Analytics Cards: exploring metrics and dimensions

This post is one of a series run alongside my Analytics Cards Kickstarter campaign  to help people understand the deck of cards we have developed and to see how they can be used and the sorts of insights  they will encourage you to explore with Google Analytics.

The cards have been designed to be used in many different ways. There are 47 double sided cards in total, divided into 4 suits: goals, metrics, dimensions and actions.  This post will look at two suits: the red dimensions and the green metrics cards.

Metrics and dimensions are at the heart of Google Analytics.  They are the numbers (metrics) and attributes (dimensions) that are captured and reported by GA.  Understanding the difference between them and how they interact will help you create reports and dashboards, ask questions and derive insights that will help you reach your business goals.

Learn to think about them separately and together to build your own mental model of these fundamental building blocks of analytics.

Green = Metrics

Metrics are always numbers and represent measurements inside GA.  Revenue is a metric and so is click through rate.  In Analytics Cards there are 27 green metrics cards that have been chosen to allow you to think about the most important numbers inside Google Analytics.

Note that in general you cannot directly change a metric. Revenue, for example, is a number that can be observed but in order to increase revenue you need to change your products or your marketing.

Explore the metrics cards to see what numbers are represented.  Try to decide which numbers are important to the business goals you identified when working with the yellow cards.  Think about what you can do (digitally) to affect the numbers.

You may find it useful to select a subset of the metrics.  You will notice that every green metric card has an icon at the bottom.  These allow you to group metrics (and dimensions) into 4 categories: results (metrics about sessions, revenue, costs and value), marketing, audience and experience.

If you are working with others in a workshop, spend time to consider what influences these metrics and what sorts of numbers you expect.

Do some research online to explore what sorts of values are considered to be benchmarks and targets for specific industries.

In a future post I’ll look at how you can create dashboards and reports in GA to present your most important metrics to colleagues and decision makers.

Red = Dimensions

Dimensions are attributes of your site, your audience, your marketing and your visitor behaviour.

Unlike metrics they are attributes you can sometimes directly influence; for example adding new content or changing a campaign.  Through making these changes to a dimension you can change your results (the metrics). This is what makes understanding metrics and dimensions so important.  By taking control of your dimensions you can change your metrics.

Some dimensions cannot be changed (eg the age and gender of your visitors) but they can be studied and explored to provide insights that will influence your digital decisions; on products, content or marketing.

There are 20 red dimension cards which represent some of the most important and useful dimensions in GA.

Study them carefully and decide (or discuss in a workshop) which dimensions you can influence and which you can study.

I’ll introduce dimension segmentation in an future post so that you can drill down into specific audiences, pages or campaigns to help you generate vital insights that will help you drive value for your business.

Metrics + Dimension

Together these are the building blocks for almost all reports and dashboards inside Google Analytics.

Log in to your analytics and look through some of the standard reports for Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversion.  Can you see where metrics are used and which are the attributes?

If you are running a workshop help the participants use the cards to plan possible reports that map dimensions to metrics and ask them to consider what sorts of insights they think they mights achieve from these reports.  We’ll take a look at constructing these reports in a later post.

To get a pack of Analytics Cards, back them on Kickstarter here

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