NOTE: This technique will only work if the Analytics account in question is still active, or has been deleted for less than 30 days.
One of the biggest frustrations we (and any other web-based company for that matter) have when starting with a new client is missing Google Analytics data. For whatever the reason, the client’s prior SEO/Web Development/Who Knows What company has decided they felt slighted by the client not renewing a contract and moving on, and went forward with deleting the Analytics data.
PS: This is pure evil.
Why I Needed To Reclaim An Analytics Account
Below is a real screenshot of a recent email I sent to a client’s former SEO company. Now I could have been a little nicer, or begged for it in a nice way, but I think I did a decent job in being polite and simply asking for the data. Also, I have blurred out the contacts, but my Photoshop skills aren’t expert, so please forgive me if certain portions weren’t completely blurred out. Here is the email thread:
Oh no! That is super unfortunate! That must have been just an oversight on your behalf, Mr. Super Ethical Project Manager. And he wished me a great day too, so he can’t be all that bad!
But I wasn’t satisfied, and was determined to get that data.
Now let’s skip ahead to the end, just for ease of reading. After I successfully reclaimed the Google Analytics (which is explained later) that our client rightfully should have access to, I noticed a very interesting tidbit of information. Here is a screenshot of the Google Analytics “Change History:”
That is crazy! The Almighty Project Manager must have accidentally deleted the account right after I sent him an email asking for access. Silly guy, he must have done that before he checked his email. Here is the timestamp of my email asking for access:
Wow, he deleted it 52 minutes after I sent that email! Ugh, he really should have desktop notifications in order to receive important emails in a timely manner. Oh well, maybe technology just isn’t his thing. I forgive you for this oversight.
Anyway, moving on the the important question… How exactly did I reclaim the data?
The Foolproof (Unless You’re Really a Fool) Way To Get Analytics Data Back
Here are the step-by-step instructions to getting back what is yours (even if a former SEO agency accidentally and in no-way intentionally deleted your data):
- Have An Adwords Account
In order to place this phone call and get support, you must have an AdWords account set up. This isn’t optional, and you will need it just to get through to support. It doesn’t even have to be for the property in question, simply any will do (even ask a friend to “borrow” their account). If using a different AdWords account, simply refer to the property you are trying to access as a client’s property.
- Have All The Info You Need In Front Of You
Make sure you have easy access to all the information you need to properly describe the problem. In this instance, the information I needed was:
– AdWords Account Number
– AdWords Account Associated Email
– UA-Tracking Code Currently On The Site (The One You Need Access To)
– UA-Tracking Code Of A Different Analytics Account (That Will Be Used In The Future For The Domain In Question)
– Email Associated With Above Analytics Account
– FTP Access Of The Site (To Be Used In Verification)
- Give AdWords Support A Call
The United States support number is 1-866-2GOOGLE (1-866-246-6453). For any other support numbers, the list can be viewed here.
- Be Super Friendly And Appreciative
This is probably the most important step. In a previous job, I remember how frustrated a co-worker would get with asking Google for help. He really never got anywhere, and would never get help, even with the simplest of questions. The problem: He sounded like a complete jerk on the phone.
There is an important thing to remember when dealing with Google support: they know they have the power, and can choose to help you or not. You wouldn’t be calling them if you didn’t need their help or expertise. So just be nice and ask how their day is, alright?!
- Explain Everything You Need Precisely
It may take a couple times to explain exactly what you need, but in the most cliche phrase of this post, “explain it to them like you would your grandma.” Remember, they get hundreds of calls a day from people asking questions pretty similar to yours. However, similar doesn’t mean exactly the same. Each situation is completely different. So if you’re very careful in explanation, they’ll eventually get a grasp of what you need.
- Do Everything They Request Exactly As They Request It
If you’ve made it this far, that means you had all the info you needed, explained your problem, and weren’t a complete jerk. Congratulations! Now if we could just get that Fantastic Jedi Project Manager from earlier to get on the same page, the world would be better.
Your support agent will send you an email similar to this:
Once you receive that, the person on the other end has two days to respond and add your new email to the Analytics account. 97% of the time, they won’t respond, and you’ll have to complete the verification. Also, it is important to note that 36% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
Here’s how that analytics.txt file needs to be formatted on your website (that you will upload through FTP access):
Once that is done, reply to the email you received from AdWords, and they’ll take care of the rest.
- Stay In Constant Communication
Once someone is working to help you, they are amazing at sending emails and phone calls to keep in constant communication and update you. Make sure you always respond, and stay grateful they entire time!
- Party On, Wayne!
If you’re lucky (and you will be, I believe in you), you’ll receive an email like this:
Congratulations, you did it! Now, the next time you have Mr. Self-Proclaimed Powerful Former Project Manager deleting Analytics data, you can get it back.
Best of luck to all of you! Let me know if you had any success or further questions in the comments!