Articles in the Analytics News Category

July 17 2008

This types of stuff happens eh-veh-ree-DAY!

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In my latest, most desperate of attempts at trying to make our loyal blog readers think I’m hip by using titles that come straight out of popular phrases in rap songs (which is in conjunction with my last attempt with a blog post entitled “Tryin’ to make a dollar outta fifteen cent!“), I’d like to give you an idea of what the typical day-to-day life is like here for me at MoreVisibility. Every time I describe what I do to friends, colleagues, co-workers and even some clients, I talk about how being in Web Analytics is like being a private investigator or a federal agent of the internet. You gather data, compile statistics, find clues, compile some more data, interview a couple of people, and solve the mystery! Then you typically have to present your findings to your boss(es) and your clients, and then talk about where to go from there.

Here’s an outline of a typical day for me (which is sort-of a false statement, because no two days are the same, so there really is no such thing as a “typical” day…but you get the idea).

Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2008, Boca Raton, FL, USA (Temp: 91°)

7:04 AM – I have just woken up, and I’m already thinking about what I’m going to be doing for that day. Do I have an Analytics presentation to give? Do I need to check the coding on a site before it launches? What accounts will I be doing some investigating on? Do I have enough laundry to last until the weekend?

7:57 AM – I arrive at my office, turn on my computer, and see a yellow sticky note on my monitor that reads “Joe – Please see me about [Client]’s Top Landing Pages.”

8:01 AM – While my computer is loading and my email is downloading, I catch my co-worker who explains that our client is concerned that the exits from their homepage is too high. I suggest evaluating the page’s Bounce Rate and maybe a quick Navigation Summary to get a better idea of what is really going on with their homepage. I also mention something about A/B testing with Google Website Optimizer.

8:02 AM – I log-in to my Google Reader account and catch-up with the 60+ Web Analytics and Search Marketing blogs that I subscribe to, while simultaneously responding to emails with questions and discussions from co-workers.

8:41 AM – I am finalizing my speech for an in-person Analytics Presentation to one of our clients, when Amber (Client Strategist) buzzes me and tells me her client added an email address to their Google Analytics account, but they cannot log-in. She tells me she knows what the reason is: “The Email address is not a Google Account yet! It needs to be a Google Account in order to log-in with that Email address into their GA Account.” I start smiling, because that’s exactly right.

9:15 AM – I meet with Shawn, our newest co-worker, and begin to review all of the great things that is Web Analytics. Of course, I have to throw in my private investigator / federal agent simile. I also explain that Javascript-based programs like Google Analytics are only able to collect data from users who have both Javascript and Cookies enabled on their browser of choice. If they don’t, Google Analytics simply cannot track those individuals.

10:30 AM – I am out of water, and I’m starting to get hungry. I think about all of the different possible ordering options, and think how cool it would be if some of our favorite local take-outs would have an online ordering option, and imagine what I would give for a large turkey & swiss right now.

10:35 AM – I start to open up a brand new Google Analytics account for a new client. I provide our client with the necessary tracking code to be placed on every single page of the website. I also explain the many different options available, such as SiteSearch, Ecommerce, Benchmarking, and Filters that can be utilized.

10:59 AM – I receive a phone call from another client who asks me to explain the difference between A/B Testing and MVT (Multivariate Testing). We throw around some ideas of what to test and experiment back and forth, and we agree to launch an experiment using Google Website Optimizer for their AdWords Campaign’s landing page.

11:33 AM – Okay I am REALLY hungry right now and I can’t imagine being able to last another 27 minutes without eating something!

11:34 AM – Marni (another Client Strategist) sends me an IM that reads “It’s working!!!” She is referring to the neat advanced filter that we wrote which added the name of the source and the visitor type in front of the transaction ID in this particular client’s Ecommerce Report section. This is great news, as I’m sure the client will be very happy to hear about this.

12:00 PM – I’m about to grab my sunglasses and walk across the street when I see an Email come in that reads “GA Tracking Issue – Please Help!”, flagged as High Importance. Guess lunch is going to have to wait a while…

12:19 PM – Problem solved! Turns out there were two sets of Google Analytics tracking code on the same page, one urchin.js version and one ga.js version, which is bad news. I then proceed to solve another problem – my hunger.

1:10 PM – I return and find some great discussions starting up on the Yahoo! Web Analytics Forum. It’s really a great forum to check out whenever you can.

1:15 PM – My in person analytics presentation is in 45 minutes. I am very obsessive when it comes to presentations, as I like everything to be perfect, neat, and organized, so I visit our client’s website one more time, and find that they have repaired a bug in their shopping cart that was the focus of one of my main points in the presentation!! I think of a good way to still use this slide in the presentation.

1:38 PM – One of Khrysti’s (Director of Optimized Services) clients is in a bind. They cannot figure out why they are not seeing “yahoo / cpc” or “msn / cpc” in their Google Analytics profile, like they can for “google / cpc”. I reference my latest blog post about Google Analytics URL Coding, and I strut away confidently as I’ve capitalized on another opportunity to tell someone about my Analytics Blog. 🙂

2:00 PM – It’s showtime! Our clients have arrived, and I hand out my business cards and begin with introductions. It’s always great to be able to meet people in person and talk analytics, Site Search, and Shopping Carts to them. This particular client is using both Google Analytics and WebTrends, and they were really concerned about the differences in data between the two, even though they swear that they have everything installed properly. I explained that different analytics packages will always report different values for the same metric, no matter how perfect your installation and coding is.

3:32 PM – I come back and check my own Google Analytics profile for this blog, and I’m surprised to find so much referring traffic from European blogs! I love that someone in Austria and someone in the Netherlands is reading a blog written by someone half-way around the world. I know this because I frequently check my referring traffic reports, to see who is bringing me additional traffic.

4:00 PM – Another one of Khrysti’s clients cannot for the life of them understand why people type in such simple, generic words such as “shoes”, “belts”, and “hats” into their website’s search feature on their online clothing store. They believe something is wrong, broken, or not working correctly. I am pretty sure that their search function is working properly, but I go to their site and double-check with some test searches anyways. After I verify that it is working properly, I pick up the phone and begin to explain to the client that people have much different behavior (and level of tolerance!) when they perform keyword searches on Google or Yahoo vs. performing keyword searches on someone’s website. Again, I direct their attention to my blog by referencing my post about a website’s internal search function.

4:45 PM – My day is starting to come to a close. I like to take a few minutes each day and “spot check” different analytics accounts, just to ensure that everything is still running smoothly and data is being collected and displayed properly. I’m glad I did this, because an important Goal in one of April’s (Director of Strategic Accounts) clients’ accounts has stopped collecting data. After a test on the client’s website, it turns out that the Goal URL has been changed from “thankyou.html” to “thanks.html”. Websites are updated all the time, which is a good reason to routinely double-check your Goals to make sure they are working properly.

5:03 PM – I’m just about wrapping it up here and saying good night to everyone in the office. Out of nowhere, Danielle (my boss) catches me right before I walk out the door. She explains that a new client needs to speak with someone urgently (first-thing tomorrow morning) about what analytics platform they should choose between Omniture SiteCatalyst Hitbox (HBX) or ClickTracks. They also need help in defining new Key Performance Indicators for their executive team, and possibly setting up some custom reporting. I love to think about things like this, especially on off-hours, so I’m glad I have this opportunity.

7:00 PM – Analytics is going to have to wait a while – an episode of Law and Order is on right now that I’ve never seen before. 🙂

All in a day’s work. 🙂

June 23 2008

Your “Thank You” page should not end the customer experience on your site.

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There’s a joke in the Web Analytics community: “Your “Thank You” page should be your highest exited page” (which means that the highest percentage of people that leave your website are leaving at your “Thank You” page – which of course means that those people have all contacted you, requested more information, or probably bought something from your site).

I disagree. In fact, I think that it doesn’t matter what page your visitors leave your website from. For all you WWE wrestling fans out there, you will remember that some years ago, The Rock used to ask someone for their name, only to interrupt the person mid-answer with “It doesn’t matter what your name is!”, to a roaring ovation from the crowd. That’s how I feel about exit pages – “It doesn’t matter what page you leave from!”.

People have to leave your website eventually – it’s just a fact of life

Death, Taxes, and Website Exits – they all occur eventually. Visitors to your website can’t stay on your site forever, as much as we’d like for them to, they eventually have to go to work, to sleep, or walk the dog. However, quite a number of folks exert a tremendously unnecessary amount of energy into finite studies of their top exit pages, only to wind up right back where they originally started their analysis. Save yourself the trouble and anguish and understand that people, no matter how good your website is, will need to log-off at some point, unless they are attempting to set a Guinness Book of World Records feat by having the longest uninterrupted internet user-session.

…but it doesn’t have to be the “Thank You” page of your website!

So, a visitor comes to your website, likes what he or she sees, and contacts your for more information or purchases an item from your store. Fantastic! However, don’t send them home quite yet. Don’t serve them up a cold, one-line “Thank you for your order” or “We’ll get back to you ASAP” type of message, that doesn’t include your website’s framework or anywhere else for them to go. As I’ve mentioned a few times already on our blog, get creative with your “Thank You” page. Add some more information for them, a PDF for them to download, or even additional items that they may be interested in purchasing at a later date. Keep them “hanging around”, much like a store owner would want customers to continue to hang around their shop, shooting the breeze, talking about products or related industry info – giving the appearance of a busy store to everyone else.

Definitely don’t have a page with one short sentence, or something that quickly re-directs back to the homepage appear. You just converted them – why treat them like yesterday’s news? Keep them “hanging around”, keep it friendly and informative, and you will probably win yourself some returning customers.

June 17 2008

The difference between Landing Pages and Top Content Pages

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a “The difference between…” post, but since this blog has received a lot of brand new subscribers over the past few days (welcome everyone!), I felt like one of my traditional blog posts would be in order. Oh, and tell everyone you know to subscribe to our Site Intelligence / Web Analytics blog – thanks, I appreciate it 🙂

I’ve written the following “The difference between…” blog posts so far:

The difference between Landing Pages and Top Content or Most Viewed Pages is actually a very easy difference to understand, but I have seen that quite a number of folks sometimes get the two confused or mixed up, so let’s clear the air, shall we?

The Top Content / Top Pages / Most Viewed Pages type of report
Whether you’re using Omniture SiteCatalyst, Google Analytics, or anything in between, a report like this is simply attempting to show you visits and pageviews to the many different pages on your website. They may show you the bounce rate of each page, but they are usually very simple reports by default, designed to give you a sense of how popular your website’s pages are. It doesn’t take into consideration where they came from or if they’ve been there before – again, its main objective is to collect visits, pageviews, and time on site metrics (and depending on your analytics package, bounce rate as well).

Top Landing Pages / Top Entry Pages type of report
This report is designed with one metric in mind – the bounce rate that we analysts love so very much. This report is specifically designed to show you what pages were used by your visitors as entry pages to your website, and what each page’s bounce rate is. In Google Analytics, this is a very simple but very effective and strong report – if you see a popular page on your website with a very high bounce rate, you may want to investigate as to why so many people are landing and leaving right away (or, without visiting any other page on your site).

Pretty simple, right? Whenever you see “Entry Page” or “Landing Page” as the name of your report, just know that this isn’t counting every page of your website – only pages that were used as entrance pages.

…and, in case you were wondering what the heck I’m talking about when I say “bounce rate”, check out my post on it from some months ago, and you’ll be all caught up! 🙂

Thank you for reading – and again, welcome all new subscribers!

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