Psychology of Communications

Matt Howes

I’ve found that understanding some of the mind’s cognitive biases can not only help nonprofit campaigners efficiently motivate our audiences into taking action online, but also help us be more effective professionally.

For example, people are more willing to take action to stop something from being taken away than if they were to receive the equivalent value (you’ll do more to stop from losing a dollar than you will to get a dollar). That means it’s often more effective to frame an action as preventing a loss (ex. “Don’t let them take away our children’s future”) than a new development (ex. “Help ensure our children have a better future”). The gun lobby has harnessed this bias with their “Don’t let them take away our guns” mantra.

Similarly, people will also consider something more valuable if it is considered scarce or a vanishing opportunity. We often see this bias used in messaging where a deadline or other limitation is highlighted (ex. “Two days to take action”).

Thanks to the “bandwagon effect”, people are more likely to do something if they see other people doing it. You can easily test this by using one page where the number of action takers are highlighted (ex. “Join the 12,324 Utah residents who care about wildlife”) against another action page where it isn’t included.

We can also use the fact that people express undue liking for things merely because they are familiar with them (the “mere exposure” effect) and that they need to be consistent. We can do this by creating opportunities where our users take a small initial step, but are then pulled into deeper engagement since they feel the need to be consistent with their earlier action (I call this the “escalator of engagement” or “getting them in the habit of saying yes”). Studies of this effect have found that someone who completes a small, trivial task, such as completing a survey, can be more easily convinced to take on more involved actions, such as agreeing to donate an organ. [Footnote 1] Instead of an organ donation, I happily settle for getting users to write letters to the editor or call their members of Congress.

The fact that we need to see ourselves as good decision-makers, both in the present and the past, means that we have a remarkable ability to filter out information that disagrees with our current thinking. This “cognitive dissonance” means we will have a much harder job when we target audiences who already have a different perspective on the key issue. It also means that there is a strong advantage to getting out with our messaging first and framing the issue. Seems obvious, but it’s good to know the science behind the phenomenon.

As professionals, it is also useful to look out for our own cognitive biases. For example, the “confirmation bias” speaks to our tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms our beliefs. Our “self-serving bias” helps us take credit for positive outcomes but ignores our contribution to the dismal failures (As Thomas Campbell wrote “Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”).

And, of course, there is my favorite: the “bias blind spot” which highlights that we are often blind to our own shortcomings and biases.

There are numerous other biases and related issues, but I wanted to use this short overview to suggest that understanding and harnessing cognitive biases can help us become more effective communicators.

I also recommend reading the “Influencer: The Power to Change Anything” by Kerry Patterson et al. and the works of Robert Cialdini, especially “Influence: The Science and Practice”. You can check out a good list of cognitive biases here.

Thanks to Dr. Ken Rothbaum for contributing to this post.

Footnote 1: Carducci, Deuser, Bauer,Large & Ramaekers. “An application of the foot in the door technique to organ donation” Journal of Business and Psychology Winter 1989


Messing up GA reporting

By Linda Bustos

Are those really your conversion rates?

Do customers actually find your site using that keyword?

Are you sure that Digg story sent you all that traffic?

Google Analytics may be lying to you, even though it tells the truth — simply because you’re not telling it how to track your site effectively. Are you guilty of any of the following?

Heads Up: All inks open up in new windows, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Tracking Too Much

1. Tracking Your Own IPs

Google Analytics allows you to set up filters for any IP that you don’t want to track. You should consider adding a filter for any user who doesn’t represent your target audience – including company employees’ home computers, the office IP block, SEOs and other web consultants and, if you can identify them, competitors! There are a number of problems tracking unnecessary IPs causes:

  • Overstates your type in traffic (when visitors type in your domain it’s an indicator of brand awareness or preference) and dilutes your referral source stats. Your organic and paid search programs may be driving a lot more traffic than you think.
  • Understates your conversion rates. Your direct type-ins could be your highest converting traffic source, but you’d never know it if you’re tracking every visit from employees, stakeholders and consultants. Your referring site and keyword conversions could also be affected if your own folks are using search engines and external links frequently to access content.
  • Overstates average time on page. Do you spend hours poring over your site, deciding what to tweak to improve conversion rates? How about when you keep your pages open in multiple tabs while you’re working on other things? This is not your typical customer behavior and is not a good indication of your content’s engagement.
  • Creates misleading keyword referrals. As a blogger, I often use Google to locate content I’ve written in the past. I find it more user friendly than WordPress’ internal site search. I don’t want to see a bunch of keyword referrals from myself, mistaking them for long-tail traffic.
  • Messes up your Content stats. Your “Top Content,” “Landing Pages” and “Exit Pages” will all be skewed by tracking irrelevant IPs. You don’t need to see CMS pages like cluttering up your reports, it wastes your precious time.

Send out a memo and collect IPs from all users you don’t want to track asking for their work and home IP addresses and create filters for each. You can save some time by adding a filter for a range of IPs. Or you can use an advanced, cookies-based filter in your office which will compensate for dynamic IPs.

Then go into your Analytics Settings, and in the bottom right corner you’ll see a link to the Filter Manager

filter manager

Then proceed to add each filter, and make sure to name the filters intuitively so it’s easy to make edits in the future.

filter IP addresses

2. Tracking Irrelevant Referring Sites

Do you have an intranet, project management system, wiki or internal company blog that sends you hundreds or thousands of hits each month? Is your award-winning web design showcased in a plethora of CSS galleries? Are you getting traffic from affiliate networks when affiliates check out your site? Did you post your site in a forum asking the community to critique your design? There are many more scenarios where you may be getting a wave of non-converting traffic that can mess up your data.

referral source

Use your Traffic Sources / Referring Sites data to note which sites to filter. (Tip: set your date range to cover at least a year, your reports usually only show one month’s data by default.)

irrelevant referrals

Setting up a domain filter works just like the IP filter. Just select “Exclude All Traffic From A Domain” instead of from an IP address.

filter domains

3. Tracking Visitors Outside Your Target Market’s Geography

Maybe you’re getting a lot of natural search traffic from visitors who simply can’t buy from you because you don’t ship to their state or country. Sure you can tell Google which country you’re targeting through Google Webmaster Tools, but believe it or not, Google is not the only search engine in the world! Why dilute your real conversion rate? Set up custom filters to exclude certain countries, and use your Map Overlay on your Dashboard to determine which countries to filter.

map overlay

filter countries

You’ll need to set up a “Custom Filter” like so:

custom filter by country

4. Tracking Too Many Query Parameters

Dynamic URLs and session IDs can cause Google Analytics to attribute unique page views to content that is essentially the same which makes it difficult to accurately gauge how well certain pages are performing.

It’s important that you distinguish which parameters are necessary to track (they make a page unique or tell you something about a visitor’s actions) from those that don’t. It can be dangerous for a non-techie to just start hacking out parameters under the premise they’re all problematic – product types and colors, for example. Once you exclude a URL query parameter, any matching URL will not show up in your reports, so make sure IT is involved in the decision process if you’re not sure. You can isolate parameters by viewing Content / Top Content and entering \? into your Find field (make sure it’s a backslash or it won’t work).

find parameters

To set up your filter, go to Settings / Edit / and click the Edit link for Main Website Profile Information (it can be easy to miss the edit link):

edit profile settings

Add your parameters separated with commas, no spaces:

edit variables

While you’re at it, you can set your default page to index.html, index.php or home if direct type in traffic redirects to such a URL. This will prevent your home page’s page view count to be split between two URLs. Be sure to omit the “/” in the box.

Not Tracking Enough

5. Forgetting to Tag ALL Your Pages

Unless you have a CMS that will automatically tag all your content with appropriate code as you create it, you could have holes in your tracking due to human error which screws up your entrance and exit page data. A high number of mysterious referrals from your own domain may tip you off that there’s a tag or two or ten missing. You can use free tools like SiteScan or WASP to identify errors, or a paid tool like Web Link Validator.

6. Sloppy Goal Configuration

Hey, we’re human. It’s easy mistake to make is a typo or incorrect URL in your goal funnel. Double and triple check your goal setup.

zero conversions

There are other issues you may have:

Then verify you have set up your goals correctly.

7. Setting Short Cookie Durations

If your first party cookies expire too soon, some of your campaign conversions will never be counted. Your average sales cycle may exceed 30 days, but if your cookie’s gone, you may be overstating your direct type in conversions and understating your paid search, email or affiliate campaigns. This is a decision you have to make based on your business, but it’s something to think about.

8. Not Tracking Full Site Referral URLs

What if your site gets Dugg more than once or linked to from many pages of a single domain? By default, your content reports will show these referrals from just the domain, not the pages unless you click through to see more detail from the individual domain. But there is a hack (courtesy of Rueben Yau) that will help you show full referral URLs in your main analytics reports. This boosts the efficiency of your analysis, especially if you’re playing in the social media marketing sandbox.

referring URL hack

(Screenshot via Rueben Yau).


Google Analytics Help

Google Analytics is undoubtedly the most widely used web analytics application. Emerged from and based upon the analytics-package developed by Urchin Software Corporation (which was bought by Google in April 2005), the tool has become publicly available for free under the new flagship of Google Analytics. In May 2007 the application was heavily edited, developed and released; the design was simplified and more advanced featured were added. Over years Google Analytics managed to gain on popularity because of its simplicity and many advanced features for curious site owners and professional marketers.


You probably use Google Analytics on a regular basis, for basic stats tracking the performance of your site. And, just like most GA users, you probably very rarely venture far from the comfort of the reports shown on the dashboard. That’s all the analytical information you need, you may be thinking … or is it?

Did you know that Google Analytics can generate up to 85 different reports that will help you analyze all possible data about your website traffic. It not only tracks visitors to your site or the number of page views, it can be used to see which content gets the most visits, time on site per visit, which ads are driving the most visitors to your site, it track the performances of your marketing campaigns, including AdWords, Adsense and emails and much, much more.

This post is not a be-all-and-end-all look at GA, but a rough guide to its many under-used features and reports. It is an easy to read guide that will help you understand and use the full power of Google Analytics. Honestly, it’s not that daunting.

General resources: Google Analytics Help Center, official forum and official blog.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

The GA Tracking Code

Google Analytics will only track pages that contain the Google Analytics tracking code, this is a small Javascript snippet that needs to be added to each page of your site, either manually or through the use of plugins or tool. You will find some tools and plugins to help you do this near the bottom of this post.

For a static webpage or if you want to manually install the code into your pages, copy and paste the code segment into the bottom of your content, immediately before the body tag of each page that you wish to track.

Google Analytics Breeze Presentations

To access your tracking code

  • Sign in to Google Analytics.
  • From the Analytics Settings page, find the profile for which you would like to retrieve the tracking code. Please note that tracking code is profile-specific.
  • From that profile’s Settings column, click Edit.
  • At the top right of the Main Website Profile Information box, click Check Status.
  • Your tracking code can be copied and pasted from the text box in the Instructions for adding tracking section.

The Dashboard and Analytical Reports

Log into Google Analytics and you’ll arrive at dashboard, the central hub that gives you an overview of all the popular reports (visitors, content, traffic sources and the cool map overlay) generated by Google Analytics. You can customize this page by changing what reports are shown, as well as dragging and dropping the reports into a format that suits your needs.

Google Analytics Interface Tutorial
A brief overview of how to use the Google Analytics interface. If you are new to Google Analytics or you’d like to pick up a few tips on how to use some of the different features, this video is a good place to start.

Interpreting Reports

Google Analytics Breeze Presentations

Google offers comprehensive tutorials and guides to using Analytics, in the form of a series of Adobe Breeze Presentations. Below you will find the guides and presentations to understanding and using the reports generated by GA.

Guidelines to interpreting GA Reports
In this presentation you will learn the best practices for analyzing data, how to analyze data trends and how to use the data visualizations in Google Analytics.

Pageviews, Visits, and Visitors
Learn where to find Pageviews, Visits, and Visitors metrics, how Pageviews, Visits, and Visitors are calculated, the difference between Pageviews and Unique Pageviews and the difference between Absolute Unique Visitors and New vs. Returning Visitors.

Time Metrics
How Time on Page and Time on Site are calculated, how Avg. Time on Page and Avg. Time on Site are calculated and learn about the Length of Visit report from this presentation.

Traffic Sources
Learn about the different kinds of traffic sources, how to identify quality traffic, how to identify revenue and conversion drivers, what kinds of information to look for in keyword reports, how campaign attribution works in Google Analytics

Content Reports
How to use and interpret the Top Content, Content by Title, and Content Drilldown reports; how to use the Top Landing Pages report; how to use and interpret the Navigation Summary report; how to use and interpret the Entrance Paths report.

Analyze Traffic Sources, Content, and Navigation
Use your Google Traffic Sources, Content, and Navigation reports effectively. In this video you will see the different sources of traffic, tracking content performance and analyzing visitor navigation.

Analytics and Flash and Flex Content

One of the most common Google Analytic implementation challenges has been tracking Flash content. In the past, Flash tracking was not provided out of the box, and every implementation had to be tailored to each individual site, developers who tracked Flash had to create their own processes to get it working.

Google now provides easy to implement tracking libraries for both Flash and Flex, the libraries include: Flash visual component, Flash AS3 library, Flex MXML component and Flex AS3 library.
Download: Flash and Flex Analytics Tracking Libraries.
Documentation: Developer Documentation.

Learn how easy it is to track Flash content using the new Google Analytics Tracking For Adobe Flash.

Analytics and Ecommerce

After you have enabled ecommerce transactions, Google Analytics will generate very detailed reports about every single transaction

Tracking Ecommerce with Google Analytics
By using Google Analytics with your Ecommerce website, you can gain valuable insights about your transactions, ROI, and customers.

Step-by-Step to enabling Ecommerce Reporting

The first step of tracking ecommerce transactions is to enable e-commerce reporting for your website’s profile.

  • Log in to your account.
  • Click Edit next to the profile you’d like to enable.
  • On the Profile Settings page, click edit next to Main Website Profile Information.
  • Change the E-Commerce Website radio button from No to Yes.

Analytical Goals

As a simplified explanation, Goals are only a page view, nothing complicated about that. If you define a goal in Google Analytics, you are telling it what page view constitutes the completion of a Goal, and Analytics then tracks it. It is an easier way to generate the reports that you need as well as a great way to measure your business objectives.

How to create Google Analytics Conversion Goals
In this video you will be shown how to create conversion goals in Google Analytics.

Step-by-Step to setting up Goals in Analytics

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account at
  2. Select the account that contains the profile you’ll be creating goals in from the Overview page.

    Find the profile for which you will be creating goals, and click ‘Edit’ under the ‘Actions’ column.

  3. Under the ‘Conversion Goals and Funnel’ section, select one of the four goal slots available for that profile and click ‘Edit.’
  4. Turn the goal ‘On’ or ‘Off.’ If you choose ‘On,’ that means you want Google Analytics should track this conversion goal at this time. Since there are no ways of deleting goals, turning it ‘Off’ can make the goal inactive.
  5. Select from one of the three match types that Google Analytics uses to identify the goal.
  6. Enter the Request URI in the Goal URL box. Reaching this page marks a successful conversion. For example, a registration confirmation page, a checkout complete page, or a thank you page.
  7. Enter the ‘Goal name’ as it should appear in your Google Analytics account.
  8. If your goal URL is case sensitive, this means your goal URLs are capitalized exactly like the visited goal URLs.
  9. Enter the ‘Goal value.’

10 Must Track Google Analytics Goals
The author of this article gives you 10 ideas for using Analytics Goals. He advises to setup goals for visitor comments on your blogs, social bookmarking actions, newsletter subscriptions, track feed subscriptions… and much more.

Import your Google Analytics Goals into AdWords and use them with Conversion Optimizer
In order to track your ROI from AdWords, you need to be able to see which keywords, ads and campaigns lead to conversions on your site. If you use Google Analytics, you can now import your Google Analytics Goals and Transactions into your AdWords account to use as conversion actions. This lets you track the ROI from your AdWords campaigns directly inside the AdWords interface.

Custom Reporting

Custom reports in Analytics give faster access to the information you need and less data reports to sift through. Simply, they remove the data that is relevant to you, leaving you with the bare bones reports that you need. You choose the information and metrics you want to see, organized in the way you want to see it.

Quick Start Guide to Custom Reporting

If you are stepping into custom reporting you should really read this official guide, from Google Support. You’ll learn to get from conceptualizing your custom report to actually building it, and will give you a basic insight into concepts and terminology involved in analytics and custom reporting. Check out also Quick Start Guide for Custom Reporting and Google Analytics Glossary

Custom Reporting in Analytics Video
Learn how to create custom reports in Google Analytics that show the information you want to see, organized in the way you want to see it.

Spotlight on Google Analytics features Custom Reporting
Conversion Room has written a great overview on custom reporting. It includes basic tutorials and how-tos.

Eyes on the Prize with Custom Reports
This is an in-depth article covering custom reporting in Analytics.

Google Analytics, Adsense and Adwords

Google Analytics has lots of tools and can generate reports that can help you with AdWords and Adsense campaigns.

Adsense Reporting in Google Analytics
If you are an AdSense publisher, you can use Google Analytics to see and perform in-depth analysis on your AdSense data.

Step-by-step guide to linking Adsense and Analytics

  • Log in to AdSense (
  • Click the link that says “Integrate your AdSense account with Google Analytics” on the Reports > Overview tab.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.

Campaign Tracking and AdWords Integration (Breeze Presentation)

This is an official lesson from the Google Analytics IQ Lessons series, in this presentation you will learn:

  • how to track campaigns using tagged links
  • how to track AdWords campaigns
  • when to use autotagging and how it works
  • how to enable autotagging
  • where to find AdWords data in your reports
  • the expected kinds of data discrepancies between AdWords and Analytics data
  • when and how to manually tag URLs
  • how to use the URL Builder
  • best practices for tagging links

Campaign Tracking and AdWords Integration (Breeze Presentation)

Linking Adwords with Google Analytics
Linking Google AdWords and Analytics helps provide insights on keywords, ROI, visitors, and more! Learn how to easily link your accounts.

Step-by-step guide to linking AdWords and Analytics

Below you will find the simple step-by-step guide from Google Support.

  • Login to your AdWords account at
  • Click the Analytics tab.
  • If you don’t have an Analytics account, click the Continue button to sign up for one.
  • If you already have an Analytics account, click I already have a Google Analytics account.
  • From the Existing Google Analytics Account drop-down list, select the name of the Analytics account you’d like to link to. Can’t see it there? You’ll need to add your AdWords username to your Analytics account as an Account Admin ( Learn how).
  • Keep the checkboxes selected on this page, unless you’re sure you’d like to disable auto-tagging and cost data imports.
  • Click Link Account.

Google AdSense Reports in Analytics – Guide
This article gives you a basic guide to Adsense and Analytics, it covers top content, referrers, revenue, trending and revenue sharing.

Google Analytics Desktop Apps

Polaris for Google Analytics
The sleek and stylish Polaris is the most popular and quite possibly the best desktop application for Google Analytics. It has been developed using Adobe AIR, making it cross-platform desktop widget for Google Analytics. With 8 standard reports available, you can view your stats instantly.

Google Analytics Tools

Polaris is a free download for everyone who manages one website profile, and for those who are managing multiple profiles, the upgrade to the full version is $15 a year.

Analytics Reporting Suite
This is another useful and feature rich Adobe AIR app for Google Analytics. It uses it’s own custom API to interact with Google and nearly implements all features of Analytics. With Analytics Reporting Suite you can use multiple profiles from different Analytics accounts, all popular reports (visitors, traffic and content) are available and you can also view your goal values and data segmentation.

Google Analytics Tools

Dashalytics – MAC Dashboard Widget
Dashalytics is a free Dashboard Widget for your Apple Mac that offers quick access to Google Analytics statistics.

Google Analytics Tools

Google Analytics Firefox Extensions

Fire Analytics
The Fire Analytics extension allows you to view your Google Analytics reports within a popup from Firefox.

Google Analytics Tools

Is Google Analytics Installed
This is a great little utility for web developers, checks automatically that Google Analytics is installed on any given page.

Google Analytics Tools

Web Analytics Solution Profiler/Debugger (WASP)
WASP provides detailed information about the data being collected from Google Analytics, through Query String and Cookies by web analytics solutions (called “tags”, “trackers” or “web bug”), ad networks, behavioural targeting and multivariate testing tools.

Google Analytics Tools

Grease Monkey Firefox Extensions

Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to customize the way webpages look and function. You will need this extension to run the following useful little scripts.

Google Analytics Report Enhancer
Better reports with Greasemonkey

Integrate Google Analytics with Google Docs using Greasemonkey

Keyword Trends in Google Analytics With Greasemonkey

Greasemonkey: Automatically Show All Profiles

Social Media Metrics Greasemonkey Plugin For Google Analytics

Better Google Analytics Firefox Extension
Firefox Extension with Greasemonkey Scripts for Google Analytics.

The Better Google Analytics Firefox Extension (BetterGA)
BetterGA is a compilation of the best Greasemonkey userscripts from various authors, brought together to create this feature (Auto Access, Content Search, Cleaner Profile Switching, Export to Google Docs…) rich extension. Remember and install Greasemonkey first.

Auto Access Your Google Analytics Account
Bypass the “Access Analytics” button that is displayed to you on the Google Analytics login page automatically.

Google Analytics Full Screen Reports
With this easy add-on, you can quickly expand the reporting view by hiding the left-hand navigation.

Google Analytics Advanced Date Selection
With this script, an option is added for one click access to year-over-year reports.

Include Today in the Default Google Analytics Date Range
By default, Google Analytics shows you the statistics for a 30 day period up to the previous complete day. This Greasemonkey script includes the current in all reports.

Google Analytics Table Sorter
An easy to use table sorter for your analytic reports.

Add the Digg count of your page to your Content Details
This Greasemonkey script will retrieve the Digg count of a page and display it to you on the Content Detail report of your Google Analytics (?) console.

Google Analytics Referrers
This user script adds an external link to see referrers on Google Analytics.

CMS & Website Plugins & Extensions

Silverlight Analytics
SilverlightAnalytics lets you use the power of Google Analytics within your Silverlight application. You can track web stats such as button clicks, mouse-over’s, events, page views, or anything else you might want without having to call Invoke().

Insert Google Analytics’ code – Dreamweaver Extension
This extension allows you to Insert/Update, Remove, Report the Google Analytics’ Javascript code(”urchin.js”) on any static website.

Google Analytics Tools

WordPress Plugins

Google Analyticator
Google Analyticator is an easy to implement WP plugin that adds Google Analytics tracking support to all WordPress posts and pages. It comes with an easily customizable widget that can be used to display specific information from the Google Analytics API. It supports all of the tracking mechanisms that Google Analytics supports such as external link tracking, download tracking, tracking without counting administrative users, and any other advanced tracking the user wishes to add.

Google Analytics Tools

Google Analytics for WordPress
This useful plugin adds the ability to tag and segment all outgoing links, so you can see whether a click came from a comment or an article. It also adds the possibility to track just the domain, instead of the complete link, so you get a better view of how much traffic you’re sending where.

Google Analytics Tools

Dashboard Reports Plugin
WordPress Google Analytics Reports plugin helps you to get real time live reports from Google Analytics using the data API, and viewed from the WordPress Dashboard.

Google Analytics Tools

Google Analytics and Feedburner Reports Plugin
This plugin allows you to easily view quick and basic Google Analytics and Feedburner reports in your WordPress admin area. It adds a top-level Reports tab and when you click on it, you’ll get a quick 7 day overview of what’s going on with your site (pageviews, visits, referrers, etc). You’ll have to login to Google Analytics or Feedburner directly if you want more detailed stats.

Google Analytics Tools

Drupal Module

Google Analytics Module
This powerful and feature rich Drupal module allows you to add the following statistics features to your site: Selectively track certain users, roles and pages; Monitor what type of links are tracked (downloads, outgoing and mailto); Monitor what files are downloaded from your pages; Cache the Google Analytics code on your local server for improved page loading times; Track user segmentation from Drupal profile data; Site Search support; AdSense support.

Installing & Configuring the Google Analytics Module for Drupal 6.x from Brian Stevenson on Vimeo.

Joomla Module

Google Analytics Tracking Module
Google Analytics Tracking Module is a simple module for Joomla! 1.0.x. and Joomla! 1.5 used for inserting Google Analytics tracking code into a Joomla site via a module. This module makes it possible to add the tracking code before the closing body tag in template, which is recommended by Google.

Google Analytics Tools

Mobile Apps

Analytics App for iPhone and iPod Touch

Google Analytics Tools

Ego — You’re important

Google Analytics Tools

myAnalytics – Google Analytics on the iPhone

Google Analytics Tools

Mobile GA for Android
Mobile GA for Android is a secure, fast and lightweight application for accessing your Google Analytics data. The app is intended to help you keep an eye on your key summary statistics while you’re on the move. The price for this app is only $2.99.

Google Analytics Tools

Google Analytics Tips and Ideas

The Google Analytics: Power User Guide
This guide is a compilation of VKI’s Google Analytics: Power User series, presenting an overview of several key features and uses of Google analytics—some basic, some advanced—and how you can use these features to analyze, interpret, and optimize your websites traffic. Also available as PDF.

Google Analytics Tips You Should Know AboutA round-up of six useful resources, with some of the handiest Google Analytics tips out there, starting from the simplest and moving on to trickier stuff.

50 Resources for Getting the Most Out of Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a very useful free tool for tracking site statistics. For most users, however, it never becomes more than just a pretty interface with interesting graphs. The resources below will help anyone, from the beginner to those who have been using Google Analytics for some time, learn how to get the most out of this great tool.

The Huge Collection of Google Analytics Tips
“I’ve been compiling the list of advanced Google Analytics tips that open up plenty of possibilities to track and evaluate.”

Youtube Channel
The official channel for all videos about and related to Google Analytics. 13 videos at this time.

Advanced use of Google Analytics and the new interface
Since Google Analytics was launched in 2005 it has become one of the top analytics packages for small to medium sized websites. Growth was initially slow due to the frustrating waiting list system initiated by Google to avoid over stretching their servers. Now that the waiting list has been removed anybody can sign up to use this great service.


8 Awesome Google Analytics Hacks, Tips and Tricks
There are a lot of things you need to tinker with in order to get some of the data you need from it.

5 Lesser Known Google Analytics Features
Google Analytics is a great program that can do a lot more than most people realize. Here are a few features that you may not know about.


Measure Online Advertising with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free web analytics application that is quickly becoming one of the most widely used web analytics tools around. A common misconception that many people have is that GA can only be used to track Google AdWords. That’s simply not true. GA can be used to track any online marketing activity.

Forcing Google analytics to show real time data
So here is how you can get real-time data from Google analytics.

Twitter and Google Analytics: What to Track
By default, traffic from Twitter will be tracked as referral traffic in Google Analytics. A better way to track a Twitter campaign would be to use GA’s campaign tracking feature.


Tracking Email with Google Analytics
Tracking email campaigns in Google Analytics is done using a process called link tagging. This process is the manipulation of the links in your emails.


PPC Management: AdWords Keyword Data Exposed With Google Analytics
You CAN expose your specific AdWords Keyword Data beyond the dreaded “other unique queries” in the AdWords Search Query Report with Google Analytics.


Speed Up Google Analytics
“Last year I wrote about hosting Google Analytics urchin.js file on your own server, to speed up the loading of your site. Well, google has migrated to a new analytics javascript, ga.js. You can read the urchin.js to ga.js migration guide if you want. They also wrote about the changes on the Google Analytics Blog. And if you want to learn about advanced features of ga.js check out this Google Analytics Documentation.”

Some Basic Setup Tips
Get you more effectively using your Google Analytics account.

Optimize Form Length with Input Analysis
In this post, I will share with you E-Nor’s technique in determining the forms fields that people are most likely not to complete. I will show you how to make this data available to decision makers and web optimizers so they are able to make the necessary changes.

Keyword Trends With Google Analytics and Greasemonkey

Google Analytics Reporting Suite
The Google Analytics Reporting Suite brings Google Analytics to the desktop, with a host of features that help you understand how your website is performing and where you can improve. From tracking your visitors, referrals and campaigns to viewing your AdWords ROI metrics, the Google Analytics Reporting suite is a must-have for every web business.

Articles, Tutorials and Tools

Introduction to Google Analytics
A screencast by Chris Coyier.

Forcing Google analytics to show real time data
Google Analytics generally updates your reports every 24 hours. This means that it could take 24 hours for data to appear in your account after you have first installed the tracking code. Learn how you can get real time data from Google Analytics.

Measure Online Advertising with Google Analytics
A common misconception that many people have is that GA can only be used to track Google AdWords. That’s simply not true. GA can be used to track any online marketing activity. And not only will Google Analytics track online marketing, it will also identify the conversion events that your online marketing creates.

5 Lesser Known Google Analytics Features
Google Analytics is a great program that can do a lot more than most people realize. Here are a few features that you may not know about.

The Ultimate Web Analytics Data Reconciliation Checklist

It may take some time to check the correct and complete code integration manually. This service helps you to check the correctness of the code snippet automatically.


No Google Analytics API? No Problem!
Learn how to read and use data, e.g. for the block with “Most Popular Posts”.

How to track Social Media Users with Google Analytics
One of the questions we are often asked is how we track various social media sites users and their interaction with sites the answer is in a variety of ways but here is just one of the techniques we use with Google Analytics.

Tracking regional Search Engines in Google Analytics
Google Analytics recognises 41 search engines by default. Although this is constantly being added to, there are of course a great many other search engines in the world – language and region specific, as well as price comparison and vertical portals.

Adding Business Data to Google Analytics Data
“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.”

How to Get Detailed PPC Keyword Data from Google Analytics
A new filter that shows exactly the Search Term (i.e. keywords that are searched on) rather than just the Bid Term (i.e. the keywords that triggered a PPC advert).

Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking
This series of article has 4 parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Blogs about Google Analytics

The official Google Analytics Blog

Advanced Web Metrics
A blog of Brian Clifton’s blog about analytics, with many useful tips and ideas.

Google Analytics Results
A Google Analytics blog written by the company Mangold Sengers.

Luna Metrics Blog
A blog of an Internet consulting firm that specializes in configuring and evaluating Google Analytics.

Analytics Talk
Justin Cutroni’s blog about Google Analytics.

And finally…

Google Analytics may be lying to you, even though it tells the truth — simply because you’re not telling it how to track your site effectively. Are you guilty of any of the following?

  • Are those really your conversion rates?
  • Do customers actually find your site using that keyword?
  • Are you sure that Digg story sent you all that traffic?

If you are, you may want to read this article: 8 Stupid Things Webmasters do to mess up their analytics.

About the author

Paul Andrew is a freelance web designer. He is chief admin for Speckyboy – Design Magazine, a web design, web development and graphic design resource blog. Follow him on Twitter here:


10 ways to support charity through social media

Gest post bBMashable

This post is a collaboration between Mashable’s Summer of Social Good charitable fundraiser and Max Gladwell’s “10 Ways” series. The post is being simultaneously published across more than 100 blogs.



Social media is about connecting people and providing the tools necessary to have a conversation. That global conversation is an extremely powerful platform for spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues. That’s one of the reasons charities can benefit so greatly from being active on social media channels. But you can also do a lot to help your favorite charity or causes you are passionate about through social media.

Below is a list of 10 ways you can use social media to show your support for issues that are important to you. If you can think of any other ways to help charities via social web tools, please add them in the comments. If you’d like to retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.

1. Write a Blog Post

Blogging is one of the easiest ways you can help a charity or cause you feel passionate about. Almost everyone has an outlet for blogging these days — whether that means a site running WordPress, an account at LiveJournal, or a blog on MySpace or Facebook. By writing about issues you’re passionate about, you’re helping to spread awareness among your social circle. Because your friends or readers already trust you, what you say is influential.

Recently, a group of green bloggers banded together to raise individual $1 donations from their readers. The beneficiaries included Sustainable Harvest, Kiva, Healthy Child, Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, and Water for People. The blog-driven campaign included voting to determine how the funds would be distributed between the charities. You can read about the results here.

You should also consider taking part in Blog Action Day, a once a year event in which thousands of blogs pledge to write at least one post about a specific social cause (last year it was fighting poverty). Blog Action Day will be on October 15 this year.

2. Share Stories with Friends


Another way to spread awareness among your social graph is to share links to blog posts and news articles via sites like Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, and even through email. Your network of friends is likely interested in what you have to say, so you have influence wherever you’ve gathered a social network.

You’ll be doing charities you support a great service when you share links to their campaigns, or to articles about causes you care about.

3. Follow Charities on Social Networks

In addition to sharing links to articles about issues you come across, you should also follow charities you support on the social networks where they are active. By increasing the size of their social graph, you’re increasing the size of their reach. When your charities tweet or post information about a campaign or a cause, statistics or a link to a good article, consider retweeting that post on Twitter, liking it on Facebook, or blogging about it.

Following charities on social media sites is a great way to keep in the loop and get updates, and it’s a great way to help the charity increase its reach by spreading information to your friends and followers.

You can follow the Summer of Social Good Charities:

Oxfam America (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube)
The Humane Society (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr)
LIVESTRONG (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr)
WWF (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr)

4. Support Causes on Awareness Hubs


Another way you can show your support for the charities you care about is to rally around them on awareness hubs like, Care2, or the Facebook Causes application. These are social networks or applications specifically built with non-profits in mind. They offer special tools and opportunities for charities to spread awareness of issues, take action, and raise money.

It’s important to follow and support organizations on these sites because they’re another point of access for you to gather information about a charity or cause, and because by supporting your charity you’ll be increasing their overall reach. The more people they have following them and receiving their updates, the greater the chance that information they put out will spread virally.

5. Find Volunteer Opportunities

Using social media online can help connect you with volunteer opportunities offline, and according to web analytics firm Compete, traffic to volunteering sites is actually up sharply in 2009. Two of the biggest sites for locating volunteer opportunities are VolunteerMatch, which has almost 60,000 opportunities listed, and, which also lists paying jobs in the non-profit sector, in addition to maintaining databases of both volunteer jobs and willing volunteers.

For those who are interested in helping out when volunteers are urgently needed in crisis situations, check out, a site which helps register and educate those who want to help during disasters so that local resources are not tied up directing the calls of eager volunteers. Teenagers, meanwhile, should check out, a site targeted at young adults seeking volunteer opportunities in their communities.

6. Embed a Widget on Your Site

Many charities offer embeddable widgets or badges that you can use on your social networking profiles or blogs to show your support. These badges generally serve one of two purposes (or both). They raise awareness of an issue and offer up a link or links to additional information. And very often they are used to raise money.

Mashable’s Summer of Social Good campaign, for example, has a widget that does both. The embeddable widget, which was custom built using Sprout (the creators of ChipIn), can both collect funds and offer information about the four charities the campaign supports.

7. Organize a Tweetup

You can use online social media tools to organize offline events, which are a great way to gather together like-minded people to raise awareness, raise money, or just discuss an issue that’s important to you. Getting people together offline to learn about an important issue can really kick start the conversation and make supporting the cause seem more real.

Be sure to check out Mashable’s guide to organizing a tweetup to make sure yours goes off without a hitch, or check to see if there are any tweetups in your area to attend that are already organized.

8. Express Yourself Using Video

As mentioned, blog posts are great, but a picture really says a thousand words. The web has become a lot more visual in recent years and there are now a large number of social tools to help you express yourself using video. When you record a video plea or call to action about your issue or charity, you can make your message sound more authentic and real. You can use sites like Seesmic,, Vimeo, and YouTube to easily record and spread your video message.

Last week, the Summer of Social Good campaign encouraged people to use video to show support for charity. The #12forGood campaign challenged people to submit a 12 second video of themselves doing something for the Summer of Social Good. That could be anything, from singing a song to reciting a poem to just dancing around like a maniac — the idea was to use the power of video to spread awareness about the campaign and the charities it supports.

If you’re more into watching videos than recording them, enables you to raise funds for charities like Unicef and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital by sharing viral videos by e-mail.

9. Sign or Start a Petition


There aren’t many more powerful ways to support a cause than to sign your name to a petition. Petitions spread awareness and, when successfully carried out, can demonstrate massive support for an issue. By making petitions viral, the social web has arguably made them even more powerful tools for social change. There are a large number of petition creation and hosting web sites out there. One of the biggest is The Petition Site, which is operated by the social awareness network Care2, or, which has collected more than 79 million signatures over the years.

Petitions are extremely powerful, because they can strike a chord, spread virally, and serve as a visual demonstration of the support that an issue has gathered. Social media fans will want to check out a fairly new option for creating and spreading petitions: Twitition, an application that allows people to create, spread, and sign petitions via Twitter.

10. Organize an Online Event

Social media is a great way to organize offline, but you can also use online tools to organize effective online events. That can mean free form fund raising drives, like the Twitter-and-blog-powered campaign to raise money for a crisis center in Illinois last month that took in over $130,000 in just two weeks. Or it could mean an organized “tweet-a-thon” like the ones run by the 12for12k group, which aims to raise $12,000 each month for a different charity.

In March, 12for12k ran a 12-hour tweet-a-thon, in which any donation of at least $12 over a 12 hour period gained the person donating an entry into a drawing for prizes like an iPod Touch or a Nintendo Wii Fit. Last month, 12for12k took a different approach to an online event by holding a more ambitious 24-hour live video-a-thon, which included video interviews, music and sketch comedy performances, call-ins, and drawings for a large number of prizes given out to anyone who donated $12 or more.

Bonus: Think Outside the Box

blamedrewscancerSocial media provides almost limitless opportunity for being creative. You can think outside the box to come up with all sorts of innovative ways to raise money or awareness for a charity or cause. When Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer, for example, he created Blame Drew’s Cancer, a campaign that encourages people to blow off steam by blaming his cancer for bad things in their lives using the Twitter hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer. Over 16,000 things have been blamed on Drew’s cancer, and he intends to find sponsors to turn those tweets into donations to LIVESTRONG once he beats the disease.

Or check out Nathan Winters, who is biking across the United States and documenting the entire trip using social media tools, in order to raise money and awareness for The Nature Conservancy.

The number of innovative things you can do using social media to support a charity or spread information about an issue is nearly endless. Can you think of any others? Please share them in the comments.


Why People Go Online

Learning and fun top the list.

If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, the Internet is a pretty hot place.

According to Ruder Finn, 100% of US Internet users surveyed in Q2 2009 went online to pass the time.

Reasons that US Internet Users Go Online, Q2 2009 (% of respondents)

Other popular reasons were education, connecting with others, researching and sharing.

The least common intentions when logging on were to make purchases, manage finances, comparison shop and join causes.

“Intent is the new demographic,” said Kathy Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn co-CEO. “Delving deeper into the underlying motivations of online behavior is critical to developing proactive strategies.”

Overall, Ruder Finn divided online activities into six categories, listed from most common to least:

  • Learn
  • Have fun
  • Socialize
  • Express oneself
  • Advocate
  • Do business
  • Shop

Men were more likely than women to go online for business, entertainment and to keep informed on news and current events.

Women, in turn, were more likely to use the Internet to advocate for a cause or issue, express themselves and socialize.

More than two-thirds (69%) of young adults ages 18 to 29 posted comments on social networking sites, 55% played games and 50% went online “specifically to rage against a person or organization.”

Seniors were nearly twice as likely as young people to manage their finances, and 65% of seniors went online to be part of a community.


Nonprofit E-newsletters: Find the Ideal Length and Frequency

How Long Should Our E-Newsletter Be?

Most nonprofit newsletters are way too long. Readers are expected to scroll, scroll and scroll some more. The reality? People don’t scroll that much. They’ll quickly skim what’s near the top and then delete it, missing entirely what’s at the bottom.

If you recently switched from a print newsletter to an e-newsletter, I am willing to bet the bank that your e-newsletter is too long. You simply can’t take everything that’s in a four-page print newsletter (let alone an 8- or 12-page newsletter) and cram it all into one email. It just doesn’t work. Instead, you should:

  1. Take the very best content
  2. Put that in your e-newsletter
  3. Link to everything else on your website

Your e-newsletters should be a fast read. I like the 500-word target. That’s not much space, but it makes perfect sense. People are craving empty inboxes, which means they are skimming their email even more than they used to. They simply aren’t going to scroll through a long email, reading it word for word. Don’t expect them to.

How should you use those 500 words? You might include one 500-word article. Or two 250-word articles. Or five 100-word teasers to full articles on your website. Or one 250-word article with a few teasers.

Experiment and find the format that works best for you and for your readers.

How Often Should We Send Our E-Newsletter?

How often can you write interesting, engaging content that your readers will enjoy receiving? That’s how often you should send your newsletter.

When in doubt or just starting out, try to send a newsletter every 4-6 weeks and adjust from there. You want people to remember you and look forward to receiving your newsletter, but you don’t want to drive them crazy with too much email.

Here’s a note about content:

  • If you are providing on-target, valuable information each and every time (or darn close), your readers won’t feel bugged by frequent mailings.
  • If you don’t have enough content for a newsletter every two months, you either don’t know your readers or aren’t thinking creatively about ways to talk about your work.

Here’s a sweeping generalization: Most nonprofits send e-newsletters too infrequently. If you aren’t sure whether to step up your publishing schedule or not, go for it. Remember, shorter is better with email. So instead of sending a newsletter with three articles every six weeks, try sending one article every two weeks. It’s the same amount of content, but you are giving your supports three opportunities to connect with you, instead of just one.

If you find you just can’t deliver the goods, slow down. If your unsubscribe rate goes up, ask why people are leaving your list and, if frequency is the problem, back off.


Whether you’re talking about how much content or how often to distribute it, it’s all about knowing what works best for your list!


The CRAP test

The CRAP test is a way to evaluate a source based on the following criteria: Currency, Reliability, Authority and Purpose/Point of View.  Below are some questions to help you think about how to measure each of the criteria. 



    * Currency –

          o How recent is the information?

          o How recently has the website been updated?

          o Is it current enough for your topic?

    * Reliability –

          o What kind of information is included in the resource?

          o Is content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is is balanced?

          o Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

    * Authority –

          o Who is the creator or author?

          o What are the credentials?

          o Who is the published or sponsor?

          o Are they reputable?

          o What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?

          o Are there advertisements on the website?

    * Purpose/Point of View –

          o Is this fact or opinion?

          o Is it biased?

          o Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?


How to Write More Conversational Emails

ood email writing is friendly and conversational. While there are certainly times where the newsy, facts-only journalistic style can work, most nonprofit newsletters should be much more personal, and even a little chatty.

People give to and support nonprofits for highly subjective reasons. Your supporters get something deeply personal out of their affiliation with your organization as a donor, volunteer, or advocate. So why would your response back to these passionate people be institutional, monolithic, and completely objective?

You need to break out of the “501(c)(3) speaks to the masses” writing mode, if you want your email communications to be successful.

Here are a few ways to make your writing feel more personal to your readers:

  1. Speak directly to your reader by calling them “you” and refer to yourself and your nonprofit as “We” or “I.”
  2. Use bylines. Let your readers know who is writing the article.
  3. Make people central to your content. Include your staff, donors, volunteers, clients, and others by name in your articles.
  4. Tell stories. Tell stories in your e-newsletters to engage your donors in your work, to reinforce their giving decisions, to inspire them to do more, and to encourage more word-of-mouth marketing on your behalf.
  5. Include headshots or photos with people. Show your readers who’s talking and who you are talking about.

Your supporters give their time, talents and gifts with passion for your cause. They are part of the family. Write to them that way.