Measurement is critical to making data-driven decisions, but web analytics and other data must be shared, visualized, and put in context to have the most impact in an organization. Google Analytics, for example, is a powerful tool with good “out of the box” tools to view your website data. But its reporting, charting, and collaboration features are relatively limited, so that your ability to factor in other data, identify findings, and convince others to take action is limited, as well.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to import web analytics data into a tried-and-true tool for sharing, visualizing, comparing, and performing calculations on data: the spreadsheet. Tools such as Excellent Analytics, GA Data Grabber, and Nick Mihailovski's Google Apps Script automatically access the Google Analytics API to drop data into your Excel or Google spreadsheets, without manual exporting or pasting. Now functionality like the ReportBuilder tool we use with the premium Adobe SiteCatalyst powered by Omniture is available to users of free web analytics.
Once data is in Excel and Google Spreadsheets, all of the usual functionality is available to manipulate data to your heart’s content, compare it to goals and other metrics, and share it with colleagues. This means that all of the spreadsheet’s formulas and functions can be used to slice and dice the data, and pivot tables and charts can be used to customize reports and dashboards to communicate the meaning behind the data. More customized output translates to more buy-in, better recommendations, and better data-driven decisions.
Imagine you just launched a campaign to increase engagement on your website. It’s the second campaign in two months, and the third campaign since this month last year. You want some of your reports to specify the exact landing page URLs, but you want other reports to roll up the data. You also want to update these reports in a heartbeat.
How would you do this with Google Analytics standard reports? The short answer is – you can’t. Google Analytics will provide you with trend lines, and you can even compare them to one prior time period. But you can’t create one report of the data the way you need it.
But with a spreadsheet import tool, all of the analysis you need is possible, if you are willing to do a fair amount of setup. Some examples: