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Book review – Customising Google Analytics

Just published this week, and now in its second edition, this new book on Google Analytics, by ex-Googler, Brian Clifton is a "must-buy" for any company serious about using Google Analytics to help their company succeed online.

The book's title is Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, but  the title of this review is intended to highlight why I think it's essential reading.  I think much of its value is in customising or tailoring Google Analytics to a business. I say this since, when working with clients or training, I find that the majority of companies don't have Google Analytics with a tailored setup which is right to improve results for their business. This prompted me to write my post giving a checklist of 6 customisation options from simple to difficult.This book explains how to implement all of these setup steps in an easy to follow format.

2015 update

Although I am a big fan of Brian's work - hence this review, the Advanced Web Metrics series of books is now out of date (valid for "classic" analytics only - not Universal or GTM).

His latest book "Successful Analytics - Gain Business Insights by Managing Google Analytics" is something quite different form the bible that Advanced Web Metrics was. Check out my review here.

How will the book help us improve our use of Google Analytics?

Although I have focused on the benefit of the book in customisation, that's only the emphasis of Part 3. I would summarise the 4 parts of the book as:

  • Part 1. Intro - how does it work?
  • Part 2. How should we use it?
  • Part 3. How should we set it up?
  • Part 4. How do we use it to improve results?

Although reviewing part 3 for how you should setup your Google Analytics is arguably the most important, my favourite part of the book is actually Part 4 which is all about "Actionable Analytics" using the data to do things differently on your site or within campaigns. The content in this section is relevant to both digital marketing managers and analysts, with topics including:

  • Setting KPIs and creating dashboards for different people
  • Optimizing poorly performing pages
  • Improving site search
  • Improving returns from SEO and PPC
On the downside, I've no negative points really, although I think reducing Part 1 and Part and more emphasis on Part 4 would be  useful for more advanced companies, but not everyone will have read the first edition of course.

The sections on using the Google Website Optimiser and Google Analytics API are relatively short, but I think that's right for this type of book.

By Dave Chaffey

Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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