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The Evolution of Google Analytics

Published 13 Nov 2015 by Tim Langley, CANDDi
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Way back in 2003, Google purchased Urchin Software and then used their technology to launch the first free analytics platform that offered commercial-grade analytics. The platform is now one of the most well-known and frequently used analytics tools in the world (perhaps more accurately, it is the most used), but it has now grown so big that most people still don’t really know how to use all of the features.

Evolution of Google Analytics

A Low Entry Point

Some parts, such as custom reports and event tracking, are used by the majority of people. Advanced segments are also quite popular, but there are many other tools that are overlooked or ignored by most Google Analytics users. Real-time reporting (admittedly a nice curiosity) is used by just 38% of webmasters, and multi-channel funnels are used by just one third of webmasters.

It appears that since Google Analytics is free to use and Google is so well known, many smaller businesses are using the most basic tools as a form of set-it-and-forget-it tracking for their websites.

The data import tool is used by only 18.1 per cent of webmasters, Intelligence events are used by 15.7 per cent, and content experiments are used by just 5.4 per cent of webmasters.

Why Are So Many Features Ignored?

It appears that Google Analytics may be falling victim to the problem of feature creep. There are so many tools and options in the platform that it has become incredibly difficult to use. It is a tool for marketing analysts, but to use it to the fullest extent you need the help of a tech team. Today there are so many other tools, options and platforms out there that there’s no need for people to wrestle with the complexity of the analytics platform when you could be using a third-party tool such as Optimizely that is significantly easier to configure.

The web analytics platform is one that is starting to mature. It has been an integral part of online marketing for more than ten years now, and yet there is still a shortage of analytics experts. Anyone can get started with analytics, but we need human intelligence to be able to interpret the data, and that is an area where knowledge is lacking. Things such as campaign tracking, market segmentation, attribution modelling and multi-channel funnels are all essential if you want to bring in more visitors and really make your website succeed.


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