Google offers a Google Analytics IQ certification. This is a free test you can take, which demonstrates your proficiency with Google Analytics, and is good for 18 months. Google offers a series of videos on Google Analytics principles, basics of using the platform and some in depth examples of how to use goals, ecommerce and mobile apps.
Here are some key learnings that may help you understand the value of IQ certification and decide if you should pursue certification yourself.
1: It’s a necessity for ecommerce.
Google Analytics can bring great value to any website, but if you run an ecommerce website, then Google Analytics is your path to righteousness. With its ability to pull in sales data, analyze the purchase funnel and divide customers into specific segments, Google Analytics puts key business information at your fingertips.
Ecommerce reporting in Google Analytics enables deep analysis of your customer habits, such as viewing what part of the purchase funnel users drop off on. Maybe the checkout page is confusing, causing users to get frustrated and leave. Perhaps customers typically view a certain number of pages before making a purchase, or organic visitors make the most purchases while referral visitors spend the most money. Insights like these can direct you in how to best optimize the site for your user’s experience and how to best spend advertising dollars.
2. The Power of Segments
Segmenting traffic is pretty simple to learn, and it provides you with an entirely new view of your analytics data. A segment, which Google defines as “a subset of your data,” is just a predefined set of users or sessions within your site data, such as users from Chicago or sessions lasting over two minutes. The parameters can be more complex–for example, users from Chicago who found the site organically, landed on the Contact page and spent over 2 minutes on the site. Once you create a segment, you can view all you Google Analytics data with the segment implemented.
The powerful thing about segments comes when you use goals with them. This enables the view of things like users who started down a goal funnel but didn’t complete. You may segment out only site visitors who made a purchase, compare it to another segment of users who didn’t make a purchase, and see what the main differences are. This can shed major light on how to identify and bring in more individuals who want to purchase from your site. Maybe most purchasers come from social media while most non-purchasers come in organically. This provides insight you need to continue reaching out on social media, but also put more content on your site relevant to your audience, so you bring in engaged organic users who are interested in purchasing.
3. Google Analytics Principles
One of the first sections in the Google Analytics Academy courses is the Google Analytics Platform Principles. This section is very basic and lays out how Google Analytics collects and processes data. The good thing about this course is that it shows you how to maneuver and properly view the data in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is basically just a huge spreadsheet of data on the backend, and the Google Analytics interface is what you use to view and manipulate that data. The raw data in the background is not available to export or view, as most of the numbers you see are just averages. This further emphasizes the importance of segments, which allow you to dig down and find more accurate stats.
4. Custom Reports
A powerful time saving feature that the IQ test touches on is custom reporting. Custom reports are a feature available in Google Analytics, but one that likely goes unnoticed by the novice web analyst.
The Customization tab is just between Reporting and Admin. This tab allows you to build custom reports to view, rather than going into the entire Google Analytics interface. Just like your standard reports in Google Analytics, you have the ability to use segments and date ranges. Many professional analysts, especially those who monitor multiple sites everyday, rely entirely on custom reporting. If there are key data elements you need to view and report on often, building out a custom report is a quick way to save time, and allow you to go straight to your key metrics when you log in.
Another tool to use in finding your data quickly and efficiently is the shortcut tool. As you dig and analyze data in Google Analytics, it may make sense to filter out certain pages or specific types of session using the advanced search tool.
Once you have filtered out specific data and found the view you need, you can simply click on “shortcut” to add it to your shortcut menu, so you can return to that data view at any time without having to implement the filters again.
6. Data Import
Of course Google Analytics collects data from your website, but one of the really cool things you can do is import external data into your Google Analytics. This is done one of two ways, through dimension widening or cost data import. Dimension widening is performed by either manually importing a spreadsheet into Google Analytics, or using custom reporting API’s to automatically pull data into Google Analytics You need to create a data key, which tells Google Analytic which data to link together. If, for example, you want to add author data to your blog posts, the key needs to specify which authors belong to which blog pages. Through Google Analytics, you can look at performance by author. With cost data import, you can manually import ad spend on any ads that aren’t trafficked through Google already. You just have to set up a key, which is the same as dimension widening but will be able to analyze ROI and cost metrics once this data is imported.
Understanding the Test
In conclusion, passing the Google Analytics IQ test gives you a depth of understanding of the Google Analytics platform. It won’t make you a Google Analytics genius or cover absolutely everything you will ever need to know, but it will make you a whiz at finding analytics stats quickly and make further education much more accessible. After going through the certification process, I have gained an understanding and confidence in the capabilities of the platform, so I can speak to web analytics without issue.
If you’re considering taking the Google Analytics IQ exam, the main things you will need to accomplish beforehand are:
1. Complete all the classes in the Google Analytics Academy;
2. Spend some time using Google Analytics, such as setting up segments and exploring data; and
3. Research any GA topics you aren’t very keen on with the Google Analytics support site:
Once you begin the test, you have 90 minutes to complete 70 multiple choice questions. An 80% or higher score is required to pass. Take your time to read the questions and fully grasp what Google is asking. Like any good multiple choice test, the questions are written in a way so that more than one answer seems correct. This is where some basic experience with the platform is essential. Be sure to have Google Analytics open in another tab, so you can go in for reference.
Whether you do web analytics for a client or for your own website, the IQ certification provides major value as you will have GA expertise enabling you to answer questions and find insights quickly and effectively.