Is your Google Analytics account full of properties and views you don’t even use?
Maybe you inherited an account you don’t trust because you don't know how it was set up in the first place. If this sounds like you or one of your accounts, please continue reading -- your team will thank you for it later!
In this post, we’ll walk you through six common reporting challenges and how to resolve them by cleaning up your Google Analytics account:
- Multiple Views with the Same Naming Convention
- Mismatched Data from Different Views
- Urgent Emails About Data in the Wrong View
- Updates to a View Affects Other Users
- No Property/View Hierarchy
- Property is Sampled or Has Too Many Hits
6 Sights & Sounds of a Poor Google Analytics Account Structure
Whether it's trying to understand which channels/marketing campaigns are leading to the most sales or making sense of user behaviors following a website redesign -- marketers rely on analytics data to help inform decision-making.
However, finding this data is not always easy when there are multiple departments (and employees) using the same tool for various reasons. If your Google Analytics account is too hard to use, what’s even the point?
Below are examples of hypothetical situations we’ve encountered and how we’ve worked to resolve those issues.
Help! I have a Google Analytics Account but I don’t know which view to use for reporting. Does this sound like you?
Say you are the Analytics/Marketing Manager for an enterprise organization and you've inherited a Google Analytics account with 20 properties and 20 views within each property. They are all named differently and several have “new - main reporting view” in the name. There’s no way they can all be the new main reporting view.
Naming conventions are very important. We recommend that you invest in a standardized format/template for everyone in your organization to use whenever creating a new property/view within Google Analytics.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when creating a new view or property:
- Add a date (MMDDYY) to the property and/or view name instead of “new”
- Differentiate between reporting and test properties and/or views
- Delete unused properties and/or views
- “Archive” properties and/or views that are unused but important by labeling them properly
Below you’ll find an example of how views were named before and after the standardized template:
|View Name (Before)||View Name (After)|
|Seer Interactive - Main Reporting View (new)||1) Seer Interactive - Main Reporting View 01.01.20|
|Seer Interactive - Main View (new)||z) Seer Interactive - Test View 01.01.20|
|Seer Interactive - Reporting View (new)||zz) Seer Interactive - Main View (new) [ARCHIVED - Do Not Use]|
Nina from Marketing uses Property# 2 and View #1 but Joe from Sales uses Property # 1 and View #3. Now they’ve come to you asking why the data doesn’t match up.
We recommend that you align on which teams should be using which properties/views to save time related to troubleshooting, re-doing reports, and making decisions based on incorrect data.
When meeting with the teams, audit properties and views to understand their differences and use cases.
For the most part, the CMO does not interact much with Google Analytics, but every so often they send an alarming email with a subject line like, “URGENT - All Ecommerce Revenue has Flatlined!!!”.
In most cases, these emails are coming from someone looking at the wrong view. Maybe you dig in and realize that there's no flatline -- they were looking at the raw view, which has no Ecommerce data.
Make it easy for users to know what property/view to use without having to click into them by being explicit with labeling. This will ensure red flags aren't going up for no reason, and everyone is using their time in Google Analytics as wisely as possible.
We recommend that you begin labeling properties and views based on its purpose of the team that should be using it. For example, adding “ Ecommerce Only” or “Blog Only” will make it easier for users to find relevant data.
Below you’ll find an example of how properties and views are labeled for specific teams/departments:
|Before||Seerinteractive.com Data||All Website Data|
|After||[Marketing] Seerinteractive.com Data||1) Marketing – Main Reporting View 01.01.20|
|[Marketing] Seerinteractive.com Data||2) Marketing – Ecommerce Only View 01.01.20|
|[Marketing] Seerinteractive.com Data||3) Marketing – Blog Only View 01.01.20|
|[Sales] Seerinteractive.com Data||1) Sales – Main Reporting View 01.01.20|
Sally is always making updates to a view that other people use but doesn’t always consider how that might affect those other people. Brian from another team found this out the hard way when he realized the data he needs to complete his report had been filtered out for months.
We recommend scaling back permissions for all users to make sure that someone’s changes don’t affect the whole account unless they know exactly what they are doing and the downstream repercussions.
To do this, take inventory of all the users who have access to the Google Analytics account and at what level (Read, Collaborate, Edit, Admin) and adjust accordingly. Make sure to be very selective for those who have Edit and Admin permissions.
From there, give access to users based on their department or employment-level. The CMO does not need access to the Test properties and views or archived items. They just add more noise and confusion.
There are so many properties and views that don’t seem to have any type of hierarchy or order.
We recommend that you create a methodology or strategy for structuring your account with your business or organization in mind.
- Do you have many websites to track or one?
- Are there multiple teams working within Google Analytics or just 1?
Your account should be customized based on what works best for your organization and provides you with access to data you need to make decisions in a logical manner.
The current view is heavily sampled because your site gets a lot of traffic. You are only able to see 16% of data in the GA interface.
Within the restructure strategy, it might make sense to break up the account into smaller sections to avoid sampling or duplicative hits being sent to the GA account.
If you don't have the resources to upgrade to Google Analytics 360 for unsampled reporting, consider separating data by site section, subdomain, etc. (if there is little overlap between the audiences that interact with these areas). For example:
Original property = 1,500 hits (sampled / too many hits)
- Main Site property = 1,000 hits
- Subdomain Site property = 300 hits
- Blog Site property = 200 hits
Maybe you do have GA 360 and your maxing out on the number of hits allotted each month in your pricing tier. To avoid diminishing returns on your investment, we recommend consulting your GA 360 reseller on the best path forward given your situation and budget.
Does a Restructure Make Sense for Your Google Analytics Account?
Now, more than ever, companies need to be quick on their feet and make data-based decisions to be successful.
Reliable data is not always the coolest thing to brag about, but it is very good to have and can make your life a whole lot easier, better, and even less expensive.
If the problems in this article resonated with you, it may be the right time to plan an account restructure for your analytics platform.
The risk is low. The worst that can happen is starting all over but if you already have data that you don’t trust (rock bottom), you can only improve from there and move forward with clean data.
Considerations for Today
- Ensure your Google Analytics account structure is keeping the end-users top of mind.
- Consider adopting a standardized way to name properties and views and ensure your team is trained up on what they mean.
- Create documentation about any specific company nuances that might be good for GA newbies or future employees to reference.
Considerations for Tomorrow
Clean data enables everyone who uses it to make decisions faster -- spending less time finding it, mining through it, and/or adding caveats to reports.
A restructure will result in fewer panicked emails about data not matching now that users know where to look for their data and inexperienced users can’t make changes to key properties/views.
If you decide a restructure is necessary for your account, consider including the following (either before or as part of the restructure) as well:
- Google Tag Manager (GTM) account audit -- how the data comes into GA is just as important as how it's presented to the end-user in GA.
- Google Analytics goal audit -- the behaviors you consider conversions can change for your site over time. Ensuring their accuracy on an ongoing basis is key and a restructure is as good of a time as any to QA.
Need All the Help You Can Get with a Complex Restructure?
While we've provided sights and sounds of a GA account needing to be restructured and some ideas for how to address those issues in this post, note that restructures can be costly and time consuming. We always recommend taking great care during the planning/strategy process to maximize ROI.
If you’d like to learn more or get started today, consider contacting Seer to discuss an Analytics project. We can help get your data in order at the early start of 2021 and set you up for the rest of the year with a measurement strategy and implementation plan.