GA, Tell Us What #BirdsTellUs! A Dashboard for Engagement Analytics

We are thrilled to have partnered with the National Audubon Society on Birds Tell Us, a social media awareness campaign for endangered bird species that are at risk due to global warming. Not only was it exciting to develop a custom web app for such an important cause, this campaign gave us the chance to really leverage the power of Google Analytics (GA) Dashboards in depth.

Conceptualized as a mobile first experience, we created a swipe right to see more design, with each bird first appearing as an outline accompanied with social media share buttons. Once a user shared that bird and it’s climate change fact, the full bird image appeared like magic – your reward for “bringing back” that species. The objective of the campaign was purely social media “shares” via Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about how climate change was impacting birds over 10 days of the 2015 UN COP 21 summit.


As all the bird screens were actually built into a single HTML page, it was tricky to get unique traffic trends on views of each bird and answer questions like which bird is shared more on social media? On which bird did the visitor lose interest and leave the website? But hold on, with a little bit of Beaconfire RedEngine skills and GA custom coding, nothing is impossible!

Utilizing custom events and virtual pageviews, tracking was sent with the view of each bird as well as the share button clicks; we now have more data and insights on the engagements and can report on success metrics for the mobile site to answer all questions. The implementation was done through Google Tag Manager(GTM), to track events and pass engagement tracking data into Google Analytics (GA); goal funnels were also built into GA to measure conversion rates of visitors sharing birds on their social media feeds.

Show me the good stuff!!

Okay, so data goes into GA , then what? there must be an easy and fun way to look at what’s happening on the website without digging so much and crunching numbers! Thankfully, GA Dashboards are here. They are one of the Google Analytics customizations that enable you to get detailed and focused insights to help you optimize your business. As Justin Cutroni, the analytics Guru, says:

Dashboards are great for people that are focused on a specific thing.

GA dashboards may seem simple, but they are quick to build and perfect for this campaign to answer key questions, provide a quick understanding on the visitor engagement and measure the success of the campaign. You can build general dashboards, or focus them on Ecommerce or Mobile or just a specific campaign. Google provides easy to implement widgets on GA dashboard that can be customized with filters and even Regex to customize your dashboard configurations. The only limitation is that you’re limited to 12 widgets per dashboard, which can be frustrating sometimes if you want to include just ONE MORE metric to have a full view of everything together.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce a snapshot of the engagement dashboard built for the  Birds Tell Us campaign!


  • The left column focuses on overall and high level visit information, showing how long do visitors stay and how many (and percentage) browse more than 5 pages during their visit (hint, GA goal), and traffic sources.
  • The middle column focuses on the shared birds and then an overall slide traffic view.
  • The left column reports on the custom events implemented for social media shares and their associated conversion rate; and then provides an overview of browsers and new sessions.

As I said, ALL IN ONE place! All they need to see in one snapshot, and you know what else? You can export this as a PDF or you can even automate the dashboard to drop in your mailbox every day, week, month or even quarter! You name it.. just schedule the dashboard send and choose the frequency and you’re done!

Oh and just to add more fun, you can apply your custom segments to the dashboard to study a specific subset of your audience, or compare two segments or different date ranges. For example, without doing so much additional work, I will apply the Mobile Traffic and Tablet Traffic built-in segments to see how users interact differently on each device.

#BirdsTellUs Dashboard - Adding Mobile and Tablet Segments

Mobile traffic was more than double that of Tablet traffic, with more users on mobile browsing more than 5 pages in the website, and more conversion rate for the social sharing, showing higher engagement in Mobile and how successful was the design to get people viewing more birds. Both devices had the same peak trends as it’s related to the campaign, but Mobile visitors spent an extra 15 seconds on average than Tablet visitors. Facebook had slightly higher number of shares than Twitter. As for how the visitor came (traffic source), we can see that Email traffic was higher in Tablet devices, whereas Mobile brought in more Social visits. While both Tablet and Mobile had an amazing conversion rate for the social shares, both are still 30-40% lower than the overall high conversion rate of 7.91% of the website (means, Desktop had the best rate, and users enjoyed sharing the content on their social media channels).

Dashboards not only show you results for the segments you’re looking at, but also compares them to overall website performance and gives you the their percentage of overall traffic for certain metrics like visits and pageviews.

I could keep talking about this and other GA customization, but we’ll do more of that later.. stay tuned for the next post!

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