged down in the technical side of things without knowing anything about the actual end goal/KPI. All the gear, no idea.

7. Work out more often         

Jog on the spot when you are talking to your clients. That won’t freak them out or anything.

I’m sure there is some weird agency that does that kind of thing.

8. Learn something new on your own          

A lot of people start off a new year attempting to learn a new language, so why not substitute those French lessons for a JavaScript course? JavaScript is a more international language anyway, but sadly you can’t use it to order a beer in Paris.

As we know, JavaScript is the core of analytics tools, if you can learn how to interact with the page, you will be able to meet your client’s expectations a lot easier.

Also, if you are learning another programming language, like R or Python, I would recommend you have an actual end goal. If you are learning French and are never going to go to France, I don’t see the point. Unless you’re going to the Ivory Coast.

9. Do more good deeds for others    

Share your expertise by attending some analytics events. Measurecamp or Web Analytics Wednesday are great events that happen in London and elsewhere. You won’t necessarily be doing anyone else a good deed every time, but you will feel good sharing and will probably get a drink or two.

10. Find the love of your life

Analyst seeks Analyst for long walks in the rain. Must like: spreadsheets, custom dimensions and heavy metal. Non-smoker and dataholic.  

I’d say this could relate to a tool. Find the one you love and work out the nuances and idiosyncrasies. Become a real expert on that tool before moving on. In terms of analytics tools, a lot of information can be transferable across platforms, it’s mainly naming that needs translated. Can you tell I like Google’s stuff the best? Didn’t think so.

11. Find a better job

Follow all of the above and that will fall into place. Unless you work in Mezzo Labs.  Then you’ve already got the greatest job you’ll ever have. I am definitely going to get promoted after this.