Drupal 8 Module of the Week: Google Analytics

Drupal 8 Module of the Week: Google Analytics

Each day, more Drupal 7 modules are being migrated over to Drupal 8 and new ones are being created for the Drupal community’s latest major release. In this series, the Acquia Developer Center is profiling some of the most prominent, useful modules available for Drupal 8. This week: Google Analytics.

Once you’ve got a well-built site running consistently, just about everyone running a website for any kind of business wants to know who is visiting their site and what they are doing on it. This data--aka analytics--is the lifeblood of the digital marketer. Google Analytics (aka "GA") is, by a large margin, the most popular web analytics service on the Internet (it is both powerful and free to use in the base version, so go figure!). Drupal wouldn’t be the popular web platform it is today without a Google Analytics integration. As of the writing of this post, nearly 400,000 Drupal sites report using this module, including ca. 5,500 Drupal 8 sites.

Changing things up from the usual pattern in the Drupal 8 Modules of the Week posts, I spoke with a group of digital marketers from Acquia about web analytics and how important the Drupal Google Analytics integration is to them.

What does the Google Analytics Module do?

The module adds the Google Analytics web statistics tracking system and an administration interface for it to your Drupal website. It puts the use and customization of a long list of statistics features at your fingertips, right in the Drupal user interface. The integration lets you track site searches, selectively track users, pages, or even based on user roles, and more.

Google Analytics Drupal module admin screen.

Google Analytics Drupal module admin screen.

You can further enhance your site’s Google Analytics experience with the Google Analytics Reports Module that provides graphical reporting of your site's tracking data right in the Drupal administrative interface.

Google Analytics Reports Drupal module report screen.

Google Analytics Reports Drupal module report screen.

Taryn Collins, explains how Google Analytics make her job possible, “Google Analytics can track a variety of different metrics, user statistics, and more to help you understand user behavior and what content and pages perform well, and also where might be areas for improvement. As an editor that manages a library full of assets and must understand what content does and doesn’t perform well, Google Analytics gives me valuable insights into both high level data and more granular statistics into content performance. I can see how many page views an asset has gotten in any given range of time, how much time a user has spent on a particular page, and what the user journey looks like across our website.”

“We use Google Analytics to get an understanding of visitors to our website so we can make informed design decisions,” continues Doris Wong. “You can get all kinds of visitor data: new vs returning, geography, channel, interactions, what systems they're using (i.e. mobile, OS), business type, etc. It can also tell us where we might be having technical issues - for example if we notice that traffic has dipped significantly or dropped completely, it could be an indicator that there's an issue with code implementation. This data is critical to keeping our online-based business up and running.”

Google Analytics logo

Why is this important?

For marketers and businesses, Evan Brett talks about the value good analytics deliver, “Analytics drive the majority of my decision making: How to understand how a campaign is performing, for instance. They help me gauge if our readers find our content valuable, how to measure ROI on our marketing investments and contribution to the growth of the business, and therefore ultimately how to allocate budget and resources.” Dave Ingram adds, writing in Acquia’s Digital Personalization: Taking an Agile Approach eBook, “using Affinity Audiences in Google Analytics to determine what additional article topics your audience might be interested in helps you create content that’s better received. Paired with the right metrics (for example, retention or churn), this can ensure that your personalization tactics have a positive effect on the bottom line.”

Having a solid, flexible, customizable Google Analytics integration opens the door to a lot of business for the service providers in the Drupal community. Evan digs into this further, “A Google Analytics integration is almost always the first thing a digital marketer asks for. This module lets you check that box on a marketer’s requirement list and get on with setting it up to meet their specific needs. From a business owner’s perspective, a website is a place where you can turn site visitors into customers, partners, or community members. A strong Google Analytics integration will tell you which content is performing and, on the flip-side, which is not being read at all. You can use this data to make sure that your audience actually cares about the content you create and the new features that you build.”

Katelyn Fogarty Pendarvis and David Myburgh, from the Acquia sites team point out that developers also benefit in a few other ways from the module. They point out that Google Analytics data can be used as an initial proxy to gauge and predict page load. They also see which browsers and devices are visiting their sites and are able to make tweaks to best support them. “It’s also useful to see how many people are using older browsers, so we know when we can drop support for them,” explains Dave. He goes on to highlights one of Drupal’s strengths in this context, too, “This is a critical piece of technology for site owners nowadays. While it’s not hard to embed the GA tracking code in your site, by installing the Drupal module, you’re empowering non-technical people--perhaps in marketing or management--to get on with their jobs, while you go solve more interesting problems for them.”

From a competitive standpoint, Kate adds, “Most proprietary solutions, like Adobe for example, have an analytics package built in. This module gives Drupal a powerful analytics package at no additional cost. Pretty great.”

Personalization is on everyone’s mind these days. And there can be no personalisation without analytics data. Dave Ingram talks about the importance of analytics in the personalization eBook, "The most common form of research into user behavior on the web is most likely web analytics, using tools such as Google Analytics, Kissmetrics or Adobe Analytics. These tools allow for the ability to drill down into these dashboards to understand subsets or segments of the overall audience and how one acts differently from another. They provide an excellent starting place for generating ideas about how to personalize based on actual customer data, especially as you use the more advanced segmentation features and notice patterns of behavior around different segments.”

Evan Brett continues this train of thought, “There are lots of products out there like Acquia Lift that help marketers build audience segments for website personalization. You can connect these segments back into Google Analytics so you can see how specific groups of like-minded customers engage with your content, helping you tailor their digital experience to their unique wants and needs.”

Thanks, further resources

Thank you all!

Doris Wong and Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire on the Acquia Podcast