There have been a number of changes to Google Analytics over the past few years that have had a big impact on what is possible. Analytics Advocate Daniel Waisberg described the changes as changing GA from a tool to a platform. It it is clear that Google are making it a more comprehensive platform, and adding some welcome features.

Many businesses already use Google Analytics as an important source of data. If you are not already using data import then this could be an opportunity to add value to your data.

Here we are going to talk about data import – also referred to as extended data import. The intent is to make your data more valuable and have more meaning. Currently the only “hit” ** data that can be imported is refunds.

** a hit essential refers to a new visit or action recorded by GA.
Data import allows you to use an Excel file (.csv) or the API to import data. This is great news for those with limited access to a developer to manage an API.

So data import is used to augment existing data. This enables us to add layers of context to our data that can be useful when analysing the information. The aim is to help us find actionable insight that will lead to positive changes.

So what are the types of thing I can do with data import?

  • Add data that could not be tracked at source, or not available till later.
  • Improve the accuracy of data already imported

Some examples of how you might use data import:

  • Import cost data for your non Google paid search accounts
  • Import refund data to improve the accuracy of your ecommerce data, helping make better account of actual sale performance
  • Import data about the user (such as customer segment, contract renewal month, lifetime value or anything not personally identifiable!)
  • Content data such as the author, category, product relevance

There are many others, this is just a selection.

So let’s look at two practical examples;

Cost import – surprisingly simple but very useful, and as it can be added retrospectively can be done to fit your schedule, making it very manageable. This allows us to import the costs of non adwords campaigns (which can be imported automatically). An example could be Facebook Ads. As long as you use UTM parameters in your links you will be able to attach impression and click and cost data to this traffic. Useful if you are using attribution modelling or the cost analysis reports to compare campaigns, this allows you to do more in Google Analytics and rely less on excel.

User data – this could be to assign a renewal month. Segmenting data to look at trends by renewal month could be very relevant for an insurance company. Segmenting data in this way allows you to see trends in visits and average times on site, all useful to inform marketing activity. Think when does this segment become engaged? When should my marketing activity peak?

This flexibility makes Google Analytics a powerful platform to combine your various data sources. With data import, all you will need is Excel, your data, and Google Analytics, and to know the guidelines for data import. This makes it achievable for those that do not have access to developers.

There are many dashboard tools out there to help combine data, and I am still a big fan of Super Metrics to help collate data. Not forgetting the ever useful Excel. For a free tool, Google Analytics is powerful and becoming more flexible.

Those suffering the effects of sampled data do have the option of the Premium section, where the upper limit is over 2 million hits.

Measurement protocol is a more technical example to push data into GA that does enable you to add new hits; this is more technical and is a discussion for another day.

Thanks for making it all the way through. I try to write as often as I can and there is a lot of exciting things happening so expect more from me soon.