3 Tools to Ensure Your Analytics Implementation Is Running Smoothly

In a previous column, I shared technical reports related to performance that modern marketers can’t live without. It’s true, technical issues are a shared responsibility of marketers and developers, with each group having a strong understanding of the other. In my years of experience as a consultant, not some, but all marketing teams with a fluency in and operational structure to implement technical fixes came out ahead because they were getting better, more accurate data, which leads to better, more accurate decisions.

A lot of people ask how they can more easily ensure their analytics setup is done correctly and that their data is as clean as possible. The Google Analytics team has introduced new features to help ensure your data is clean, such as bot and spider filtering, which allows you to rid your reports of pesky bot and spider traffic with just one click. In an ideal world, all implementation fixes would be as simple as a single click. Until we get there, the best we can do is outline exactly what is wrong so you can make the appropriate adjustments.

Today I wanted to share three tools to help with implementation of Analytics. As a note, while these tools are specific to Google Analytics, we highly recommend conducting regular technical audits of your implementation regardless of whether you’re running GA or another analysis tool to ensure you’re getting the best data possible.

1. Google Analytics In-Product Diagnostics – Quickly Understand Issues With Your Account

Analytics Diagnostics frequently scans for problems specific to your analytics account that you have access to. It inspects your site tagging, account configuration, and reporting data for potential data-quality issues, looking for things like:

  • Missing or malformed Analytics tags
  • Filters that conflict
  • Looking for the presence of (other) entries in reports

This newly launched part of Google Analytics is where you’ll want to start with troubleshooting any issues that may be seen with your Analytics implementation, and ideally would provide a “checklist” that your team would force-rank and fix (highest to lowest priority) as part of a technical audit of your site. You can learn more about specific Diagnostics messages that appear here. You’ll probably notices a little number and a bell in the top right of your Google Analytics account. Once you click it, you’ll be presented with a checklist similar to this that you can work from.

diagnostics

2. Google Tag Assistant – See Tags of Any Site With Ease

Google Analytics is, at its core, a simple tool. But if you start to customize the code to take advantage of all the flexibility available, you may find yourself needing some help troubleshooting a nagging issue.

The Chrome Extension Tag Assistant hopes to make troubleshooting tag installations much easier. It aims to highlight errors, warnings, and provide useful suggestions for Google’s most widely adopted tags including Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, AdWords Conversion Tracking, the new Remarketing Tag, Trusted Stores, and Floodlight.

After installing the extension, Tag Assistant will alert you if tags are found on any page you are currently browsing. Each will tell you if it appears to be working or if there are any problems with your implementation. Tag Assistant will even make recommendations on how to improve your installation if we notice any optimizations. For example, if you have two or more tags implemented separately Tag Assistant might suggest that you migrate to use Google Tag Manager instead. Here’s a quick screengrab of what Tag Assistant looks like:

tag-assistant

3. Google Analytics Debugger – Troubleshoot Your Analytics Instance

The Google Analytics Debugger loads the debug version of the Google Analytics JavaScript for all sites you browse using Google Chrome, and it prints useful information to the JavaScript console. These messages include error messages and warnings, which can tell you when your analytics tracking code is set up incorrectly. In addition, it provides a detailed breakdown of each tracking beacon sent to Google Analytics.

The GA Debugger is useful for checking things such as campaign tracking parameters, which account IDs are being tracked, visitor ID, and page name. You can even make use of this tool in staging versions of your website to ensure everything checks out correctly before you go live with a new website or new marketing campaign.

ga-debugger

Between these three tools, you should have everything at your fingertips to be confident your Analytics implementation on each of the sites you manage is setup correctly and you’re getting the right data. Our advanced analysts have setup a recurring process for technical audits, taking advantage of these (and third-party tools) where appropriate. Doing the same for your consultancy or brands is a prudent move.

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