28 January - 1 February 2019: Superweek, Hungary
Maintaining the list of Referral Exclusions in Google Analytics admin is a pain. Especially if you have a webstore, the number of referral sources you need to exclude to avoid sessions being split can grow really fast. Also, it’s not like the list is has the most intuitive UI. Instead of a handy text area where you could just copy-paste stuff, you’re left with a horrible line-by-line list, and there’s no way of copying lists across properties or anything useful like that.

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What a nice way to wake up to a new day, when brand-spanking new features have been released for Google Tag Manager. The two features I want to introduce here are Folders in the UI, and code syntax highlighting in Custom HTML Tags and Custom JavaScript Variables. Folders Folders is one of those features that has been requested for over and over again since day one. The UI clutter in GTM is a serious problem, especially when dealing with dozens and dozens of items in a single view.

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One of the glaring omissions in the Enhanced Ecommerce reports of Universal Analytics is the ability to calculate cart value for products. Cart value, here, is the value that has been added to the cart. This value can be used to query for products that have the highest discrepancy between cart value and generated revenue. These are missed opportunities of the highest caliber. With some Custom Metrics magic, we can, however, get cart value into our reports, and we can find our most and least “effective” products with just a glance:

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Enhanced Ecommerce is a very nice improvement to the pretty lame, transaction-based Ecommerce tracking in Universal Analytics. Instead of staring blindly at what happens on a receipt page, Enhanced Ecommerce expands your entire webstore into one large funnel labelled “Shopping Behavior”, and you’re able to zoom in on the Checkout funnel as well. Also, the addition of product-scoped tracking is incredibly useful, and it’s enabled us to think of any asset (our content, for example) on our site as something we could track through the Enhanced Ecommerce reports.

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Wait. What? Why write an article about something that should work by default in Universal Analytics? I mean, here’s a screenshot from the guide I just linked to in the previous sentence: There it is. Clear as day: “Tracking users across subdomains does not require any additional configuration.” Also, some of the recent, excellent guides to cross-domain tracking, written by E-Nor and Bounteous enforce the same: you just need a default Universal Analytics Tag in Google Tag Manager.

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Here’s a tip that’s especially important to anyone working with a single-page application. Google Tag Manager persists items in its data model until you either manually delete the variable and/or its value from the data model, or until the user browses away from the page. There’s nothing as annoying as the example in the image below, where a value that was set for an earlier Tag is resent with a new Tag, even though the purpose was to leave it out.

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PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is something we need to actively combat against when using Google Analytics, as the platform explicitly forbids sending PII to Google Analytics properties in any size, form, or shape. One of the most common ways of accidentally passing PII to a property is via query parameters. Many email platforms out there, for example, see no problem in including the user’s email address in the query string, especially when the user follows a link in a newsletter.

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Author's picture

Simo Ahava

Husband | Father | Analytics developer
simo (at) simoahava.com

Senior Data Advocate at Reaktor

Finland