Meet Anna, the Queen of Analytics tools…

I met Anna during her Advanced Google Analytics training course at brightonSEO in April 2019. She’s the Founder and analytics maestro of Polka Dot Data, the agency that helps businesses make more money with smarter data and is a serious analytics wonder woman!

I thought you’d all like to hear about her favourite analytics tools. Can you guess the first one? I’ll give you a clue… It starts with ‘G’ and ends in ‘oogle analytics.’

Over to you, Anna.

Here are my top ten tools – bonus – they’re all free!

Google Analytics

Well I can’t run a web analytics consultancy without it can I?! I’m a Google girl, never got stuck into Adobe Analytics and so many people need help with GA that Polka Dot Data has become the go-to company for GA support for a number of great eCommerce brands globally.

GA is so user-friendly – you can either use it at a basic level to see top-level data for your small business or hobby website, or you can get stuck into it and with a good implementation see lots of customised insights about how your website is performing as a global eCommerce business. The money that you can make from the data you see here is what is the winning piece for me, it’s all about savvy business optimisation with the right data.

Google Tag Manager

To get the best data from Google Analytics and other marketing platforms, GTM is the best way to do this. It is also user-friendly once you understand the basics. They promote it as a tool you can use without developers, but I do recommend you include Devs in your plans around this, as they will often help make your life a lot easier!

Our favourite uses for GTM are implementing GA Enhanced eCommerce, tracking key user actions with event tracking and sending client-specific custom dimensions such as the weather or customer loyalty level.

Google Data Studio

Well, what’s the point of having data and not being able to see it all clearly? Data Studio is another free and easy to use tool that can help you save time digging for data and have more time for acting on it and improving results.

Google Analytics Debugger

How do you know if data is accurate enough? Test, test test! GA Debugger is a Chrome extension which helps you see in the console exactly what is firing to Google Analytics. We use this extensively when testing tracking code implementations.

Google Tag Assistant

Like GA Debugger this is a Chrome extension that can be used to test your implementation – or anyone’s, to be honest. Just open it up and see what tags are in place on the page you have open. This tool also allows you to do a recording and hook up this information with your GA account so it can show you exactly how it has appeared – an easy way to debug your source/medium tracking as well as more complex things like events, content grouping and eCommerce.

My brain (and those of my team) [*not always free]

Once you have all of the above and some good grey matter between the ears, you’re all sorted! One of my favourite quotes from the long-term analytics evangelist Analytics Kaushik is that only 20% of your analytics budget should be on the tools, the other 80% should be on people. There’s no point spending £100k on a tool if only one person in the business uses it! A few smart people with the right knowledge can get so much more out of any old tool, than one person without the right knowledge can get from the best tool.

Google Sheets + API plugin

Well you can’t use analytics tools and not use a spreadsheet tool too, right? We love the ease with which you can access the Google Analytics API via Google Sheet’s plugin. So, as well as using GSheets for a lot of project documentation as it has such easy collaboration, we have to promote the wonders of the API add on for quick tracking checks (because latency keeps plaguing clients) and comprehensive data exports for manipulations and investigations.

Simo Ahava’s Custom Task builder

With most projects that we work on these days, the Analytics implementation requires some careful customising, and the Custom Task feature of Google Tag Manager is best used in hand with Simo’s tool. He’s the globally renowned GTM expert, so if you’ve not heard of him before and are interested in analytics, go and find his blog now! He’s very kindly put together a little tool to help you select what you want in your custom task and get the JavaScript code built for those elements. Our top uses for this are to remove Personally Identifiable Information (PII) before it hits any analytics tracking so we comply with GDPR, as well as regularly using it to send GA data to multiple GA Properties.

Campaign URL Builder

When investing in marketing activity it is essential you track your activity well. This means tagging your campaigns with useful information in the medium, source and campaign fields so you can see the traffic and conversion data clearly in GA. This tool allows you to build these tagged links easily just by pasting in what information you want where. Just remember, the top of the hierarchy is medium, and you want all traffic to be within a well-organised group here.


Finally, how does everyone on the team know what to do and how to do it well? We use Loom to record videos of how we do things and have an organised repository for these so anyone who needs to learn or refresh how to do something can watch a ~5-minute video on it, pausing as they work through it if needed. We find this so much quicker than writing up and reading through how-to guides and it is so easy to use.

10 analytics Tools Anna Lewis Couldn't Live Without

Anna’s training helped me trust my data a little bit more and I hope this article has inspired you to dig deeper into your own analytics and the tools you use every day!

Missed some of the series? Don’t panic you can catch up on all of our ‘top 10 digital tools’ posts here including lists from Omi Sido, Arianne Donoghue, Steven van Vessum, Alexandra Tachalova, Paddy Moogan and so many more!

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