Who permitted you to use Google Analytics? This is a serious question.
Permissions control what you can do in Google Analytics.
Understanding permissions and how access levels affect what you can do is essential Google Analytics knowledge, no matter your skill level.
So, today we are going to review every level of Google Analytics permission. We'll look at how account, property, and view level access affect what you can do in GA.
And we'll talk about how to ask for more privileges. In Google Analytics of course. (Not in your interpersonal relationships. That's well beyond the scope of advice you can expect from a web analytics blog).
Google Analytics permissions
We recently received this question from Google Analytics Mastery Course student Anya:
I would like to learn about the limits of each permission level ie. what you can and what you cannot do.
As an analyst can you create custom segments? What permission level do you need to have in order to create a goal?
How do you go about asking your clients to give you access as a consultant – do you ask them for at least read only, then tell them what they need to do and offer to do it for them if they increase permissions?
How to get permission is a big question, but it's also an important one! Let's break down every permission level and every access level in Google Analytics. Then, we'll discuss how to ask clients or other account managers to increase your permission level in Google Analytics.
There are four levels of Google Analytics permissions
Read and Analyze permission
Read and Analyze is the lowest level of permission in Google Analytics. This level of access allows you to see the data, but it doesn't let you make any changes to the account.
Read and Analyze is the beginner or “only on a need to know basis” level of access. Users with this level of access can look at the data all they want. But they can't affect the account, and they can't communicate with other users in Google Analytics.
Here's what users with Read and Analyze permission can do:
- View reports
- Use table filters
- Add secondary dimensions
- Create custom segments
- Build custom reports
- Create and share dashboards
- View shared reports
As you can see, there's a lot you can do at this permission level. You can do most of the things you need to do to analyze the available data.
If you want to test the Read and Analyze permission level, then check out the Google Analytics demo account. The demo account gives you Read and Analyze access to the Google Merchandise Store.
Collaborate permission is one level above Read an Analyze. Users at this level can communicate in Google Analytics. They can annotate reports. They can also edit shared assets. Shared assets include features like annotations, custom reports, and dashboards.
Users at this level of permission usually have some analytics skills. But, they lack the technical capability to configure or manage a Google Analytics account.
This level of permission is great for teamwork. Team members can work in an account together without being dangerous to any of the settings. I call this the “Nerf” level of access. You can use all the tools, without doing much damage.
Here's what you can do at the Collaborate permission level:
- Everything you could do at the Read and Analyze permission level
- Edit and make changes to shared assets
The Collaborate permission level is a small improvement over Read and Analyze. But it's an essential upgrade if you're part of the team. This level of access lets you move beyond just looking at the data, and allows to work on the data that's accessible.
Edit permission is the full access level of Google Analytics. This permission was previously named Admin access. The only thing you can't do with Edit access is to change other users' permissions.
Here's what you can do at the Edit level, in addition to everything at the lower permissions levels.
- Add, edit, or delete accounts, properties, and views
- Add, edit, or delete filters
- Create or edit goals
- Setup ecommerce
- Create calculated metrics
- Link your account to Google AdWords
- Link to Google AdSense
- Import data
- Adjust property settings (session settings, user ID, referral exclusions, etc.)
Edit permission is best reserved for advanced users. Users at this permission level need to know what they are doing in Google Analytics. Account members with Edit permissions should be Google Analytics certified.
Manage Users in Google Analytics
Manage Users is the highest level of authority in Google Analytics. You can do everything you can do at the Edit level. But you can also add/delete users from an account, and change users permissions.
This level of access should be used sparingly. Users at this level can lock other people out of an account. So make sure you trust the users who you authorize at this level.
There are three places permissions can be applied. Where you apply permissions has a big impact on how permissions work.
Access levels for Google Analytics permissions
View level access
The most basic level of Google Analytics access is granted at the view level.
Let's say you want to give someone access to your Google Analytics reports. But you don't want that person to be able to change anything. The best level of access for that user would be Read and Analyze permission at a view level.
Property level access
Granting permission at a property level restricts users to only that property. Typically, a property is associated with one domain or website. So when you issue access at the property level, those users can only track the domain in that property.
Account level access
User access at the account level means you can see everything. You have access to every property and view in that Google Analytics account.
You want to be careful how you choose to authorize account level access.
I almost never grant anyone account level access with a Manage Users permission. That level of access is like giving someone the deed to your Google Analytics account. It's much safer and easier to authorize access at a property level.
You can see who has permissions
Google allows full transparency of users' permissions. This is a recent policy change that I've been pretty outspoken about.
Google Analytics experts are often contracted to audit the work of other account managers. It's important for auditors to be able to do their work without disrupting the current analytics team. But now, everyone can see when a new user enters the account. Account users can also see the access level of other users.
This new policy prevents account auditors from working on accounts in anonymity. Essentially, this policy puts an end to James Bond 007 analytics undercover work!
You can read more about my thoughts on the policy change an how it affects analytics consulting here – Why the new Google Analytics User Management Policy is a Terrible Idea.
What level of access do you need?
Maybe a better question is what level of access do you deserve?
Gaining permissions is like earning trust. You need to prove to the account owner that you are trustworthy and that you're not going to mess up their account.
How do you prove you deserve a high level of access?
Remember, Anya asked about working as an analyst and setting up goals for an account she's working on. Without gaining Edit level access, she can't create goals for her client's account.
She needs at least Edit permission at a property level to get her job done. This scenario is not uncommon.
If you're trying to make a living as an analyst, or as a digital marketer, you want the most access you can obtain. More access equals more information.
Beyond being trustworthy, there a few things that factor into gaining higher level permissions in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics certification
First of all, the account admin needs to know you have the right skill set. The easiest way to prove you have the skills to work on Google Analytics accounts is to get certified.
Helping people get Google certified is the reason I created the Google Analytics Mastery Course. A Google certification for an analyst is like a badge for a police officer. If you want to get access, you need to show your credentials!
Use Analytics Course to help you get Google certified and gain Edit level access
So, if you need Edit level access, take Google Analytics Mastery Course. The Course is built to take you from zero to Google Analytics certified.
The Course will also hold your hand while you're working in Google Analytics. Following the course will save you from messing up anyone's account.
And if you get stuck? You can ask questions in our private Facebook group and course forums. You'll get your Google Analytics questions answered by me, or one of our savvy students. Then you can take our advice to pass it off as your own work.
So let's assume you're one of my students or another smart Google certified analyst. Let's talk about how you get the access you deserve.
Here's my process for getting the Google Analytics permissions I need to do my job as an analyst:
1- Explain exactly what you are going to do, why, and how you will do it.
Be transparent about the work you plan to do. Would you give someone access to your Google Analytics account without knowing why they need access? Probably not. So be straightforward with the account owner or administrator. Tell them what you're going to work on. Why you're doing that work, and how you're going to do your job.
2 – Explain the risk of the change, and how you are mitigating the risk.
Account managers don't want to take any risks. Show them you understand the risks at the access level you need, and let them know how you can mitigate any risk.
3 – Show your experience and examples of your work to inspire confidence in your capabilities.
Show the account owner or admin you know what you're doing! Show off your shiny Google Analytics certification. And if you can, speak to examples of similar work you've done for other accounts.
Present client or peer testimonials to help show off your work. Let the account manager know that they're not handing over account access to a complete novice.
4- Develop a timeline for the work you're going to complete
Present a timeline for your work. Tell the account owner when you'll accomplish the objectives you're going to work on. And let the powers that be know when they can expect to see the outcome of your work.
It's likely that the analytics problems the account owner faces are holding up other work. If they know when you can help them get their business to the next step, they are probably going to give you access.
If you can map out these steps, then, in my opinion, you deserve access.
So let's wrap this up back where we started.
What level of permission do you have, and do you have the right Google Analytics permissions to do your work?
If you've followed the steps we've mapped out, and you can't get the access you need, leave a comment. We'll take a look at the challenges you're facing, and try to help you get permission.