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Author Archive

5 Google Analytics Power Tips for Small (& Smart) Businesses

Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer - Ovation Images

Image courtesy of Ovation Images, a Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer who uses Google Analytics.

According to the U.S. Census about 3/4 of all businesses in the country have no payroll. Most of those are self-employed people operating unincorporated businesses. 61% of the firms that DO have payroll have 4 or fewer employees. 79% have 9 employees or fewer.

When you operate a small business with only a handful of employees, everyone is busy (hopefully). As the owner you end up wearing a million hats, and one of them usually is your marketing strategy, or lack thereof. But the vast majority of the time, your experience is in the product or service you are selling, and that is probably not websites, and almost certainly isn’t Google Analytics. You simply don’t have the time to spend on your digital analytics, much less the knowledge of what to do, and you just don’t make enough money to hire a company like LunaMetrics to help you out. You’re stuck. (more…)

Can Endangered Florida Manatees Increase Your Online Conversion?

Adorable Chubby Manatee at Sea WorldManatees, the gentle giant of the sea, were routinely hunted pre-historically by the Taino and other Caribbean people, for everything from their hides and meat, to their bones themselves, which were ground up to treat various ailments such as asthma. Hunting of manatees was banned in 1893, and so the question of whether manatees could also be used to increase your website conversion were generally thought to be unanswerable. Until today.


How to Access Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics

“Give it to me. NOW!”

- Veruca Salt, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

If you are using Universal Analytics you may have heard something about Custom Dimensions. They’re the next evolution of Custom Variables. Regular Google Analytics users get 20 of them, while Google Analytics Premium users get a whopping 200 of them.

I’m not going to cover here how to implement them. It’s pretty easy though. Here’s the Google Analytics documentation on the implementation. (more…)

Why Track My Videos – The Essential Guide

There is one enormous, overarching reason why every video you create should be carefully tracked. One reason so all-encompassing, so indescribably important, that its very definition denotes its value. That one big reason is money.

Again, so we’re clear: anyone that looks to increase revenue, or to decrease costs, be it a business, non-profit, or individual, should be concerned with tracking their videos. (more…)

How to Solve Google Analytics Sampling: 8 Ways to Get More Data

What do Bald Eagles have to do with Data sampling? Nothing. they're just awesome.

What do Bald Eagles have to do with Data sampling? Nothing.

What is Sampling?

Sampling is a tried and true statistical technique. You see it every time you hear about a political poll, or anything like that. 68% of people prefer dogs to cats. 28% of Americans think that God created Doritos. They didn’t actually ASK everyone. They asked a small subset of people, that hopefully is large enough to make what they’re reporting on accurate. So if they’re saying “All Americans” they might interview 1,000 people out of the 300 million that live here, and pretend it’s a legitimate sample.

It also leads to all the political polls being different, and arguing about whose poll is better. This generally refers to what sort of sample are they taking. How many people are they asking, what’s their makeup, how many men, versus women, etc.

The basic idea is that you simply can’t ask 100% of people certain questions, so you ask a subset aka a sample, and that then represents the larger group.

How does it work in Google Analytics?


How to Easily Track video.js in Google Analytics

What is video.js?

video.js is a free, fast, open source (licensed under Apache) HTML5 video player available at http://www.videojs.com/ which was developed by video experts from Brightcove & Zencoder. It’s really easy to set up, but like most of these types of popular open source players, it doesn’t come with built in Google Analytics tracking. As a possible benefit though it doesn’t use jQuery, so if for some reason you can’t use jQuery, or you’re having issues with jQuery on your website, video.js could be a good option for you.

How to Easily Track jPlayer Audio & Video in Google Analytics


Problem: You have media like an audio file, or a small video, that you want to put on your website, and you want to track whether people are listening or watching to it inside Google Analytics, or even make it a Goal.

Solution: Use jPlayer and the code below to track your jPlayer events into Google Analytics.

Wait a Tick: What’s with the Bob Ross photo?

Google Analytics Real-Time Dashboard Widgets


This thing all things devours:

Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;

Gnaws iron, bites steel;

Grinds hard stones to meal;

Slays king, ruins town,

And beats high mountain down.


The answer to Gollum’s riddle was of course time. It devours all things. It doesn’t do it quickly, it does it drip by drip like water. Throw water at a rock and it splashes and makes the rock wet. Throw water at a rock every second of every day for a thousand years and the rock becomes sand. The slow steady drip of time wears away at everything.

Real-Time data is like watching a river in that respect. It’s watching the steady flow of time and visitors across your site. Ebbing and flowing, changing and reacting. If a standard report in Google Analytics is a table of data presented to you saying “This many cubic feet of water passed us in the past day, including 4 barges, 2 pleasure craft, and an otter.” then a Real-Time report is sitting on a rock watching the river, listening to the sounds. And when things change, you can react quickly. (more…)

Gaining Insight from the Locations report in Google Analytics using Designated Marketing Areas

Location, Location, Location

“There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location.”

-Various Attributations

The saying “location, location, location” has been attributed to a few different people (primarily Lord Harold Samuel and William Dillard), with apparently no clear indication of who said it first, though the paper of record found the term “location, location, location” in a real estate ad in the Chicago Tribune listed before either man had exited puberty. Given the word “location” is a direct adoption from latin, it’s possible that thousands of years ago a Roman real estate magnate when asked why the Hippodrome was doing so well replied “location, location, location” verbatim. (more…)

Compensating for the “Streetlight Effect” Observational Bias in Google Analytics

Streetlight Effect Observational BiasObservational biases often infect analysis, and can convince businesses to make incorrect assessments of their website data. In 2010, David H. Freedman coined the term “Streetlight Effect” for an observational bias represented in an old humorous science anecdote. This Streetlight Effect can very easily affect the insight gained from Google Analytics, should you not be aware of it, and not take measures to properly shed light on your data.

What is the Streetlight Effect?

The “Streetlight Effect” is named after an old late night parable told by scientists gathered ’round the flickering bunsen burner’. It goes as such: Late one night, a rookie police officer came across a stumbling visibly drunk man in a parking lot, intently examining the ground. “What are you doing, drunk man,” asked the police officer. “I dropped my wallet,” the drunk man slurred back at the police officer, reeking of gin and stale cigarette smoke. (blog author note: I’m trying to give the story a little more character than it normally gets) The police officer looks around and seeing no wallet asks, “Are you sure you lost your wallet here?” The drunk looks at the officer and belches out  “No, actually I dropped it over in that dark alley.” The rookie officer is stunned. “If you dropped your wallet in the alley, why are you looking for it here in the parking lot?” he asked incredulously. “The light here’s better,” hiccuped the drunk. (more…)