A Guide To Understanding Google Analytics Reports & Personality Types
What is the first report you look at when you get access to a new Google Analytics account? Do you start by looking at the Dashboard, Ecommerce report, Content report, Traffic Sources or any of the technical reports?
Psychology has shown that many of our day-to-day behaviors are deeply related to our personalities, beliefs, and cultures. In the same spirit, I believe we can learn about people’s professional inclinations from their analytical behavior.
Google Analytics & A Tour Of Jerusalem
Recently, I presented at a Google Event in Israel on the subject of Analytics and Testing. Following the event, I traveled to Jerusalem with Timo Josten, Google Analytics Partner Program Manager for EMEA. As we approached Jerusalem, I decided to build the tour based on his Google Analytics preferences.
I asked him what is the first report he looks at when checking a new Google Analytics account, his answer: the Traffic Sources report. That’s because he believes that the sources of traffic tell a lot about the company’s marketing efforts and about the visitors themselves.
Based on that, we started by visiting the old city alleys (image below), as I understood that he is the kind of person that dives into the numbers to understand the visitors and then zooms out to understand the big picture. We started from inside and then moved out to a bird’s eye view.
In a different instance, I also had the pleasure of taking Bryan Eisenberg to Jerusalem. I asked a similar question: “what is the first report you look at when looking at a new Web Analytics account?”
Bryan explained that he usually looks at the big picture and then zoom in to see the details and understand visitor behavior better. Based on that, I took him to a spot where we could view the whole city and then we “zoomed in” to the old city alleys.
In summary, I believe that good analysts can be divided in two types of people: those who start broad and then drill down with the big picture in mind, and those who start on the details and broaden their view with a good notion about the numbers.
Google Analytics Psychological Test
People usually believe that one person’s friends can tell you a lot about that person’s beliefs and characteristics. Expanding on this same idea, I believe that the Web Analytics industry should promote the saying: “tell me what is your preferred report, and I will tell you who you are.”
In a previous post, I discussed the Web Analytics Process and the importance of building Key Performance Indicators that are customized based on a person’s interest. Below I provide a few personalities that can be discovered from Web Analytics behavior analysis.
The Hawk – Dashboard View
According to Wikipedia, “Hawks are widely reputed to have visual acuity several times that of a normal human being.” This enables them to fly very high and still be able to find the preys.
The same is true for analysts that focus on the so called bird’s eye view: they analyze the big picture and are able to find insights that will show where to focus the attention.
This view is especially important for online marketing managers or website owners, people that want to know the bottom line but also additional success metrics (such as engagement, campaign success, and visitors return rates).
The Slot Machine – Ecommerce View
When a person goes to a casino, he or she has one main objective: to make money. Especially slot machine addicts. This is not to say that they do not have fun along the way, but they are result driven and they will hardly move their focus.
Some people, when looking at Google Analytics, cannot move their eyes from the ecommerce reports. This view is especially important for senior managers or sales people, who mainly want to check the website results and compare it to other channels.
The Psychologist – Content View
Some people like to understand what other people think and like. Those people usually become psychologists, but once in a while they miss the target and become web analysts. Their main interest is to understand what visitors are reading on the website and if they are enjoying it.
The content reports are especially important for content specialists, editors, and analysts looking to understand what is the most engaging material on the website (which will bring insights into how to organize the website and where to advertise).
The Historian – Sources View
Historians are known for researching the past and trying to understand how we got where we are, and if history is likely to repeat itself. Traffic Sources tells us just that: how people got to the website (sometimes even their intentions via keywords) and how visitors from each background behave.
Traffic sources are especially important for marketing managers looking to understand how marketing campaigns are working and for SEM managers looking to optimize SEM campaigns.
The Geek – Technology View
Geeks just can’t help themselves: they will open Google Analytics and go straight to the Operating Systems and Browsers report. With Google Analytics v5 it is even easier, as there is a whole set of reports named Technology.
As the name says, these reports are very important for IT personal in order to understand which technology visitors are using and how to optimize website performance for that. In addition, it might also be important to senior management to drive decisions regarding mobile strategy (see Mobile Marketing for E-commerce).
In summary, I believe that online professionals have different ways and interests when looking at data. It is possible to understand more about a person’s perspective by asking questions related to how he or she approaches and analyzes the data.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
Analytics news and expert advice every Thursday.