Whether you own an eCommerce site or an informational site, your website is your virtual office and store. So you need to care of it like you would care for your physical store or office. Maintain your site by bringing in as many people to work as needed, but at the end of the day, you, the business owner, should hold onto the keys.
Sure, some employees need admin access, but you should always hold the master key. Why? Well, sometimes these “employees” go rogue and change the locks on you, leaving you on the outside looking in. And all you’re left with are thoughts on what you could have done differently.
So let’s talk about one of these “keys,” specifically the key to Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a place full of data that can help you analyze various metrics on your site. But boy is it a tricky one to access if you lost the master key. Once you’re locked out, getting back in is as simple as navigating a maze.
Finding an easy way in
The weird thing about Google Analytics is that you can’t just get access through the Google Analytics interface by verifying the domain. No, sir. You need to know people – people who have admin privileges to Google Analytics.
We recently experienced this problem when we were working on upgrading a client’s site. The previous agency had periodically sent performance reports to our client but hadn’t actually given the client access to Google Analytics. So we did what anyone else would do. We contacted the previous agency. Unfortunately, that agency decided they would not respond to our requests.
So there we were days away from launching an updated and upgraded experience for our client and we didn’t have a feel for what the baseline was for the site! We did what we digerati always do. We scoured the web, prowled Google product forums, and dug up some really old information on how to get back into Google Analytics. We thought we found a promising solution where the recommendation was to submit a request through a page. But if you clicked on the link above, you probably noticed that the page doesn’t exist anymore.
Finding the Key Master
We were racking our brains on what to do next. We asked our client go through her emails in the hopes that she might have received access at some point. We checked Moz and Quick Sprout but to no avail. We were about to call it a day, but then a thought came into our heads. It was brilliant yet simple. We called Google.
While no known number is available for analytics, other sections of Google do provide customer support phone numbers. We had access to an old AdWords account for the site (or so we thought). So through Google’s AdWords support number, we got a hold of Trinity. OK, so her name wasn’t Trinity. But she definitely reminded us of Trinity from “The Matrix”!
After authenticating ourselves, we explained the situation to Trinity. She was actually pretty understanding and proceeded to explain what needed to happen.
Getting Access from the Key Master
Trinity explained that we first need to nicely ask those with the admin access to let us in. So she shot off a note to the previous agency letting them know they had five days to provide us with access to Google Analytics. We were elated. It couldn’t have been simpler. When Google came knocking, the previous agency was bound to respond.
Hah. They didn’t even budge. Five days later we were no closer to getting back into Google Analytics.
After the requisite five days, we contacted Trinity and let her know that we were still locked out. She proceeded to explain the alternate process. Here’s what she had us do:
- Create a text file and save it as analytics.txt
- Include the following string of text in this text file:
<the secret 28 digit code she gave us>. Please add <the email address that needs access> to GA account <account number> with “Manage Users and Edit” permissions – date <date in mm/dd/yyyy format>.
- Upload this text file to the root of each of the domains from which you’re requesting access
We made sure the file was accessible as http://www.clientdomain.com/analytics.txt and let Trinity know the same by email. We were all set….except for one thing.
Proving we are the ONES
The email account that was mentioned in the analytics.txt file needed to be an admin for the AdWords account tied to the domain.
We didn’t even have admin access for AdWords! We needed to prove our client owned the AdWords account that was associated to the domain. To do that, we needed to provide the following:
- Payment information for the last charge and date of the payment
- Payment instrument details (i.e. credit/debit card or bank account details)
- Company name and billing address listed in the AdWords account
- The display URL of the website used in ads
- Sample keywords for one or more of our campaigns
It has been four months since we went through this process, and we are happy to say that our client now has admin access to all key tools, including Google Analytics.
This may feel like a long and arduous process, but there are really just a few steps to it. So let’s recap:
- Contact the last person who had access to the master key for Google Analytics.
- If that person does not respond, contact Google support.
- If the person does not respond to Google support’s requests, upload a text file to the root of the domain for which you are requesting access.
- The email address used needs to be admin on the associated AdWords account.
- If the address is not an admin on AdWords, then prove that you actually own the AdWords account tied to the same domain.
If you do have admin or root access to the domain, you should be able to reclaim your Google Analytics account in as little as six days!
Say what you will about Google and its secretive ways when it comes to paid and organic search, but their customer service is actually pretty outstanding.
If you are able to use this guide to your benefit, please do share the results of your efforts in the comments section.