CXL Institute’s Digital Analytics mini-degree review — Part Ten
This week I spent quite some time deep diving at Excel and Sheets. It was one of my favourite tools of all time so I was really happy that I could study and learn more advanced techniques from CXL Institute’s Digital Analytics minidegree. I will write a small summary of what were the key concepts that were introduced in that particular course.
The course is teaching you basic and advanced excel techniques. The real interesting thing in this course is that its applied in real marketing problems. The first part of the course is introducing to the students some basic functions and commands, but in the context of Google Search Console. There are a decent size of courses on excel out there, but having a course especially for marketers is really nice. Also, there are a lot of tips and tricks that are designed to work for the marketer in the audience. So it’s a really nice touch for a course in spreadsheets.
One of the most important lessons is pivot tables. Pivot tables are one of the most important excel techniques and I usually find them required as a separate skill in job listings on LinkedIn. Of course, knowing how to set them up and use them is just the first step. The real value comes from figuring out how you can extract real value using this technique. And that value comes from really knowing your data and what you want to analyze.
Completing the pivot tables part using Google Search Console Data is crucial in getting confident with some more advanced excel techniques. The next part of the course consists of some more advanced techniques using data from another digital marketing favourite tool! Google Analytics! The first lesson is just introductory in cleaning up some non useful or duplicate data. The next lesson is one that was always puzzling me and I believe a lot of people actually. It’s name: Vlookups! While it can take you an hour to understand what vlookup is reading some tutorial, here in this course it can take you roughly 15 minutes. Fred Pike explains it very well, and the fact that the data that we see are very familiar for anyone involved in Digital Marketing makes this process easier and better.
But Vlookup has some limitations and shortcomings. Lucky us, Fred Pike introduced us to a new excel command which is Xlookup and is something like an upgrade to Vlookup. It’s used for more or less the same stuff as Vlookup but its much more efficient.
The last part of the course was spent with some visualization techniques such as sparklines and conditional formatting and with some very important string functions ad some tips on how to use them. The last course was also about error trapping which is an excellent technique and comes handy when you work on spreadsheets that other people are working on too.
Fred Pike was an excellent instructor, with a high sense of humour and a lot of knowledge and experience. I was really happy when I saw that he was going to be the instructor of yet another course in CXL Institute’s Digital Analytics minidegree. And that brings me to another course that I took this week, named Google Analytics Audit.
First of all, Fred Pike is introducing the students with some important Chrome Extensions that are really useful in Google Analytics (and also Google Tag Manager) debugging. I was already familiar with some of those, but there were others that came handy as well.
The first thing we need to do when we start a Google Analytics audit is write out some basic information about the account and understand how to use Google Tag Assistant to discover how data is being sent to Google Analytics.
The next thing we need to check is if everything is set up correctly in the property and view settings of the analytics account that we are auditing. We need to check the referral exclusions and the custom dimensions of the account and if product linking with important tools as Search Console is enabled. We also need to see how many views are in a property and what type of filters are applied there. As a best practice it is recommended that you have at least three views. One master view where you do all your reporting, one filter free view where are your raw data in case you need them and a testing view where you can test different implementations before you need them.
Continuing we need to secure that the pageviews are being tracked correctly. We learned how to use one of the Chrome extension tools, the dataLayer Inspector+, to check if there is accuracy on the reporting of page views.
Next up, is the hostname filter, which establishes the accuracy of the data in terms of actually reporting visitors who visited the specific website.
Continuing with our focus on accuracy, the hostname filter is one of the best ways to ensure Google Analytics is reporting visitors who actually visited the site you’re auditing. But you don’t want to include it in your raw data view, cause its a filter! Staying on filters, we continue with IP filters and using the recording feature of Tag Assistant in order to understand if everything goes smoothly.
After setting up and checking the account settings and the property and view settings, there is a lot of room of improvement in any Google Analytics account. In this course you can learn a lot of optimization techniques in order to achieve cleaner and more accurate data. Fred Pike is continuing with Default Channel Grouping, site crawling, Google Analytics events and goals and of course, one of the most challenging concepts in digital measurement. Ensuring that everything goes smoothly in Enhanced Ecommerce data.