Tuesday, November 30, 2010

gaAddons buzz & adoption

The twittersphere is getting active and there are already some reviews of gaAddons appearing on blogs all over the world:
Thanks to the agencies adopting and endorsing gaAddons, the quality and feature set is quickly evolving:
If you use gaAddons I would love to hear from you - how you use gaAddons, how it's helping you, new features you would like to see, etc. I obviously want to grow the user base and adoption, but I'm also looking for additional testimonials, blog posts and twitter buzz!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A short Q&A on gaAddons

My latest initiative: gaAddons is being received with great interest by practitioners, freelancers and consultants. In case you don't know, gaAddons is a collection of useful enhancements for Google Analytics. Here's a little questions & answers session about it.

Q) What does gaAddons do?
A) Right now, it can easily and nicely handle outbound links, downloads and mailto tracking, real bounce rate, form analysis, set day of week, page load time and more

Q) What’s unique about gaAddons?
A) It is the only solution that seamlessly integrates with the regular GA async calls! If you can put the GA tags on a site, you can use gaAddons – it’s that simple and no other technical knowledge is required. It’s very easy to use individual call options to customize them to your liking.

Q) Ok, but GAAC and even Google provides the info to handle outbound links tracking (and other tricks). Why is yours better?
A) The GA documentation provides very basic “how to” and most blog posts or even scripts provided by GAACs miss very important elements. See "Outbound links tracking with Google Analytics" for an example of the numerous things considered in the implementation of the _trackOutbound call. Extensive experience and collaboration with a number of practitioners, agencies and consultants are put in common in order to define and carefully asses the best ways of handling each gaAddons call.

Q) What’s coming up for gaAddons?
A) easy/automated cross-domain, microformats support (especially for ecommerce), Youtube video tracking, internal campaigns and more!

Q) How can I use it? How is it licensed?
A) It’s free for personal use and very cheap for freelancers, consultants and agencies. See licensing info.

Q) Yeah… but you are not a GAAC!
A) That’s right, but this isn't the first time I create ground breaking solutions to make web analytics easier. I’m known in the market as the creator of WASP - the first ever tool specifically created to audit web analytics tags - and I have two decades of experience in development and web analytics. Google won’t allow an individual person to become a GAAC… being totally independent is actually interesting for agencies and consultants: they can leverage my work without fear of competitive issues. Also, consultants and practitioners do not have to spend long hours developing their own solutions and can leverage a professionally developed and thoroughly tested solution.

Take a look at gaAddons, you'll like it! Your feedback and inquiries are always welcome.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

gaAddons: outbound links tracking with Google Analytics

Over time I have seen numerous agencies, consultants and practitioners suggest ways to track outbound links with Google Analytics. Even Google offers an overtly simplified perspective to manually track clicks on outbound links. Sadly, most of the time the proposed solutions lacks quality and elegance or simply miss on several points commonly found "in the wild". Here are some of the things I have taken into account while developing the _trackOutbound call in gaAddons:
  • should outbound links be tracked as events or page views? (see here to decide!)
  • because it's firing another call to Google Analytics, tracking on the 1st page view of a visit will impact the bounce rate, is this what I want? See "to bounce or not to bounce?"
  • do you take into account the GA call might be cancelled before having enough time to complete - and GA suggest to add a 100 millisecond delay (which causes other issues...)
  • should I blindly track all outbound links or use include/exclude regular expressions to narrow down the tracking on what's really important for the business? 
  • do I really have to  manually go and alter every link on every page if I want to track outbound links?
  • if I already have an onclick event on specific links, what will happen if I blindly parse the Document Object Model (DOM) to replace the onclick handler?
  • how is the "target" attribute of A HREF handled? Are links going to open in new windows or the existing one?
  • what should really be collected? The URL as a whole with all of its arguments? Just the domain name? How do I "classify" those links?
  • what happens with links that are within the cross-domain tracking?
  • how do you handle right-clicks?

gaAddons to the rescue

_trackOutbound is one of many calls found in gaAddons that can be seemlesly integrated with your regular Google Analytics async code snippet. Simply follow the integration instructions, add _gaq.push(['_trackOutbound']) and voilà!

What is unique about gaAddons?

  • ease of integration: you can tag GA? you can use gaAddons!
  • independent development: gaAddons was created so it could be used by agencies, freelance consultants and practitioners with a simple "fair use" licensing model
  • growing support: the more it's being used, the more it's undergoing the test of fire, the better it will get for everyone!
  • ever expanding: other great features are on the way: automated cross-domain tracking, internal campaigns, micro-formats support, etc.

Take a look at the enhanced gaAddons website, give it a try and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

gaAddons v2.1.0 open beta!

Update: gaAddons v2 is available at http://gaAddons.com

I would like to invite everyone to get a glimpse at gaAddons v2.1.0!

If you were familiar with v1.0 or v2.0, you will certainly notice a major face lift to the website and a more GA-like design. The Documentation section has been extensively reworked to provide much better information. Please have a look and share your thoughts!
_setDayOfWeek custom variable

Among the new features in gaAddons v2.1.0:

  • A bunch of minor big fixes & enhancements...
  • Now seamlessly integrates into _gaq standard push() calls!
  • Introduction of _formAnalysis!
  • Optimized and reviewed the code structure
  • _trackDownloads, _trackOutbounds, _trackMailTos are now deprecated in favor of the same calls without the trailing "s" (_trackDownload, _trackOutbound, _trackMailTo)
  • Since gaAddons is a true extension of the _gaq object, there is no need to have the "tracker" option anymore

If you want to give it a try:

  • The GA Debugger extension for Chrome is causing havoc to gaAddons - see Troubleshooting for details.
I haven't been so excited since the early days of WASP when I initially solved the challenge of a generic web analytics tags debugger!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Would you like me on your team?

I've been doing analysis for over 20 years - ok, I'm cheating, I started in computer science deciphering business requirements and turning them into solutions involving databases - and as you can tell from my blog posts/tweets/speeches/gaAddons/etc. I'm just a tad passionate about what I do!

The only regret I have is there is only one of me (my wife would say it's not a bad thing!). I am frequently approached with fascinating consulting/employment opportunities around web analytics, online maturity, dashboard creation, implementation challenges - but I am often forced to miss out on working with great companies because there are only twenty four hours in a day. The challenge I face, similar to many of you, is that too much of my time is spent on tasks that have lower value  – tagging, data exports, creating reports, writing recommendations – leaving less time for critical work in strategic planning and helping to inform the business.

I have previously mentioned my relationship with Napkyn, where I currently sit on the advisory board. In the last several months I have tightened the relationship with Napkyn, referring a few of my contacts into the managed web analyst program. I have seen the following things happen:
  • Faster impact through ongoing analysis and performance dashboarding, both to the analyst and the executive.
  • An organic increase in online analytics maturity. Ongoing analyst support and executive dashboard support allows the entire organization to take next steps around strategy, tools and alignment.
  • I can help more organizations. Having the Napkyn analysts providing day to day web analysis work means I can be continually involved in the strategic and ongoing online maturity evolution, allowing me the ability to work with more companies and add maximum value.
I am looking forward to working with many more great organizations by leveraging the managed analysis services of Napkyn. If you would be interested in bringing more analysts into your team, let me know!

PS. In order to kickstart this great collaboration, Napkyn has agreed to create a custom price for the first few I will refer them. Contact me if you want more detail.