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"In a nutshell, Jason created our marketing analytics capability. He was able to figure out what data we collect, where it is, what was missing, and hook it all up so we canget meaningful, actionable data. Our marketing efforts have improved leads and conversions in some cases by an order of magnitude. He knows his stuff."
Chris Foleen, Marketing Project Coordinator, TransCore, Inc.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Lose 10 lbs. with Google Analytics

Let me start off by putting two ideas out there:

1. I don't think I'm alone in admitting that winter usually brings with it a little extra. Holiday dinners and cold rainy weather have a tendency to keep me home and sedentary. But spring is here, and I'm ready for some outdoor activity. With my Droid, I have an abundance of apps that are made for tracking how far and how fast I can go.

2. There is a thing in analytics called "onclick tracking". Onclick tracking is when you make a call back to the analytics platform and tell it to record an event when something is clicked. This is really important for finding out things like how many people clicked on links that took them off your website. Onclick tracking is also good for recording how many people submitted a form when there is no "thank you" page. Onclick tracking is essential in AJAX environments. Onclick tracking can help you understand what people are reading when you use CSS to hide and display information on a page. Overall, onclick tracking is amazingly versatile and important.

One day these two ideas combined in my mind: Why not use Google Analytics to track and trend how much exercise I do? A simple web interface, a little math, and some creatively named onclick calls could bring it all together.
  1. Select the activity. 
  2. Start the timer. 
  3. Stop the timer. 
  4. Do some math to get the number of minutes. 
  5. Send those minutes up using an onclick call that records each minute as a specially named page view. 
  6. The date is automatically recorded by GA, and the info will be aggregated and trended effortlessly.

By nesting the names correctly, you could even track and set alerts for how much of each kind of exercise you want to do.

Re-purposing Page Views is the Key
For this you need to use page views. Why? Because, then we can configure GA to track our calories and/or minutes of exercise as "goals". Once we track them as goals, we can use Intelligence to send us alerts if we are not keeping up with our routine. Want to do 30 minutes a day of exercise? Set a custom alert to look for a value of less than 150 per week of Goal 1. You'll get a nice reminder from Google, letting you know that you are falling behind on your routine.

"Events" (the other basic unit of measure in GA) won't work because it cannot be used to set up goal tracking.  

You could track and set goals for all your exercise needs--calories burned, miles jogged, buckets sweated.

Track Anything with Google Analytics
You could open the horizons even further and track almost anything you need tracked--miles driven, client hours billed, dollars spent on groceries, phone calls received. Anything that can be distilled down to an integer recorded over time can be tracked.  The opportunities for what you could do with Google Analytics Life Tracking are huge.  

Build a web interface for your call center and integrate your incoming phone calls with your online campaigns using shared campaign codes and custom parameters. With a bit more work, web to phone tracking in one unified analytics view becomes possible.

All you need is a good web programmer, a solid analytics strategist, and some creativity to start looping those page views.

Before you know it, you'll have lost those 10 lbs. and have the analytics to prove it!

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