As some of you know, my last post was entitled How to Fail the Google Analytics Exam.
I’m happy to announce that this week I received a passing grade on the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) exam. What follows is my advice for improving your odds of recieving a passing grade should you decide to take the GAIQ.
Live it, don’t just learn it
The primary study guides for the exam are the Google Analytics IQ Lessons – a series of twenty-one online video study modules aimed at presenting topics covered in the exam. I found these modules alone were simply not enough to ensure a passing grade. In fact, I put myself at a significant disadvantage by not becoming an active Google Analytics user prior to taking the exam. Advice: If you have not created a Google Analytics account and gained a somewhat intimate working knowledge of the software do so before attempting the exam. (Its free by the way.) Reach a level of comfort with all of its capabilities and aspects including how it integrates with Adwords. Learn where the controls are, the difference between a metric and a dimension, etc.
Buy the book
During the post mortem of my initial attempt at passing the exam I was lucky enough to connect with Brian Clifton, author of Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics. As it turns out, Brian once worked at Google where he and his team were responsible for creating the GAIQ exam. You read that correctly, the person who created the exam has a book which offers extensive coverage of what you will find on the exam. Please note, the word “Advanced” in the book title should not scare you away. Yes the book is a hefty 550 pages but is extremely accessible (with the exception of a few technical chapters) and for me made all the difference between failing and passing the exam. In a broader sense, even if you never plan on taking the GAIQ exam this book is hands-down the best hard-copy reference for how to implement and get the most out of Google Analytics.
Google Analytics IQ Lessons
OK, so the twenty-one study modules will test your endurance and ability to focus. They are a bit dry. Interestingly though the modules are narrated by three different voices; a male voice, the voice of a middle-aged woman, and the voice of a young woman. I suspect this is by design and is an attempt to help you focus by breaking “mind-drift.” And to a certain extend this works well. However, you might be surprised by how much information is packed into those slide modules. Warning: If you concentrate only on the spoken word and don’t take the time to actually read the slides, you will miss some key information.
I also found it difficult to sit through all twenty-one modules at once. I simply was not listening after five or six and needed to spread them out over the course of two or three days. (Listen to three in the morning, four more at night, etc.) I lost track of the total time needed to listen to all twenty-one but its approximately three hours.
Take notes during the modules! There is something very effective about the act of writing the words while listening to and watching the modules which helps burn the material into memory. Sounds crazy but it works – even if you never look at those notes again you will be surprised at how this technique helps memory recall.
You will find a good deal of material about AdWords across the study modules, Brian’s book, and the exam itself. A strong understanding of how Google Analytics and Google AdWords integrate will be of great benefit to those taking the GAIQ exam. If you’re currently using both Google Analytics and AdWords you have an advantage over others who won’t fully understand the interconnections.
There are many, MANY, people who consider certifications nothing more than useless ornaments, and to a certain extent – if you only pass the exam and stop learning – those people have a point. There is also a sizable population of people who have yet to fully understand the significance of Web analytics and how a program like Google Analytics can improve their business.
As a marketer I’ve accepted the inevitability of programs like Google Analytics and Google AdWords. Simply put statistics and math are now part of marketing. Yes, on the surface you can do some really cool things with Google Analytics, but there will always be someone in the room who says, “So what.” Diving deeper into programs like Google Analytics by way of taking the GAIQ exam will allow you to show such people the true value of Web analytics – value that goes far beyond “Look at all the visitors we had” toward “Look what the visitors did – or didn’t do – while they were on our site”.
- Another Great Book: Read Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik. You might also want to subscribe to his blog Occam’s Razor.
- YouTube: Subscribe to the Google Analytics YouTube Channel and watch the videos.
- Practice Exam: Run by Eric Fettman, Google Analytics Test is a free training resource for GAIQ preparation and real-world Google Analytics Skills.
Hire Joe Kyle
I am currently seeking a full-time opportunity in the Boston area within the discipline of marketing, business development, or corporate communications. Please visit www.josephkyle.com for more information. Thank you.
P.S. I’m also Google Analytics certified.