Google Analytics may not be the sexiest topic, but getting your data reporting right can make a huge difference to your content strategy.
Plus, if you're not fully prepared for Google Analytics 4, then now is definitely the time to start getting ready - even if you're not going to move over yet.
In this Business as Unusual webinar, the brilliant Jill Quick takes us through common Analytics mistakes she sees in her consultancy work, how to report right, and what we need to know and do in preparation for GA4.
Jon: Welcome to "Business As Unusual" for January, 2022. Today, we're talking about new year and new analytics, and we're joined by the fantastic Jill Quick. Hello, Jill.
Jill: Hello. I always love these things, 'cause everybody says nice things about me at the beginning. It's like, you know-
Jon: We have had lots of people tweet and say how excited they are for this because you're on it.
Jon: And now that I've met you a couple of times, I can understand why people are so excited, so-
Jill: That's kind of you to say.
Jon: Jill really knows her stuff for analytics. I'm going to let her do a proper introduction, but today we're just going to go through some of the mistakes that Jill sees in Google Analytics and I'm going to learn some new words there, I think. We're going to talk about data visualisation and the future of analytics being GA4 probably, mainly. Throw your questions in the chat or the Q and A, Andy will pick up on those. And don't wait to ask 'til right at the end, you'll forget. Ask as we go along. We may not answer it as we go along, we'll probably answer it at the end, but ask as we go along and we'll save them up. So let's officially start by asking Jill, blimey, how did you get so in-depth into Google Analytics, Jill?
Jill: Ooh, right. If you'll indulge me and my leaky eye. I've started a new mascara today, like that was an error this morning. So about me, what do I say? So I run the Colouring In Department and I focus on all things to do with measurement. So analytics, data visualisation, a bit more big query with GA for now. And I think I was to have a job title because I work for myself. So I could call myself anything. I'd say analytics, consultant, and trainer. So I help run and get the most out of that measurement with trading reviews, audit, troubleshooting, consulting, that kind of thing. How am I got where I am today? I've been in digital marketing for a very long time. I came in from a marketing background. So I did my in the late 90s because I am that old. And then I went on to do a marketing management degree and then a postpartum in marketing. So when I found my home really early on and I'm very grateful for that. So all my jobs in various different sectors being in marketing, I lovingly adopted the name. The colouring in department is a company name because I have as I'm sure any of you on the call have had the department, the marketing stuff I got called it, oh, Jill she's in the marketing department. We were doing that nebulous marketing stuff. And seeing as the revenue takers, not the revenue makers, we make things look nice. You know, you send some emails to found, get me a poster done. And I thought, you know what? Fine, let's own the phrase. Do the work well. So doing all my marketing feeling pretty confident. And then Mt. 14, 15 years ago, the luffa analytics, a happy accident that happened. I worked in a company and the sales director was making a move for part of my marketing budget and some of my staff, because as far as they were concerned, we were the nebulous department and they needed us, but they needed sales more. So we like, well, we can justify taking that Bridget. And I heard a quote on my post-grad, which was the Edward Deming's part, which I've used loads, which is without data. You're just another person with an opinion. So I thought if I'm going to go into a meeting and say, I know the work that my team are doing on social and SEO and paid media and whatever, I know it's having an impact, but I need to prove it. I need to have evidence. So I need to go to the board meeting, not with a warm, fuzzy feeling going. I think this is working. My bell is telling me this. I have to show the creative work, all of its beauty to eat, but I also needed to show the numbers. So that started the journey into getting into the weeds of GA because it's not, I think there's a meme of it, of like trying to learn something and you're like, I get it. Oh my God. I don't know what I'm doing. This is amazing. Oh my God, it's terrible. That's how the journey has been over the last 14 years. So I've done about 250 audits. Now I've trained thousands of people and this learning journeys re-energized again, because of all the GA four stuff. So I think, 'cause I found my home and I like it. I like the structure of it, but it's also, it's got the side of it. That is a little bit creative in how you apply the data in the visualisation. So yeah. So I'm sticking with what I like and what I'm good at.
Jon: It's good that isn't it, that 'cause a colouring department colouring in department is I always used to refer to my mate, Ryan who's a creative director is I'll get the guy with the pens because you know, it's derogatory for the amount of brilliance that people with that kind of talent bring. But actually, yeah, the applying Google analytics data or any data creatively is where that is where the real kind of gold nuggets lie. Don't need marketing so often. So we have so many people, I mean, and I'm sure you see it more than us where people come to us and they say, well, we've been measuring all of this and analytics and that's why we're doing this in GA. And what does it tell you? Oh, I don't know. That's just what we measure. Right. Okay. Should we start? Should we figure out what you need to measure and what's going to help you grow the business. It's a, funny, old thing and I'm glad you got it. Right. My zoom is just absolutely playing up. But the rest of you are having a good time by the looks of things. So that's cool. Right? I am going to so sorry. I just I've crashed it. So that's good. I can see Jill, Jill you, when we first spoke about doing this, you said that one of the things or we asked actually, what were some of the common mistakes you sell and you the word confabulation. Tell us about some of the mistakes and teachers. Yeah. Teachers, what it means.
Jill: Yeah. So confabulation is alive. Honestly told, I think the word first came to be reading all of the wonderful Brenae brown stuff. The theme for my pandemic self-worth I was like, oh my God, that's the best way to describe all the stuff that I see in audit, because you don't want to turn around to some of the day. So out of the 230 plus all day, I've never seen an account. That's correct. There's always something that needs tweaking between the collection and configuration point. It's the boring stuff that nobody wants to do. They just want to go to the report when it spits out what it's processed.
Jill: And you end up having people presenting reports and they look brilliant and it like, here's the stuff I'm like the data's wrong. You are lying to people about the numbers that you have, but you're doing it honestly because I've never met anybody. That's intentionally trying to fake the numbers. You know, we're not Boris Johnson in the government here.
I might get some hate tweets now, but it's like, that's fine. But. But yeah, I think that there's this thing about confabulation of data that are referring to, which is the lies honestly told in your analytics that you are presenting data and you think it is correct. You think the data is solid. And actually when you to pick it, you go, oh actually this has been processed wrong, which means this and this hasn't been done. So it means that. So it's kind of a nicer phrase to say, there's a few things we need to tweak. You don't know what you don't know, but now let's work to fix it, get cleaner data. So you've got more, more integral data to focus your decisions on.
Jon: Right? Right. I think I, as an example of this this morning, actually, I think when we spoke about it, I was like, oh, you know what? We see that a lot where we had someone who was saying Facebook traffic to some particular top selling products has absolutely dropped off a cliff week on week compared with last year. And some of that was they sell entertainment products. So some of that is because people are back at work and not in locked down and all that kind of stuff. But we were looking at it and I'm not that well, there's an awful lot of Facebook data showing up in paid that actually also looks like it's in just referral traffic. And then, oh, that, I don't know when I was looking at it, I was thinking, how big is this problem? If we, if you've got a problem like that, where you know that your numbers are slightly wrong, how big is that problem? Does it poison the whole, well?
Jill: How many dependents? It just depends. It can be. So I've had similar problems like that where the tagging of a UTM parameter was incorrect. So the traffic was going in the wrong bucket. So this company, it had big implication because it was a 2 million pound Bridget. So somebody was pretty that the numbers didn't show what they thought it was going to show, but it wasn't an in-house team doing. It was the agencies. It was a big problem because they turned around to the agency. And when you said you knew what you were doing and it's not tracked properly, let's fix it. And normally if there's, if there is an issue somewhere, I still want to uncover other things that person or department that was responsible for, you can start to find are the other things when you move your stones around, so to speak. So, yeah, it's, for some businesses, it's not an issue. 'Cause there was, there's one where they're like, oh, we only spend 100 pounds and we're just testing. It's not a problem. Or the things you can do things to too, which we'll talk about that completely illegal. And it's not that's a big problem. So I try, whenever I do an audit to work through and have like a traffic light system in terms of, everything you could look at, and this is the same for anything, right? SEO work, email work. There's a long list that you can do, but it needs to be prioritised to go. This is red and it's on fire. And we have to approach this immediately. And then the next task after that will be, fix this afterwards, you Amber. And then the green is like, these are the nice to have, but let's wait for that. The tendency is that people want to do the fun stuff, the exciting, sexy stuff, but you're like, no, no, no, no. Let me get you back to this critical problem over here. And normally they are the boring jobs that nobody wants to deal with, but they have a big impact on the end of the work. So I'll give you some examples then. So I've got that. I had, we had some, Bonnie did one cause I was trying to think with the time that we have, what could I talk about? So one, well, I'll talk about three actually. So there's three issues that have come up in the same. It's not necessarily the same order of differences that about would, did that retain, that's the word I'm looking for? But equally they were the same problem I've found in the last audit I've done in the last year. One of them was looking at how your house is set up in order. So we have an account property and a view. And I like to think about the way that you structure your GA account as a house. So your website is a home. The account is your roof. Anything you do to the roof impacts the house. Your property is your website. So it's a floor and some people have a bungalow. Some people have high rise, flats. Anything you do to the property will impact the windows, which your little windows, I've got three in this room. Now reporting views that you look in and see what people are doing. And you want drapes and blinds, otherwise known as filters to alter what you see and what people are doing inside that particular property. Now the configuration, because we all get the same stuff. It's almost like Ikea. We all get the same dimensions and metrics and the same settings, but some of us don't put our house in the right order or one of the big problems is, and again, it sounds boring, but it's really important is your referral exclusion list, which is a property level. So when you fix this, it impacts every single reporting view because that's the nature of the structure. So some examples of this, I did an audit for any commerce brand who didn't add all of that tech stack payment providers to that referral exclusion list. Now what happened here? You know, the issue, somebody goes on the website, they buy something, they pop off to the payment, gateway it, the money has gone through, they loop back to the website saying, thanks for your dash. Here's what's going to happen with your order. Or maybe they've done an events they've gone to a third party tool to go, yep. You've signed up for the webinar. You've signed up to event bright, something like that. Literally back to the website. If you don't have them, it's referral exclusions in the acquisition report, the way that Google's processing your data. It thinks that that last point, that last non direct source and medium is medium referral. And then stores the name of the tools. So, Sage or PayPal or something like that.
Jill: And what happens is because you, if not, you've been a dog, like tiny stuff on the back, running around, chasing your tail. It means when you go into your acquisition reports and you go, where did all of our money come from? And it's like, oh, we all went to referral. And when you dig into it, I'm like it went to yourself. It went to York, same stores. So this referral exclusion list helps identify who gets credit for the conversion. So you would go in and add these in your referral exclusion list. It essentially says, dear Google, here's a list of websites. Treat them as direct. And that's what happens to it, bookies them into direct. So if I go through that same process website Lupoff to buy payment gateway loop back again, Google then goes not medium referral source PayPal. Now direct. What was the stores before then? Was it email? Was it re-targeting? Was it SEO? Was it that things got a little bit easier? I know the problem I see is a lot of fragmentation in the behaviour, all pages report. So if acquisition problem is how people find your website, behaviour is all sorts of reports to tell you, well, what did they do when they're on that website? And I had a client at Christmas and they said, oh, we've got loads of problems with like working out a common question that we get from the boss, how many people went on set page landing, page blog, page, campaign, page, whatever. And he said, it's taken as it's taken us day. And I'm like, why is it taking your days? Like, shouldn't take you days. And he went, oh, and he opened up a screen for me. And this fragmentation of data happens a lot because Google, maybe not. So helpfully will recall the exact URL of a person's session, but every single unique session for every single unique person on the website and these parameters get added quite commonly their problems, Facebook. So you had all of these pages. So you went into the all pages report and there was like 20,000 rows of data. And he's like, oh, I'd like the 20,000 rows of data. Not website either. He's like, I don't understand why it's so bad. So we looked at it and he's like, here's the part I'm going to say, like for that blog. And he's like, here's 200 page views. And then he said he had to go through and then manually find where he found the page view because it was our doing the Facebook clid garbage at the end. And they were all singular page views because they're unique to beat the person. So people coming in and we don't know hospitals didn't hear that really drama. My having, I picked up on more things, I think now as well, destructing anyway. Oh, good, good, good. Just just me freaking out about without yes. So this Facebook problem, they had it with Twitter, with LinkedIn. They had it with even common things like password resets when somebody forgets their password and they go to forward slash password reset and then loads the gobbledygook.
Jill: Yeah. And they were like, well, we don't know XL enough to do the witchcraft to kind of like get it out. So we're manually counting it. And I'm like, oh, there is a fix for that. You know? And this is done at view levels. So again, anything you do to the account, whole house and a property, all of your windows, anything that view level. If I cleaned this window here, view the window does not get clean. So you have to do this to every single reporting view. So you go into the view settings and you find exclude query parameter, and you will go in and put Facebook clid and then you'll pour like Twitter. I think like 10 is a little fat, little Ember still fat, which cracks me up. I've got a bad sense of humour, but then you also want to go in and put things like maybe order ID, maybe password reset, because essentially all this setting does, is it cleans up the URL. It just scrubs off all of the stuff from that query parameter that you don't want, which would then consolidate all of those URLs to one. So we wouldn't have 20,000 rows of data individually. You'd go, the blog had this many page views and it wouldn't be 200. It would be 490 because it's added all of them together.
Jon: Oh, my goodness.
Jill: You're willingly passing this out and think this is more, I don't get about the dark web. Like some people kind of why you'd want to attack websites and do it, but they do it. They exist and they do it for profit. So this is something that you really need to focus on. The, his advice when you've identified, which you are holding you to problems. You said, if you were using forms that collect sensitive information, name, address, that kind of thing, email address, whatever, make sure the form is sent with post rather than get. And that will mitigate that risk of loading sensitive information. And, it's something that you'd need to speak to that about. I've honestly seen examples where somebody used a plugin and they've used a third party tech tool and didn't realise that this was the impact of it. So I think sometimes, you do things again, confabulation you doing, honestly, you're lying to yourself as you do it. So my advice is you both need to look to see if you have any PII in your analytics. And a quick way to do that is to go into all pages report. And then while you've got your dimensions and metrics, and you got like a little search bar.
Jill: Put the app site and hit search and you'll need to go through different date ranges. 'Cause it could be a legacy thing. It could be a new thing. And then you'll start to see hopefully no tooth on your dashboard. If you start seeing URLs with email addresses, I've seen it with password IDs. I've seen it with telephone numbers. Like you name it, I'm looking at it going, oh man, they need to be bent with fire quite bad. I also find it sometimes in event data. So if you've got any events firing like on forms, you're tracking them track the action and label of your events. Same thing. Go in the search bar, click the app, see what you've got.
Jon: This is gold.
Jill: If you have found that you have PII in your analytics account, we need to isolate where it's coming from. The URL should give you an indication. So the last one that I did, I'm like, it's their activation page. It's a welcome email. And it was a sales score. So we could go back to it and go, hello IT dropped for you. Could you rework how this form is being made? So we don't leak this information across the worldwide web and potentially get hacked. But then you also have to go through the process of finding the data in GA and asking Google to delete it.
Jill: And this is a bit of a boring job, but essentially once you've found it, you can build a segment, a session segment to say, find a page that contains apps and go to your audience, user Explorer report that shows all of your client IDs. And then the segment you're basically saying, show me all of the client IDs that have the PII in them.
Jill: And then you export it. But it's a job that needs to be done, export it into your Excel document, put it into a master list, pick cause you can have the same client ID in different times. And then I make it sound easy script to Google the API and say it was a naughty list, please. It's a couple of hours work. It's not terrible. You just need to know the process to do it again. And I'll send you a link for where you need to go. If you need to have a look at that, the other option is burn it with fire, which is there's a setting at property level called data deletion requests. Some people might have seen it and thought didn't know Why is that? If you can't isolate the client IDs, then it's a bit of a blunt tool. This, because it can't isolate which client ID, which pages have the PII in them. So you would essentially say to all of 2018, the URLs, they all get deleted. And I have had that where there was a case that was so bad. I might, we need to delete all of the data, which meant we had to export data, obviously with the segment to say, don't include the PII. You don't want to populate the problem somewhere else so that they had some legacy data to work with later. And then we just deleted it. GA4, which I know we'll talk about later. It's a much easier solution, bare property level. You can just say, "Hey, find any, any signs in the URL, just delete those URL." So it's a cleaner kind of way of doing it, but the way that most people are doing it at the moment, there's big problems. So in terms of like the to-do list, my first point when I find PII is go to the source, the technology you're using, if it was a third party, I get to them.
Jill: One was a well-known shopping platform. I think they fixed it now, but I found a lot of clients, not that this is a common thread. And then if you've got any forums speaking to developers or agencies, and again, I think people build something and don't know, it's almost like that T-shaped marketer you're. So into your depth of your subject matter, you don't realise the causal impact of an action that you've done somewhere along the line. So it's almost like those pad metrics almost, but you don't realise that you're connected. So yeah. So you need to kind of get it fixed. I mean, it's helpful to know these things. Again, I've never met anybody that willingly wanted to break the law and open a back door for somebody to hack their website. But it's useful information to know. Anyway, we'll talk about something jolly in a second, 'cause that's a bit I'm not going to talk about PII again.
Jon: Yeah. Really useful though. And really useful to think about, particularly for those of us who are at agencies on the call or for people who have multiple websites to go, right. Well, at least, particularly as Joe says, we'll share the show notes. We'll put them out on an email in the next couple of days. So you'll get all the links to this stuff, but having a bit of a process to one, identify if you've got a problem and then see if you can fix it like with a little bit of surgery. And as you say, if he can't fix it with surgery, then you have to have that hard conversation about burning it with fire.
Jon: Which in particular, and again, I really, I'm really glad you said about making sure that you take what data you can. And even if you make it live somewhere else in an Excel, at least you've got some things that you can do that historic data comparison, which is kind of what we were talking about, how we're going to get on to GA4 for later. But that's one of the things that was at the back of my mind, from what you said about GA4. So I'm looking forward to covering that the... we also talked about data visualisation and how to, how to maybe it's tell stories a bit more with data. I mean, Hey, you're the colouring in department, here, the army by that... can you share some of the ways in which you like to see that done more often?
Jill: Where I get to work with the client more term, it's always lovely to do the audit side to go collection configuration. Here's your problems, how to fix them then training and how could them work with the data and get something out of it and then building the report. 'Cause that's why we're using analytics in the first place you want to report at the end of the day to do something. Unfortunately, we got what I live in the colon, number six, it's like, here you go here. And I'm like looking at, and then you send it around the teams. And I think like we obviously can't get away from the fact that we have to report on our work.
Jon: Yeah, perfectly.
Jill: So we create the, and I honestly think that sometimes the charts and the lines and the going up and the down, it's a way to, tangibilize the work that we do. 'Cause I think there's a lot in marketing, the artsy side of it, the craft that we do, there's not always an output. So the charts and the graphs kind of go, this is the time spent kind of thing. And I honestly think that part of my marketing. So anyway, dive a little bit, every time a report is not read, no action is made or worse. You'd spent days, hours, months, weeks, whatever, building a report. And then somebody just looks at it. He goes, interesting. And you're like... What? I've just spent lots of time on that. So what's really important for me is to if, to create dashboards that visualise data in a meaningful way, but how to visualise the impact of the company's objectives. And there is a process that you can work through to kind of start and finish a blank sheet of paper or blank XL blank data studio to get something a little bit better. So for me, there's obviously three things that we need to think about. One is the data. So is it clean? Is it valid? It's not breaking the law. It's not confabulated with all those. Fragmentations like, it's as good as it can be. And you're pretty confident about the data that you're using. Because without that, we haven't got anything, you then need to have an idea of how you're going to visualise it. So it's clear and concise. And then you need to think of a way of how are you going to structure those visuals in the narrative, using those visuals and context to do what you want them to do. And for me, this is where user experience comes into play. There is a limit to how much the eye and the brain can process information. We never all this from the stuff that we do about copywriting and writing successfully for the web and building products. Yet we ignore all of that when we're doing our own internal work in a company or as an agency presenting stuff to your clients. And we worked to reduce the cognitive load of our dashboards and people should look at it and get it quickly. So we have to remember that you're not building the dashboard for you. You weren't building it for somebody else. And I have to say that that has been the hardest thing to train my brain to do. I used to do loads of reports in my career, and I'm really proud of them. I might sit down, look at my fancy dashboard and looking back, they were complete number. See, I got it when team got it.
Jill: But when I presented it to anybody else, they were like, don't really know what I'm what I'm looking at. Or what's the point in it, or this is Jill's way of tangible lines in that the colouring in department is doing something. And either way, if you won't go in to do a report, the whole point is you need to get an action because that is the whole point. Somebody needs to take something away or approve something like otherwise, why you doing it? So my formula that I use and I've got this as a PDF that I'll share later, I go through a number of questions. So I'll do this with my clients. I do this with my students. And if people don't answer these questions properly, I don't play. So the first one is what is the point of the report? Like we shouldn't be in creating reports for the sake of creating reports. So the goal here is to make decisions based on the report, not for the sake of reporting, very tempting to throw everything together and making it pretty. We don't want to just go stuff happened. So what is it that you're trying to say? What questions are you trying to find an answer in the business or for the stakeholder? So you could be doing something like we've just hired an agency to do loads of social for us. So we want to highlight some specific KPIs to show the growth of social traffic and the impact that that had for ourselves and the company, knowing that from the starting point is like, okay, there's a reason why I need to get out of that today and do this to do list and do it properly. The second question comes around, who is getting the report. So just like having the idea of a persona and I don't really like personas. I like customer empathy maps, but we'll use the language persona for think about having reporting personas. So who's getting the report. What do they want? What sorts of person are they? And that gives you an idea about how much information to give these people and allows you to highlight the metrics that matter to them. So if you're presenting to the CEO, he might want just really high level numbers like sales return on investment conversion rate, and then like job done. Thank you very much. Jill head of marketing though. Might want to know how many users did we get from the website and which marketing channels. And can you give me a breakdown of conversion rate by channel? You get that to the CEO and it's like, why are you giving me this? You're going way too deep high-level numbers. And you've got to remember as well. And this was a hard one for me to learn that there's really only one or two people that can ultimately act or confirm the next steps of the report. And that's how you work out. Everybody that gets the report. Yes. We all want a little batch to say we're important, but really there's one or two that really are the important ones. What is the action you want them to take when they get that report? Should they go, yes. You still have your budget of agency. Carry on. Do you want somebody to go? Yes, you can have some money to go and do that campaign. Do you want somebody to say yes, carry on with your work, hire a new person. You need to know what that outcome is meant to be. When you sending that report. Once you've got that nailed, you can start thinking about the key messages. So the person that's getting the report, what is the main thing you want them to know or understand about what you're doing? So could it be the, your budgets under pressure? So you want to show the return on ad, spend of a campaign and highlight that you found an opportunity to move project from one campaign to another, and that's what you do. Right? So remembering that there's always one to two people that can do that. Action helps you understand what are the data points that I want this person to really focus on. And then we can think about how we can make that message easy for them. So I'm sure you've all heard of Steve cruise. I'm sure you've got the books and learn the office. Don't make anything. We book it little and Diddy and that'd be good to kind of get into user experience. He's got that thing. That's like, don't make me think if I'm looking at the report and I thought asking questions about the data you have failed in how you built that data. Somebody should look at it and go got it. So how can you visualise the data in a simple way that doesn't get them asking questions? You know, you're not unclear about anything and there's ways that you can use certain data types to reduce that cognitive load. So, one thing that I like to do is if I've got lots of data on my use heat maps, as a way of doing things or bar charts or something, and put it in a hierarchy left to right, 'cause it's logical of how we look at things.
Jill: And let's say I am presenting the data to a particular person. And I know the metrics that they care about. I will race scale all of the metrics and only colour in the things that I want to pop out. So when they look at the screen, it's a bit like bolding fixing points on copy that they can look at it and go, wow, that's a lot of sales for social media. 'Cause I've highlighted that copy corporate Palos. If you want it, you can have your own colour scheme for how you're going to design what you're going to be doing in the hierarchy of the metrics that you do. And something else that really bugs me when I see lots of templates, I mean, they're a great starting point on like data studio. There's never any bloody headings, here's a chart. And I'm like. what am I looking at? So nice plain English titles. There's nothing wrong with going, how many people came to this website from organic? Not everybody's looking at the data, knows what you're showing them. So nice, clear heading, you can change the size of your metrics to ahead of want her to have a three kind of approach. We can do all of this. And the final piece of this process is from giving my old life is I used to teach a digital marketing course. It was a 10 week programme and we had a module on it. And I think I did about 11 or 12 minutes since there's a best for hello to any former students we did in this user experience module. It really got me to think about using UX in the thing not to do with website pages and email templates. So I started to apply the application of wireframing and why a frame, a report before I started to build it, because it's so easy to adjust the wire frame and get the wire frame signed off and then go and build it. And honestly, just sketching out that first draught. It doesn't have to be fancy post-it notes, pens. I used pieces of paper and scribble, send it to the person and go with this what you were after. Yeah, but I want that number and that's not very clear. And, then it also means when I've bloated up data studio or a bloated up like Excel, it's not scary blank space. I'm like, I need this dimension. I need this report. So building, it gets a lot faster. The hard bit is when you spend days building a rapport and then you get asked to do a men's and you're like, that was 10 days working total, do a wire frame first. And then it gets a lot easier when you want to build that rapport and things that are a little bit more joyful. Dare I say. Particularly after the earlier rant about fractional fractionalized data or fragmented, excuse me, data.
Jon: That's really cool. You're going to share and I should, it bears repeating for the people who've joined. If Jill is going to share some links to places where you can go and find useful topics can do further reading or further learning on this stuff. So when she's rushing through this stuff, that's not me saying you're rushing at all Jill, but sometimes when you're lending it one area, when you're doing your emails over here. Yeah, exactly. And I can imagine people like doing their emails, thinking, oh, I missed that. That's the guy that's the bit I tuned in for and I've missed it. So don't worry. There's going to be a watch again. And you can follow some links that Jill's going to share with us. In fact, I'm going to stick one in the chat now because the resource page on your website at the colouring in department, it's just fat. It's got loads of really useful stuff. So I'm putting that in there now, just in case anybody needs to leave before we get to the end and start doing outlets about follow Jill on this and go visit our website. we, so we've got data veers and I've really love your idea of, I also love the fact that you kind of object to the term buyer personas. I'm legally obliged not to say that I object to that because we're a HubSpot partner agency and I can actually be burned by the men and orange robes if I say that. But yeah, I kind of it's getting a bit tired.
Jill: One dimension. I think there's something that was on Twitter that had, is it prince Charles and Led Zepplin and they have the same characteristics. My, we have a thing in the resources, which there's something called the consumer CrossFit that we built, which layers the customer empathy map, stages of awareness and your kind of query parameters. And then you could, they all align really nicely. So the thinking feel part of an empathy map, although I call it the washing machine at the brain, like all the secrets you typing to Google, because nobody's going to know Google will never tell you if you're like, I mean, my son does it all the time, but especially homeschooling Google, what is a fraction? Or I don't know. I don't want to admit that. I don't know. So I'll Google it. And that's all the thinking and feeling and what's going on in my head, but they're also very much the who, what, when, where, why questions? That's all your blog content.
Jill: So moving beyond this is Jill, she's 39 and she has two children. It might miss some user user-friendly content it's flat. Do you need to know more about me? What do I see in my life? What do I hear? What influences me like beautiful. When you almost take the persona and pop it up into a 3d character, it's much more useful, but yes, there are still very, when I've taught it some university, they still have to use those.
Jill: But then I tell the students like, just ignore what you do in a job job, get your exam results.
Jon: And you have to use them. And because that's what everybody does, but actually this is the way you make them useful. This is the way you give them some flavour and you know, your approach to the pain and, or identify their pain and find out who they want to be rather than, what shop they go to to buy their shopping. That's not so useful as what their pain is and who do they want to be tomorrow and who they want to be next year. But I love, I love the idea of using that for creating reports because I've been, I have been the person who's created some terrible personas, 10, 15 years ago. Good God. They were useless. But then also I've created some really useless reports. So just combining, you've nailed it for me there with a think about who it's for .
Jill: It's not that you've done something wrong. This is a learning journey. Like I have this as like a little mantra, like it's always a learning journey. So when I started to learn this, it was just having a bit more emotional intelligence to go, okay, Joe, we're on a learning journey. Let's look at the reports that you did. How could I make this better? Oh, look, there's no title. Look, there's no hierarchy. I would look up to in a pie chart. And we're terrible at identifying pie charts for that scale. Let's change that. And it's just pull things to kind of make things better. And it's really joyful when you then get somebody responding to go. I understood what you were presenting. Like there's no, there was no drama. I know we've all been in a report as well. I know I'm not the only person that is identified this when I show too much information, somebody in the room gets obsessed with the wrong metric and the entire room. We've lost them. That backs. Right? Don't look at that. We're looking at this over here.
- Then I might, you've caught my eye in my pilot meetings, which is why it's important to just really think about what you're doing anyway.
Jon: Yeah. I agreed. Andy's flagged it to us. I could see it coming. I suspect we were going to, we might not have time for any questions, but that's good because I didn't say get them in early. You haven't gotten me in early. So we'd been chatting. Unless once again, I've missed all the questions running by, but I don't think I have, so, okay. Talk to us about GA4, 'cause I'm a bit terrified by it. So tell us.
Jill: Yeah, I'm going to have to, I thought about like what, what do I share today in the time that we have, and you know, there's no slides and you just giving it by the power of voice. One thing that I will share everything is the analogy of where we're going to give you an idea of the journey you have ahead of you. So I like to think of analytics as a mode of transportation. So when analytics first came to pass, for those of you that remember 2005 people bought urchin and urchin analytics, UI became the first version of Google analytics. So if analytics was a mode of transportation, then it would have been a bike. And we were all delighted. 'Cause I remember I'm old enough to have worked on websites, where we had a little ticker for page views and we thought it was amazing. And then Google turned in and we were like, holy smokes. This is pretty special rolled into 2007 and Google the like, we we've got your present and upgrade. He's a moped. And our analytics was born and we looked at it because we're like, oh, it's so much faster. It has an end game, like amazing. But we only got so far, you got a bit tired with the data and if it rains, you got soaked to the bone. So in 2012, circa 2012, Google made some massive changes and we got all universal analytics and this is the core of analytics. And this is our GA three, the third version. And apart from them going and creating a GA 360 product. So if I have a standard food car, the 360 pack, the Porsches and the fancy bits, because they have the six figures to buy. So we've had pretty much because it's now 2022. We have the car for nearly 10 years. And in tech land is actually quite old. When you think about it.
Jill: And even though I know there's a lot of people that are like, I hated to hate GA three, universal does anything from the first time I looked at it, the interface has changed, but it was such a subtle change over the last 10 years. You didn't notice it. What we've got now with this full version GA4 it's nothing like the car, I kind of disagree with the language of being an upgrade. 'Cause an upgraded I'm taking your car. I'm giving you a Tesla. I might upgrade GA4 is a completely different data model to the car. So it is essentially, we're not even on a road anymore. It's a helicopter. So we all now need to learn how to fly a helicopter. So the approach is, well, I liked my college jail and I don't want it to change hard 10 years old. Google's not putting any money into it anymore. So it's not going to be serviced. No, by moti this car is going to start to break down. It's not going to work. It will eventually grind to a halt. All the money's going in to the helicopter. Now, if you're going to learn how to fly a helicopter or drive a car and you need to get a licence. So in my head, that's the theory side. And then there's the practical side. So the theory side is where you learn about Mitsubishi and the doing and the thinking. And then the practical side is rolling up your sleeves and then going, right. We're going to like build the events and do what we need to do. So what I've created is something called the helicopter method, which is the navigation plan to break down how to approach GA4 in phases. I'm going to talk you through those because I think that kind of the feeling that you get with GA4, it's a mix of, oh my God, this is really exciting and wonderful with complete fear and dread. And you can feel two things at the same time, but it's still a bit of a panic and time is moving forward. So this is going to, to change. And when I got a massive to do list, I don't know about you, but I'm a lot calmer when it's broken down into nice bite size pieces and I know what I'm doing. And when I'm doing, you don't have to cook the whole thing in one go. So if we're looking at phase one for the heat talking GA about Jill tagging, so getting GA4, ready, but still using the call. So the helicopters on the ground still driving your car. So the key objective of phase one is to set up and activate the basic configuration. So we're talking about adding the configuration code to get exactly what you get out of the pin, nothing fancy. You just got the enhanced event. And so that's going to track things like YouTube videos, if they're embedded or file downloads nice and simple. And at that stage, you should have a basic setup like core configuration version, one done early stage. It's an opportunity from the learning side to understand is the difference between how UA and GA4 work in terms of their data model. What I'm finding from a lot of people is when they do look at the data from the car and the helicopter, the go apples to apples, it's not apples to apples. I'm like, well, it's not going to be apples to apples. It's a car and a helicopter. So it's apples for oranges. It's not going to match. You'll use it. And sessions are not going to match. The default channel. Groupings are not the same. They're better in GA4 so that won't match what you have in universal. The way that they calculate sessions is different. I like it in universal. It will count a new session. If I have, like, I don't know, I come off email and then I go on Google apps because I've had two different sources. It triggers two different sessions that doesn't happen in GA4 special account might be a little bit lower.
Jill: But we've all been used to these fluffy numbers. So the difference that we need to learn and get used to 'cause this, this is happening once you've got that baseline and for timelines, my measurement friends given the time that we have, and I know we haven't got enough time to go through everything. I will walk through this quickly. I would want to get phased wander. And by October, 2022, because that is then two years since GA4 has been about. And there's a lot of things going on in the analytics place that I think will accelerate the use of GA4 a little bit faster. Those of you that have used Google ads and Google search console. Do you remember when you had your version and your new version, and then after a while Google went a new version. Only this is going to happen. This is going to happen with GA. How, when do you know? But I know some 360 customers that have been telling me that they can opt out of GA4 this year, but not next year. So that tells me 2023. So what's happening.
Jill: I can visually see 2023. It's not that it's not like 2020. We like we've got ages. They fight the pandemic time has made it hard. So we do phase one phase two quickly is you will look at what you get out of the box and go, oh my bottle, my business model, my website needs a few extras. Then that's where you'd go. Right? We need to build some additional events. So I'd start with my conversion goals. So do I need to create an event for submission? Do you have e-commerce then you're going to have to build the data layer for e-commerce. You can use the data layer for enhanced e-commerce in UAE and piggyback off that data layer in GA4, but it's still a job to do that. And there's still resources to work. And once you've got phase one and two done, so core configuration, then you've suited up to customise it to your website. Couple of months worth of data. Phase three is where you start to compare and review those reports. So you'll use the alongside your UI reporting. And there are some reports in GA4 that only exist in analytics 360, or they're not even available in the paid version. And I cannot understand why you wouldn't want to use that knowledge, like something that came out last week, which will get you excited in GA4 we can build audiences and audiences can be used for segments and comparison, but can also be used to be a paid media. You can add event count. So you could say, show me people who bought twice in the past week and spent more than the average order value. And these 100 people I'm going to buy an audience. They do Google. Can I have more people that do this? And they'll go, she'll give us been able to do it so we can use that alongside the call, but I can't do that in the car. The car doesn't do it. It's not a fricking helicopter. So you starting to use and you know, get the best out of them. Phase four is where you fine tune that setup. So this, for some of my clients, we're talking nine, 12 months into the journey of GA4, because people don't really know what they want really truthfully until they working in it. So I've got clients that we did, the customization, they've got the forms and then they'll go, Ooh, I'd like to answer this question or we need to build an event for that. Let's do that. Or Google announces a new feature. Oh, should we put that on the roadmap? So this is where at stage four, the teams are getting a bit more confident with the reports they're using the analysis hub. They're building bespoke reports like funnels with funnels. We can add time. Like how long does it take people in minutes, days, hours to do the thing you want them to do. We've got path analysis. So pick an end point and show me the journey of how they got there. But you need to set up the phase one and two to get to that journey. Like you can't be building these reports until you've done that configuration. And it is not as simple as going take upgrade, and then it's done. You need to do something with the collection and configuration because I know we're short on time and undo probably going to start shouting. I haven't got the chat for that reason. So I can't see any hate. The last phase is big query. So some of you might have a lot big query. Not many people even know what that is. Think of big query as the black box to your helicopter. So it's going to store everything, all of your raw data. It's all going to be populated into that black box. Now you can set up a GA for big query export for free. They're allowing us to do it for free. This is normally being a paid thing, 360 sellers and people with money. Now you may think, well, I don't really think I'm going to be using big quamy Jill. I'm like actually I think the learning journeys of marketeers over the next two to five years, it's gotten to understand, write a brief or do the implementation of a big query analysis. Because when we look at the data retention of GA4 if you're on the free version, we got 14 months. If you're on the 360 paid version, you get 50 months. So when you get to the point of wanting to do historical analysis in GA4, you can only go back in those exploration reports for 14 months. So then you're going to have to go into big query to get the previous month. So how about future John by setting up today? So the data's there ready. And there's also some of the little things which you'll need to know about with GA4 where all of the event parameters and their values for your auto enhanced and recommended events. I'll send you a link for all of this. They will populate in the analysis, but anything outside of that you need to publish. Are they custom definition, which is the most sensible language in the world.
Jill: But you'll need to do that for things like keyword data, because that isn't in that lift. If you're doing paid media, you might need to publish them.
Jill: That's where big query comes in again, because it's the black box and it's got everything. So I think we're kind of moving towards rural flying and a, like the Jetsons. It's all exciting. We can do things that we didn't do before. We're all going to have to think about how we migrate over. And if you've got some people that I think can, like I said, it's a journey, right? So we've got work to do. If people are saying, this sounds like a lot of work, you're like, I don't know if I want to do it. Cool beans. My question for you then is which analytics platform are you migrating to? Because if you're not going to move over to GA4 the car is going to break down. So the phase one, two, three, four, five will still be applicable to whatever it is. So we are moving towards those paying micropayments to access all analytics, the 2005 urchin pre-analytics for all is going out the window. Like Google wants to make more money. Google's Google. Like they've got enough money, but yeah, anytime that, but I've got a whole link of this measurement that I'll send on my site. So I've got more detail in this, but I would implore you. You've already started the theory of phase one, just by listening to what we've done today. At least have a look at it. Like just because the data account and get it on your radar because it's coming, whether you like it or not. So we need to start planning and you do not want to be in the position where you want Jule tracking and have some historical data waiting for you. But when you know the car eventually stops working, you want to start planning for that.
Jon: Yeah. Because you're not going to be able to carry that old data from (GA3) .
Jill: The different exactly. So it's just like, here's your old car. And you can go in and have a look and see, the lights might turn on and stuff. We'll be working. I mean, even if like most businesses do a feature on websites, there's any agents do your own website, go through this process with your own website.
Jill: And then be like, right. I understand this a bit more. So you can confidently talk to your clients. And then if you're, in-house there, talk to your agency and ask them what to do .
Jon: And if neither of those things worked for you, you can do what we're going to do, which are just, haven't got around to, even though I emailed you about it before chrismass, which is higher jail to come in and train, you have to this thing. You didn't do it. I did it 'cause I'm already, we're we're already bought into that. I just, we just need to find the time now. But yeah, it, you can talk to Jill about how much it costs. I think it's a great investment, certainly for anybody who's in an agency. And certainly for anybody who is working on a website and a company that's turning over. If you're turning over much more than a million quid, then you really need to speak to Jill about getting this out properly. And you need to do it soon because I know she books up about two to three months in advance. So you've got to move fast, but don't get in before me, please. We have got some questions. Are you okay to overrun by about 10 minutes Jill?
Jill: Yeah, yeah.
Jon: So I'm going to go through the questions that we've got here. Oh, so Dibbs, so who did make it thanks for coming Dibbs. Say anybody who doesn't know Dibbs used to work at nice little monkey and used to run these sessions. So it's nice to have her here. She's saying that yes. She's going to have to use GA4 and classic Google analytics for the, for the foreseeable future while she gets her head round GA4. I think we've kind of answered that that's right, right?
Jill: That's the point like you all, you're not getting the call. Even though Google analytics, they changed their messaging to say GA4 should be your primary analytics solution. Put a pin in that, carry on using the car, fine tune the car, make sure the call is not illegal. Get the best down to their bill, GA4 and start to run it alongside. When you get to phase four, you should be using GA4 as your main source. And UA is the secondary. When you get to phase four, but for me, most businesses, I'm like, yeah, let's just get you on phase one. And then let's do some customization in phase two. Let's see the fun stuff, all the fricking amazing stuff you can do and then start to switch it over. But you can even do simple things. Claire like slowly introduce the concept of new numbers. So because GA4 is event and use a scoped. You don't get all the session data that you used to go. If you've got reports to clients that are all sessions, sessions, sessions, sessions, start off with going users, sessions, you little things to kind of gently ease that journey. But I think when you're looking at the comparisons is that between the car and the helicopter, because of the way that they're the engines where the data models are different. It's, not as simple as to go. It's going to be a complete clone. And that's why when you log in, most people kind of open up and go like, Nope, not for me. And I'm like, yeah, it's a helicopter dashboard is different. So you can't expect it to be like UA or I've made my terms with that. I wasn't happy when this came out, I'm like, it was in the middle of the pandemic. I'm teaching my children and I'm like, not the time now. It's not the time we're busy. We're surviving. So yeah, it's be gentle with yourself, go in phases. You know, that kind of thing.
Jon: Cool. So we've got a couple of questions from Twitter. This might be what we were talking earlier about that thing, where you get the question where it's quite deep consultancy, where you need to know about the person's business.
Jill: Oh, right. Yeah.
Jon: If it is, we can skip past it. How can I configure roll up account view to accommodate 200 plus domains.
Jill: Right. So for those that haven't heard of that term before, this is Google analytics, 360 customers. If you have lots of different properties and sources of data, you can get them all rolled up into one place, seeking out a high level view of what's happening. So you're not having a house with all the layers and layers and layers. It's like a massive skyscraper. You're almost making it a very flat structure where you're bundling everything together. So the example for this, with two and your website, excellent question. Sometimes it's come up a few times with, or the GA4 consultants and companies that I know that are using 360. What would I come and say? Is there 360 GA4 is beta at the moment they announced it at the end of last year. I think it was in the old term. I still can't find the documentation that says, well, how do I do roll-up reporting in GA4 so bit of a cop-out question, I would speak to the GA4 360 sales team and go, hello, what's in the package because the stuff that I've looked at, it's been a bit vague. It's not giving me the exact details. I mean, there are differences, like some good differences between the paid and then the free you get more event parameters. I mean the sample data is tiny because you can have a billion events in page 360, I think is like 10 million, which is still incredibly large for what we're doing. A common thing that may be more useful if you have a cross domain tracking or multiple sites. So shop. Website, website.com, that kind of thing. You can still do the cross domain tracking in GA4. Same rules apply for that. I have found for the it's still for me, it's still a playground to play with. And I've found that when I try to add more than one data stream, so getting up to about eight or nine, it started to fall over a little bit for me. So I don't think it's the case of saying here's 200 properties create 200 GA4 properties. I don't think it would handle that.
Jill: So there must be something in 360. So go speak to the people at 360 and laid the cash. What do we do if you're going to migrate from 360 to beta GA 360, I think on that question as well. He, asked about annotations.
Jon: Yeah. 'Cause I looked at annotation. I think they're fabulous. The best option for me to get around this is if I've used a big query to export the data from GA4 into Google sheets, I then old fashioned added a comment in Google sheets. It's not ideal, but it's the fastest way for me to do it. And you will have in GA4 at the bottom, right? There's a little feedback button. I'm always typing stuff in. Join me in typing stuff in and go tell me, have annotations. Why does it They will listen. But if you're going to be silent, they won't know. So they're not mind readers. So abuse it kindly go into that. The feedback section in GA4 like one thing, and it's not being mentioned, there's no conversion rates for your data. And I'm like, that's great. Having a bank accounts, Google flexible conversions, the law. We're not going to get away from the fact that everybody especially paid media, people are going to want to know what percentage. So that is apparently on the road map for it. But there's got to be a way for them to go. You have 200 events firing for a file download. And I might that as a conversion point, don't make me do math, do the math, you did it in the call. Why can't you do it with a helicopter? Just do the math so.
Jon: Yeah, that's what I’ve been doing. Lovely. And then we've got a couple from Anna. Who's also put in the chat that she annotates the reports in her data studio to make up for the fact that she can't annotate in GA4 which we like, which we like a lot of love in the room. There is yes, but also a lot of hate in the room for no annotations is a bad, it's a bad move. So Anna asks, are there any best practise, practises for naming conventions, for event parameters to avoid duplicating stuff when parameters already exist?
Jill: Right? So if I understand this correctly, so when, and when you have your events and your parameters, I'm guessing this is when you creating an event from an event or creating a custom event. So if I'm, this is where it gets a little bit matter in GA4 you can create an event from an event. So there's an event I'll do an easy one event, may click, which is for all outbound blankets. And then the parameter could be link URL. And the value would be the URL that you just sent somebody off. So you'll have an event cap to say, 200 clicks, or maybe you wanted to create a new event for, so I've got a new call chamber. So all my sites. So I might want to create a new event for the people that go off to Udemy. So my structure is I start the event name and this could also, I guess, be done by the parameters, by taking the name of the person that all the events that I've taken from. So click, I would start my new event with that name and then go underscore Udemy. So why now mentally I've made this event from an event from the event name, click, which parameters I would stick with the recommended list that Google have given us. And they've given us that for a reason, because it's going to pre-populate reports in our system. And I like this because it is going to standardise stuff like there's no longer going to be event data in the call. Oh God, it's like, whatever you feel like labelling it. Like it can vary between business to business. It's going to be nice to know that every single account is going to have the same structure, the same name convention, that's going to be the date. So if you're creating some different parameters, I would borrow from what already exists. And then if you are creating something new, try and build a hierarchy. So you know where you took it from makes sense. I should really have this on a screen, but yeah, that's how I've been doing it. So I'm not just looking at stuff coming. Where did I take that from? How did I build that configuration? Yeah. Oh yes, yes, yes. Documentation is your friend log everything, put it in an Excel sheet because people won't know what you've been doing. So it's useful to have, I mean, you should have this with your UI and you should have some documentation to explain what you're doing, but it's not normally there 'cause that car enough come along . And then.
Jon: Final question from the wonderful Ana big query. Do these need to be set up for each client or is there likely to be an agency type set up for them?
Jill: At the moment with big query. I think getting the client to create it because handing over I have a big query account and if I create it to somebody else and it lives in my account and it transferring ownership can be a right ball. Like it's like this with all Google products, I wasn't at the ability to record some data studio, try and do the handover and you own it. If somebody leaves, they get deleted. So I give them kind guidance and I ask the client to create it so that they have the billing that they have it. I'm sure that there's probably some clients that will, I mean, these are all going to be new services, right. The agencies are going to have to be presenting in. The comment is to go, it's going to be GA4. It's all going to be big query. So yeah, Mike, get them to do it or if you're going to do it, you own it. But then you've kind of locked them in then. 'Cause you over there.
Jon: Yeah. And that always feels a bit underhand. So yeah. It's like, it's just, it's one of those classic. I know a bit more than you. So if I hold onto this, then when you've discovered that I'm not very good or you've just decided that you want to change the way you do things, it makes it difficult to do it. You have to charge, I can charge you lots of money. So yeah, I think the way you do it make sense until they do it so that we can nest accounts perhaps in an admin account. But yeah, that'll be a while I suspect brilliant Jill, that you've absolutely smashed it. Like I've learned so much and I've yeah. And I'm also so excited to go and fiddle around with GA4 now, just like at a very high level, just so that I can have a look at the helicopter and I hope everybody else on the call has done that. We are over. I'm sure everybody's got work to do. Thank you so much for all your preparation or your knowledge and helping us run over a little bit as well. Jill, I hope your kids make it back from McDonald's. Thank you so much. And we'll say goodbye.
Saving clients from bad marketing and design is Andy's MO. He writes helpful blog content on all sorts of marketing topics so that you get the advice you need to take your job by storm.
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