Last month, Google updated their analytics suite with a few highly anticipated additions, doing more than simply refining the application’s look and feel with its update to GA version 5. This latest release has finally introduced the public to several features that Google has been testing with select accounts over the last several months, and which provide a large amount of rich and actionable data. Among a bundle of minor tweaks and upgrades, four major new features stand out:
Building upon numerous beta releases and working versions that have been slowly rolled out over the past year, the new, upgraded, and better than ever visitor flow is one of the most powerful tools available for accessing the quality of your website at a quick glance.
The visitor flow is a visual representation of how your site visitors use and interact with your website. In its simplest interpretation, it is a map showing where users come in from and then outlining the pages they view until their exit. Google uses the size of the connections between pages to clearly and easily show relative amounts of traffic, and color-codes drop-offs and exits for an at-a-glance view of where potential bottlenecks in your visitor flow are occurring.
This feature would be great on its own, but Google has built the full power of their segmentation engine into the visitor flow. That means the view you get can be filtered by any of the custom segments that you have previously set up, as well as standard filters like traffic source, device type or browser. This powerful new tool can tell you exactly where visitor segments are encountering resistance, making it significantly easier to solve traffic problems that previously took hours or days to identify, analyze, and solve.
For marketers moving to a multi-touch attribution model, the multi-channel funnels report is going to be one of the most exciting features of Google Analytics version 5. Serving as both a prerequisite for the new Social Media report and as a robust stand-alone feature, the multi-channel funnel view offers deep insight into the steps your customers take and the interactions they have with your site prior to converting.
The guiding principle of the multi-channel funnel is that visitors to your website rarely convert during the initial visit. Nevertheless, that initial visit is a very important piece of your sales funnel and should be recorded and tracked as such.
The Goal Flow report is similar to the visitor flow, with one major exception: it only shows visits that have entered your preset goal funnels. Like the visitor flow, the goal flow lets you quickly and easily see how your visitors are traversing your site and where any bottlenecks or roadblocks are causing you to lose conversions. One of the great advantages of using this view instead of simply looking at total goal conversions is that you can immediately see where drop-offs are happening and which steps in the funnel need to be improved.
Google has expanded its reporting with a new dashboard view. Like many of the other improvements released in this version, the dashboard is built to give quick, easy to interpret information. By letting you build custom widgets using multiple display types (pie, line chart, table) and incorporating practically every metric Google Analytics collects, Google has released a very powerful tool for tracking daily KPIs and presenting information to people less interested in analytics and more interested in how the numbers affect the bottom line (clients and bosses come to mind).