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Inaccurate Google Analytics Reports Can Cost You Money

By Ava Naves, Principal

Nowadays there really The Analytics Bulls Eye isn’t an excuse for organizations not to have Google Analytics set up on their sites. In many cases the installation is simple and easy.

However, to take full advantage of the insights that Google Analytics can provide, it’s necessary to go beyond adding a few lines of Javascript code to a site’s pages. Failure to consider this may actually cause your organization to lose revenue and, in extreme instances, you may even lose your job.

Some time ago The Online Strategy House was approached by the John Howard Society of Alberta, a Canadian not-for-profit whose mandate is to perform criminal justice education. Their organization needed to perform some advanced work on their Google Analytics account. During a call about this project, we also discovered another crucial element: their budget comes from donations by a few stakeholders, and those funds fluctuate every year according to the reported ROI. In their particular case, the ROI is measured by the number of downloads of educational materials from their site: more downloads signal that the donations are paying off, positively effecting their chances of receiving a larger budget in the next fiscal year.

Further investigation revealed a significant problem: executives haven’t been able to properly report on those downloads — because those goals are not properly tracked on their Google Analytics accounts. It’s painful to imagine the financial impact that this has had on our client’s budget. Since their Google Analytics account has been active for quite some time, how much more could they have received in donations had their reporting been accurate?

A second scenario where inaccurate reports may cost money (and potentially jobs) is when Google Analytics reports aren’t filtering out the correct internal IP address.

Although many organizations know that they should filter out internal traffic from their analytics reports, there is often a disconnect in communications between the Analytics and IT teams. Imagine this scenario: a company adopts a new network system and internal IP addresses are changed as a result. Analytics staff (or consultants) aren’t alerted. Naturally, now that internal traffic is registered by their analytics reports (whereas it was not previously), there is a steep decline in conversions: for example, visits increase by x% month-over-month, but conversions fall drastically.

That would be a very precarious situation for an Online Marketing Director to find himself (or herself) in. We can imagine that he or she will be called into a meeting at the end of the month to explain the steep decline in conversions in spite of the increase in traffic. Some digging up could eventually unearth the real reason behind the spike in visits, but the headaches, palpitations and potential embarassment could all be avoided by making it a practice to occasionally review the internal IP addresses in the company’s offices (including team member’s home offices), and to make sure that Web analytics reports are filtering out that traffic. Otherwise, metrics will be inflated.

It takes more than adding a few lines of Javascript code for organizations to fully leverage Google Analytics. Inaccurate reports can be a marketing team’s worst nightmare, but their accuracy can also be an organization’s best friend.

We have years of experience in this field, serving organizations of all scales — from large chains to small businesses. If you need help with your reports or would like us to audit your current set-up, get in contact with The Online Strategy House. We’ll make you fall in love with Google Analytics.