Google Analytics Short Cuts by Justin Cutroni for me was a shortcut to understanding how important Google Analytics are to the design and performance of a website. I am not a web designer or programmer, I know little about coding but for me as Loves Data's Business Director, Short Cuts gave me the understanding and insights needed to see the nuts and bolts of how to connect Google Analytics with marketing initiatives - online and offline, to achieve measurable value and benefits for clients.
Short Cuts shifts the perspective on Google Analytics from ends to means and in doing so provides a much deeper understanding of how websites can be specifically designed to capture selective and detailed data on website visitor/customer behavior to support business strategies, including sales and marketing targets, directly.
By concentrating on the means Justin Cutroni shows how the Google Analytics machinery works and how it can be used to produce higher quality data and how Google Analytics can be configured to filter the data "to control what data appears in your reports" for customer segmentation and most importantly Marketing Campaign Tracking.
In Short Cuts Cutroni steps beyond the easy familiarity of the Google Analytics interface to reveal that for marketing campaigns there is much more to it than 'what you see is what you get'. He explains how to use link tagging to identify and measure the results of paid online and offline marketing activities.
"Unlike other configuration steps, marketing campaign tracking is not done in the Google Analytics administrative interface or on your website. Marketing campaign tracking involves changing the links used in your marketing activities."
You don't need to be an advanced GA user to understand the importance of this and that tagging your marketing activities presents enormous opportunities not just to measure marketing campaign results but to shape and test your online and offline marketing initiatives in a coordinated way to tie the results to ROI.
His explanations of the details of how Google Analytics work, including boxes to highlight warnings, tips and notes, bring technical and non-technical readers into contact with the real opportunities of online initiatives by making data collection a deliberate and highly beneficial part of the web design process data rather than an interesting afterthought.
Cutroni's main objective in Short Cuts is to reach website designers who have the technical know-how and expansive thinking needed to appreciate and apply the techniques he presents in order to turn websites into truly effective business tools.
The tracking code solutions Cutroni reveals in Short Cuts graphically alert technical and non-technical readers to the necessity of designing Google Analytics as an integrated component of websites to focus on particular objectives to generate leads, develop customer relationships and increase sales.
Cutroni's details of Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) and how each piece of data in the logfile line is turned into a field and how each field contains many different pageview attributes may not be of interest to non-technical people but its data delivery capability should be.
Cutroni's Short Cuts is a short book of 89 pages with chapters on key aspects of Google Analytics written from the perspective of an author who has first-hand experience and insights into how the performance of this technology can be improved by using his techniques.
Short Cuts refers to the importance of integrating website design objectives and processes with business plans, strategies and objectives - of "getting Google Analytics configured correctly" being "the biggest roadblock to using it effectively" and the "need to identify what's best for your business and configure Google Analytics accordingly".
Like all good books, Short Cuts is stimulating and exciting, and if you think you know all you need to know to make the most of Google Analytics, think again. I agree with Robbin Steif in her Short Cuts review that it is "the best ten bucks you will ever spend if you care about advanced GA implementation".