Under-Used Analytics Features 6: Annotations

This is the sixth post in a series about under-used Google Analytics features. Under-used by whom? Not by us – these are features that we use all the time, and find invaluable in analysing our clients’ data. But we find that the majority of clients are unaware of them or unsure how to use them – hence the need for this series!

What are Annotations?

Annotations are little ‘notes’ that you can add to Google Analytics, associated with particular dates.

Where do I see these Annotations in Analytics?

When you’ve created some annotations, you’ll see them appear at the bottom of the graphs you see in Analytics. They look like little speech bubbles. To add annotations, you click the little down arrow that appears underneath the graph and it opens up a panel where you can create new ones. By default Analytics will suggest today’s date, but you can set them to any date (as long as it’s in the past!) by typing the date you want in the date box.

How do Annotations help me understand the true value of my digital marketing efforts?

Annotations are a quick and easy way to log when you took various marketing initiatives – you can put an annotation in when you sent out your email newsletter, for example, or for when you had a sale on notepads, or for when you had a charity cake sale. Any event that you think might affect your traffic (either for the worse or for the better) should be logged here. Then when you look back on your data in future, you won’t spend hours puzzling over why you had a traffic spike in July 2016 – you’ll just take a look at the annotations to see what happened. We also frequently use them to explain anomalies in the data. So if a client changed their payment gateway and forgot to tell us, and it made their ecommerce data inaccurate for a few days until we fixed the tracking issues, we’d log that too, so that we know which periods of data we can rely on and which we can’t.

I’d like to know more about Annotations! Where can I read more?

Kissmetrics have a nice article about annotations here: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/google-analytics-annotations/

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