"When did we..." and other usual suspects

Did you ever find yourself making one of these questions?

  • When did we deploy that cool feature in the premium users private area?
  • When did we launch that cool marketing campaign to promote our last product update?
  • What happened on September the 24th? We have noticed a big drop in lead conversion rate and don't know what's going on...
  • Who and when changed the position of the main call-to-action we have in our top organic landing pages?
  • And the list goes on, and on, and on...

As growth and conversion rate optimization professionals, these sort of questions appears in our day-to-day quite often.

And don't take us wrong. We have no problem with questions in general, as they are usually the starting point for hypothesis definition that may ultimately guide us to a business opportunity.

But we do have a problem with processes that add no value in our way to reaching our business goals.

We have had the opportunity to work in both big and small internet tech companies; in both high and low digitalized businesses; in both highly data-driven and less data-driven companies... and we always see the same scenario in terms of logging important events that may affect business main KPIs: there is neither a shared methodology neither the adequate tools to properly do it.

That's why we started to build Context, a SaaS product that allows digital marketers to easily automate their annotations workflow and add relevant context to their data.

Logging annotations that may affect our KPIs

What do we mean by logging important events that may affect our main KPIs? What type of events do we have in mind?

The most popular methods digital marketers use to log these events

Google Analytics Annotations

Until today, and being very far from perfection, Google Analytics annotations feature is our favorite method to track important events, mainly for one reason: the annotations are exactly where they have to be, next to the KPIs we need to monitor, providing relevant context for our future analyzes.

Actually, we came to the conclusion that GA annotations are one of the most underrated features of this marvelous web analytics tool. Of course, it's not the most powerful feature, especially compared to custom reports or advanced segmentation capabilities, just to name a few, but it's so easy to use and provides so much value added at such a low cost that we simply love it.

google analytics manual annotations

Main problems of Google Analytics Annotations

Google Analytics annotations feature is great, but there are some issues with it. For example:

  1. Annotations are not replicated among views, what means that if you manage multiple views to track your properties, which is quite usual, you'll have to replicate the annotation in each GA view
  2. People can easily forget about adding annotations, as with all manual processes
  3. There is not a specific format to add the annotations, so many times you end up reading meaningless information
  4. You can highlight an annotation as important, but nobody else will see the annotation highlighted
  5. You just need basic Read & Analyze rights to create annotations in a GA view, which is not necessarily bad. But what if you want someone to only highlight an event and not having access to your GA data? You can't...

Spreadsheets (Shared, or not...)

We've seen all kind of spreadsheets with a very laudable intention of sharing relevant information with everyone in the company.

And they do their job, as you can add a lot of context to each of the changes you track there.

You can even add some highlights regarding the impact that the change had on your KPIs...

annotations spreadsheet

Main problems of spreadsheets

And as with GA annotations, we find some issues with this method:

  1. Annotations on a spreadsheet are not next to our KPIs
  2. Not everyone in the team/company likes opening a spreadsheet to add notes
  3. Not everyone in the team/company likes opening a spreadsheet to see notes
  4. People can easily forget about adding annotations, as with all manual processes
  5. Best practices say that you still need to keep annotations flow in GA

Endless emails chains

And what about those endless (and useless?) emails we all receive from time to time, informing (spamming?) everyone on the company about what did and didn't go live to production during the past sprint/week/month...?

It's a little bit sad that we're still sharing this kind of information through emails in 2018.

Main problems of emails

  1. Annotations on your emails are far far away from your reports
  2. People usually hate sending this kind of reporting
  3. People usually hate consuming this kind of reporting
  4. Best practices say that you still need to keep annotations flow in GA
  5. We usually get the information late, not exactly when it happens

With Context, you can automate and centralize your annotations workflow

Tired of adding manual annotations in Google Analytics; tired of maintaining boring spreadsheets; and tired of reading and sending emails with significant and insignificant updates, we took a step forward and started building a solution ourselves.

With Context, we want to fix the tedious and tiresome process of logging everything that affects the KPIs we’re responsible for.

We're building Context Annotations API to automatically send relevant business events to our dashboards. Events such as code deployments, newsletters launches, social media updates...

And we're providing some relevant information in Context reports by default so we don't have to add it periodically, such as google algorithm updates or public holidays.

Context is on private beta mode on

Almost 150 people signed up for Context private beta. nd we are very grateful to each and every one of them. Because with their help, we hope to launch the public beta very soon.

Context public beta coming soon

We'll be launching Context private beta very soon. And you're more than welcome to join us ;)