Taking your Analytics beyond just reporting the numbers – Part 1

Taking your Analytics beyond just reporting the numbers – Part 1

The term ‘Big Data’ has been around for years but became one of the ‘hot topics’ of 2014.  Unfortunately, the desire for companies to dip their toes into the big data pool often distracts them from more beneficial short-term opportunities.

What the majority of marketers and analysts understand is that the benefit of analytics and data is not in the capture and storage of the data itself, but the ability to derive insights and change of behaviour as a consequence of its analysis.

For this reason, marketers need to focus less on the volume of data they’re collecting and more on the accuracy and quality of the data and the ability to analyse and take action.  But too many marketers still use their Analytics data for little more than reporting on visits and conversions split by source.

At FirstClick, we work with our clients on an analytics adoption spectrum that starts with ensuring the right data is being captured, through to Attribution Analysis and Media Mix Modelling.


Over the next few months we’ll walk you through the process of turning your simple reports into insightful works of art.

Let’s start by creating agility in your analytics implementation and getting access to some additional data.  Here are two things your analytics team can do in 15 minutes to start getting more out of your Analytics:

#1 Increase your tagging agility:

A quick Google Trends search shows an explosion in interest in tag management solutions over the last two years;


Traditional implementations of analytics require hard coding of Google Analytics (or other analytics platforms) into the HTML of a website.  Additionally, events and interactions need to be hard coded by either attaching calls to on-click attributes of website elements or through inclusion of smarter JavaScript to capture interactions with elements that make up a site.  Unfortunately, these implementations often require development resources to include or modify the code that makes up a website.

A tag management solution allows us to continue to capture data, but significantly reduces the requirement of development resources ongoing – a factor that improves our analytics agility and our ability to respond to changing factors on our website. There are many different tag management solutions in market – we’ll use Google’s (free!) solution as an example of how easy it can be to implement:

    1. To get started, head to the Tag Manager Home Page, we recommend the new version at https://tagmanager.google.com, rather than http://www.google.com/tagmanager.  The latest version of Tag Manager, further simplifies the setup and maintenance of tags for those with non-technical background.


    1. Create a new account (I like to share data with Google to help improve the tool):


    1. Create a container name (domain is usually sufficient):


    1. You’ll be given a tracking code to install. Save this, but don’t implement it until you’ve further configured your tags.


    1. Create a new Tag by pressing New Tag and configure Google Analytics (ensure you track All Pages) in the first instance:



  1. If you have an existing simple implementation of Google Analytics, you can now go ahead and swap your Google Analytics hard coded tag for your new Google Tag Manager code.

#2 Capture Demographic Data within Google Analytics

Segmenting your user base into meaningful groups and analysing their distinct behaviour provides you with valuable insight to refine your marketing and media strategy.

Google, through their adverting network, has a significant footprint across the web.  By fuelling the advertising across millions of websites, Google is able to build up user profiles for significant portions of the web user base.  By classifying the content of webpages, Google can determine the likelihood of someone falling into certain demographic groups.

There are a couple of ways to enable demographic reporting depending on the version of Analytics you’re currently using, it requires you to make a change in Analytics itself and your tracking snippet.


Turn on both the features; ‘Enable Display Advertiser Features’ & ‘Enable Demographics and Interest Reports’:


If using Tag Manager (regardless of Classic or Universal), upgrading your snippet is as easy as ticking a single box:


If you use Classic Analytics without the benefit of Tag Manager you will need to change your Analytics code to run from the DoubleClick domain rather than Google Analytics by changing this line:

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js';

to read:

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://’ : ‘http://’) + ‘stats.g.doubleclick.net/dc.js';

If you use Universal Analytics without the benefits of Tag Manager you will need to add the following line of code to your Analytics snippet prior to the ga(‘send’,’pageview’) call:

ga(‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’);

Now that you’ve enabled demographic data you can address additional dimensions through either the Audience reporting tabs or as secondary dimensions for other reports:

Image10_snipImage11_snip (2)

While these changes may seem superficial, you’re putting yourself in a fantastic position to control your own data destiny going forward. Your new demographics reports allow you to start thinking about the people sitting behind the metrics.

By looking at differences between ages, genders and locations you can amplify the understanding of your audience and can zero in on which users are most profitable, who you acquire most effectively and who’s struggling to navigate your web assets – and you may even discover something that can be applied to your broader marketing strategy.

Tune in for Part Two of the series early next year showing you how to take your analytics from simple to insightful.

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