19 07, 2017

How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

By | 2017-07-19T12:10:28+00:00 July 19th, 2017|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , , , |

Google Data Studio is a great tool for those who need frequent, consistent and timely reporting, but there is an important feature currently unavailable in Data Studio — “PDF exporting.”  But do not fret, my fellow Google Data Studio users. There is a way to take that multi-page Data Studio report and export it as a single PDF file!

Google Data Studio PDF Export

If you have Google Chrome, you can export all of your Google Data Studio Report’s pages into a single PDF by downloading the free Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio.

How to Export a Multiple-Page Data Studio Report to PDF

Step 1.  Click the link below to be redirected to the Google Chrome web store installation page for the Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio. ~ if the link is not working, copy and paste the link at the end of this post into your chrome browser. 

Click here to go to the extension

Step 2.  Reload (or open) the Data Studio Report you wish to Export to PDF and there will be a new option in the report header.  The picture below is a comparison of the task bar without the chrome extension (top image) and the task bar with the chrome extension (bottom image). ~ Note: you must be in the ‘view mode’ in order for the option to appear.

Export to PDF option in Google Data Studio

Step 3.  Click on the ‘Export to PDF’ option to begin exporting your report, wait a few seconds per page as each page downloads. The time it takes to begin exporting varies, but  if the report does not begin to export, click on the thumbnail icon in the chrome extensions area of the toolbar but instead of selecting ‘Export to PDF’,  select ‘Clear Cache’ the option (pictured below), then try exporting it again.

GDS Export to PDF solution

Step 4.  After the document has been downloaded, a pop-up window will appear with a black and white version of the report—the report’s color will be restored after changing the destination. In the window, change the ‘Destination’ of the file to ‘Save as PDF’ (pictured below). Save Data Studio Report as PDF

Step 5.  Click Print to save the report to a location of your choice.

Chrome Extension Link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-data-studio-pdf-ex/cmbgpgjhibpioljmaaocdommnggpecje

21 04, 2017

WFU Selects Beacon to Teach Graduate Level Analytics Course

By | 2017-08-15T16:00:39+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Categories: Beacon News, Digital Marketing, Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

Last year, when I discovered that Wake Forest’s Business School was starting a Master’s Program in Business Analytics (MSBA), I had to see how I could help. After all, it’s my alma mater AND analytics – two of my favorite things! So I was thrilled when our many discussions and planning sessions led to Wake selecting Beacon to teach its graduate level course in Digital Marketing Analytics this Spring.

Farrell Hall at WFU Analytics has been a critical component of Beacon’s offering since almost the day the company started back in 1998. It’s why Beacon is one of the longest active Google Analytics Certified Partners in the country.  The entire Beacon Digital Marketing Team is involved with this class, led by Gus Kroustalis, Beacon’s Lead Analytics Strategist and Andrea Cole, Beacon’s Director of Digital Marketing.  The team meets regularly internally to carefully plan each class around important topics, crafting in-class and homework assignments that expose the students to real world tools and thinking.  For most companies nowadays, their website is the centerpiece of their marketing strategy.  So this course emphasizes Google Analytics and walks the students through 7 intense weeks that includes

  • Key Metrics for the Web
  • Consumer Targeting
  • Engagement Analysis
  • Channel Analysis (SEO & Paid Search)
  • Attribution Models
  • Conversion Testing

The demand for critical thinking skills with respect to analytics data is enormous in today’s business world. Students that have tangible experience will hit the ground running and be able to provide immediate value to their employers.  Certainly, technology and the widespread availability of data are drivers, but it’s also about “brain-power”, the ability to analyze data with all the available tools to gain insights, formulate strategy and communicate well-founded recommendations that will improve ROI and/or decision-making.

Companies are clamoring for critical and creative thinkers. Graduates of Wake Forest’s MSBA program will certainly fill this demand.  The students will experience a rigorous, hands-on course that exposes them to actual live data from several of Beacon’s clients that have graciously agreed to participate.  Although they will learn many different tools, the emphasis will be on stimulating their business minds to develop intelligent insights, drive creative ideas and improve business.

It’s exciting that Wake’s MSBA students have the opportunity to work alongside Beacon’s recognized experts in Digital Marketing to get first-hand experience and knowledge. It will certainly make their resumes stand out.  Likewise, my DMS Team is equally excited to collaborate with, and learn from, the high-caliber students for which Wake Forest University is known.

Beacon's Gus Kroustalis Teaching

23 08, 2016

How To Use Annotations in Google Analytics

By | 2017-06-16T12:50:19+00:00 August 23rd, 2016|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

Picture this: you’re checking out your website data in Google Analytics, and decide to look at your monthly traffic year-over-year. You see a huge spike in traffic on a single day last year, but you aren’t quite sure what caused it. Were you running a special that day? Perhaps a new TV commercial aired? Or maybe a direct mail piece dropped? Hmm…you start shuffling through old emails and notes to solve the mystery.

Traffic Spike

Without knowing exactly what could have affected last year’s traffic spike, it’s impossible to measure the impact individual circumstances have on your website. Sure, you can keep an Excel spreadsheet with a long list of dates. But what if I told you there was an easy way to keep all those events organized, in one place, and in context? Yep, you can do it right alongside your website data with Google Analytics annotations.

Annotations allow you to note a particular event that could have an impact on your data right on the date that it occurred.

Here are some of the types of things I like to annotate:

–          Website downtime

–          Sales and special promotions

–          Website development changes

–          Marketing campaigns (direct mail, TV, radio)

–          Content changes

–          Press releases or high profile featured content around the web

–          And any other time-specific event that could possibly affect website visits and user behavior

Making annotations in GA is incredibly easy. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Click the little down arrow under your traffic chart and click “Create New Annotation” on the right.
  2. Enter a date, a note, and choose the annotation’s visibility.
  3. Save.


That’s it. No, really. It’s that simple!! Annotations are indicated by the little text bubbles at the bottom of your chart. To see the details simply click the bubble.

To see a comprehensive list of all annotations for your view, go to the Admin panel and click Annotations.


If I can offer you one final tip for using annotations in GA, it is to be explicit. Trust me when I say, it will save future you a lot of frustration. “Online Sale”…great…but what was on sale? While Google only gives you 160 characters, be as detailed as possible! If your notes are enigmatic, you’re wasting your time creating them to begin with.

How do you use GA annotations to help analyze your website data?

14 09, 2015

How to Track Adwords Sitelink Extensions

By | 2018-09-14T15:36:55+00:00 September 14th, 2015|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , |

Sitelinks Google

Do you use sitelink extensions in your Google Adwords Account? If so, how do you track how they are doing in Google Analytics? Did you know they are not automatically tagged like ads are and therefore in order to see their performance in GA, you have to do a couple things different with them?

Here are the steps that I take in order to track site extensions.

How To Set Up Tracking

After speaking to a Google rep, I learned that the only way to track sitelink extension visits to your website is to send the visitor to unique landing pages. When I say unique, I mean landing pages that are not used in text ads or display ads. Users only get to these pages from sitelinks.

Here is an example of one way to set it up:

Text ad – Final URL: /home

Display Ad – Final URL: /womens

Sitelink – Final URL: /pro-weight/

How To View Results in Google Analytics

Alright – so now your sitelink has a unique URL so it’s time to find visit information from that URL in GA. In order to do that, you’re going to need to pull up the Campaigns report under Acquisition. In the left hand menu in GA, go to Acquisition>Campaigns>All Campaigns.

Once in that screen, you’ll want to use an advanced segment so click on +Add Segment at the top of the page and then search for “paid”.

Paid Traffic Segment

Now you should only be seeing campaign results for paid traffic. Now click on “Secondary Dimension” and add Landing Page. Now your chart should show Campaign in the first column then Landing Page in the next. In order to see your sitelink landing page sessions, you’re going to need to use an advanced filter.

To do this, click on “edit” next to the search bar and then choose, Include>Landing Page>Containing>PageURL. (In our case this would be /pro-weight) Then click Apply. 

Advanced Filter

Now that the filter has been applied. You should only see your PPC Campaigns and the sitelink landing page as shown below.


As a reminder – If your sitelinks use the same URL as any other ad in your Adword campaigns, this filtering method will NOT work. The sitelink must have a unique URL in order for this to work.

So Tell Me..

Is this the same method you use to see Sitelink performance in Google Analytics or have you found a different way to track performance from sitelinks?

11 11, 2011

Google Analytics Event Tracking in a Template File

By | 2020-01-29T15:37:41+00:00 November 11th, 2011|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , , , |

Ever had an issue where you want to track unique events (or virtual pageviews) within Google Analytics from a template file?  For example, on an e-commerce site, you may have a series of product pages that use the same ‘add to cart’ button from either an include file or some kind of reusable wrapper.  You may want to track each ‘add to cart’ click as a unique event for that specific product, not just the product section as a whole.  Since the actual JavaScript snippet for event tracking can only be placed into these file once, this would seem to post a problem.

Here’s the Solution.  In this case, we are going to use the URL of each page to serve as a unique identifier for the event tracking.  If the URLs are not unique among the pages where you want the event tracked, there is a slightly more complicated solution that you can contact me on Twitter for.

In the <head> of the pages that you want tracked, place the following code snippet (or save this snippet as a JavaScript file and reference it):

This snippet will grab a 3 character unique ID out of the page URL on which it appears.  Simply replace the XX in the code above with the 2 characters that precede the unique ID in the URL.  If the ID is only one character long, then you have it.  If it is 2 characters, replace the “+3” above with “+4”.  If it is 3 characters, replace the “+3” with “+5”, and so forth.

Note: If XX appears multiple times in URL, you will want to make it longer than two characters to ensure that you get the identifier that you want.  Just make sure to adjust the ending portion of the substring accordingly.

Now that we have our unique ID, the rest of the event tracking is easy.  For your onClick or onSubmit event, the tracking code for GA usually appears as:

With ‘Category’, ‘Action’, and ‘Label’ each being strings that the coder enters to display in Analytics.

In this case, we’re just going to make one adjustment:

‘Label’ has been replaced by passID(), the function we created in the <head> of the page for the uniqueID.  You could also replace ‘Category’ or ‘Action’ with the passID() function as well, but I think ‘Label’ makes the most sense as these pages are going to be similar in nature coming from the same template file.

That’s it, the unique ID will now show in the label section of GA.  Feel free to contact me with any questions and I’d love to hear about any case studies where you use this.

– EJW, follow me on twitter: @ejwestksu

1 08, 2011

Linking out for Quality, Credibility, and Salience

By | 2020-02-05T11:08:17+00:00 August 1st, 2011|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , , |

Linking out sometimes gets the short shrift to conserve PageRank to internal links. But linking out can give your web page something that is important to the search engines. The appearance of a page’s quality, credibility and salience.

Two quotes that back up this claim:

In the same way that Google trusts sites less when they link to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods, parts of our system encourage links to good sites.”  – Matt Cutts

Writing descriptive anchor text, the clickable words in a link, is a useful signal to help search engines and users alike to better understand your content.” – Maile Ohye

So, in much the same way that the PageRank algorithm found it useful to score target pages from anchor text, the text in the  anchor text quite frequently relates to the description of the page content and is used to gather information about that page. More specifically, the anchor text is used in improving page categorization or classification of a page.

Is linking out a ranking factor? Some seo’s suggest it does not influence rankings. Others say yes.

But it appears that Google is giving the anchor text more credence than just the regular text in the content and not just for the pages that they link to.

In my opinion, web-page classification has become more sophisticated and faster since Panda.  Panda has improved the accuracy of  classifiers that use both anchor text and content on the page.

This applies to both internal and external links and influences the  co-training algorithm.

As a result, you may want to follow a few do’s and dont’s:


  • Do create descriptive text links that are related to the page category
  • Do link to pages of high authority on related topics with your keyphrases in the anchor text
  • Do surround the text link with normal language


  • Don’t link out using a large number of unrelated links
  • Don’t repeat the exact same keywords in the text links
  • Don’t link out to a page that looks spammy

22 07, 2011

Beacon Technologies Through the Eyes of an Intern – Week 10

By | 2017-08-11T16:07:39+00:00 July 22nd, 2011|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , , , , , |

Well sadly, this is my last blog post at Beacon.  It’s been a great 10 weeks.  I really have enjoyed my time here.  Looking back, I can’t think of anything negative to say about my experience.  I want to take the chance to kind of do a recap of my time here.

When I came in the first day, I will admit that I was pretty nervous.  I hadn’t really had a lot of exposure to the kind of work that Beacon does so well.  I knew what most of the terms were from talking to a friend of mine who has been doing similar work.  However, the WMS team here helped me learn the skills I needed.  Everyone took time to show me how to do certain tasks and helped me with understanding the clients I worked on as well as what needed to be done for each client.  As the weeks have gone by, I have grown more confident in doing SEO work, managing social media campaigns, and working with PPC campaigns.  I know that I still have a lot to learn in these areas, but Beacon has given me a strong foundation on which to build.

I know that people traditionally think of internships as being filled with a lot of grunt work.  Getting coffee, running errands, doing tasks that no one else wants to do themselves.  That is far from the case here at Beacon.  As you can tell if you have been following my blog posts thus far, I have been an equal member of the WMS team.  I have shared the same responsibilities as everyone else.  I’ve done the same tasks for my clients as they did for their clients.  Often times, interns don’t get to offer advice and feedback during meetings as it is intended that they learn by watching.  Again, this is not the case at Beacon.  The WMS team meets weekly to brainstorm ideas for clients as well as share interesting articles or other helpful information and tools.  The leading of the meetings rotates each week and regardless of the fact that I am an intern, I led the meeting twice during my time here.  I also contributed equally with the team as much as possible.  I will admit that I often did sit back and listen during meetings.  I know that I do not have nearly the amount of knowledge or experience in this field, and as such I wanted to try to learn as much as possible when everyone was together sharing ideas.

Looking back, I have gained a lot of valuable experience.  There are several tasks and projects that I was able to work on and contribute to during the 10 weeks.  I can honestly say that anyone who is looking for an internship should consider Beacon.  The atmosphere, company culture, and employees all lend themselves to a great work environment.

Thank you to everyone here!  It’s been a great experience and I have learned a lot from you all.

6 06, 2011

Understanding the GA Tracking Custom Variables

By | 2016-11-23T10:06:43+00:00 June 6th, 2011|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , , |

School may be out for the summer, but it is back to the basics this week for our Beacon blog!  Since many of our customers are unfamiliar with all of the tracking capabilities Google Analytics provides, I thought it would be a good idea to differentiate the tracking custom variable options.

Custom variables are small tags you can put into your GA tracking codes that help you identify and define additional segments within your current website visitors you already review with GA.  This will allow you to get a closer look how certain, more specific groups of visitors are migrating through your website.    There are three custom variables you can define.  A page variable lets you set it at an event or page view.  A Session variable lasts each time the visitors is on your website.  And lastly, a visitor variable lets you watch that particular computer or phone over time. When creating your custom scripts to track your custom variables, you need to define the four key parameters of index, name, value, and opt_scope like this _setCustomVar (index, name, value, opt_scope).  Below is the explanation that Google provides for these specifics:

  • index—The slot for the custom variable. Required. This is a number whose value can range from 15, inclusive. A custom variable should be placed in one slot only and not be re-used across different slots.
  • name—The name for the custom variable. Required. This is a string that identifies the custom variable and appears in the top-level Custom Variables report of the Analytics reports.
  • value—The value for the custom variable. Required. This is a string that is paired with a name. You can pair a number of values with a custom variable name. The value appears in the table list of the UI for a selected variable name. Typically, you will have two or more values for a given name. For example, you might define a custom variable name gender and supply male and female as two possible values.
  • opt_scope—The scope for the custom variable. Optional. As described above, the scope defines the level of user engagement with your site. It is a number whose possible values are 1 (visitor-level), 2 (session-level), or 3 (page-level). When left undefined, the custom variable scope defaults to page-level interaction.

These variables allow you to see more in depth, but they also limit your scope of visitor engagement.  Let’s say you have a shoelace website, and you have been noticing that a lot of your customers are adding items to their cart, but the actual revenue numbers after the sales have been complete do not match the amount in the initial cart baskets.  We can use logic to figure out that people are removing items from their cart before checking out.  By placing a session level custom variable in the tracking code, you can then have the ability to know (not guess!) the number of sessions where your website visitors removed an item from their carts and learn from their session trends how they are making their decisions.



15 03, 2011

The Goal Match Type Options for Google Analytics

By | 2016-11-21T17:16:38+00:00 March 15th, 2011|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , |

If you have been confidently and accurately tracking goals within Google Analytics consider this post review.  However, due to the large number of questions our firm receives from companies in the area, I thought it would be a good idea to have this in our company blog.

Back to Basics

There are three different match types to help Google Analytics track goals within their interface.  They are regular expression match, head match, or exact match.  Below is a brief description along with an example.

1)      Regular Expression Match:  This type of match allows you to capture the special characters constant within a URL such as the stem and/or trailing parameters that might be coming from different domains or sub-domains.

You would use this match type if you needed to track the URL string: cart-checkout.cgi/?id=3 in both http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?id=3&fm=2 as well as http://www.michael.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?id=3&language=fr&fm=4 .

2)      Head Match:  This type of match allows you capture identical character strings from the beginning to the end of your string that may include extra parameters at the end of the URL such as user id’s, session tracking, or other added cookie codes.

You would use this match type if you needed to track the URL string: http://www.nicole.isaweome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3 in both http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3&id=3245783475634 as well as http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3&id=46834643, or  even http://www.nicole.is-awesome.com/cart-checkout.cgi/?page=3.

3)      Exact Match:  This is the most specific type of match because you have to match every exact character in the URL you provide without exception from the beginning to the end.  You would only use this on sites that do not have any dynamic information in the URL for an id, session, or other potential query parameters.

You would use this match type if you needed to track the number of times this URL is visited: http://www.nicole.isawesome.com/cart-checkout/thankyou.html.  Because it is going to be the same URL every time, you need to make sure to exclude the leading elements of the URL and only put “/cart-checkout/thankyou.html” for the exact match to make sure you don’t invalidate the goal.

We are always here to help if you need us, so just fill out our contact form and we will be in touch!


30 12, 2010

Conversion Tracking for Facebook Social Ads

By | 2017-02-21T11:46:51+00:00 December 30th, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , , |

Finally! This great new feature is still in beta but it is exactly what Facebook marketers have been waiting for. Soon all of us will be able to track activity that happens on our websites as a result of someone on Facebook seeing or clicking on our Ads. Conversion tracking helps us see the whole picture and I am very excited to start using this on a future campaign.

Tracking is available in the Ads Manager Menu.

Fill out the form to receive script for your conversion page.

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