As a data analyst for the CEO in an e-commerce company, what kind of reports are expected of me?

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Someone asked this on Quora and here’s my reply:

As a data analyst, you should work with the CEO (or other decision makers) on a quarterly (or more frequent if possible) and learn about #1 Strategic objectives and initiatives — #2 after that, you should work together and figure out how analytics could help these initiatives.

So why is learning about strategic initiatives from the executives important?

  1. Because analytics could be applied to lot of problems but you and your team might just have limited bandwidth.
  2. Also, executives want to stay focused on what’s important now and so if your priorities align then you are much likely to succeed in the role.

Let’s take an example:

Scenario 1: As a data analyst, you create bunch of reports from let’s say Google Analytics and throw them at the CEO! It has everything like visitor stats, acquisition stats, retention stats, behavior stats, conversion stats among others! Now by doing so, executives might get what they asked for but then they will still have to go through the reports and map it back to their strategic initiatives and figure out the recommendations on their own. Also, executives might not have the time to do this and may miss critical insights.

Scenario 2: You know that the one of the strategic initiate for the quarter is to improve the conversion rate from landing pages to order-complete page from 1.25% to 1.40% — so your analysis that you send to the executive would not only be focused on just that but also include “recommendations” — like it seems that there is a significant drop-off after customers learn about shipping cost. Then the executive could use those recommendations to drive actions. There’s also another benefit: Any ad-hoc data request that doesn’t align with the strategic objectives can be postponed (or de-prioritized) and let’s you focus on what’s most important for the company.

I prefer scenario #2. And try to create this culture wherever I am working. Executives should be open to sharing strategic initiatives at high-level with everyone in the company and help align everyone’s priorities.

Note: This doesn’t mean that you don’t create reports, you still do that for broader consumption — especially the Key Performance indicators that are key for success but you should look at automating most of that and focus on data analysis and find recommendations that the executives could take some action on.

VIEW QUESTION ON QUORA

Why are there so many analytics startups?

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Originally published on Quora: Why are there so many analytics startups?

Question:

Why are there so many analytics startups in the past 2 years?  With Google Analytics getting better every year (for FREE!), what is the value proposition?  I understand the need to augment with some new perspectives such as Clicktale, but I’m not sure I understand the value prop of KissMetrics, SpringMetrics, etc?

Answer:

There are two main reasons:

  1. Features gap between google analytics (free) and google analytics (premium aka 360 now!) — there are a lot companies (esp. with multi-million customers) that want to use premium features but still cant justify the ROI of GA premium. So there are analytics startups out there that try to cater to these “gaps”. Even though GA is improving, there will always be some feature gap(s).
  2. Access to venture capital for these startups — so these startups found a market and they went for it. They also had access to venture capital (easier two years back then it is today!) and it also helped them that “big data” and “data science” was (and still is!) a highly discussed tech topic.

I believe we will see some consolidation in next few years.

How to add custom User-ID to your Universal Analytics (Google) implementation?

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There are three different implementations that you could have with Google Analytics:

  1. Classic Google Analytics
  2. Universal analytics
  3. Universal analytics with Google Tag manager.

If you fall under “2. Universal analytics” then this post is for you since I’ll walk you through steps that you need to take see UserID’s on your google analytics report.

First why do you want UserID on your GA reports? 

1) Data blending is powerful. If you can combine your transactional datasets with web traffic data then you can extract some powerful insights! To be able to join your transactions data with web traffic data, you need some field that is common across those datasets. UserID might be one of the most useful fields that you could use for data blending.

2) Also having UserID in your reports let’s you perform some user behavior analysis at individual level and that could be pretty powerful too!

Now, How?

There are three steps:

  1. Identify the User ID
  2. Create a Custom Dimension on Google Analytics
  3. Modify your tracking code to send data for the custom dimension

Step 1. Identify the User ID

The first step is to identify the ID that you are going to send to Google analytics. Remember that you can’t send PII (personally identifiable information) so you can’t send something like an email id but you can send other ID’s that may be used in your database.

Step 2: Create a custom dimension on Google Analytics

Go to google analytics admin section > Select your account & property > Go to Custom dimensions

Custom dimensions google analytics

Now, create a new custom dimension. Give it a name, scope it and make sure it’s marked active.

Custom dimension universal analytics User ID

Step 3: Modify your tracking code to send data for the custom dimension

Notice that once you create the dimension, it will also show the example code (on the right side in the picture above). Send this to your web developer!

Just a note on this: The custom dimensions for which you are passing value using the tracking code are referenced as dimensionxx and you don’t use the Name like “Custom User ID” — if it’s the first custom dimension that you will refer to it as dimension1 in the code.

Next steps: Let me know if you have any further questions and if you are interested in seeing the steps for classic GA and Universal analytics w/ Google Tag manager then here’s a blog for you: http://dan-russell.com/2014/03/how-to-set-a-userid-as-a-custom-variable-using-the-google-analytics-cookie/

I hope this was helpful!

What percentage of users are authenticated? (Google Universal Analytics)

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You’re using Google’s Universal Analytics — That’s great! They key to make sure that you get the most out of it is to make sure that you incentivize your users to log-in aka authenticate. First step in doing that is to figure out percentage of users that are authenticated…Here’s how you can see that report:

1. Login to Google Analytics

2. Select your view > Go to “Reporting” section

3. Navigate to Audience > Behavior > User-ID coverage

Google Analytics User ID Universal

4. On this report, you can see authenticated vs unauthenticated sessions:

Percentage of authenticated users google analytics Universal

Conclusion:

In this post, we talked about how to run a report that shows you percentage of authenticated users. (In google’s Universal analytics)

How to analyze “new users” metric by specific pages in Google Analytics?

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Problem:

you want to create a funnel chart of how your new users move from their landing page to your desired destination. Ideally it’s goes something like this:

Stage 1) lands on your home/landing page

Stage 2) goes to a product page

stage 3) goes to a checkout page

stage 4) sees a thank you page

Now, if you want to analyze the conversion among these stages for a “new” user then you will need create custom reports in google analytics. You will basically need to create a report for each specific page that you want to analyze. So how to set one up?

Solution: 

1) Navigate to Google analytics profile

2) On the top of the go to “customization” section and click on create a new custom report

3) here’s how you can set up a custom report that will use you new users by a specific page (notice the page filter?).

New users by specific pages funnel visualization google analytics

Conclusion:

In this post, I outlined the steps that you need to take to setup a custom report in google analytics that shows you new users by specific pages.

Achievement Unlocked! Passed Google Analytics certification Exam.

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I recently completed the Google Analytics certification exam!

Here’s the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) certificate:

Google Analytics Certification Exam

Business Metric #5 of N: “Conversion rate” (online marketing)

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Summary:

In this post, we will see an important metric in online marketing called “conversion rate”.

Description:

so, what is conversion rate?

Conversion rate = (Number of Goals Achieved)/(Total Visitors)

why is this important to track?

In my previous blog on leads (marketing), I mentioned it’s important to track number of people interested in your products/services but along with that it’s important to provide context while reporting on Leads – this is where conversion rate comes into picture and provides the necessary context. Conversion rate can tell us the Quality of the leads & visitors that you get from your online marketing efforts.

Let’s take an example of an e-commerce site:

An e-commerce site decides to increase their monthly online marketing budget and they see a spike in the number of visitors – so that’s great, right? They should continue to increase their marketing budget, right? Well – that might not be true. While the number of visitors may have increased how do we know that increased number of visitors results in increased revenue? It all depends on the quality of the visitors that’s being generated – so how do you quantify the quality of the visitors? That’s right – conversion rate with the goal: number of visitors clicking “buy” button. So you want to make sure that with increased online marketing budget 1) Conversion rate is good or better 2) Number of visitors/leads have grown.

This was a basic scenario helping you appreciate the power of tracking the conversion rate for your online marketing efforts.

Now, If your marketing funnel is more complex then you might also create multiple conversion rate metrics to track conversions at each stage of a marketing funnel. This is VERY powerful. Here’s an Example:

Conversion Rate #1: (Number of Leads)/(Number of Total Visitors)

Note: your marketing team would define a “lead” based on their criteria(s) like downloads a newsletter, submits a contact us form, favorites a product, etc.

Conversion Rate #2: (Number of Actual Customers)/(Number of Leads)

Note: Conversion Rate #1 is great to evaluate effectiveness of marketing campaigns and conversion rate #2 is great to evaluate sales effectiveness.

How can you capture this data?

A good web analytics tool (like Google analytics) should help you track your conversion rates.

Conclusion:

In this post, we saw that tracking conversion rate is very important metric to track your online marketing efforts.