Recently the Google Analytics team changed the way sessionization algorithm. In lay terms… how the start, duration and end of a Visit is computed.
A minor version of the butterfly effect occurred, one small change in a part of the system caused a few other smaller changes in other parts of the system. Some people freaked out. Others wondered what the fuss was all about. Still others wondered what they were going to eat for lunch. :)
If you were in the first two categories this blogpost (delightful video actually!) is for you.
Some of you know that I am the co-Founder of Market Motive, and also lead the Web Analytics Master Certification course (which is one of eight courses in Internet Marketing certification). The course is a structured program that teaches the gamut of web analytics. You start at the beginning (I know!) and evolve to an Analysis Ninja-hood.
Here's the rough path: Web Analytics 2.0 immersion > Adv KPI analysis techniques > Segmentation (Oh I love this so) > Actionable reports > Surveys > Testing > Multi-Channel analytics > Competitive Intelligence > Dissertation > (If you pass the rigorous evaluation) > Certification.
A key strategy for having the most kick butt course in the world is that it is astonishingly fresh. In addition to the structured curriculum we do weekly hour and half calls. Guess what the latest video in the Web Analytics Master Certification course was? Did you guess GA Visits changes? Ding, ding, ding!
I wanted to make an exception and share that video with all of you. It will hopefully give you an idea of the love and unique approach that Market Motive brings to teaching, along with sharing some very critical context and guidance on this important issue.
This important video covers:
00:00 – 02:14 Intro. Which metrics are impacted?
02:14 – 09:20 Context. How do web analytics tools currently compute visits? And if you use Omniture, WebTrends, CoreMetrics, Piwik, what important question should you ask your vendor.
09:20 – 12:45 Impact. Estimating how much the change impacts you! Details, and grab the custom report.
12:45 – 17:50 The change. Clear articulation of what the change actually was. The new sessionization algorithm.
17:50 – 21:48 The implications. With examples that impact on Average Page Views per Visit, Bounce Rates, % New Visits, % Returning Visits.
21:48 – 31:20 Multi-Channel Funnels. Impact, new sweet yummy implications, and digital media attribution analysis. The one report that will probably cause you to hyper-ventilate a little bit.
31:20 – 37:02 Closing thoughts. My four point guidance on the implications and opportunities.
There is one important thing the video does not cover. At the time Google Analytics switched over to the new sessionization algorithm, coincidently a bug also impacted GA users data. The bug, temporarily, made it seem as if the impact was crazy because of the sessionization change. This bug was identified, data was fixed, that "craziness" is gone. Hence I'm skipping covering that.
Okay are you raring to go? Sink your teeth? Jump into the knowledge pond?
Here's the video:
Full of surprises, right?
I hope the video shared the reports and data you need to figure out for yourself in what way this change impacts you, the context you need to figure out how to internalize the change and share concrete information with your management team (rather than the FUD so easily accessible via tweets, Plus, Facebook posts, etc). For some of you the changes might be larger than the range I've mentioned in the video. But consider this: You know have a MUCH better idea of how your customers behave. You would not want to be blind to that (and have no change in data!). I suspect not.
Beyond what's in the video consider the Assisted Conversions report, Top Conversions Paths, Time Lag and Path Length details. Earning a load of money and happiness because, finally, you'll deliver big consistent impact to the company bottom-line is now reality.
In closing… Change is always hard to accept, especially when it comes with even the slightest impact on status quo. But if there has to be progress in life, then change is just the thing that puts us in a higher, more optimal orbit. It makes a better existence possible.
Go give the new data and reports a try. Thinking in a new way will require effort and brain power. But real happiness is worth it.
All the best!
As always, it is your turn now.
Did the video clarify how the visits algorithm works today? Did it help you internalize the change, and its value? Given my scenario of Google > Bing > Email > Mom > Conversion, would you have changed the GA sessionization algorithm in a different way? If you downloaded the custom report, how much did "zero visits" (multi-visit sessions) impact your company?
Please share your feedback on the video format, and the content of the video via comments.
PS: A small present for you. I've created a special page that collects every single thing I've written on this blog. All 443,192 words (as of today). The posts are categorized into 11 clusters, making it easy for you to find what you are looking for.
Access it here: Digital Marketing & Analytics Knowledge