Adding Context to Analytics

Google Analytics is a ubiquitous tool for tracking website traffic. With it, you can track how users are finding your site, what they do when they get there as well as details about who they are. Over 85% of the top 100,000 sites use Google Analytics for tracking.

As pervasive as this technology is, it is missing a key piece to truly empower users to take action on their data and that missing piece is context.

Sure you can see traffic patterns and see what sources are sending traffic on particular days, but do you know why?

I’ve seen at least 100 Google Analytics setups and a common theme is not being able to tie traffic patterns to business or marketing activities. Sure, there are ways to do this, but click data only tells a part of the story. Google Analytics also has an ‘annotations’ tool that allows users to manually input notes related to a date, but that is used by a fraction of users and is too prone to human error.

It would be great if there was a way to connect all of the relevant tools that power modern business and present that data on a timeline. Ideally, that would connect to Google Analytics, but even if it didn’t it would be an amazingly useful artifact for users to be able to see what happened on a particular day.

Some tools that would be especially useful to connect would be Google Calendar, Twitter, MailChimp (or your email provider of choice), Trello, GitHub and many others.

Rather than guessing what caused a spike on October 13th, imagine if you could merely pull up the timeline and see that a new page was deployed from GitHub, or that day was the day of presentation you gave at a conference.

Something like this would also be a helpful productivity tool and act as a pulse of the business that employees could go back to and reference. I could also see it being a helpful tool for new employee onboarding.

Adding context to data is key to connecting the dots and being able to make an impact with all of the information that businesses collect today.