Google Analytics: To Cost Data Import or Not to Cost Data Import?

make-money-onlineWhether tis nobler to make a crazy long Excel spreadsheet to track all your marketing ROI or take the time to import data, that is the question.  Ok, maybe this problem isn’t Shakesperian in size but it can definitely take your analysis and use of Google Analytics up a notch.  If you’re relying on Google Analytics for analysis of your website, making sure you’re taking advantage of their Cost Data Import feature is a must.  It’s not a new feature (released in late 2012) but a lot of GA users have been slow to use it.  Let me tell you why you should brave this task whether you’re new to it or just haven’t gotten around to it.

This feature allows you to upload costs for any of your marketing efforts so you can get a true picture of all your efforts (not just AdWords because it’s integrated).  Imagine getting the ROI of all paid search engines, display, organic search and more right in Google Analytics!  Sounds too good to be true right?  There must be a catch and there is a small snag.

Google made it possible for this to be done but not in their interface.  What?!?!?  That’s like the bank telling me I can deposit money any time I want, but locking the doors to the lobby with the ATM inside.  I have a visual of walking into the glass door a million times wondering why I can’t make my deposit.  (Alright, maybe I’m brighter than that, but the frustration would be the same.)

If you have the in-house I.T. resources you can have them create your own hookup via the API.  I.T. just loves it when we add to their plate (sarcasm intended).  The good news is that if you don’t have I.T. resources or they give you the stink eye for requesting something new, there are third parties that can provide the upload methodology so you can upload to your heart’s content.  Most cost a little money but are relatively inexpensive.

My personal favorite has become Supermetrics Uploader.  Most of the third parties either have a more complex process and/or can only take a day of data at a time.  Who has time to be uploading data every day?  Not this busy woman and I’m sure most of you don’t have that time either.  I usually do this once or twice a week depending on my analysis needs.  Some of you may need it even more infrequently which makes a multi-day import feature even more wonderful.

Here’s a quick breakdown on the providers to help you out:

Supermetrics Uploader


  • Multi day import available
  • No need to format your .csv with Google’s date format restrictions
  • Easy drop and drop field matching based on your upload


  • This isn’t really a con but just something to be aware of – they charge per upload so strategize well and merge all of your cost data into one spreadsheet adding columns for medium and source so you only have 1 upload instead of one per source. Also works best if you’re not doing daily uploads unless the budget here isn’t an issue.

Next Analytics


  • Multi day import available.
  • Also comes with report data pulling functionality into Excel which can be handy.
  • You can also reformat and change the data in your csv with a find and replace.
  • Low price per month vs. per upload so if you want to do daily uploads, this might be the tool you want to use.


  • I had constant issues getting a set process to work to upload the data every time.
  • The instructions on the website don’t match the current tool (likely outdated after an upgrade).
  • I had to keep figuring out the process but when I got it right – it was sweet.



  • This is really a reporting tool but its low cost makes it nice way to get your data in as well as see whether their reporting features can make your job easier.


  • No multi day import feature.



  • It’s free so you can play around with the import and see what you think.


  • Lots of formatting to do ahead of time.
  • Only one day at a time for uploading.
  • If the file is too big, you have to put it in multiple files.

There are a few others out there but in my mind these are the top sources.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have found a great solution not mentioned here.  One other thing to note is that you have to set up the data source in Google Analytics before you start importing.  Check out Google’s instructions for full details.

Happy cost data importing!