I don’t know about you, but I’ve been quite happy with Google Analytics for a long time; years, in fact. I’m not alone. According to Builtwith.com, there are almost 14.8 million websites on the Internet using the dominant web traffic reporting tool. Automating delivery of insightful web traffic reports has always been an easy way to add value for my web clients—until now.
With the forced migration to the new Google Analytics (G5) platform, it seems the days of “easy” are gone, at least temporarily. The following comments are taken straight from the Google Analytics product forum pages. It seems there is no shortage of frustration over the recent “improvements” made to the popular analytics tool.
“As a webmaster for multiple companies I lived in fear for the day the old Google Analytics version was deleted. Today is the day. What a nightmare—not in one single overview my accounts with statistical info on site visitors in one overview! New versions should be better. As far as I see on the Internet all people want this old dashboard functionality and people would pay to keep the old version of Analytics live.” ~TopTravelAngebot
“Why has the snapshot dashboard been removed!? ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS! :( Any solutions to this AT ALL?” ~Falin
“I’m googling (or binging) around frantically trying to find an easy method for using New Google Analytics (which I hate) to send clients a condensed 6-page summarized PDF of their analytical data, rather than having to schedule for them 6 separate emails. [Has] anyone found any methods, or simpler ways of doing this?” ~Daniel1980
“Bring back the old version. Is anyone listening?” ~chanback
Oh, and a comment or two appear to have gone the way of “This message has been deleted.” I’m betting those folks simply had trouble reigning in their explicatives. Just guessing.
We’ve Been Here Before
Well, for better or for worse, Google has released a beta product onto the world and then summarily forced the market into using it. Hmm. Let’s see. Do any other companies have a reputation for doing this? Oh, I know one! Hint: Begins with an “M” and rhymes with “Bike-ro-soft”.
Is Anyone Listening?
Sure, maybe more focus group testing could have been completed prior to forcing this migration. Though, as one writer above asks, “Is anyone listening?” Maybe focus groups were had. Maybe the results never made it to the design and development teams? Or, maybe the focus groups all consisted of Google software engineers? We may never know.
The new Google Analytics is a very powerful traffic reporting tool, no doubt. In fact, from a software engineer’s point of view, likely it’s the difference between a howitzer and a peashooter. Unfortunately, software engineers are not the primary demographic using Google Analytics.
Beyond individual site owners, I have to believe web and marketing professionals make up the next largest user base. So if your trusty peashooter was doing a great job for you and you were forced to trade it in for a quirky howitzer that blows your productivity out of the water, how would you feel?
“Suck it up,” you might say. “Google Analytics is a free, powerful analytical tool and one of the best available.” I would say you’re right about “powerful” and “one of the best” but it’s certainly not free. After all, Google gets paid volumes in inside traffic statistics—your traffic statistics.
By opening your website to Google, the search engine goliath gains intimate knowledge into what’s hot and what’s not. You think click-throughs, backlinks and keyword relevancy (and over 100 other metrics) is all Google uses to determine the popularity and position of your site? If you could produce a powerful tool that served others while increasing your own ability to serve others, wouldn’t you do just that?
After years of comfortable reliability, maybe we just needed this flounder by Google to help wake us out of our satisfied stupors. Traffic reporting, for me, has always been an easy part of the web service business. You could always rely on those Analytics reports going out, and you could see who was performing, at a glance.
Yes, the new Google Analytics offers more power in its custom reporting abilities, but it seems they forgot about the user experience this time around. If they can bring back some of the core functionality and smarter workflow (a global dashboard, default report templates that are as complete as the old default report, a single email for delivering those reports, maps in those emailed reports, etc.), I think they could continue their winning streak with Analytics.
Will Google listen to the marketplace? Will they fix the howitzer? Only time will tell.
In support of your efforts,
P.S.- One of the items you’ll need help with in the new Google Analytics is reconstructing your reports. Here I’ve collected several Google Analytics report templates for you to use. Enjoy!
Matt Schoenherr is a husband, father of four, marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Ideas 101. As a student, teacher and published author, Matt supports the worthy goals of service and commerce in the small business and nonprofit communities. Creative marketing ideas and marketing strategies may be found at MarketingIdeas101.com.
Builtwith.com. Websites Using Google Analytics. Retrieved from http://trends.builtwith.com/websitelist/Google-Analytics.
Google Product Forums. Google Analytics. Old version Google analytics dashboard. Retrieved from http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/analytics/oMqoYOOYDJM.