Adding Business Data to Google Analytics Data

I know the past week has been full of Google Analytics news, but I’m excited to tell you about something one of our team members created: Google Analytics Notes.

For a long time we’ve wanted to add business data to GA to help keep track of marketing activities, industry news and GA configuration changes. These things are critical to know when analyzing data as they add more context and help us understand what’s affecting website performance.

We tried using Google Spreadsheets to store business info but it never worked. People did not take the time to open up a spreadsheet and add information. We figured that adding some type of ‘note’ functionality to GA would be the easiest way to change this behavior. That’s how GA Notes was born.

GA Notes is a Firefox extension that lets you add business data to a profile. Notes appear in a concealable table at the top of every report.

Any GA user who views a profile, and has the Firefox extension, will see the notes entered for the profile. You can add notes, edit notes and delete notes. Notes can also be exported in XML format for archival purposes.

Installation

Installing GA Notes is easy. Just download the following file to your computer:

https://ga-notes.appspot.com/ganotes.xpi

Once downloaded double click on the file. Firefox should open and ask if you want to install the extension. Click install and that’s it. You’re ready to start adding notes to your GA data.

Usage

The extension adds a ‘Show Notes’ button in the GA menu bar. Click on the button to view notes for this profile or to add a note or edit/delete an existing note. It’s not that complicated. :) We wanted to keep this easy and flexible.

How it Works

For those of you that are interested, GA Notes runs on Google’s App Engine. No data is stored on your machine or our servers. It’s stored on Google’s servers. The Firefox extension provides the interface to enter and display data. But all of the processing and data storage happens on App Engine. All data sent to App Engine is encrypted prior to transmission.

In a perfect world we would have added notes to the data-over-time graph at the top of each report. However, we can’t get inside that part of GA using a Firefox extensions (or Greasemonkey script). We thought this was a good compromise. If anyone out there knows how to dig into Flash let us know! :)

Road Map

This is obviously a beta version of the software. We have a number of features that we’re working on and hope to have done soon. These include:

  • Sorting and searching notes by date
  • Excel friendly export
  • An admin flag for notes to separate admin changes to your GA account
  • Some type of alert to show you how many new notes have been added since your last login
  • A more graphical visualization of note

If you have any suggestions or ideas please let us know!

Credit

I don’t have the smarts to build these types of things, I just know enough to be dangerous. Chris, a new member of our team, built GA Notes from the ground up. Thanks Chris for all the hard work.

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