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How To Utilize The Annotations Feature in Google Analytics

Website Analytics January 5th, 2010

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annotationsfeatureinga.jpg

annotations-feature-in-ga It was wonderful news to hear that annotations is a feature now added to Google analytics! Thank you GA team!

There are many articles and news releases telling us all about this. Here is Google’s basic video and a more detailed video (annotations info at 24mins 29s) on all recent feature releases.

I feel it is important to understand WHY this is such an amazing feature and how you might go about using it!

What Are Annotations in Google Analytics?

One of the ongoing issues that many people had with Google Analytics in the past was the inability to add notes to the analytics timeline.  Why was this feature needed?  Often when reviewing the analytics of an account we see spikes or drops in traffic but have a difficult time understanding why this may have happened.  With annotations we can now simply add a note that (for example) a radio campaign was started on January 5, 2010.  The analyst then is able to understand why a rise in traffic may have occurred. 

 Why Do We Like Annotations?

When one of our analysts is examining a campaign they previously had to sift through work orders from our design, Pay Per Click and Organic Optimization teams to understand exactly some of the analytics data they are seeing. For example; the pay per click team may have made campaign updates that had resulted in an increase in converting traffic. Or the organic optimization team might have focused on a new key word and caused a traffic spike. An analyst needs to understand these sorts of things when making evaluations. Annotations allows us to do this.

If you are a smaller corporate running your own analytics profile you probably know everything about your campaign. You understand when adjustments have been made and can correlate the results in your analytics profile shortly afterwards. But I would wager one of my dogs (the one that pees on the floor all the time)….that four or six months down the line you won't remember the exact changes put into place that produced the results. So this tool will be just as useful to you as a larger businesses or analytics companies such as ourselves with teams of people making multiple changes on a website at any given time.

In Summary

I strongly recommend that you work the addition of annotations into your change processes. Each time the site is updated, a campaign change is made, or an offline marketing campaign is in the pipeline, note this (or have the team making the change note it) so that you can see it in the timeline.

Remember analysis is all about actionable reporting on insights that have been delicately uncovered and sometimes that slight change can sneak up on you and have a profound affect on results!  The result? A better understanding of what is working and what is not.

Thanks again Google!

Post By Jon Dyer (26 Posts)

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Jon is the VP of Operations at TechWyse and analyzes everything. This includes your analytics accounts and the difference between Coke and Pepsi. He often shares with us his advanced level knowledge of campaign analysis and Google Analytics.

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