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Ask HN: Google Analytics for Startups?
23 points by Jim_Neath on June 23, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments
We're planning on launching our service this week, so I'd like to bone up on how to use Google Analytics efficiently.

Currently, all I have setup is standard page tracking, and this is about the limit of my knowledge at the moment.

Can anyone point me in the direction of some resources (websites, slides, books, anything) that can help me understand what metrics I need to track, setting up goals/funnels and anything else that may be useful?

There are two great books for you:

1. Web Analytics 2.0, by Avinash Kaushik. He's the Analytics evangelist at Google and his book is very easy to read. Start here. He also keeps a blog: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/ . The archives are a gem of a resource.

2. Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton. A much drier read (the guy has a PhD in Chemistry and writes with the dry academic style) but an excellent resource. There is a blog with much lower volume of posting: http://www.advanced-web-metrics.com/blog/ .

web analytics 2.0 is amazing.

Also watch this (GREAT) talk on the metrics you should be tracking off the bat: http://carsonified.com/blog/business/mike-mcderment-of-fresh...

He suggests that you build an internal tracking system to compliment something like Google Analytics.

Also if there's one thing you learn first in Google analytics, it's "Custom Segments." Build a segment for your paid users or return users vs. new users. USA vs. World. 3:00 on site vs. <1 minute on site. etc. Comparing differences between these groups is invaluable.

My biggest gripe with Google Analytics (if I was their product manager), is that it collects lots of data, but doesn't tell you what to do.

Google Analytics made a small step in that direction when they added the trending analysis. But it's such a small step.

Where is the dead-simple analytics recommendation engine? It needs to analyze the data and tell you what works, what doesn't. Ideally, with a big "ON" button to do more of what works, and an "OFF" button to stop doing whatever doesn't. Everything else is beyond the comprehension level of 99% of people.

Watch Startup Metrics for Pirates first: http://www.techstars.tv/watch/2714618-dave-mcclure-startup-m...

I would suggest using http://kissmetrics.com to track goals and funnel conversion.

All the best!

Any of McClure's presentations, which you can find on Slideshare trivially, are very worth reading in their entirety. Most are rated ARRRRRRRRR, though.

In particular, note how a) track stuff before you can necessarily make sense of it and b) time spent looking at numbers which does not result in decisions for the business is wasted time. (B suggests against spending lots of time in Google Analytics for most people. Get funnel tracking and A/B testing going and you'll rarely use it anymore except for looking at search keywords.)

Set up goal tracking. For beginner level that's all you really need is the basic installation and some form of goal tracking (ecommerce tracking if you have ecommerce transactions). That will let you make business decisions.

Once you figure out exactly what else you'd like to report on then post again, most things are possible but it's not really worth setting it up unless you can gain some actionable insight from it.

Give Clicky a try for 30 days. I found that it gives you more actionable metrics out of the box AND it is real time. It makes a huge difference when you launch.

affiliate link: http://getclicky.com/219826

non affiliate link: http://getclicky.com

Google Analytics has a series of videos as part of their "Google Analytics Conversion University" that are really helpful. I dig the way they've divided up each section of the video too.


Beyond basic data on visitors, browsers etc, the next step is to think about the goals of your website e.g. purchase, signup, download etc.. Once you've decided the goals you have for your website's users, take a look at Google's docs on setting up goals: http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer...

Also worth checking out is mixpanel - an HN startup (see link at bottom).

What do you want to learn from your analytics? Remember that Google Analytics is just a tool — the hardest part of using a tool "efficiently" is asking the right questions, and right now it sounds like you don't have any questions.

Check out how events work: you add a simple .js call to any action you want to track (click on a button, ...), and it will get tracked. Great for things like tracking videoplays, certain ajax interactions you want to track etc...

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