March 21, 2014, 10:42 AM

Google opens an academy for web analytics

The move comes as more marketers get into the deep water with detailed web data.

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As more e-commerce professionals go deeper into the nitty-gritty of web data, Google Inc. wants to make Google Analytics easier to use.

Google Inc.’s Google Analytics tool is by far the No. 1 web analytics tool used by web retailers in North America, with 534 of the 1,000 retailers ranked in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 and Second 500 Guides using it to track performance statistics like time on site, clicks and referral traffic sources. Retailers say the key selling points for adding Google Analytics tracking code to web sites is that its basic edition is free, and second, that it helps make buying and managing ads on Google properties easier. That’s because e-retailers can make Google Analytics data, such as keywords and top-clicked products, easily feed into systems like Google AdWords for managing paid search ads on and display ads on Google’s DoubleClick ad network.

“A lot more people are getting into analytics and they are not programmers, they are marketing people,” says Justin Cutroni, Google Inc.’s Google Analytics evangelist. “Analytics may not be their primary function, but they need to understand the data to make decisions.”

Cutroni heads up Google’s Analytics Academy, which provides free online courses to teach people how to glean insights from Google Analytics.

The first course launched last fall and a new course was added this month. Each takes about three hours to complete and sub-lessons are comprised of a video tutorial, an activity and an exam. Students, through the Google Plus social network, can connect with Google employees who act as virtual teaching assistants to ask questions one on one, Cutroni says.

More than 30,000 people completed the first course, and about 50,000 signed up for the new course in the first two days following its launch. “These courses will help people that don’t have a tech background understand the actionability of the data so they can make better decisions,” he says.

Naturally, that includes spending money with Google. “We want people to understand [Google Analytics] is one piece of a pretty big system, including AdWords and DoubleClick, and not to think of Analytics as a stand-alone tool. We want them to be able to immediately take action on that data,” he says.

For much more on how smaller e-retailers use Google Analytics, check out the upcoming April issue of Internet Retailer magazine

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