A few days ago I got the Google Analytics Individual Qualification. This was one of my year’s resolutions so I am quite happy about it, but while I was researching and studying for it, I noticed there is sparse information and most of it is outdated. In this post I will explain the preparation and certification process and also I will share my thoughts on Google Analytics itself.
Google Analytics is a free web-based tool designed to collect, analyze and report data generated from visitors and clients of websites. It is mostly focused on E-commerce, marketing and merchandising. At first I thought it was similar to IBM’s Watson Analytics, but I soon realized they only share similarities in the name itself and in the fact that they are both web-based tools.
To prepare for the certification exam I took two courses: Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced Google Analytics. Both of them are free, easy and quite short (a few hours at most). They include sets of videos, practice questions and interactive activities that are well designed and engaging. Even if somebody is not trying to get the certification, I would still recommend to take at least the first course since it is interesting and provides a glimpse of how Google and other companies track their users and potential customers, how they use the data to design marketing campaigns, tactics and strategies, and how they can understand the behavior of their own market. In this day and age, an E-commerce site is in a serious disadvantage if they do not understand their customers, and Google Analytics is the perfect tool to help with that. I really think that an online business that does not exploit its data’s potential would only be successful thanks to sheer luck.
While I am not a marketing person, I understand the potential and I am very impressed with the amount of data and insights that Google Analytics is able to deliver. The tool is easy to setup and use even when it has so many options that it looks intimidating to beginners. It also can be linked to other Google services, like Adwords and Data Studio, to leverage the data even further.
After studying both courses I took the certification exam and passed with flying colors. This means that I went from having minimal knowledge of what Google Analytics was, to being certified in a few hours scattered among 3 days, so you can tell it is not a hard certification if you prepare for it. As I said, this certification is not aimed at programmers or technical people, but much more focused on the marketing side of the business. The tool itself is tailored to be used by merchants, even including conversion goals, behavior analysis and other interesting options that marketing experts will enjoy. In fact, I am still looking for more technically-oriented options, like downloading the generated datasets or directly connecting to the Google Analytics database or API in order to programatically create more specific reports. I am not worried about not finding something like that since Google Analytics is such a mature product so I am sure there will be some way to do it, but if you are used to get your hands dirty with code, you may feel a little disappointed and patronized by the GUI.
The passing grade for the certification exam is 80%. Once that is achieved, you receive a congratulatory email and an automatically-generated diploma, but that is it. I was really hoping for an actual certificate but all this was all free so I will not complain. The certification is valid for 18 months, and after that the exam has to be passed again to renew it.
I do not understand why so few companies offer free training for their own products. After all, if people learn to use them and like them, they will use them and recommend them, so it is a win-win situation. Let’s hope Google continues to provide training and certifications in Google Analytics and other products, the whole process was interesting, engaging and easy to follow, even taking the exam did not required to use my webcam or other annoying measures so I will recommend this to anybody who could have even a minimum interest in online business or analytics.