On September 2nd, Google announced its latest addition to the Google Analytics set of features, Assistant -- a tool that generates automated insights from the massive amounts of website data Google Analytics is already collecting on your website.
While Google often releases updates to its algorithms and tools, this particular addition will have a significant impact on how digital and inbound marketing professionals develop, execute and analyze their strategies.
Ajay Nainani, Product Manager for Google Analytics, stated it best in his announcement article,
"... this addition to Google Analytics lets you see in 5 minutes what might have taken hours to discover previously. Even better: it gets smarter over time as it learns about your business and your needs."
Pretty powerful stuff.
But what does this capability mean to the management and performance of your inbound marketing program? And perhaps most importantly, how can you potentially use this data to boost your existing marketing and design strategies?
Let's take a look...
A Crash Course In Google Assistant's Automated Insights
What It Is
The simplest way to understand automated insights is as a set of suggestions and data sets that are comprised from data that Google has already been gathering on your website - assisting you in organizing of all that data into something you can take action on (making the "Assistant" title particularly appropriate).
It is now available on the Google Analytics app for iOS and Android (download links below).
How It Works
The Assistant feature operates by way of machine learning - the field of computer science behind what most people know as artificial intelligence (AI). Marketers have seen already seen this in the advent of predictive analytics software.
The base functionality is the ability to recognize patterns within massive data sets and display correlated insights (or even predictions) based upon that data using very sophisticated algorithms. This is exactly what Google is doing on the website and UX level.
Example: If your website experiences a sharp rise in session duration (i.e. the amount of time people spend on your website at one time), Google will spotlight that within your Assistant tab and offer suggestions or relevant data related to this trend.
A Quick Note About Limitations
Well if machines can do all the thinking for us, why the hell don't we just hand our strategies over to them and watch the money roll in?!
Google's automated insights hold obvious advantages over us puny humans at the number crunching level, but its only capable of providing insight on what it can see...website and user data.
Using the example above regarding session duration, automated insights may see the trend and any correlated online activity, but what it cannot extrapolate from the data is that the rise in duration was due to a few Inside Sales Reps at your company helping prospects walk through your services or products online. Or perhaps that you eliminated a 3rd party overlay (pop-up) that had been previously causing users to leave the site.
The lesson here is that the automated insights are here to assist (the Assistant title rings true again) your digital strategy, not replace it.
Now here's how you use Google's new feature to your advantage...
Using Google Assistant's Automated Insights For Better Digital & Inbound Marketing Strategies
There will be a TON of data available to you, even in the more truncated format that automated insights provide. To be successful, you'll want to manage the data overload first before moving on to analysis and strategy development.
Oh, and since the desktop version with Assistant has yet to launch, you'll definitely want to download the app here:
Pin Valuable Cards
The Assistant feature displays trends and other items of interest by way of cards. This is a common approach to UX that allows users to easily move, delete or take other actions on sets of data. You can pin these cards, effectively moving the things you want to see most into a separate pile for ongoing updates and review.
For web designers, some good cards to pin might be those related to bounce rate, screen resolution or load times.
For marketers, cards focusing on new users, referral or organic traffic and e-commerce sales might be good choices to pin.
Determine Review Frequency
Now that you've narrowed your focus on data that's important to you, you'll want to determine the frequency in which you want to revisit and analyze this data.
The frequency of your analysis will vary depending on your business or marketing objectives and by the type of data you've selected.
For example, bounce rate may require daily review if you have a high volume of traffic and your web design team is making changes to the affected pages.
Referral traffic, however, may only require monthly review if your digital marketing and lead generation efforts will stay relatively throughout the next quarter.
The most important thing here is to not get tied up in reviewing data too frequently or at the wrong times! Too often have marketers obsessed over data and ruined their strategies by premature action upon small or irrelevant sets of data.
Assistant takes stock of your interactions and feedback, further tailoring your experience within the app.
This makes the little thumbs located at the bottom of each card quite valuable...use them often.
As you review each data card, you may find the data set to be valuable but the way in which it's displayed, well...not so useful. Use the thumbs down icon to indicate your dissatisfaction.
Likewise, use the thumbs up for all the things you like.
This only serves to streamline your experience using Assistant and make later reviews that much faster.
Refer Back To Google Analytics & Other Analytics Software
The Assistant feature only displays data trends and initial recommendations -- it does not offer any granularity within the data itself.
This is why it's critical to always refer back to your Google Analytics or other analytics software account (we use both Google Analytics and HubSpot here at Firesnap) to further investigate Google Assistant's findings.
You may need to break down the data by more finite chunks of time, interactions, locations, etc. and the only place to get those nitty-gritty details is within your analytics software.
Automated Insights = Faster Strategy Development
The Assistant feature within Google Analytics does not replace the need for professional marketers to analyze and interpret sets of marketing and website data.
It can, however, improve the speed, agility and even accuracy in which marketers and business leaders develop their inbound marketing strategies. This makes the automated insights generated by Google Assistant that much more of a welcome tool among today's fast paced digital landscape.
Have more ideas on how to utilize Google's new Assistant feature for marketing success?
Let us know in the comments below!