Happy New Year! 2011 is destined to be a spectacular year for all of us in the #measure community. That’s what folks in the web analytics community go by on Twitter – the hashtag #measure.
As all of you loyal subscribers know, we allocate a large number of megabytes for our blog posts talking about traditional web analytics (WA) tools, like Omniture SiteCatalyst, WebTrends, and our favorite, Google Analytics. For our first post of the new year, we’d like to switch gears and introduce five non-traditional measurement tools that you can begin using right now. Yes, you can literally begin using them right now, because the tools I’m going to introduce to you:
1. Don’t cost anything, or cost very little,
2. Are extremely easy to use, and
3. Require very little work or no work at all to begin using.
Ready? Here we go:
1. DoubleClick Ad Planner by Google
Pay-per-click advertisers working with Google’s Display Network (like us) use DoubleClick Ad Planner to build comprehensive, intelligent and highly-targeted campaigns. Non pay-per-clickers can use Ad Planner to perform research on the demographics of a website. Entering in a website’s URL can return back accurate estimates on unique visitors, reach, age, gender, audience interests, and other interesting data, like, a list of other websites also visited. This competitive website intelligence is all yours for the low, low price of a Google account – if you have one of those, you can access this data as much and as often as you’d like.
Yes, that Bit.ly. That same Bit.ly that has shortened all of those long URLs for you for your Twitter or LinkedIn updates and that has never asked you for a dime also gives you a full suite of analytics on your URL performance. You’ll know which links were clicked, what trends are developing with your clicked links, and top referrers and locations. If you have an E-mail address and can create a secure password, you can have this valuable information.
4. Analyze Words
Everyone nowadays is either on Twitter, follows Twitter, or knows someone on Twitter. Believe it or not, a Twitterer’s personality can be identified by Analyze Words, and you can get a report that details your emotional, social, and thinking style. All you have to do is visit their home page and enter in the Twitter handle that you want to analyze. You can’t tell me that this isn’t cool after you’ve tried it once.
Want to know everything that you could possibly dream of and more about the mobile traffic to your website? Install a very small snippet from PercentMobile, and you’ll be privy to so much mobile-based analytics data that you won’t know what to do with yourself. Models, makes, usage statistics, and fun mobile trivia facts are all yours for free.
There you go – 5 non-traditional tools to start the new year off on the right foot.
Yesterday, during my normal browsing / question-answering time over on the Google Analytics Help Forum, I ran across a thread where a few folks were not seeing traffic from their bit.ly URLs in their Google Analytics profiles. For those of you who do not know what they are, or might have seen them somewhere before, bit.ly is a URL shortening website, where you can enter in a long URL and make it very short. Websites like bit.ly, SnipURL, Tiny.cc, and several others have become mega-popular over the last few years, as they have become vital in allowing people to share links via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I’ve even started to see them appear in some newsletters and promotional emails as well.
While bit.ly type websites are great, they actually present an analytics tracking challenge. These sites typically redirect users from their website to your destination website, which causes Google Analytics to treat any visitor clicking on one of these links as “direct”, even though they really originated from your Facebook page, your monthly newsletter, or a press release (So technically, not tagging these URLs will also pollute your direct traffic segment, which was our blog post from earlier in the week).
So, what can you do to properly track your shortened URLs in Google Analytics? Take the following 4 steps for short URL tracking success:
1. Grab Your Destination URL – Copy the URL of the page that you ultimately want your visitors to land on.
2. Run it through the Google Analytics Tool: URL Builder – The URL Builder Tool will append the necessary query parameters to the end of your destination URL. This is the same page that is used when marketers want to track their non-AdWords cost-per-click traffic in GA.
3. Run your new URL through bit.ly (or your favorite URL shortener) – Copy your newly created URL and paste it into the URL shortening tool – you should now have a very short, but analytics-trackable URL.
4. Test your short link – Click on your short URL and make sure the long string of query parameters that you copied from step 2 appears in the address bar of your favorite browser. If the query parameters are there – and your destination page has the Google Analytics Tracking Code correctly installed – you should begin to see visits from your short URL in your All Traffic Sources report, within the Traffic Sources section. It’s a bit of a manual process – especially if you have a lot of short URLs everywhere – but it’s completely worth the time that it takes to run them through the URL Builder and appropriately track the visits off of these links in Google Analytics. The hard part will be figuring out what to use for the Source, Medium, and Campaign dimensions, because that is what is going to control how the data appears.
My advice: use a short, common-sense naming convention, and you really can’t go wrong.