3XE Conversion on Trust Issues with Google Analytics


Darren McManus is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arekibo. Darren’s journey from his home county Galway, to studying Business with Marketing in University of Limerick, to pursuing Masters in Information Systems Management and then to landing his first ‘real life’ marketing role with DAA (previously Dublin Airport Authority), has been an interesting one.

Along the way, Darren McManus honed his digital marketing skills and today at Arekibo he is a Strategist who specialises in Search Engine Visibility (SEO & PPC) and Web Analytics. He works with some of Ireland’s top organizations on web analytics strategies and custom web analytics tracking environments.

Arekibo is a data-driven digital agency. Their four specializations are Digital Strategy, UX Design, Technology (Platform Strategy, Enterprise CMS, Managed Services & Hosting) and ofcourse Analytics. Darren McManus tells Arekibo’s competitive advantage is that they have an internal expertise in each of the four areas. This gives Arekibo the ability to study all the aspects of digital environment even when they’re working with a client on only one of the elements. Quoting with an example he says, ‘we have the ability to identify possible technology-based blockers to potential design or SEO recommendations at an early stage, rather than making recommendations that are fine in theory, but later turn out to be a difficult reality.’

Darren McManus is speaking at the upcoming 3XE Digital Conversion Conference on 8th Feb 2018, and we used this opportunity to learn more about this digital marketing wizard:


3XE: Tell us about your journey in the digital world.

Darren: While studying at the University of Limerick I had an eight months placement with Supermac (in marketing department) at my home county of Galway. After that I pursued Masters in Information Systems Management and had the chance of working with children’s charity Hand in Hand on a pretty successful SEO strategy, among other things.

My first marketing role was with daa (formerly Dublin Airport Authority) where I worked in the Consumer Marketing team in a largely digital marketing focused capacity. I worked on a number of analytics and website projects with Arekibo (daa’s digital partner) who I later joined in my current role as a Digital Marketing Strategist. Here, I work on web analytics, SEM and digital projects with a wide range of clients such as daa, Electric Ireland, ESB, eumom and Mercer.

3XE:  What will you be speaking about at 3XE?

Darren: My colleague Karen McHugh and I will be hosting a workshop on Our Trust Issues With Google Analytics (unless we think of a catchier title in the next few weeks!). The premise of which is that whilst Google Analytics is the number 1 analytics tool used by our clients for a bunch of good reasons (marketing insights, usability insights, target audience insights, budget allocation, etc.), often organisations end up distrusting Google Analytics because they fail to get the valuable insights that they expect.

We will discuss the two key reasons for this distrust, as we see it:

  1.    Lack of customisation of the out-of the-box Google Analytics configuration
  2.    A misunderstanding of what particular metrics mean

We’ll discuss the most common examples of these issues or misconceptions, as well as engaging the audience with their own examples from personal experience. We’ll look at ways to deal with these issues in a way that delivers both valuable and actionable insights.



3XE: What are the 3 takeaways that you think delegates will get from your presentation?


Darren:  1.  Understanding the importance of aligning your web analytics tracking with your organisation’s particular goals.

  1.  A better understanding of some commonly misunderstood Google Analytics metrics.
  2.  Some shiny new alternative engagement KPIs relevant to their business which they can measure, thanks to Google Tag Manager.


3XE: What emerging trends will affect your business during 2018?

Darren: I’m going to be really original and go with AI… But I think its short term impact in the digital marketing world is going to be relatively boring compared to the potential long term impact in the wider world.

One area where AI’s influence will continue to grow, to the frustration of many digital marketers who will be desperately trying to keep up, is in the realm of search engine algorithms. The old hard and fast rules of SEO are long gone and the lines between good SEO and good UX are blurring quicker than ever, thanks to the continued AI-driven evolution of Google and other search engines.

Another trend that has had a significant positive impact on my work towards the end of last year is the steady stream of new features being released for Google Tag Manager.  Since September we’ve seen new YouTube video triggers & video variables, new scroll depth triggers and my favourites, element visibility triggers and variables. These 3 updates alone have opened up huge opportunities for more detailed tracking of user engagement in particular.

3XE:  Which websites and people influence you on a day to day basis?

Darren: There are loads of them. But the two that stand out are:

Simo Ahava (www.simoahava.com) for all things Google Tag Manager & Google Analytics and Rand Fishkin of MOZ (https://moz.com/blog) for all things SEO.

3XE: How was year 2017 for you? What are your plans for this year?

Darren: 2017 was a hectic year for anyone working in digital marketing in terms of keeping on top of new trends and technologies. That’s the nature of the business though and it brings with it a constant stream of new opportunities to learn, test out new tools and strategies, and ultimately try to benefit ourselves and our clients.

2018 shows no signs of being any different even at this stage with plenty for us to worry about – Facebook’s new-found focus on people at the expense of organisations (how dare they?), GDPR and ePrivacy regulations, mobile ad blocking and its impact, AMP and a mobile-first focus in general, chatbots, voice search, augmented reality, the list goes on…

Personally, over the course of 2017, I was lucky enough to work on some really interesting web analytics projects and some really challenging & successful SEO projects for a really broad range of clients and I’m hoping for more of the same in 2018.


Meet Darren McManus at 3XE Digital Conversion Conference on 8th February 2018 at Croke Park, Dublin.