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A fun way to learn about metrics and dimensions

Vlad and Gus, forensic web analysts from the Web Detective Agency, are in the office, planning a KPI workshop for a new client. Vlad is nervous.

Vlad: I don’t get a good feeling about this workshop. I am sure it’s not going to go well.

Gus: Oh Vlad, come on not another ‘I am going to jump into the canal’ speech. What are you worried about this time?

Vlad: These guys are quite new to online, and whenever I sit down with them to review their analytics data their eyes just glaze over.

Yet, at the same time, when I talk about the results we have achieved for other clients – made a change here or there to their site or shifted around some of their online marketing budget – they are bouncing up and down with excitement.

I just don’t get it!

Gus: What kinds of words have you been using to describe the data? You haven’t gone all uber-technical on them, have you?

Vlad: Of course not, I just said that there Google Analytics currently has 103 dimensions and metrics, and that once you understand what each metric or dimension means, then putting together custom reporting is a doddle.

Gus: Whoa, whoa, whoa!.

Vlad: What?

Gus: Dimensions, metrics, custom reporting!! Remember, these guys are quite new to online. They may understand what they want to achieve on their website, but you need to put it in language that they can understand quickly.

Vlad: How difficult can it be to understand CPM or CTR, for heaven’s sake?

Gus: Look, I think we need to take a different approach. Let’s make sure they understand the terms we are going to be using, before you move onto what reports and measures they will need to monitor.

Vlad: How do you suggest we do that?

Gus: Well, you know I always like to make a game out of everything?

Vlad: Yyyyesss. I am not sure I know where this is going?

Gus: Well, the last place I worked at, we tried to make learning fun, especially around key definitions or terms that people needed to use.

I have put this together a little learning pack for dimensions and metrics in Google Analytics, and there are simply loads of games you can play with a new client.

Vlad: What’s this little pack got in it, then?

Gus: In Google Analytics there are 5 groups of dimensions and 5 groups of metrics. So I have put together 10 Title cards for each one of the 10 groups of dimensions or metrics.

Vlad: I know I am not really into card games, but I can’t quite see the point.

Gus: Patience, Vlad. The game hasn’t started yet.

So Game #1 is that you lay out all the 10 Title cards and you give out all the 103 cards to your workshop participants.

Vlad: Is that the cards with the definition of each metric/dimension or just the name of the metric/dimension?

Gus: Game #1 is not about using the definition cards just yet. You are simply asking individuals, or maybe groups, to put the categorise the metric/dimension into one of the 10 metric/dimension groups.

Vlad: So 103 cards, grouped into one of the 10 Metric/Dimension groups? Got it.

That could be quite difficult with real newbies to web analytics.

Gus: Sometimes it is. That’s why I have suggested different colours for each of the 10 groups of metrics/dimension cards.

Once the players put the right card under the right dimension/metric group, such as “Time on Page” under “Metrics – Site Usage” and it’s a light blue card, then soon people work out that all “Metrics – Site Usage” are on light blue cards, and suddenly the game picks up in pace.

If you want people to work a bit harder, then you don’t need to colour code the cards at all.

Vlad: I like it, you could also get teams to race each other to see which ones could get it all the cards under the right cards in the shortest time.

Gus: I thought you would like the competitive element of the game.

Vlad: What’s Game #2?

Gus: Game #2 is where players have to use the Definition cards and lay them on top of the Label cards.

So players will have a definition like “The number of new visits by people who have never been to the site before” and they have to match it to the Label card – “New Visits”.

Again you can use the same colour for each group of Dimension/Metrics card, so that they start knowing what colour of Definition cards they need to consider.

Vlad: And if you want to make it more difficult and randomize the cards, you suggest not using any coloured card at all, right?

Gus: Exactly.

One thing I forgot is to say how I explain the difference between “Metrics” and “Dimensions”.

Metrics, I tell players, are always numbers, such as number of Visitors, Bounces, etc. Dimensions are filters on a number, e.g. Visitors by Country. I explain that Dimensions are usually numbers, but not always. For example, Days Since Last Visit is actually a Dimension even though it is a number.

Vlad: Best to explain that up front.

Gus: Agreed.

Vlad: I think, if we start with a few of your little games – the people at the workshop will be far clearer about the terms we are using.

Gus: If they are clear about what each web analytic term means, it’ll result in a far higher level of contribution in coming up with KPIs to measure their website.

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