Annotations in Google Analytics

When teaching Google Analytics courses, I always recommend to my students that they build cross-functional teams to take full advantage of Google Analytics within their organization. A cross-functional team should include members from the IT, marketing and web development teams. In this article you will learn how to use Annotations in Google Analytics to keep your cross-functional team members in synch.

Notice the sudden dip in the graph below:

Google Analytics Report Without Annotations

After seeing this graph people from different departments might start calling each other to find out why that dip exists. Annotations can prevent such unnecessary panic in your organization.

Creating Annotations in Google Analytics

Hover your mouse over the region of your interest and then click on a particular dot. You will see a small dialog box, as shown in the following screen shot:

Creating New Annotation

Click on the ‘Create New Annotation’ tag to open a text box in which you can enter your remarks, and then choose whether to share them or keep them private. In this example, we discovered that the web development team uploaded a newly designed home page without adding Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC).  As you can see in the following screenshot, I noted this in the text box and chose to share my annotation. To save and exit the annotation mode, simply click on the Save button.

Adding Annotation in Google Analytics

Viewing Annotations in Google Analytics:

For all shared annotations, Google Analytics will show a tiny callout box on the graph to indicate that someone has left a note there.  When a user clicks on that callout box, Google Analytics displays the note right below the graph, along with the name of the person who created the annotation.

Using Annotations in Google Analytics

Managing Annotations in Google Analytics:

Account administrators can edit and delete annotations. To edit an annotation, click on the edit tag as shown in the above screenshot. Once you’re done editing your annotation, click on Save to save your changes and exit.

To delete an annotation, click edit and then Delete. You will be asked to confirm your action; click OK in the dialog box to delete the annotation. Beware: there is no ‘undo’ for retrieving your annotation.

There are numerous situations in which one can use annotations in Google Analytics. For example, your marketing team can use annotations to mark the starting and ending dates of online marketing campaigns. If you have creative ideas for using annotations in Google Analytics, please share them by leaving a comment on this blog.

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