Google recently launched the Google Analytics mobile app for Android users on June 29, 2012. Being an Internet marketing professional, I was pretty curious about what the app had to offer. In this post, I have tried to provide a preliminary review of the app and the various traffic reports that it offers. For the sake of this app review, I have divided Analytics users into three categories based on the frequency of use and the level of user expertise.
The first one is the power user who eats, drinks, and sleeps the process of churning out Analytics reports, similar to the geeky folks in my office who stare at mounds of numbers and graphs on their screens and smile intermittently. The second one is the medium level user who looks at it frequently and tries to derive some insight from the traffic data while working on minor, but regular, improvements to his website. The third one is the least indulgent user. He is probably a company owner who looks at Analytics from a bird’s eye view, just to get a feel for how well his website is doing from a traffic and conversions perspective.
Given its current functionality, this app is geared towards the third kind of user who would just flip out his phone, check the current traffic, make a decision about whether it’s good or bad, and then get his boys to work on it to ensure the campaign is on the right track.
Monitoring website traffic on-the-go was a tedious exercise previously. If you are a person who lives and works in a non-3G, mobile network area, checking Google Analytics was an arduous exercise. It used to take forever for the reports to load, and you can’t really fault Google for that. It takes a lot of backend processing to create the well-formatted graphs that we are used to seeing on the desktop UI.
With the introduction of this app, things will be a lot easier since a major part of the processing will happen on the phone’s end. The graph display resolutions have been customized for smaller screens, and gone are the days when you had to keep on zooming to read exact data point values on graphs on your mobile screen. The numbers on the display graphs appear crisp, and you can read the figures without putting additional strain on your eyes, although this app does work best on phones with screen sizes larger than 4 inches.
It is understandably in its nascent stages, but still, the plethora of features Google has included on a mobile platform is kind of unprecedented. Google probably decided to work on it for a longer time and come out with a strong product, rather than launch the app early and offer less functionality.
When I powered up the app, it immediately began loading the Gmail account, which is what I use to download Android apps on my phone. Now, that is a bit of an assumption on Google’s part to think that my phone Gmail is the default Google account used for all my needs – professional as well as personal. People usually have their personal Google account set up on their phones, and then there is a separate account created for Analytics, or for that matter, all official communication.
It would have been great if Google had just introduced a login page on startup so users could easily monitor multiple Analytics accounts through the same phone. I had to go back and set up an additional Google account (the one linked with Analytics) on my phone since my personal Google account did not track any website.
Now let’s talk about the Reports that Google has chosen to offer in the first version of this app.
1) Real-Time Traffic Data Report
It gives you the number of active users currently on your website. According to a blog post, this feature requires a minimum of five minutes to update. For me, as a non-power user, a five-minute latency period is something I can manage. Also, there is a list of top landing pages with Top Active Pages and Top Referrals beneath it.
If you are an e-commerce webmaster or you monitor a news domain, this feature can work wonders for you. This is how you can keep your website team updated to ensure that you immediately respond to sudden surges or falls in traffic, even if you are in the middle of a traffic jam!
2) The Ubiquitous Dashboard
The Dashboard shows Daily Unique Visitors and Daily Conversion Rates as the default view. These are the most obvious metrics checked by every Google Analytics user when he logs in to his desktop account. I must say, Google has gotten its priorities right here!
I imagine this feature is wonderful for search engine marketing campaign managers since they can provide data to clients on an on-demand basis. E-commerce website managers can make fleeting changes if they see an abnormal drop in conversions.
3) Automatic Alerts
This one will act as the Man Friday for you. You will no longer be late in responding to a traffic drop, just because you weren’t in your office.
Now, the flip side could be that you are on a holiday, and your phone beeps intermittently to warn you of a negative turn on your website, but look at the bright side. You won’t have to log in to your laptop every time you want to track negative alarms.
4) Custom Alerts
I had set up a few custom alerts on the desktop version of my Analytics, but sadly, they were not visible here on the Google Analytics interface. The alert will be displayed only if the condition for triggering the alert is satisfied, which implies that if I forget what custom alerts I have set up or if I have quite a few of them set up, I will always have to go back and check through the desktop version. This version is not even ready to tell me what custom alerts I have set up.
Only set up very crucial alerts on this. In fact, I feel that setting up only two or three custom alerts as high priority alerts that require immediate action will help.
Overall, the Analytics app provides good functionality and an interface to track data. Replicating any Web-based application on a mobile platform has its numerous advantages. Gone are the days when you had to tell a client, “Sorry, but I am not in my office now. I will get to the office and then send you the data and insight as soon as possible.”
This is not really an all-encompassing review of the value this Android app is going to bring to online marketers. It’s more of a first-hand narration of how the app looks and feels. Web marketers would do well to closely follow the subsequent updates to the app. It will be interesting to see the order Google follows when adding features and reports to the Analytics mobile platform.
In hindsight, this launch is very much in line with Google’s efforts to focus on mobile platforms in a big way. According to me, in the short term, any analytics mobile app will have one major, striking limitation. They can only be used for referencing information. Other functions like setting up goals, creating custom reports, and exporting reports to PDFs will be difficult from an implementation perspective. Also, it will be a challenge for the developers to ensure that the user experience is very pleasant and seamless.
In the meantime, the geeky folks in my office just got one more screen, albeit a much smaller one, to stare at and smile!