Google Analytics Annotations: Give meaning to your data

Recently I held a training session to show people from other departments how to use Google Analytics to pull various reports. A person from the marketing team (that dealt mostly with offline media such as magazine and newspaper inserts) asked about how they could measure the effect of their offline advertising through online analytics.

Measuring offline activity is no easy fete. However there are ways to give data more meaning. The ‘annotations’ feature in Google Analytics allows you to leave notes (private or public) on the graphs. This allows you to gain an understanding of unusual spikes in traffic.

For example, below I have set up an annotation on June 17 2012 which shows a spike in traffic to this specific page. The reason for the spike, as noted in the annotation, is because the summer banner campaign was made live that day which brought in an increase in traffic.

Setting up annotations in Google Analytics is a great way to keep track of not only online marketing activity but also any changes you’ve made on the website, such as new blog posts.

Although Google Analytics is an online measurement tool, it is also worth noting offline activity, such as TV commercials and press coverage, to see if the offline activity directed any traffic to the website.

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