Google Analytics is a powerful tool, and provides a wide range of excellent functionality right in the web interface.
But Google knows it hasn’t provided everything. That’s why they created the Google Analytics APIs.
Many readers might be using an excel based plugin to pull data using the API directly into a spreadsheet for manual manipulation. Often this is a great way to start.
Here are five ways to take your Analytics to the next level using Analytics Canvas:
Nobody likes sampled data that is “close but not quite right”- and in fact, if you have lots of traffic, or when analyzing highly segmented data the sampled results won’t even be close, because the sample size can be extremely small. The problem arises when you request a date range in the Google analytics UI that results in more than 500,000 visits being included. But with the API, because you can do mulitiple smaller queries, you can often avoid ever exceeding this limit- and you get the exact data. To see how to do this with Analytics Canvas, check out this blog post.
While the Google Analytics UI gives you great access to a single profile, it lacks tools for combining data from multiple profiles and accounts. Using the API lets you do this quickly and easily, and saves you lots of tedious export, cut and paste and manual merge. Analytics Canvas can query even hundreds of Google Analytics profiles at once, and consolidate all the data into a single file or database table, saving hours of work every week.
Because the API lets you get data into another database, it then becomes possible to combine data from your systems, or data sets extracted from other vendors systems and connect it to your Google Analytics data. If you manage your tagging and code right, you can use Custom variables to link your Google Analytics data to your CRM data for customers that login to your site, and gain new insight as well as provide better service. Having your Google Analytics data be a silo, disconnected from all your other systems should be a thing of the past- integration lets you deliver the service your customers expect, and understand what works across your entire enterprise. For retailers, connecting offline and online datasets can give a quantum leap in understanding through techniques like tracking point of sale coupon redemption, online/offline offers and buying behavior regardless of where it happens.
While Advanced segments are very powerful, there are always limitations, and only so far you can push things within the Google Analytics UI. It means that by leaving your data only in GA you are forgoing a whole world of more advanced segments and analysis.
With Analytics Canvas, it’s no longer necessary to have an SQL expert, or a database programmer to create very sophisticated analysis.
By being able to first get at ALL the data, unsampled, then create any number of filters, segmentation rules and subsets, without limitations in terms of numbers of dimensions or metrics, an Analyst armed with Analytics Canvas can go farther, faster, and without needing to specify everything to the IT department.
This more advanced, free form analysis is all the more powerful when you’ve integrated your Google Analytics data with data from other systems.
On top of all the above, because the API can be automated, whether you build it yourself, or use tools such as Analytics Canvas, it makes it possible to have the data be extracted, formatted and delivered without having to have an army of under utilized analysts wasting time on cut and paste. Reporting is often necessary, but if you’re doing it purely manually, chances are you are paying far to much, and are missing out on true insight that your analysts could be discovering- if they had some better tools in their toolbox.
Get the free trial of Analytics Canvas now and discover how to take your use of the API past a simple Excel export.
This article was written by James Standen
James is the founder of nModal Solutions, the creator of the Analytics Canvas tools. nModal's vision is to bring an entire new class of visual, flexible tools to web analytics and social media analysis. You can find him on Google+.