The ROI Revolution Blog

Mixed Type Custom Variables in Google Analytics

June 28, 2011

Google Analytics features 3 types of custom variables: page-level, session-level, and visitor-level. The official Google Code documentation on custom variables is pretty explicit about the fact that it’s best not to mix types:

“Generally it is not recommended to mix the same custom variable slot with different types as it can lead to strange metric calculations.”

What isn’t exactly clear is what happens if you do decide to mix types. Google Code provides two cases, but surely there are additional cases. To this end, I decided to test 9 total cases:

Handling Email Referrals in Google Analytics

January 24, 2011

If you’ve spent any time looking through your traffic sources in Google Analytics, particularly your referral sources, you may have noticed a lot of your traffic coming various mail sources:


Clearly it’s not terribly useful to see your traffic broken out this way. At the very least, you would want to consolidate all of those sources.

But if you think about it, it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot which email service provider a visitor happened to be using when they clicked to your site. Perhaps it’d be better if we just consolidate all of those email sources into one entry. Not only would this significantly clean up reports, but it would also allow you to see the overall impact of traffic coming from email to your site.

The easiest way to handle this is by using filters:

Google Analytics Subdomain Tracking

January 5, 2011

If you do a quick search on “Google Analytics Subdomain Tracking”, you may have noticed that many of the top results are either woefully out of date or rather confusing. The purpose of this post is to provide my recommendations for Google Analytics subdomain tracking as of the current version of the asynchronous Google Analytics Tracking Code.

Currently there’s no specific article on Google Code dedicated to Google Analytics subdomain tracking. The closest is this, which recommends the following:

//Tracking code customizations only
var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-12345-1’]);
_gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘’]);
_gaq.push([‘_setAllowHash’, false]);

I propose that instead, for the vast majority of sites with subdomains, you should use the following:

//Tracking code customizations only
var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-12345-1’]);
_gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘’]);
_gaq.push([‘_addIgnoredRef’, ‘’]);

So what’s wrong with the code recommended on Google Code? It turns out there are three issues with the code that cause unnecessary problems:

Updates to AdWords Search Funnels Reports

October 14, 2010

One of my biggest complaints about Google AdWords and Google Analytics has always been the oversimplified attribution models they use. Last touch attribution sucks. It completely ignores upper funnel search visits to your site—first-time visitors who use broader search terms to get there. These are people who are curious about your products or offers, but not quite ready to buy.

Thankfully, Google is not oblivious to the need for more in-depth attribution funnel analysis. This past spring, they introduced AdWords Search Funnels, which finally gave AdWords advertisers the ability to drill down and see the search paths that visitors use when clicking through to their sites.

And last week, Google added additional features to these reports, including an increase in the conversion history window and a way to sanitize conversions that were potentially affected by cookie deletion bias.

Are you using the AdWords Search Funnels yet? If not, read on to find out why you should.

GARE: Updated Google Analytics Dimensions Drop-down

August 9, 2010


If you’ve been following GARE since the beginning, you know that the very first thing GARE ever did was add additional dimensions to the segment (now dimension) drop-down and make these available for nearly every report. As time moved on, more and more segments were added, and the list began to get rather long and unwieldy.

Well, a few weeks back, the dimensions drop-down in Google Analytics underwent a fairly major overhaul. If you haven’t seen it yet, it looks something like this:

new dimension drop-down

Clicking the above image will display a larger, more readable image.

I’d like to point out several excellent features in the new drop-down:

Converting To Asynchronous Code

June 30, 2010

There’s a pretty strong push now for everyone to move to the new Asynchronous Google Analytics Tracking Code. It’s the only code that’s available from the interface now, and nearly all of the documentation includes examples of this as the primary code to be used.

Converting your code to the new async code might seem like it’s just a hassle, but there are benefit to using the new code. Because the code loads asynchronously, there’s no longer any danger that it will interfere with the loading of the rest of your page.

This means that the code can now be placed up in the header of your pages rather than right before the closing </body> tag. The result is that you’ll be able to track a greater percentage of your visitors than your were previously, which will improve the accuracy of your reports in Google Analytics.

Now if your setup isn’t too complex, converting won’t be too big of an issue. Your old code might look something like this:

GARE: Default Applied Advanced Segments

April 6, 2010

daas.gifI was thinking the other day about some of the problems with Advanced Segments in Google Analytics. Don’t get me wrong, I like the feature quite a bit and use it all the time. The main problem I have is that advanced segments require an extra step.

What I mean is that when you view a profile’s report, if you want to apply an Advanced Segment, you have to expand the drop down or click the link in the left nav, click a few more things, and then finally it’s applied.

That’s OK if you need that advanced segment infrequently. But what if you have an Advanced Segment you use constantly, all the time, maybe even every time you view a particular profile? Then this process becomes a bit of a hassle.

Enter Default Applied Advanced Segments.

Why You Shouldn’t Use the Top Landing Pages Report in Google Analytics

March 18, 2010

landing_pages_that_grab.gifIf you’re trying to get landing pages that really grab your visitors, there’s one Google Analytics report you absolutely cannot live without. And guess what?

It’s not Top Landing Pages.

Before I unveil the report that ROIers use to do quick landing page analysis, let’s find out why we’re not big fans of the built-in Top Landing Pages report:

  • It only shows entrances, bounces, and bounce rate
  • It doesn’t tell us conversion data for our landing pages
  • It can’t show the revenue generated by our landing pages


Thankfully, there is a way to get what we need for robust landing page analysis out of GA. Hit the jump to find out how.

State Popularity: the latest addition to the GARE

February 22, 2010

We have another new addition to the Google Analytics Report Enhancer, thanks to Ophir Prusak of Google Analytics Authorized Consulting firm POP. This metric helps to interpret the significance of visit counts at the US State level. You can hear the rest of the story by reading Ophir’s excellent post on the metric.

Now that State Popularity has joined the GARE family, it’s a great time to download the latest version of the Report Enhancer. Here are the steps:

  1. Get Firefox
  2. Get Greasemonkey
  3. Get the GARE

In addition to the new metric, I’ve also been able to improve the way additional metrics are added to tables, including better sorting and handling of advanced segments and compare to past.

So how is State Popularity calculated anyway? I’m glad you asked!

Our 8 Most Popular Analytics Posts of 2009

December 29, 2009

The end of the year is a nice time to take a look back over all that was accomplished throughout the year. To that end, I’m going to give you a list of our top 8 Analytics Blog Posts of 2009. As we go through the list, I’ll give you a short description of each post as well as any random thoughts I have about the post.

Enjoy the posts and have a Happy New Year!

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