It’s a wrap folks! The Google Analytics panel was a big success with a great turnout of over 150 people at the Mahalo office in Santa Monica. Our new volunteer board pulled off a great panel full of juicy tidbits of knowledge from start to finish.

Here’s what we learned:

1. It takes 5 minutes: Google Analytics is about as easy to setup as setting your alarm clock. Seriously. It gets even easier if you use a content management system like WordPress or Blogger because of the use of commonly included page elements like headers and footers. Set aside 5 minutes, get your cut and paste skills ready and prepare to collect analytics data via the 2 lines or so of JavaScript provided by Google with your account.

2. You need to have goals to measure against. Lots of people get stuck on volume of traffic and say, “Look Ma, I got 5,000 hits today!” That’s great if your goal is to have 5,000 hits (as the case may be with those looking for advertising revenue based on volume). Where they go wrong is focusing on the goal behaviors such as “collect an email” or “add an item to the shopping cart” all the way to “spend $10.00 to buy my eBook”. With goals in place, your metrics have so much more meaning and the time you spend analyzing data will drive more informed decisions geared at improving your conversion rates.

3. Track your inbound traffic. Almost as important as what they do on your site is where they came from and how they got there. There’s definitely an art form to the inbound traffic and it all appears to begin with the way you setup the inbound link. This is especially useful if you use links in social media (blogs, tweets, Facebook links or YouTube links) to grab some traffic. Taking a few moments to code your links so that they provide information to your Google Analytics will pay off for you big time when it comes time to understand which traffic is most valuable and which messaging tactics are more likely to result in your goals. (Good tip: Avoid the long and confusing URLs and use a URL shortener like bit.ly for extra style points and to shorten the link for use within Twitter).

4. Help is everywhere. There are TONS of great resources out there for people who really want to get into Google Analytics. Here are a few that were mentioned on the panel:
a.) Avinash Kaushik is THE MAN when it comes to Google Analytics. Head over to his blog and check out the books he’s written on the subject: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/
b.) Google has a “Conversion University” with a TON of great training materials to get you up and running. Here’s a link: http://www.google.com/support/conversionuniversity/
c.) You can setup Google Analytics within a Facebook Fan Page (who knew?): http://www.webdigi.co.uk/blog/2010/google-analytics-for-facebook-fan-pages/
d.) Google Analytics works within RSS feeds as well: http://adsenseforfeeds.blogspot.com/2009/11/afternoon-frank-hey-howdy-george.html
e.) Use this tool to build your Google-Analytics-friendly URL so that you can track your inbound link traffic: http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

5. Have Fun With Funnels: Funnels are useful tools to show the number of steps towards a goal and to identify how many people drop off at each step. This quickly leads to the desire to cut the number of steps leading up to your goal. You’d be surprised at how many people miss this point.

Okay, that’s all you get. Next time you’re just going to have to join us in-person. I guarantee you that all those people with notepads who were scribbling furiously have some more tidbits of sweet Google Analytics knowledge as a result of the panel. Maybe they’ll share it with you if you ask a question to our twitter hashtag at #smcla.

Speakers included:

John Shiple, CTO, Ultralive
www.linkedin.com/in/johnshiple

Alex Becker, Co-Founder and President, Highly Relevant
www.linkedin.com/in/alexybecker

Andrew Hahn, Luxury Link and Familygetaway.com
www.linkedin.com/in/andrewhahn

Erica Forrette, Online Marketing / E-commerce with a stealth startup (moderator)
www.linkedin.com/in/ericaforrette

A huge thank you to our location host! Mahalo
Mahalo.com
902 Colorado Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401

TechZulu streamed this event live for us! If you were unable to attend, please check www.techzulu.com and watch the taped recording! We can’t wait to tune into www.techzulu.com during SXSW to see what’s going on at the Social Media Clubhouse! Rawk on TechZulu

A special thank you to our food sponsor for this event, Fresh Brothers Pizza!
Check out their website at http://www.FreshBrothers.com
Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/freshbrothers
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/freshbrothers

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