Articles in the Analytics 101 – The Basics Category

May 12 2011

Optimizely – Your Next Guilty Online Pleasure

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Website experimentation is the most under-rated, under-valued, under-used way to improve your conversions or your sales online. With a small amount of effort or cost, you can multiply your leads and add to your bottom line, while at the same time improving your customer’s level of satisfaction with your brand.

So why is it that most web sites are not actively running an experiment? Check the source code of every web site you visit today – can you find any tags for Google Website Optimizer or SiteCatalyst Test & Target? You may find them once a day, if you’re lucky.

Is the lack of actively running website experiments on the web due to technical challenges? Is it attributed to a lack of education to the masses? Are there simply not enough options available to choose from to run experiments?

The latter of those questions is something I can help you with today, because there has been a lot of buzz in the analytics community about Optimizely – and for good reason. Optimizely is an A/B website experiment tool headed by two ex-Googlers (but not a Google product), and is giving the established website experiment players in the marketplace a run for their money.

Optimizely is fast (only a few minutes to configure), light on technical specs (one small line of JavaScript on your experiment pages), and you get as close to seeing real-time results as you can (you don’t have to wait hours or days to see experiment data).

Other Optimizely features that you may want to ponder (full feature list on this page of Optimizely’s website):

Automatic Goal Tracking: No need to configure specific conversion points
Multiple Goals, Simultaneously: Track more than one conversion for an experiment
Multi-Browser Testing: Screen-shots of your experiment on the major browser platforms, pre-launch
Advanced Editing Option: Perfect for those who are comfortable editing HTML and / or JavaScript

And, while those features are great, the greatest thing about Optimizely’s service is that you can preview what your experiment will look like, even before you open an account or install tags! In fact, you can mock-up an experiment for any website on the internet! This is why Optimizely will become your next guilt pleasure (online). Which leads me to sharing with you something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time.

I always wished that Google would insert an “Analytics” link on their top navigation menu on their homepage. This would obviously increase the visibility of the Google Analytics product, while providing an even faster way to access a Google Analytics account. So, I made it happen in my fantasy world through Optimizely’s experiment preview. First, at the bottom of Optimizely’s homepage, I entered in the website’s URL:

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Then, I began to work my quick magic. I simply hovered over the row of links on the top-left of Google’s homepage and started editing the text:

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Within less than one minute, I finally re-created what I’ve always wanted to see – even if it was in this temporary, intangible capacity:

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Is that cool, or what?

(Full disclosure: you should know that Optimizely is not a free service. You can use it for experiments on your web site from as low as $19 / month. However, Optimizely does offer a free 30-day trial).

May 5 2011

Identify Low-Hanging Fruit Even Faster with a Term Cloud!

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Let’s be honest – have you ever jumped for joy at the prospect of sitting in front of your computer for an extended period of time to do research? We all do it because we have to do it, whether we do it to find the best flight + hotel package online, a school project, or, mining insights from our analytics platform.

Here at MoreVisibility, we are always reminded of how Google Analytics facilitates research efforts to such an efficient level that it’s difficult to not take it for granted. Google’s web analytics platform does a great job in allowing users to identify low-hanging fruit efficiently, which affords users the opportunity to invest more time in optimizing their marketing efforts and their web sites.

One of the new features integrated in the new Google Analytics platform is the Term Cloud report view. A term cloud is also known as a tag cloud, which is a group of words where the importance of each word is represented by its size (the bigger the word, the more important it is for that page / web site).

If you’re not familiar with what that might look like, you may actually find it to be familiar, as the term cloud is most likely something that you have seen on other blogs or other web sites before. Check out this image:

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Yes, we get a lot of visits on the keyword __utma (an important Google Analytics cookie – we blogged about cookies way back in early 2008). The standard report table would have shown us the detailed information, but the term cloud view has a unique way of putting the most popular / highest volume data right in front of you.

However, the term cloud feature doesn’t only show you volume – it dabbles in helping you measure engagement by allowing you to change the metric that you’re viewing by. Switching from “Visits” to “Average Time on Site”, for example, returns a much different set of keywords:

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It’s cut off in the image above, but that big bold keyword is “what should i google analytics“. When visitors use that as their search term, they are spending lots of time on our site!

Term cloud can also show you, very clearly, data points that ultimately affect your bottom line (your revenue). You can use the term cloud report view to view which sources of traffic are responsible for bringing in the most revenue to your online business. You can always column-sort your standard report table or design a widget on your dashboard, but this is the only place to obtain a view like this:

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(Note: Image above is “photoshopped” – not actual data)

The term cloud report view is just another fantastic component of your Swiss-army knife of web analytics tools from Google that allow to you spend more time on your marketing and your web site, and less time on your reports and your research.

Have you seen the new term cloud report view in your Google Analytics account? Have you tried it out? Have you not had success with it? Please leave us a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

April 27 2011

Creating a Dashboard within the new Google Analytics Platform

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Seemingly everyone in the web analytics community is talking about the new dashboard section within the new Google Analytics platform. It’s one of the hottest new features available in the measurement industry today, and now that the new Google Analytics platform is available to everyone, it’s the perfect time to show you what great (and useful) dashboard features you have waiting for you.

First of all, look for a red-colored New Version link on the top-right of the screen, after you log-in to your Google Analytics account. Click on that link, and then you will see the Dashboards tab within the new Google Analytics platform. This is your gateway to viewing your data in the most unique way possible – your way!

The default dashboard will be shown to you – it’s a very basic dashboard that simply shows you the four widget types that you can create or edit. Below is a screen-shot of the default dashboard, but do note that it’s not carved in granite: Anything can be changed, including the name of the dashboard, the titles of the widgets, the location of the individual widgets, the widget types, the number of slices in your pie charts, the number of rows in your tables, and even what traffic segment is shown within an individual widget.

dashboards-01

The four widget types are:

1. Metric. The most basic type of widget available (Example: Visits and Bounce Rate in the upper-left hand side of the above screen-shot). You can filter it by essentially any dimension in the product suite (For instance, bounce rate by country).

2. Pie Chart. With the pie chart widget type, you can define what metric is shown (Ex: Visits) and what dimension your pie chart will group your metric by (Ex: Country). You can also apply a dimension here, and you can choose to display anywhere from three to six pie slices in one widget.

3. Timeline. In a timeline widget, you can plot a metric over time, and you have the option to compare that metric with a second metric (Example: Total Goal Completions compared to Abandonment Rate). Filtering / segmenting is available here, too.

4. Table. A table widget lets you view a dimension, and up to two metric contributions for that dimension (Example: Visits and Bounce rate by Country). You can show between five and ten table rows, and as you may have already guessed, you can also apply a filter to this widget type, just like you can with the other three widget types.

My advice: spend some time and play around with the dashboard, and just create widgets and filters for the heck of it. This is the best way for you to get a grasp on how this works. Once you do that, you will inevitably start to come up with widgets and filters within the widgets that are meaningful and that work for you. The worst thing that can come of this is that you need to delete your dashboard and start from scratch – which you can do at anytime!

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