"The Fat-Free Guide to Google Analytics" - A Review

Using Google Analytics can be very intimidating if you’re just starting out with the program. There’s just…a lot of data. As Ian Lurie, CEO of Portent Interactive, points out in his newest eBook, The Fat-Free Guide to Google Analytics: Using Google Analytics for Business Analytics, the problem is that many people take the wrong approach to the data: “people often let the reports drive their research & strategy,” (p. 6) instead of defining business goals ahead of time and letting those determine what reports to use and when, and this results in a lot of Analytics anxiety. What’s Lurie’s cure? Adopt a Business Analytics system.

Lurie kicks off the eBook with a sympathetic approach, noting how scary the slew of Analytics data can seem at first. But he offers the magic bullet by the sixth page – his Business Analytics approach. At first, I thought it rather presumptuous to claim the “cure” for Analytics anxiety. However, Lurie does a great job of truly cutting out the Analytics fat by helping marketers approach the data in a new way.

The Business Analytics System


This is the first section of the eBook, in which Lurie defines just what he means by a business approach. His suggestion is to determine what truly matters for your business before you try to look at Analytics data. He recommends focusing on the things that both generate value for your business as well as improve its growth. But he doesn’t just put out that suggestion without helping you calculate that value and growth. Not only does he offer substantial and easy-to-understand definitions of business value and growth, he also breaks down those two focuses for B2B business, charities and news sites. If you fall into any of those categories, including ecommerce, or have clients who do, I most certainly recommend you read his eBook.

After explaining his business approach, the next section is a thorough step-by-step of how to install Google Analytics. This section alone is a great resource for beginners. Section two of his eBook is an excellent resource for Analytics beginners as well. In it, he walks through the process of setting up and tracking goals – a most valuable Analytics feature for PPC marketers.

Getting Down to Business

Section three, however, is truly the meat of Lurie’s eBook. Entitled “Calculating & Applying Value,” this is where the business part of his approach really comes to the forefront. Though he takes the time to walk through goal set-up and tracking and obviously notes its importance: “…a goal, when accomplished, delivers value. Value is real cash generated, not ‘attention’ or ‘eyeballs’. If you can’t calculate value, goals data is one more distracting bar chart” (p. 29).

This section does provide a ton of value (no pun intended 🙂 ), yet this is also a math-heavy section of the eBook. I agree that calculating the value of your goals is incredibly important, but be forewarned: it takes work! However, Lurie does a good job of providing the value formula, and he breaks it down step-by-step, making it seem completely viable for even the most non-math-inclined person.

What’s Most Important


Section four teaches you how to apply what you’ve learned throughout the eBook by determining what to actually track with Analytics. Lurie recommends tracking the things that either fuel or inhibit business growth, and, on a basic level, he recommends looking at:

  • Traffic Sources
  • Best-performing content on your site
  • Worst-performing content on your site

Not only does he lay out the basic metrics to track, he also helps you with analyzing them.

The Verdict


Lurie’s eBook is worth a read for anyone utilizing Analytics data; there are definitely strategies and suggestions for beginners and veterans. There are two common themes running throughout the eBook: he doesn’t just throw out a bunch of theories and suggestions, but he takes readers to the next level by giving detailed definitions, examples, analysis and offering additional resources; he also keeps it basic, but not in the ideas and processes he presents, rather in the way he explains them, making them helpful resources to all search engine marketers looking to more effectively navigate the ocean of Analytics data. Overall, Lurie’s eBook will likely help any marketer find more value for their business within Analytics data.