Annie Cushing is the Director of Analytics for BlueGlass. She is the analytics ninja to listen to and follow on a Twitter. She also offers fantastic information on the BlueGlass blog. Annie is not only a GA guru, she is also a kind and funny person with 2 beautiful daughters (that are also geeks). She is a shoe connoisseur and always makes the rest of us look bad at conferences. If you see her at a conference go say “hello”. You will be glad you did.
Do you think anyone can learn how to effectively use Google Analytics or should businesses look into SEO companies or consultants to help them?
I absolutely think that people can learn analytics on their own, if they have the time and dedication. There are books (make sure the book uses version 5 of GA), online courses like this one from Lynda.com or Google’s Conversion University. I wanted to dive into the deep end of the pool and took the Market Motive certification course in web analytics. That course prepared me for enterprise-level analysis and showed me just how little I knew.
Google Analytics offers an online course, have any thoughts on that?
It was at one time a great resource for newbies. But Google has only updated eight out of the 25 videos with version 5 screencasts, which renders it almost useless for neophytes in its current state. But it’s what I first cut my teeth on. However, if Google ever gets around to fully updating it, I’d recommend it again as a first step.
Everyone seems to be a different learning stages when it comes to analytics. What sites do you recommend people use to learn?
Here’s a bundle of my Analytics folder in Google Reader. It contains all of my favorite analytics blogs. Just click the Subscribe button if you want to add them to your RSS reader.
What do you think of the latest version of Google Analytics?
I think there are some great advancements, but I think NetFlix has demonstrated that taking features away is generally not a good idea. I found Google’s taking away of PDF exports especially hamstringing to people who aren’t familiar with what to do with a data dump. I wrote a post about how to format data from Google Analytics to help business owners and people who don’t grok on Excel like I do. But also taking away our ability to schedule reports, email reports, and share segments anymore were setbacks that overshadowed some of the really amazing upgrades.
Are there other analytics programs you enjoy or recommend?
I really like Woopra. It’s easy to install, inexpensive, and is very user friendly. Besides that, I really like Coremetrics. However, I’ve always been curious about Unica NetInsight for. I’ve never had the opportunity to use it (sigh), but it looks sleek.
Both of your daughters are now in this wonderful geeky industry. They seem well grounded & kind so I know you have some parenting skills! How did you pull off raising two smart geeks? Any recommendations for parents?
Thank you for that. I think they’re pretty amazing, but I’m terribly biased. You can’t believe anything I say.
I think when you’re passionate about something, it’s kind of infectious and spills over to your kids. I’ve told my kids that one of the best things in life is to do what you love every day. So that’s been really important to me. I tell them I don’t care what it is they decide to do, as long as it makes them enough money to be independent and they always have plenty of room to grow and learn.
I’ve also drilled the supreme importance of having marketable skills. College will get them so far, but at the end of the day it’s what they can bring to the table that counts. So I started teaching them everything I could about this industry with the hope that, regardless of what they ultimately choose to do with their futures, they’ll be tech/Internet savvy.
Mac or PC?
If you would have asked me this even six months ago, I would have said Mac all the way. But with Excel for Mac not being able to do any of the heavy lifting its PC counterpart can do, I’m leaning more PC every day. It doesn’t help that the Mac versions of some of my fave cross-platform tools (e.g., Camtasia, SnagIt) are ridiculously subpar as well.
Iphone or Droid?
Tweetdeck or Hootsuite?
Favorite drink people can buy you at conferences?
Cranberry and vodka
Star Wars or Star Trek
There’s a difference?
Thanks to Annie for all the Great Info!
I want to thank Annie for giving us so many valuable links and information to learn from. She is a great lady!