I recently attended the 3-day Google Analytics class, and the 1-day Google Tag Manager class taught by LunaMetrics.
In order to fully understand the impact of this training, I’d like to quickly present to you some of my experiences in regards to “training” that I can apply to my work.
I’m not listing the following to brag, but instead to convey that I have been to some of the most well informed conferences, and have worked with some of the biggest names in search:
SMX East (I was a speaker on the SMX East 2013 “Maximizing Enterprise SEO” Panel).
SMX Advanced – All the “top flight” seo’s and techniques are supposed to be on display.
Pubcon – Las Vegas (twice) where I met “Shoemoney” and current head of SEO for BestBuy.
SXSW – Digital marketing circa the Google Glass era. The session that had Danny Sullivan, Matt Cutts (Google) and Duane Forrester (MSN at the time) would’ve been the highlight session at a search conference. It was well attended, but many people missed out on a great discussion.
TRAFFIC Conference – A domainers conference where I was a speaker on SEO. It was only at that point in time did they start to realize that Google was after their type-in traffic.
So who would’ve thought that right here in Pittsburgh was where some of the best knowledge resided?
Being a “seasoned” veteran of the search space, it’s rare when I am able to learn something new that I can immediately apply to use for my work. That’s what happened with the training. Each day spent brought me to a much deeper understanding of what Google Analytics can do for anyone willing to put in some time to learn the nuances of this free software.
Anyone who knows me personally or reads my posts online understands my love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with Google. While they do provide some fantastic tools for free like GA, they also dictate to the world with their “Webmaster Guidelines” on how a website should be constructed and deliver content to the world.
The funny thing about that notion is that for many sites that “play by the rules” don’t do enough to overcome the bad things they are doing by accident. I have a test site where I intentionally ignore anything that Google says. It’s one of the most successful sites I’ve had the pleasure to work on.
So, what about the actual training?
Day 1 –
Kristen Perko (Twitter)
Think of this class as a way of making sure everyone knows how to navigate throughout the GA Dashboard, and what everything means. Kristen went through and took the time to make sure everyone was understanding the basics – knowing full well that if this crucial step wasn’t given the proper attention, the next two days would not go well.
One of the best parts of LunaMetrics training is that the speakers and any other LunaMetrics people in the room are there to answer any question you have.
Day 2 –
Amanda Schroeder (LinkedIn)
The second day of training started to dive more into the advanced reporting, views and filters that are essential in understanding the way Google processes data to then present it back to you when looking at the reports. That information alone was very valuable.
We were also brought up to speed on setting alerts when designated activities were triggered, the value of annotations and getting clarity on the difference between a Dimension (A row) and Metrics (A column) in the reports. Amanda made sure to walk around during the training to make sure everyone’s questions were answered (including mine, in which she was very tolerant of) and made sure everyone understood the information.
Next up were Segments, Custom Reports, Attribution and Multi-Channel tracking, then we finished on items like virtual page views and event tracking.
Day 3 –
Jon Meck (Twitter)
Here is where having a programming background provided an edge. We got into some technical topics, and being able to add the code immediately was a great way to see everything working in real-time.
Jon did a great job on explaining the ways to configure the code, making sure it was set up correctly, and then of course, measuring everything that we are all interested in: The users on your site.
We proceeded to cover more items that I was personally interested in and Jon pulled up my personal sites to use as examples.
We finished the day with Q&A’s and Individual help – essentially, FREE CONSULTING ‘-P
Day 4 –
Jon Meck (Twitter)
Google Tag Manager Training
Here is where I personally got the most value. GTM is practically a CMS once you understand all the ways you can use it to track the data you want. Being able to FINALLY wrap my head around the difference between a Trigger (all conditions must be true) and a Tag (any of the conditions need to be true) was that moment of clarity that finally crystallized everything for me.
Jon was once again very accommodating in answering questions, using real-time sites and making sure everyone was understanding the process.
As part of the training, we all took part in creating a set of tags, triggers and variables that we used on a working demo site provided by LunaMetrics. So you got to see everything working immediately. Being the hack programmer that I am, at one point I had completely over written all my tags – and was relieved when Jon showed me that in Tag Manager you cal always revert to a previous “published” version where everything was working.
That alone was worth it for me.
At the end of the day, Jon and all the other LunaMetric trainers there were all available for questions and help provide solutions. Again, free consulting…
Did You Know:
You can basically track anything that is online through GA? From a drop-down option value on a form, to the image button a person clicked on, to RFID tracking for who drinks decaf to regular in your office, all of that can be tracked.
While the GA classes where excellent in providing me a clear use for all that’s included for the free version of GA (Which everyone has access to) they also show why some people might need premium.
WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND A LUNAMETRICS TRAINING
(If it isn’t obvious yet)
Cheat Sheets – Yes, one could spend their time pulling put all the best tips. But LunaMetrics assembles them together for you and provides explanations for each and also gives detailed live examples of the cheats in action.
Cheat sheets for Google Analytics, RegX (Regular Expressions), A self check sheet (which is a great reminder)
In all my years of working in the search industry, these four days were without a doubt, the most invigorating and humbling days I have had in a long, long time.