Articles written in November, 2009

November 30 2009

Working with Advanced Table Filtering in Google Analytics

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Hopefully, everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving holiday filled with fun, family, and food! Did you stand in line at 4AM for Black Friday? Yeah, me neither. πŸ™‚

Anyways, now that mostly everyone in the U.S. is back to their normal routines (including me), we can talk about a brand new feature that Google Analytics released last month called Advanced Table Filtering. It’s found at the bottom of all standard report tables in Google Analytics and it allows you to do some pretty neat “on-the-fly” deep analysis of any data set.

Advanced Table Filtering lets you filter the rows in a table based on the conditions that you specify, just like when you create an Advanced Segment and apply it to your profile. This new feature, along with Secondary Dimensions and Pivoting (which were released earlier this year) can help your analysis efforts tremendously!

To start using an Advanced Table Filter, scroll to the very bottom of any of the “standard” looking report tables in Google Analytics and find the blue Advanced Filter” link, next to the regular table filter:

Advanced Table Filter location

While you can still use the standard filter that allows you to contain or exclude data from a report, you can create an “on-the-fly” advanced segment by clicking on “Advanced Filter”. When you do, the table expands and you get to design your Advanced Filter:

Advanced Table Filter Options

In the example shown in the image above, I want to see only Google traffic that has a bounce rate less than 50% and an average time on site greater than or equal to 180 (3 minutes) in my All Traffic Sources report. This specific criteria took me all of 10 seconds to create and “Boom!” my All Traffic Sources report just got a whole lot more segmented:

A segmented All Traffic Sources report

Now, I get a better sense of how my Google traffic is receiving my website content, which points me in the right direction to start optimizing my site, my pay-per-click campaigns, or my email marketing efforts!

Advanced Table Filters should be activated within all Google Analytics accounts soon, so that you too can perform cool “on-the-fly” table segmentation like me!

November 23 2009

The features that I am thankful for

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the holiday season is officially here. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who reads our Analytics and Site Intelligence blog and subscribes to our RSS Feed. You fine folks rock!

There have also been lots and lots of new features in Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Google Website Optimizer in the past year that I am extremely thankful for. These features have made my job easier, more enjoyable, and have helped a lot of our clients improve their conversion rates, sales revenue, and their bottom lines. Therefore, I’d like to dedicate this post to all of the following features:

1. Conversion Tracking (AdWords):

For years, Google has offered a free conversion tracking script that can be placed on a receipt page, a “thank you” page, or any important page where you ultimately want your AdWords traffic to go to. Recently, the AdWords team has upgraded the Conversion Tracking section within AdWords to include the ability to create multiple conversion actions, new “one-per-click” vs. “many-per-click” metrics, and a verification feature that can detect if the tracking code is properly installed. Way to go AdWords Conversion Tracking team!

2. The Opportunities Tab (AdWords):

The Opportunities tab within the AdWords GUI provides awesome intelligence on how to improve your campaigns. Whether you should be spending more money, using different keywords, or other suggestions, the Opportunities tab can make very good estimates on areas where you could be missing out. Log-in to your AdWords account and try this amazing feature today!

3. Google Ad Planner (AdWords):

Do you need to see detailed demographic data, domains and sub-domains, keywords, and other traffic statistics for the site or audience that you’re planning to advertise to? Google’s Ad Planner is nothing short of amazing in this department! If display advertising (images, video, rich media) is important for you, you seriously need to sign up for Ad Planner before you do anything else. Any site that you want to run your ads on with Google AdWords should be listed in AdPlanner, as well as the estimated volume of traffic each site receives as well as what types of ads each site supports.

4. Segmenting (AdWords):

Did you know that you can now easily segment your Campaigns, Ad Groups and Keywords in AdWords, much like you can segment any dimension in Google Analytics? This helps you to slice and dice your AdWords campaign data to make better decisions about how you’re spending your hard-earned marketing dollars.

5. Secondary Dimensions and Pivoting (Analytics):

The combination of Secondary Dimensions and Pivoting in any Google Analytics report table makes my job so much easier, faster, and more fun! You can now see up to five separate dimensions all in one report table view, which makes data-mining a far less arduous task.

6. Multiple Custom Variables (Analytics):

No longer are we bound by one label or one bucket for any website visitor. We can now assign visitors multiple labels, thanks to the new Multiple Custom Variables feature in Google Analytics. It takes just a bit of coding to pull it off, but the little bit of technical implementation is by far outweighed by the sheer flexibility and depth that you obtain!

7. Enhanced Mobile Tracking (Analytics)

Mobile analytics with Google Analytics has improved dramatically with this new report section. Found under the Visitors section, site owners can now view the many different mobile devices and mobile carriers that bring visitors to their websites. With a little bit of additional coding, any one using a .mobi site can track their mobile website’s activity in a much smoother and easier way. Oh, by the way, iPods and Nintendo DS Lite’s are counted as mobile devices πŸ™‚

8. Intelligence / Custom Alerts (Analytics)

Want to know about significant events that happen on your site, and some guidance as to what to do next? The new Intelligence section is your new best-friend. Google Analytics can now alert you to highly significant events that are happening on your website, who or what are the causes, and what Google Analytics expected to happen (vs. what actually happened). It can also iron your pants and make toast! Well, maybe not yet – perhaps it will be able to soon πŸ™‚

You can also create your own custom alerts and have them emailed to you on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Define your own important criteria and observe significant increases or decreases of stuff that’s important to you.

9. Experiment Notes (Website Optimizer)

I’m also very thankful for the wonderful people at Google for their Website Optimizer product. Specifically, I really like Experiment Notes, a brand new feature within the Google Website Optimizer interface. With each new A/B or multivariate experiment, I can write notes about that experiment, such as the start date or important specifics that I need to keep track of, which I can go back to at any time.

10. Over-time charting (Website Optimizer)

Finally, over-time charting in Google Website Optimizer lets me view conversion data plotted daily across a Google Analytics style trending graph, at the top of my experiment report. This lets me observe experiment success / failures over the course of time, and allows me to watch the observed improvements in a cleaner, more graphically-pleasing way.

Those are just some of the many features that I am thankful for. I hope that you have a happy Thanksgiving, a happy “black Friday” and a very happy “cyber Monday”!

November 9 2009

When Analyzing Your Data, Include the “Why” Factor.

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One of my favorite web sites on the entire planet is Woot.com. They sell one item every single day. There’s no way to predict what the item will be or how many are in stock or how much it will cost – just visit their site at 12 AM CST every day to find out what great sale they will promote next!

Let’s pretend that you are the senior data / web analyst for Woot.com, and my online behavior and interactions with your site(s) were representative of the average, everyday visitor. It wouldn’t be long before you cracked open Google Analytics, WebTrends, Quantcast, or your favorite measurement tool to have the equivalent of a heart-attack. Here’s my personal estimation of my lifetime statistics on Woot.com and its family of sites:

Visits: 1,200
Pageviews: 1,400
Bounce Rate: 99.5%
Average Time on Site: 0:00:20
Abandonment Rate: >99%
Conversion Rate: <0.00%
Revenue: ~$35.00
Average Order Value: ~$17.50
Visits to Purchase: 300+
Revenue Per Visit: ~$0.02

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many folks who wouldn’t frown upon looking at those depressing statistics. I can make it even worse for Woot.com by subscribing to their RSS feed and never actually visiting any of their sites in the first place.

The interesting thing about me is that I don’t visit Woot.com to purchase items. If there is something interesting, something that I need, or some cheap gadget that I have no use for but I really have the itch to spend, then yes, I’ll make a purchase. But if you were to ask me what my top 5 reasons for visiting Woot.com would be, I would tell you that I visit Woot.com to:

1. See (not buy) what the item of the day is
2. View purchasing statistics (Geo and hourly breakdowns)
3. Read the product overview (they are VERY clever and funny!)
4. See what’s on shirt.woot, wine.woot, and sellout.woot (their network of sites)
5. If I am remotely interested in the product, read their message boards to see what people are saying about the product
Bonus Reason #6: To see if they are doing a Woot Off!

So if my usage statistics and reasons for visiting Woot.com are representative of the average, everyday visitor, what happens now? Do you sound the general alarm and have a fire sale? Redesign your entire web site? Drop your prices to a ridiculous level? Use a lifeline and phone a friend?

Or, maybe you start including the “why” factor into your data analysis.

Google Analytics, Omniture SiteCatalyst, and every other web analytics package can give you every usage statistic imaginable, but it can’t directly tell you why people search for what they search for on Google and why they are on your site. To fill in the gaps left behind by your favorite web analytics platform, you’ll need to really think about what your web site has to offer its visitors, and what they can possibly do you on site – other than whatever your site’s main objective is. If you sell products of any kind, they could be coming to your site to simply read reviews, or window-shop, or read your company blog, and not even think about purchasing an item at this time. If you are a B2B company, they could be finding out about the history of your company, your board of directors, or to read client case studies, and not to immediately request an RFP and do business with you. And, if you’re a non-profit organization, they could simply be learning more about your causes and getting fact-sheets, and not visiting with the intention of donating to your cause.

There are some tools and some ways that you can help yourself in including the “why” factor in your daily / weekly data analysis. These include (but are most definitely not limited to):

1. Visitor Loyalty reports in Google Analytics
2. Site Search usage reports (usage on your site’s internal search function)
3. “Voice of Customer” tools (4Q by iPerceptions is an excellent online survey tool)
4. Google Insights for Search and Google Trends for Websites (get a feel for visitor behavior trends)
5. Offline focus groups / user-experience studies

Whether you’re the senior web analyst for Woot.com, the National Football League, CNN.com, or marketing for Jennifer’s local flower shop or Louie’s Pizza Joint, it’s critical to include the “why” factor in your data analysis, or you’ll be working off of faulty assumptions. Always determine why people are visiting your site.

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