These little things called Annotations
Imagine the following scenario: You check your company’s or client’s Google Analytics, and find out that there is a massive decrease in the traffic on your top performing landing page. Your jaw drops, sweat starts appearing on your forehead and your hands, it’s suddenly 40 degrees in the room… You just start to panic as you don’t understand what happened!
Well, brace yourself, there must be an explanation to it, and I know a good way to avoid those panic attacks!
Thankfully, there are ways to manage what data we want to see, how we want to see it, and how to analyse it.
I’m always looking for ways to make my life at work easy and organised in order to save time. This is probably why I have always been a fan of labels in Adwords, because I find them so useful to analyse and understand what is happening in my account. They are also very helpful in organising my dashboard and reports (needless to say I was thrilled to finally be able to manage them in Adwords Editor!).
Here’s another way of analysing data quickly and easily: the use of annotations in Google Analytics.
What are they and where to create them?
Annotations are like stickers users create to take note of any event that happened and may have had an impact on the account’s performance. Those can be very helpful in order to understand the evolution of the performance while looking back at the data.
I had a client reaching out to me, wondering why there was a spike in traffic on a specific date. I had to look back at my Adwords account’s change history and email conversation to be able to give her an explanation. Little did I know those annotations would have had given me the answer in less than 5 seconds!
Creating them is easy and quick. Just log into your dashboard in Analytics, click on the arrow below the graph. Then, click on “Create new annotation”, select the date and write down your note.
How easy was that?!
You can access the list of all annotations created for an account in the View panel of the Admin tab.
What to create annotations for?
Of course, you could create annotations for any changes occurring in your account:
- Change in budget,
- Social Media campaign being launched,
- Changes in the website,
- Offline activity,
Anything that could possibly affect the performance of your account, whether it be positive or negative should be tracked.
The more annotations you have, the easier it will be for the team to analyse the data and the impact of external or internal factors.
One best practice would be to have all employees working on the account adding their own annotations so that the rest of the team knows what others do. It would help minimising the lack of communication between the marketing and digital marketing activity for example.
Be mindful of who is going to read them! Be explicit and give as many details as you can
Also, be proactive in creating annotations. When you know of a promotions campaign or special event, make sure to note that in your Analytics account, and see the results improving (hopefully!) accordingly.
After using annotations for an account for a long period of time (6 months, 12 months…), you will then be able to see trends in your performance. Simply by looking back at what worked and what didn’t, they will help you make better decisions in the future, and you will definitely be grateful for using those at it will save you hours of analysis!
Who would have thought that a simple tool could lead to implementing a better offline and digital marketing strategy?!
Let me know in the comments below if you use annotations, and if so, if you have been able to improve your performance by using them.
Head of Performance Media
Helping you navigate and leverage the world's most powerful digital marketing channels.