Sanity Checking your Metrics – Follow the Money

Most of my engagements start with a metrics and reporting review; one of these days I’ll write a long post on how to do it properly. In the meantime, here’s my take on Google’s post describing 5 Ways To Ensure Google Analytics Is Running Perfectly ; I’ve re-ordered things slightly.

  1. FOLLOW THE MONEY!
    If you’re like most sites or apps you don’t get paid for page views or time spent; you get paid for ads, leads, purchases, subscriptions, whatever.
    So the most important thing is that the usage metrics you collect help you better understand how you make money so that you can make more of it. This means:
    • E-commerce sites: Compare Google Analytics to Database
      Implement GA Ecommerce tracking and make sure that the numbers reported match those in your ecommerce system. This will let you attribute revenues to specific user behaviors, traffic sources, etc.
    • Ad-Supported sites: Compare Google Analytics Page View Counts to the Page Views from your Ad Networks
      Again, make sure that GA and your ad reporting system match. If there’s a discrepancy, fix it to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.
  2. Create a “Raw Data” Profile
    Create at least two profiles for each account. Your “production” profile should filter out all traffic to development & staging servers, and all traffic from your own IP addresses (e.g. your office). The “raw data” profile should include everything. This will let you quickly diagnose reporting issues that are caused by filtering.
  3. Use Real-time Reports
    To which I would add, “make sure that your staging environment sends real data to Google Analytics, and use the staging environment and the GA Real-time report to test that all tracking is working correctly before pushing everything to production (see item 1).
  4. Keep Track of Configuration Changes
    For the love of God, make sure that any changes to page URLs are reflected in your conversion goals.
  5. Know What Your Site Sends To Google Analytics
    Google provides you with browser extensions to monitor GA instrumentation. Use them.

Most of these concepts can be applied to other instrumentation systems.

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