Blueprint for Google Analytics Implementation

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.
– W. Edwards Deming

If you believe in this quote, you are moving in the right direction and this article is for you.

What I am going to share with you, is the process I follow for any Google Analytics Implementation project.

You can use the following blueprint to implement any type of Google Analytics implementation whether it is: event tracking, ecommerce tracking, scroll tracking, enhanced ecommerce trackingcustom dimensions or hyper advanced ‘out of this world’ GA implementation:

blue print

Stage #1: Planning

At this stage you plan out exactly:

#1 What data you will collect (tracking requirements)

#2 What is required to get the desired data (implementation setup requirements) and whether getting the desired data is technically feasible (technical feasibility study)

#3 How you will collect the data (functional and technical designs)

#4 How the tags would be deployed (tag deployment planning)

#5 How the data should be processed

#6 How the data should be reported.

#7 Risk assessments – risk associated with tag deployment and the project in general (include tag auditing).

Many marketers/analyst skip the planning stage and jump straight into the implementation phase which could result in lot of: rework, missed deadlines, additional cost, disappointment, disagreement, conflicts, lawsuit and war, esp. if the implementation project is big and lot of money is at stake.

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I would suggest creating a project scope document at this stage which clearly outlines:

#1 Project Plan – how you will carry out the project.

For example, if you are going to setup call tracking then outline all the steps you will take to implement it. You don’t need to go into minute details, a simple overview would be enough.

There are two advantages of creating a project plan:

a) you will demonstrate your ability to successfully carry out the project.

b) your client would get an idea of what to expect during the course of the project.

 

#2 Project deliverables – what results your project will produce.

For example:

” Our goal would be to assist you with the customization of your site’s user experience until the objectives you outlined in the document you shared are no longer issues.”

 

#3 Project Exclusions – what results your project will not produce.

This is important to mention.

Otherwise you can implement ‘N’ things in Google Analytics and your project can practically run forever.

For example:

” The project will not include any functionality or modifications that are not explicitly stated in the document provided (revisions to the document prior to starting are acceptable but not after) and will also not include an indefinite number of revisions.

 

A single time period will be provided for reviewing and testing our work, after which we will address all issues identified and close the project. New ideas and changes to original ideas will necessitate a followup project. “

#4 Project milestones – what will be the key milestones and estimated time-frame for each milestone.

For example:

” Our earliest project start date at this point would be three weeks from the date an agreement was reached.

Based on my understanding of the requirements and factoring in time for a single revision period I’d estimate the project to be completed in ~one month. “

 

#5 Project Requirement – what is required in order to carry out this project. Outline all the tools, permissions and support you would need in order to carry out this project.

For example:

” To complete this project we will need you to grant us administrative access to your staging for two users, SFTP access to your server, create an organization on Github and add two members of our team as managers, ensure that the latest versions of all plugins and your theme are installed and valid license keys are included where applicable, and that you will be reasonably available for questions and discussions about the project while it is in development. “

 

#6 Project Assumptions – what are the assumptions under which this project will be carried out.

For example:

” The assumptions relating to this project are that the included document contains all of the desired modifications needed on the site, that any changes to those requirements during the project will be included in a follow up project, that our workflow and process will be respected and that all communications and payments will be on schedule. “

 

#7 Project Constraints/risk – outline all the risks which could derail your project or stop you from completing a particular project deliverable.

For example:

” As with any project, there are risks that you, the site owner, will change your mind regarding some aspects of the project, discover new ideas that you would like to implement, or that you have communicated the project requirements in such a way that we are likely to deliver something different from your expectations. “

#8 Project cost and terms of work – mention both fixed and variable cost, if the project scope is not crystal clear.
For example:

” Minimum project cost: £2,500.
Estimated maximum cost: £4,000.
Reason for variance: lack of information about the rest of the website’s configuration, unfamiliarity with extensibility of your custom CMS and shopping cart. “

You are less likely to disappoint your client/boss if you create and send project scope document each time, before you start an implementation project.

Otherwise best of luck with managing expectations, resources and deadlines.

Stage #2: Configuration

At this stage you may configure your Google Analytics Property/View’s settings and/or configure the Google Tag Manager container tag settings (like setting up custom dimension scope).

You may also need to configure your: CMS, shopping cart, staging website, CRM, call tracking software or any other tool(s), if they are also a part of the implementation set up.

Stage #3: Collection

At this stage you create the functionality (on the basis of your technical and functional design) to collect the required data and then send the collected data to Google Analytics server for processing.

Following tasks are frequently carried out during this stage:

#1 Hard coding data layers (wrapped with server side code) on web pages.

#2 Creating and adding codes (event tracking code, scroll tracking script, phone call tracking script etc) to various web page elements.

#3 Tag deployment and testing

You would most likely need the help of a web developer (who is also familiar with Google Analytics development environment) at this stage.

Stage #4: Processing

At the stage, Google Analytics process the collected data according to your configuration settings (like ‘dimension scope’, tag rule) and designed funtionality.

You do not directly process any data at this stage.

All the processing is done by Google Analytics server.

However you can decide how the collected data should be processed by GA during the planning and configuration stages.

If you are not satisfied with, how the data is being processed then you need to go back to previous stage(s).

Stage #5: Reporting

At this stage the processed data is available in Google Analytics reports or in your custom app.

Again at this stage you don’t directly have any role in reporting the processed data.

All of the reporting is done via your implementation set up and GA server.

You however can decide how the data should be reported during the planning, configuration and/or collection stage(s).

If you are not satisfied with how the data is being reported then you need to go back to the previous stage(s).

Stage #6: Querying

At this stage you or the end user, query the data either via the reporting interface or via the API.

You query the data in order to test your implementation setup.

An end user may query the data to get the desired report.

Querying the data in a desired format can also become a project on its own and may require significant development resources.

So this is something you need to consider during the planning stage.

If you are wondering why these 6 stages, I created these stages based on the Google Analytics developers’ documentation.

That’s how Google expect developers to implement GA/GTM set up.

If you remember this simple 6 steps process, you will also remember how Google Analytics works.

Other article you will find useful: Baseline and Custom Attribution Models in Google Analytics

Announcement about my books

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

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