June 14, 2011 – At this month’s SEMpdx event, we heard from three analytics experts who gave their advice on effective ways to utilize Google Analytics and better understand the data.

Agillian founder Carlos del Rio talked to us about regular expressions.  He explained how using advanced segments allows for many dimensions and metrics at the same time, which is extremely helpful when analyzing at such granular levels.  Carlos focused on regular expression keyword matching – for example, {1, 2} – and walked us through the advanced filter settings for keywords and landing pages.  Regular expressions are very versatile and something you can take to any database, whether Google Analytics, Excel, MySQL or other files.

Mike Pantoliano, from Distilled, shared how invaluable custom variables can be in making Google Analytics work for you.  Custom variables allow us to refine Google Analytics tracking with name-value pairs.  To know what to track, forget about web analytics for a moment and determine what’s important to you.  From there, you can start building and tracking key pieces of data.  Mike walked us through examples of page level, session level and visitor level custom variables, the last being a great way to analyze social media ROI.

The night ended with MashableMetrics’ Tom Bofilevac reinforcing the impact of data visualization.  At the end of the day, you can find yourself swimming in a lot of data.  Putting the data into pictures offers quick filtering and segmenting, and the interactivity allows analysts to drill deeper into the numbers.  Tom recommended Tableau as an excellent data visualization tool.  He took us through an example of a data set with 1.2 million rows and showed how Tableau’s functionality provides a quick representation of outliers, allows for interactivity and saves a lot of time.  Not to mention, executives love it and find the interactive graphs easier to understand.


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