Google Analytics has come out with a new major release. With this release, Google closes the gap between their solution, and that of many of the more expensive analytics products.
Major new features include:
- Customizable Dashboards
- Emailing of reports
- Improved Segmentation Capabilities
- A general overhaul of the UI
I spoke with Brett Crosby yesterday, and he stressed that Google was looking to provide a broader range of functionality to enterprise class customers. The implementation of dashboards is one of the new features that addresses that need. Dashboards allow you to implement different data presentations for different users. Now, with Google Analytics, you can have your business analyst crawling through the deep data, and your CEO getting the simple summary report that they need (without the need for the CEO to get lost in the details).
Another former major weakness of Google Analytics was the lack of an ability to email out reports. This functionality has also been added to this new release. This is another feature designed to make life easier for those in your organization that want to receive data, but don't want to have to login to get it.
This can be really key in helping the senior executives of the company appreciate the value of a web analytics solution, and the investment their company makes in it. While Google Analytics is free, the time people spend working with analytics is still an investment, and it needs justification. Getting senior executives the data they need with no muss or fuss is a quite valuable thing to do.
As I mentioned above, Google has also added segmentation capabilities to the product. Segmentation allows you to separately measure the behavior of different groups of visitors. This can be an invaluable tool in helping you optimize your site design. Looking at the behavior of different customer groupings allows you to target your site to the known characteristics of a group of users. This is a very powerful concept.
As you can see from the first two screen shots, the UI has undergone major changes. In addition, the process for selecting a date range has been simplified, and made more elegant. Check out this screen shot:
Existing users will be updated over the next few weeks, and new users will start with the new version. Existing users will be able to access both the new version and the old version for 30 days. In addition, historical data will still be available in the new version.
Based on what I have seen so far, these are major steps ahead for Google Analytics. The lack of dashboard capability and the inability to email out reports were two big limitations in Google Analytics to date. Now these limitations are gone. Google Analytics already works with some major enterprise vendors, such as Agency.com, Deckers, RE/MAX, and others. This should enable Google to capture more larger enterprise business.
Note that there continues to be pieces of functionality available from vendors that charge for their products, that is not present in this new release of Google Analytics. But this release does narrow the gap in key areas.
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