Want to build Excel Dashboards like Napkyn?: Google Analytics data in Excel with Reporting Manager

By Jim Cain March 31, 2015

As analysts, we spend lots of time crunching data in Microsoft Excel. This has led to Napkyn’s strong reputation around high-value, at-a-glance digital performance dashboards in Google Analytics. There are a number of reasons we’re great at Excel dashboards, but a big one is around how we can refresh a large report in minutes instead of hours.

One of the tools we’ve been using to pull data from Google Analytics into Excel is Reporting Manager. We use Reporting Manager to power many of the dashboards that we deliver to executives in large enterprises.

Today, the add-in’s creators at Babbage Systems are releasing Reporting Manager for free to everyone.

Some of our favourite features of Reporting Manager:

  • You can configure it to keep data in your spreadsheet, and only update tables when needed with new data if it exists.
  • You can refresh reports and dashboards with one click.
  • You can pull data using your company’s fiscal calendar.
  • You can avoid sampling by splitting requests into multiple pulls from GA that are re-aggregated before the data gets to you

You can sign up for Reporting Manager here.

Google Analytics can do what? 3 examples of advanced data upload for ecommerce

By Jim Cain January 22, 2015


While Google Analytics (GA) has millions of enthusiastic users, there is still an unfortunate opinion in large businesses that it isn’t ‘ready for prime time’ in the enterprise.

This is no longer the case. GA is much easier to implement, more cost effective and in many ways way more powerful (I’m looking at you attribution) than comparable tools.  One of the most overlooked areas of GA is currently the functionality around data upload, which isn’t surprising, given that it can be difficult to take advantage of.

Once you get comfortable with how data uploads work however, you quickly realize that with a little bit of effort you can evolve Google Analytics from a clickstream measurement tool to a marketing intelligence platform. I have at least one conversation a week with someone about what Google Analytics is capable of with data uploads that changes the way they look at the tool. Instead of a bicycle with training wheels, Google Analytics is a supercar (some assembly required).
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Introducing: The Digital Analytics Power Hour

By Jim Cain January 5, 2015

Happy 2015 everyone!

I tend to write at least one blog post a year where I promise that we will get better at consistent blogging. We are just too darn busy doing analysis to remember to blog about it, and it’s a shame — we have a lot to share.

While I hope we step it up on the writing side this year, I am working to resolve the communication issue. ‘Cause I miss you, Internet, and there’s so much we can talk about.

With that in mind, I would like to use this opportunity to announce today’s launch of the Digital Analytics Power Hour, a twice monthly podcast featuring the unstructured musings of myself, Tim Wilson from Web Analytics Demystified and Michael Helbling from Search Discovery.

When Tim initially approached me, to be honest I didn’t think I could say yes. I’m too darn busy, and I hate to commit to things and not follow through. Obviously I changed my mind, and the reasons why are the same reasons I think you should become a listener:

  1. Commitment:  One of the things that drives me nuts is when a good blog or podcast isn’t consistent in publishing (see paragraph 1: Napkyn blog). A lot of work has been put into ensuring that we keep our commitment of twice monthly. We have been in planning for several months, and have already recorded the first 3 episodes. If you choose to be a listener you can expect regular episodes.
  2. Competition: Michael, Tim and I all do the same job, for different companies. This concept came from us sitting at the pub during a measurement conference and talking shop. We realized that our discussions about the analytics space might be super valuable to other people. So if you want to hear a combined 50+ years of experience in digital analytics riff on topics and best practices, this is the place for you. We’re not going to be sharing customer lists any time soon, but we’re really enjoying sharing ideas.
  3. inClusiveness (I’m trying to preserve the alliteration):  While each episode has a very closed topic (this week’s is “Becoming A Better Analyst”), the format for discussion is very open. We really wanted to capture the essence of three guys having pints and talking shop. To that end the episodes should have something for everyone, regardless of their experience in the field. If you like measurement, and the odd pop culture reference, you’ll love the podcast.

So, give it a listen. Here’s the first episode on Becoming a Better Digital Analyst:

And there it is, my pitch.  I’d love it if you liked the Facebook page, followed us on Twitter, signed up on iTunes or LibSyn, and gave us lots of comments and feedback.  Think we’re wrong?  Shout out. Have two cents of your own to share? Write it up and post it.  If a podcast falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, then… I’ve butchered a metaphor.



So you want to be a senior analyst: a four-job roadmap

By Jim Cain December 17, 2014

Digital Analysts are in high demand, and there really aren’t that many of us–yet. I get asked often by prospective analysts about how someone can advance their career in this industry. I also get asked often by firms looking hire or develop a ‘senior analyst’ what the best steps are.

The breakdown below illustrates the four jobs that I believe an analyst needs to know how to do properly before they can be a ‘senior analyst’. The role of a senior analyst is to be a trusted strategic resource who both uncovers opportunities to leverage data, and informs decision-makers.  In order to do this role properly, you need to have a very solid and diverse skill-set–and I believe that a good senior analyst could do any of the jobs below, because they need all the skills required to do their job.

You might look at this breakdown and think “That’s ridiculous, learning how to do everything on this list would take years, and I don’t even know if I’m capable of all of it.”.

That’s the point, and that’s the reason there are so few senior analysts.
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Introducing Analysis Engine, Enterprise Middleware for Google Analytics

By Jim Cain September 2, 2014

It’s a pretty exciting day in Napkyn history, as we are formally launching a separate spin off company called Babbage Systems.  As of today, Babbage is now open for business around the sale of its flagship product, Analysis Engine. Rather than write up a super-formal press-release-style blog, I thought I would list a few of the standard questions we’ve been asked over the last few weeks by our customers, friends, colleagues and competitors.

We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished with the Analysis Engine, and we can’t wait to start sharing it with you.

analysis-engine-introQ: So what’s an Analysis Engine?

Great question!  In a nutshell, Analysis Engine is a cloud-based middleware platform for enterprises using Google Analytics.

Q: Huh?

Sorry about that, darned elevator pitches.  Here’s the plain-English version:  Google Analytics is the best web analytics tool in the world for a number of reasons, especially in being easy to set up, easy to use and very accurate, and in having a world-class database. Big companies don’t tend to use Google Analytics, though, because it doesn’t integrate easily into their existing IT workflows, datamarts and Microsoft Excel. Analysis Engine sits between Google Analytics and a big company and allows them to take advantage of all of the best parts of GA, and also have all the additional features they need to win.

Q: So you turn Google Analytics into Enterprise software. Got it.  When will you be planning on building other tools into the Analysis Engine?

Never.  There are so many companies using Google Analytics, and so many things we can do to make GA more powerful that we are focusing on it exclusively.

Q: So why did you build this thing?  Aren’t you busy enough?

To be honest we built it because we were so busy.  While we work with all web analytics tools, Napkyn has several very large Analyst Program customers who have Google Analytics as their measurement tool of record.  For these customers, we kept bumping into the same problems.  The Excel dashboards were very hard to refresh easily, getting IT department buy-in for implementation work is difficult, and getting cost data set up and uploaded is a chore. We love Google Analytics, but all the manual work around making work for big business was killing us.

So we fixed it, and in doing so realized that we could help other companies win with GA as well.

Q: Do I have to be a GA Premium customer to use Analysis Engine?

Nope.  In fact by using the Analysis Engine you can remove sampling from much of your reporting.  That said, a Google Analytics Premium customer is a prime candidate for a firm that will get maximum value from the Analysis Engine, and we have auto-detection of Premium and a full integration into the Premium unsampled reporting API.

Q:  Why start a separate company?

Two reasons: Napkyn is a fast growing services business and trying to have a separate software offering wouldn’t be the best thing for our customers.  The other reason is that this product is very valuable for agencies that do consulting on analytics (we have a reseller program and an upcoming agency program).  In order to be as respectful as possible to our partners, we wanted to have a clear separation of Napkyn from the new product.

Q: Analysis Engine sounds great.  Where can I buy one?

Request a demo and a member of team Babbage will contact you immediately.