Google Analytics requires more than just data to work and provide it’s users with an output to analyze… it has 4 components that all work together in order to give Google Analytics users the most “bang for their buck,” if you will. These 4 components are collection, processing, configuration, and reporting. I will discuss why each of these factors are important to making Google Analytics what it is!
First, there is collection. This part of the platform requires you to add Google Analytics coding to your website, mobile app, or other device – this is how GA is able to collect data that is specifically useful to you because you will tell it which interactions to pay attention to and what data to actually collect. Depending which digital environment you want to collect information from, you will either use Java Script or an SDK (software development kit), but both essentially do the same thing, just for different media outlets. GA can record all activity from a user on your website or mobile app and will store this activity as “hits.” Then, the information is sent to Google Analytics for the next steps…
Processing and configuration, steps 2 and 3, go hand in hand with Google Analytics. Processing is taking those hits that were created in the first step, and transforming them based on the settings that you have specified in your configuration. Through your configurations, you can set filters. For example, you can filter out all data and hits gathered from employees (recommended), and that way the data you receive will only be from potential customers. Something very important to know is that when your data has been processed, it’s no longer able to be changed.
The fourth step is reporting. This is where all of the configured and processed data that has been gathered eventually goes, giving GA users the final report and data visualizations. The report is shown as columns of data that first contain values of a dimension with the corresponding metrics in the following columns. When requested, data can be retrieved almost immediately!
Google Analytics uses a data model made up of users, sessions, and interactions, to organize the data collected. The user is the visitor to the website, a session is the time they spent on the website, and an interaction is what the user does during their session. What I find amazing about Google Analytics and this data model is that they can recognize returning users from their multiple sessions over time. This is the same as restaurants recognizing regular customers.
Some things that I found interesting:
- On a mobile device, when a user uninstalls an app, the SDK deletes that users anonymous identifier. If the user reinstalls the application, they are given a new identifier and are then seen as a new user, instead of a returning user. I feel like this could create duplicated data even though it’s emphasized how the GA data and reports aren’t affected.
- Google Analytics users are able to track the same user over multiple devices by assigning the same identifying number to each of those devices, rather than a new number for each device.
This blog helped me gain a better understanding of how Google Analytics works for mobile devices. It explains the specific actions taken when you’re on your GA page to find when a user is using a mobile device rather than a computer website, and specified the differences between the “Overview Report” and the “Devices Report.” Mobile optimization is the future of marketing and I believe it’s been proven time and time again that companies who use mobile optimization whether it be through an app or mobile version of their website, have noticed the difference in hits and sales.
Google Analytics can help any and every company find the information they are looking for through the easy 4 step fundamentals that make up the Google Analytics Platform. My real question is why are some companies still choosing NOT to use Google Analytics?