This post is for all you contractors and agencies out there that are setting up Google Analytics for your clients. I want to help your relationship. No, not the relationship between you and your significant other. The relationship between you and your client.
One of the biggest problems I see when working with companies is contractors that set up Google Analytics incorrectly. I’m not talking about poor configuration settings, I’m talking about Google Account issues.
Here’s the situation. You, as the contractor, decide to create a profile for each of your clients in a master Google Analytics account. This seems like a good idea because you can log in and have all your client metrics accessible in one location. Plus you can grant user access to each client so they can access their metrics. However, you can’t grant them admin access because each client would have access to ALL profiles (i.e. clients) in your account.
Here’s the problem. If you ever decide to part ways with your client there is no way to transfer ownership of their profile(s). They will have user access to their profile(s), that you created, FOREVER.
Why? When you create a profile it’s tied to a specific account. That means that the data physically flows into a specific bucket. Look at the tracking code for a profile
The account number is right there for you to see. During data collection, the data goes into the bucket for the account number in the tracking code. If you change the account number in the tracking code the data goes into a new bucket but the historical data stays in the old bucket. See, there is no way to move the data.
Account Setup Tip
To avoid this situation, do not add client websites as profiles to a single Google Analytics account. Instead, create a new Google Analytics account for each client. Then, have the client grant you, the contractor, access.
This also pertains to those of you setting up GA for your companies. Do NOT create a profile for your employer in your personal GA account.
At EpikOne we have two primary GA accounts: an admin account and a reporting account. We ask clients to add these accounts to their GA account when a project begins. The admin account is only used by a few of us. We use it to make changes to a client’s GA settings. The second account is used for day to day access to the client data. We give analysts and other internal data consumers access to this profile so they can play with the data and we don’t have to worry about them breaking any settings.
If You’re Guilty
If you’re setting up client profiles in the above manner, I suggest you tell them immediately and start a migration process. Will it be painful? Potentially. But it’s in the best interest of the client.
See the Problem for Yourself
There are some folks that are probably thinking, “Just make the client an administrator, and then delete the contractor’s admin account.” That will work, but the client will then have access to all of the profiles that are in the contractor’s account. Furthermore, if the client deletes the other client profiles, they will be deleted from the contractor’s account as well.
I think it’s difficult to visualize this problem so you can test it out for yourself. I’ve create two GA accounts that you guys can play with. I’m not sure how well it will work, but I thought I would give this a try.
If you do add/delete profiles, please re-create them for the next user. Try to leave both accounts the same way that you found them.
I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to handle multiple accounts going forward, so this is very helpful (and painful).
My question: For client accounts that are set up under a “master” account, is Google able (or willing) to help with a migration?
Glad you found the post helpful, it’s nice to hear.
We have asked Google in the past to migrate profiles and they have declined. It’s something that they will not do.
Thanks for the feedback and thanks for reading.
Fantastic – just what I needed in the nic of time too! Thankyou.
Thanks for this post; I was just dealing with this issue today as the number of sites we’re tracking with GA has ballooned. It was nice to have my problem confirmed (that accounts/data CANNOT be migrated) and a good suggestion given (create client accounts, then grant admin access to master contractor account).
I think it’ll become our standard policy.
From a corporate practitioner perspective, you couldn’t be more right or say it LOUD enough “Do NOT create a profile for your employer in your personal GA account.”
This guidance also applies to any Google product used by an employee of a corporation.
Thanks for the info – echoes pretty much what we have found. Google could do a lot to smooth this account hierarchy problem – there are no clear guidelines and although they do reply to emails, their support staff seem to have their hands tied when it comes to helping.
An additional factor to consider is AdWords – if you want to tie those into Analytics reports, you again need to think very carefully about access issues. We have had to rejig a fair few setups as we learned this the hard way.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I appreciate it.
Not sure if this is a new GA addition, but does setting up a new account using the upper right pulldown menu (where it says “My Analytics Accounts:”) resolve this issue? This would be done instead of setting up a new profile with the *left* pulldown menu.
Arley McBlain says
I see your point but I disagree. If one of my clients leaves me they can update their site to have a new Analytics. Right now if they’ve been keeping stats PDFs that I send them there won’t really be any glitch and they’ll still have data to compare.
The stats show traffic on a daily scale, so maybe they’ll miss a day? Most users are likely checking to see where traffic is coming from this week – are my banners working etc.
If my clients decide to leave me then their biggest issue to worry about is not working with me ;) Haha,
Your article does raise some very good issues though and I certainly don’t have ALL the clients under a master account. I treat this on a per-client basis.
Thanks for that note, it was great! Everyone is going to manage client accounts differently, I guess it all depends on what the client needs/wants.
Thanks for reading,
Can I use two analytics code within the body tags of my website. Or will they clash in some way? Thanks. Sam.
Website Analyst says
Yes, you’re 100% right on the account setups.
On the transferring of profiles… this problem is definitely a pervasive one to such an extent I think it’s negligent that Google hasn’t addressed it.
What’s irritating is that this seems to be another example of Google just simply not caring.
Look, this problem seems SO basic to me that I can’t believe GA developers haven’t thought it through.
The solution to me is simple, you allow administrators of profiles the ability to grant administrative level to other contacts in your profile access lists, which in turn can then “remove” your admin level, effectively transferring control and access.
Will this cause some profiles to be “stolen” or “hacked” into, sure, no more no less than having your Google account hacked into and changed on you. Besides, ultimately, proof of control is retained on whoever has access to the website’s server. It’s obvious by the lack of 1800 numbers, that Google really doesn’t want to be bother with phone calls from users of their free services… sooo… you create a simple scheme to “reclaim” your profile in the event it’s stolen, something similar to when you setup a website with Webmaster’s Tools. Drop a unique IDed file that shows you really are the owner of the website.
Sure, some hackers may attack your GA profile and your website, but if they’re going through much trouble and succeeding at it, you probably have more important problems to be dealing than trying to see what’s going on with your web stats.
I’m not fan, or a hater, I’m cautious about Google’s stance with certain levels of services or apparent lack of.
Do no evil, Google. Seriously. Please don’t.
Sonia Raval says
Hope you don’t mind a hard GA question.
I have 2 sites that i need to track.
one is http://www.mainsite.com – i have set this up as the master account
http://www.mainregprocess.com – this one is set up under the same account, but different profile.
The mainregprocess.com site is called by a window.open function. The app opens in a separate window.
My question is how to set up the _utmLinker function (href) or the __utmPost (for form post)function to transfer cookies?
Any thoughts on this implementation issue?
If you need to see specific site code, we can set up a session.
Thanks so much! BTW, bought your book and love it.
Interesting question. Both __utmLinker() and __utmLinkPost() do a document.refresh and that won’t work with a window.open. I haven’t tried this, but will think about it. Sorry I don’t have a solution right now, but will work on one.
Thanks for directing me to this page I was wondering if I create the client there G.A profile can I transfer thier data from my master G.A file? could not see an answer to Sams question about 2 seperate tracking codes in one body tag???
Justin Cutroni says
There is no way to transfer data from one profile to another or from one account to another. You can track your site in multiple accounts, but it’s not as simple as adding multiple tags to the page. You need to tweak the code slightly for it to work.
Thanks for the question and hope that helps,
Another good point is that the client should create a Google Account using a generic email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). If your contact creates the account using their personal work email address (email@example.com) and then leaves the company, you’re going to have problems when it comes time to reset the password associated with the Google Account. The “resent password” request will get sent to Bob’s email, which you probably don’t have access to (depending on your company’s Freedom of Information policy, you can’t ever get access to that account).
By creating a generic account and assigning proxies, people can come and go from the company, but you’ll always be able to get access to the GA account.
Justin Cutroni says
@Trevor – Great advice! A company should absolutely own the email address that is used to create the Google Analytics account. Thanks for sharing that advice.