Google Analytics IQ Exam – Revising and Passing

I recently left my previous job at Malmö University and started a new role as an analyst with Search Integration – this is an awesome opportunity for me, Search Integration are a great company and the hook for me was being able to work 100% with web analytics. A huge bonus is being able to work with Brian Clifton, whose book ‘Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics‘ got me into the field of web analytics in the first place – definitely a Matrix moment!

Part of my new journey with Search Integration was to formalise my Google Analytics knowledge by taking the Google Analytics IQ test. I’m happy to say that I passed first time, with a score of 94%. There’s already some great posts about the IQ test out there – for example, I recommend checking out the very candid ‘How to  fail the Google Analytics Exam‘; but I thought it would be useful to share my insights about taking and passing this exam.

Passing the Google Analytics IQ Test
You can find a good description of what the test is like here, so I won’t bother going over that ground again. Here’s my top tips for passing, and getting maximum benefit from the exam:

1. You need to be familiar with Google Analytics, and using it on a regular basis, before taking the exam. You need to have a basic understanding of implementation and, crucially, interpreting the GA reports – this will give you a strong foundation to build on; otherwise your revision is going to be very abstract. Despite having worked a lot with GA I was very glad that I had revised – there were definitely areas I needed to brush up on.

2. Google’s IQ exam presentations are great. Watch them several times and make notes. I’d put aside at least 2 full days to go through them. Incidentally, right click on the links and open them in a new tab to get the full screen view – I noticed a few people were missing this on some forums and squinting at the preview size. My approach was to watch the presentations, pausing them often and referring to the Google Analytics help site and Brian’s book as supplementary material.

3. Use the awesome Google Analytics Test site – it’s an unofficial community driven labour of love led by Eric Fettman. I would say that most of the questions are harder, and require more lateral thinking, than the GA IQ itself. Beast yourself on their site. To get maximum value from the questions pay attention to the answer sections – for all the questions, not just the ones you got wrong. I found the site particularly helpful in identifying my weak spots.

4. Don’t get cocky. My revision was good, and I’ve a lot of experience in using Analytics but there were definitely a few questions which got me scratching my head. I made sure that I was particularly confident with the following sections:

- Cross domain, and sub-domain tracking
- Attribution rules (and dudu’s blog has one of the best visual explanations I’ve seen)
- Adwords integration with GA
- How cookies work in GA
- Ecommerce tracking
- Filter functionality

Really, the subject is so broad that it’s hard to point at particular subjects and say you must understand these more than others. However, a big epiphany for me – in my journey as an analyst – was really getting to grips with what a visit is, and how Google Analytics measures them. Also, really work hard at understanding the difference between a dimension and a metric – this will pay back big time.

5. As my driving instructor said to me, ‘don’t learn to drive to pass the test, learn to be a good driver’. Aim to exceed the level of the GA IQ test with your revision and you’ll not only feel very confident as you answer the questions, but also as you continue to use it in your job – which is the whole point.

My revision benefited from the following resources:

- The IQ Exam presentations
- Brian Clifton’s book and blog
- The Google Analytics help site (this gets better and better – good explanations, often with examples)
- The Google Analytics Developer site (I love this site, but you don’t need to dive too deep into it – it will help with GATC customisations and cookie understanding; the dimensions and metrics reference guide is also awesome))
- Google Analytics YouTube channel (check out the web analytics TV – benefit from web ninja wisdom and lots of real world cases)

There’s a ton of good analytics blogs, but here’s a start:
- Advanced Web Metrics
- Occam’s Razor
- Google Analytics Blog
- Lunametrics
- Analytics Talk

I guess my main take away is to make your understanding of Google Analytics as real world as possible – if you’ve got a access to a range of accounts representing different types of websites then you’ve got a great start. Otherwise pay particular attention to the examples and demonstrations in the resources I identify above.

Good luck, and feel free to get in touch (via comments below) if you’ve got specific questions, or comments, about the IQ exam.

The best Facebook analytics report (that you’re probably not using…)

Let’s take a step back, for a minute, from the usual slightly spitty excited talk about measuring social media by ‘engagement’, ‘reach’ or ‘virality’. All good stuff, to be sure, but sometimes – as a website owner, you just want to know how many visits are coming to your site from the Facebook page you lovingly maintain. It’s your bread and butter metric – it makes sense, and you know where you are with it. Chances are, most of your conversions take place on your website, that’s a good enough reason to want insight into your traffic sources.

Facebook domain insights is a great tool – among the reports it gives you are insights into visits to your website, from any link out there on Facebook. Here’s an example from a website, showing visits coming its way from Facebook:

Graph showing links clicked on from Facebook, back to a website

The number of clicks sent to a website, from links appearing in the news feed, page or profile walls. (Click for a larger view)

If you’re running a web analytics tool, you’ll can also get a similar report from your referring sites report – but what you get from insights, which you don’t get from your own website, is a report showing how many times links about your site were shared, regardless of whether they were clicked or not:

Daily shares from a Facebook page

The number of times people included a link to the website in a status message or wall post (Click for a larger view)

Ok – so where’s the insight? What’s the action I could take?
The first time I looked at the graphs above, my immediate question was ‘what’s responsible for the spikes?’. Finding out that answer will give me insights, which I can use to adjust my content strategy. Insights for domains has a ton of other useful reports, for example, it will show the success of any ‘like’ or ‘send’ buttons you have on your website.

The next question is, are the trends in the data above suggesting that the strategy that I have for Facebook is working, or not? In this instance, I can say that the prioritized purpose of my employer’s activities on Facebook is not to acquire traffic to the website  but to provide a platform for conversation with students (though, obviously, it’s nice when content is shared). However, as we increase publication of content on Facebook – and start using it to reach a larger audience we’ll definitely be using these reports to see what impact it’s having – we’ll be looking for an upwards trend. Whether this traffic does anything valuable to us, or for them, on our website is another question….

Talk to your webmaster, give them buns and get the meta tag from Facebook added to your website – enjoy.

Killer Facebook Data (That you can’t get from insights…or anywhere else for that matter)

Here’s some killer statistics from the Facebook page which I curate which fits both the ‘shock and awe’ and ‘frickin’ useful’ categories:

Between August 2011 and January 2012 friends of the page left 348 posts.
- 60% of these were related to making an application, or a question about our degrees
- 30% of them were practical questions about studying at Malmö
- 10% were links to events, jobs or other content

Simple take home? 90% of the posts we received in that 6 month period were about applying, splendid!

These data tell me that our page is totally supporting the current goals we have for Facebook – our strategy is to specifically focus on using Facebook for customer service and encourage prospective students to contact us via the wall.

How did we get these data? The hard way – my awesome colleague @idarosqvist went through our page with a pen and paper categorising the posts we had received. Definitely not the world’s most glamorous task but it results in some simple, easy to understand numbers which gives both insight (we’re on target with our strategy) and a set of data which allays the fears of those who worry that our page’s wall is full of random nonsense.

If you’ve got a billion friends, and a wall to match, then this probably is not for you; but if you’ve got a ‘regular’ page then taking a foray into your wall, armed with pen and paper, may give you some great insights and some awesome data to report.

(We didn’t look at comments, that would have taken too much time. The sentiment of the posts was largely positive or neutral, as tends to be the case with comments as well).

Swedish University Facebook Pages Review – Posts in January 2012.

Here’s the data for January for the Facebook activity of Swedish universities, ranked by the number of posts left on their walls. December was relatively quiet in comparison to January; some pages received more than double the number of comments in January, compared to December.  (December’s data will be presented in a review of the previous 12 months which I’ll prepare next month.) International pages are the most active, which is no surprise, given that this is the main application period. 5 university pages still do not allow posts to be left.

In January, the pages with the most posts were Malmö (112 posts) and Uppsala’s (104 posts) English Facebook pages. Uppsala experienced considerable gains from last month, with an increase in 30% in the number of posts. Lund University’s page is ranked 3rd, with 67 posts.

Malmö University

112

Uppsala University

104

Lund University

67

Linne Universitet

64

Uppsala universitet

41

Linköping Universitet

33

Lunds Universitet

21

Högskolan i Borås

21

Umeå universitet

21

Umeå University

20

Högskolan i skövde

18

KTH

17

Malmö Högskola

14

Mittuniversitetet

12

Jönköping University

11

Karlstads Universitet

9

SLU

9

Göteborg Universitet

9

Högskolan i Halmstad

8

Mälardalans Högskola

8

Chalmers University of technology

8

Högskolan Dalarna

7

BTH officiell

5

University of Borås

5

Linnaeus University, Sweden

5

Högskolan Kristianstad

4

Mid Sweden Uni

4

Karlstad University

3

Högskolan i Jönköping

2

Högskolan Väst

1

Ranking of Swedish University Facebook pages, by posts left by page friends during January 2012 (+/-5)

What’s the Value of this?
Well, that kinda of depends on you. If the aim of your Facebook activities is to build a relationship between yourself and prospective students then you’ll probably want to see lots of posts on your wall. If, on the other hand, you are more interested in profiling your university online then you may be more  interested in comments and likes – though posts will still be important – in getting a more viral effect for your content. So, only a few comments may not necessarily mean bad things (and you may well be being awesome on other channels) but it could equally be a sign that, currently, you have not given any compelling reason why people should connect with you on your wall. In a subsequent post I’ll be showing a simple way of evaluating a page, and presenting the results, to get a handle on the type of posts being left.

November Review – Facebook Page Comments – Swedish Universities Ranking

Here’s the November ranking for Swedish universities’ Facebook pages – based off the number of comments which their friends left on their walls, during the last month. This does not include comments left on posts by the page, or additional comments in a longer discussion. I’ve divided it into English and Swedish language pages.

Swedish language Facebook Pages

Overall, Linne Universitet’s wall saw the biggest increase in posting, with a growth of 20% since last month. There’s some international activity on the wall, which contributes to the growth, but the content seems to be mostly from students on campus; for example the sharing of blog posts or for sale notices.  The Karolinska Institutet, The Royal College of Art and Stockholm’s Universitet’s walls remain closed for posts.

Linne Universitet

60

Lunds Universitet

29

Linköping Universitet

27

Uppsala universitet

22

Högskolan i Borås

22

Högskolan i skövde

19

Mittuniversitetet

17

Högskolan i Halmstad

16

Mälardalans Högskola

13

Umeå universitet

13

KTH

11

Karlstads Universitet

11

Malmö Högskola

11

Högskolan i Jönköping

11

Högskolan i Jönköping

11

SLU

10

Högskolan Dalarna

6

Göteborg Universitet

6

BTH officiell

3

Högskolan Kristianstad

2

Högskolan Väst

1

English Language Facebook Pages

Malmö University sits at the top of this part of the ranking, with a page where posts are almost entirely questions about studying at Malmö, or how to make an application. Lund University, in second place, also has a wall dominated by questions about applying to Lund.  Uppsala, whilst enjoying fewer posts, shows a similar trend towards questions about making an application. Stockholm University and the Stockholm School of Economics walls’ remain closed.

Malmö University

56

Lund University

48

Uppsala University

22

Jönköping University

14

Umeå University

13

Chalmers University of technology

6

Karlstad University

6

Karlstad University

6

University of Borås

2

Some Quick Reflections

A few things occurred to me when I was preparing this month’s ranking.

Number of friends versus number of posts
A high number of friends is obviously great for reach and getting your content visible across the web. Lund University, for example, gets a high number of likes and shares for some of their posts which presumably leads to a healthy amount of inbound traffic to their page, and website. But, once again there’s little relationship between number of friends and number of posts;  Lund University has 5 times as many friends as Malmö University, yet they both have similar levels of posts.

Exceed expectations
The student’s question that you ignored or dismissed with a short, terse answer? There’s another university giving them red carpet treatment.  In the last month I noticed, on several different occasions, the same student posting the same question on different university’s walls (yes, your customers are fickle – get over it). The tone and level of support tended to vary. Enough to make them not choose your university? Hard to say; but maybe enough to drop you from 1st to 2nd choice. Exceed the expectations of your Facebook friends, the extra effort does not cost much and will reap rewards.

Don’t be shy about your social ecosystem
Chances are, the page I include here isn’t your only one – you’ll have an ecosystem of different pages representing Faculties, programmes or research activities, for example. Quick tips – make sure your pages are liking each other;  don’t rely on the Facebook search engine to show up your other pages. Also, encourage cross posting from one page to another;  get administrators from a particular page to post, using their own page’s identity; when appropriate this is a powerful way of drawing attention to the competence and presence you have on Facebook.

‘Unlikely to prioritise first party cookies used only for analytical purposes’ – United Kingdom’s New Guidelines for Cookie Use

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office published new guidance for website owners regarding cookie user and online privacy. As the UK moves towards compliance, they are already half way through the year that the ICO gave businesses to get their digital house in order, the prevailing attitude is that businesses ‘must try harder’.

A Ray of Hope – Analytics cookies are not a ‘priority’
The guidelines contain the following information, on their FAQ on Page 27:

ICO Cookie Guidelines

“unlikely to prioritise” – looks like the door is not completely shut on using Google Analytics then – I am cautiously positive. It remains to be seen what other European countries do. While we wait, in Sweden, for the PTS to produce guidelines we should make sure our own houses are in order, identify the cookies we use and give users clear instructions on why we’re using them – hasty implementations of consent boxes and banners may not necessarily be the best solution in the long term.

Facebook Page Friends – November review of Swedish university Facebook pages

 

It’s just an arbitrary threshold, but the Lund University marketing team have something to celebrate as they manage the first university Facebook page, in Sweden, to have more than 10 000 friends. In the last month they gained over 500 new friends, which pushed them up to 10 300 friends. It’s interesting that the first page to achieve this is an English language page, rather than a Swedish one. Even though the need for communication with the university is higher for international students, the number of Swedish speaking students would – you’d think – mean that the universities’ Swedish pages would be larger than they are. Something like 95% of our youngest target group (Data from Svenskarna och Internet 2011) for bachelor degrees, are using social networks in Sweden – so why their absence from these pages I wonder?

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Flickr Alamagordo

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Flickr Alamagordo

All of the universities’ Facebook pages  – regardless of which language they use – are showing a reduction in friend growth compared to last month.

This month, Göteborg Universitet, KTH, University of Borås, Malmö University and Jönköping show some of the highest percentage growths; but, in real numbers of friends, some of this growth is very small. If you’re working to get more friends, then maybe you need to revisit your strategy, or not, as the case may be (Though it’s worth repeating that the total number of friends should not be the metric you’re focusing on to measure your page’s success).

I’ll be following this post up in a few days with an analysis of the commenting frequency on these pages (altogether more relevant than just looking at numbers of friends) - I just know you can’t wait.

If your page is missing, just let me know in the comments, thanks.

Facebook Pages in English, ranked by number of friends.

University Page Friends % Growth, from last month Increase in friends, since last month
Lund University

10307

5

524

Stockholm University

5596

2

113

Umeå University

5361

3

160

Jönköping University

3501

1

62

Chalmers University of technology

3151

2

69

Stockholm school of economics

2517

1

42

Malmö University

1982

6

127

Uppsala University

1452

5

82

Karlstad University

1364

n/a

n/a

Mid Sweden Uni

817

4

38

University of Borås

533

7

36

Facebook Pages in Swedish, ranked by  number of friends.

University Page

Friends

% Growth, from last month

Increase in friends, since last month

Linköping Universitet

8823

1

128

Umeå universitet

6235

1

64

Linne Universitet

6010

1

57

Stockholm University

5596

2

113

Uppsala universitet

4772

3

121

KTH

3721

10

329

Lunds Universitet

3610

5

166

Högskolan i Borås

3487

1

11

Högskolan i Skövde

3091

1

20

SLU

3053

3

92

Karolinska Institutet

2887

4

106

Mittuniversitetet

2661

1

16

Mälardalans Högskola

2533

3

71

Högskolan i Halmstad

2291

2

41

Högskolan Väst

2268

2

45

Stockholm’s universitet

2089

3

61

Malmö Högskola

1556

2

36

Karlstads Universitet

1474

3

47

Royal Institute of Art

1118

3

32

Göteborg Universitet

772

25

152

Högskolan Dalarna

653

1

2

BTH officiell

596

2

9

Högskolan i Jönköping

530

7

33

Högskolan Kristianstad

451

2

9