Last week, I had the complete and total pleasure of speaking at the Florida Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus “2011 Destination Marketing Summit“. You can visit their web site to learn more about who they are and what they do. The conference was held at the Plantation Golf Resort & Spa, roughly an hour north of Tampa, FL.
The title of this blog post was the title of my presentation to this great organization of marketers and IT folks. Clocking in at just under one hour, my presentation was divided into four parts:
A. Preliminary Steps to Take
B. Things to Avoid at All Costs
D. Making Decisions
The first two parts have very little to do with using web analytics at all. Before a marketer even starts doing anything with web analytics, it’s critical to have a proper foundation set. Otherwise, marketers will quickly find themselves in a tailspin of useless reports, meaningless statistics, and possibly, unable to perform necessary technical tasks (like, implementing marketing tags on an Email marketing effort).
The last two parts have everything to do with web analytics and the measurement industry. While we are a Google Analytics Certified Partner and love our Google Analytics platform, I made it clear during my presentation that the platform itself is of little consequence. Users of Adobe’s Omniture SiteCatalyst, WebTrends, Yahoo! Web Analytics, or even those who use server logs and nothing but Excel spreadsheets will all benefit from insights on how to do research and how to make informed decisions based on your research.
Below are the individual slides:
A. Preliminary Steps to Take
1. Find the Right Person – Every company, every organization has that “right person” to champion the web analytics crusade. In all likelihood, that person is you, reading this blog post.
2. Collaborate – Collaboration is huge, because if you are that “right person” who will take over the reins of your company’s web analytics efforts, you will find that you can’t do it alone. Make friends and get buy-in from others in your organization.
3. Tech Check – Are all of your web site pages tagged for your web analytics program? All pay-per-click landing pages tagged, too? What about your marketing URLs – are those carrying referral data? Are your PDF files tagged for inclusion in your tracking tool? Performing routine sanity checks on all things “tech” forces you to collaborate with your friendly, neighborhood IT administrator, and helps avoid post-marketing launch head-scratching.
B. Things to Avoid at All Costs
1. Meaningless Reports – Reports that do not provide context, insights, or do not solve a problem are most likely meaningless reports. Take a long, hard, critical look at the reports you’re generating, and ask yourself if they are doing anything at all for you. If they’re not, stop running them.
2. Lacking Insight – Insight is awesome because it adds such a nice flavor to any statistic or any report you generate. Google Analytics lets you insert insight using Annotations. Omniture SiteCatalyst and WebTrends let you do it via inserting notes into a report. Find a way to incorporate your own analysis and insights.
3. Your Conversion Rate – Please, do not throw anything at me! Your conversion rate is a paradox – a very evil one at that. It’s the metric that we all chase and strive for, yet it is the most harmful and unfair metric of all-time. Got a 2% conversion rate? Good for you – what about the other 98% of your visitors who you’ve neglected, who have most likely performed other important actions? Conversion rate is conversions divided by the number of visits (visitors), and it, by default, pushes aside the overwhelming majority of your online audience.
1. In Your Tool – Great research doesn’t mean great expense. In Google Analytics, you can create custom dashboards and perform a seemingly unlimited number of operations with your website data. You can literally invent your own statistics and computations with Omniture SiteCatalyst. You don’t have to spend any more than you already have spent by researching within your own platform.
2. Not in Your Tool – One of the best, free tools out there right now is called Google Insights for Search. With a few clicks of your mouse and a few keystrokes, you can get trending data, regional interest data, and also a bit of forecasting analysis on what Google thinks will happen, volume and interest wise, on the search terms you insert into the tool. It’s fascinating – and extremely helpful.
3. Design Your Own Tool – Eventually, your web analytics efforts will mature to the point that you’ll need to start creating Custom Reports. Every major web analytics platform allows you to customize your reporting needs based upon what you see fit. Don’t settle for what the web analytics vendors show you by default – crack open their custom reporting solution and pave your own road to wisdom and intelligence.
D. Making Decisions
1. What to Change – Example: Suppose you moved your home page’s main call-to-action from the bottom of the fold to the top-right corner. How did that change impact your bottom line? Using a visual overlay tool, you can clearly see where visitors are clicking around on your web site, and where they are converting from. Google Analytics has the In-Page Analytics report, Omniture SiteCatalyst has the ClickMap report / browser plug-in, and if your tool doesn’t let you see click-stream data on top of your web site, request a free trial from CrazyEgg.
2. What to Invest In – Web analytics tools have gotten so good that they’re starting to become human. WebTrends gives you a few sentences on your dashboard of what’s important and what’s happening with your data. Google Analytics has the Intelligence section, where you can review all significant events that happened on your web site. Use these highly-specialized features to know where to place your marketing dollars (and, where to not place your marketing dollars).
3. What They’re Saying – What people are saying to you in the form of surveys and voice-of-customer tools, and what people are saying on social media is more important and more critical than ever before. Some of the ways that you can evaluate what your visitors / customers are saying is to scan your Twitter and Facebook accounts for certain keywords and hashtags. You can use free tools like Klout and Twitalyzer to evaluate how influential you are to those who may be talking about you. Heck, even your URL shortening tool like Bit.ly or Goo.gl has its own analytics for every URL you shorten, which again can put you “in the know” in terms of your social / brand influence. Who doesn’t like knowing how influential one really is, based upon what is being said?
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:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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.
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”!
I know, I know…it was just the other day that Google Analytics officially launched Benchmarking and Audio Ads integration. However, I’m greedy, and I already want more!
So, I’ve created a list of things that I want Google Analytics to build into the program, and I’d like to share those with you right now. Some of them may sound like pipe-dreams, while others may actually seem reasonable. For the purposes of this post, I ask you not to burst my bubble, and play along. 🙂
#1 – A “Blogs” Report
If you have a Feedburner account (like our blog does), Google Analytics should be able to synch your GA and your FB (Feedburner) accounts up, like it synchs up AdWords and now Audio Ads. Then, we could see Feedburner-like stats in Google Analytics, such as susbcribers, reach, uncommon uses, and so on. Admit it, it would be cool, wouldn’t it? This report could be found in the Content Section, right underneath “Top Content”.
#2 – Custom Reporting Options
I would love to be able to pick a custom date-range when I create an automatic report. Right now, the only four options to choose from are “Daily”, “Weekly”, “Monthly”, and “Quarterly”. What if I want a bi-weekly / mid-month automatic report? Or what if I want an “every 10 days” report that gets emailed to me automatically? Wouldn’t that be neat?
#3 – A “Reset Your Dashboard” Button
This would be perfect for that one time where you totally screw up your dashboard and you want to start over again with the default dashboard reports.
#4 – An even more customizable dashboard!
This is an extension from request #3. What if I don’t want to have the “Site Usage” window on my dashboard? What if I want each widget on the dashboard to show the top 10 or 15 items, instead of the top 5? How in the world do I get one of the four Google Analytics Views to show up on the dashboard page exactly as I want them (showing the pie chart, the comparison to site average, etc…)?
#5 – Cost-Data Import from other Pay-Per-Click Marketing Programs
Yeah, you probably knew this one was coming sooner or later. This is probably the most requested feature, ever (at least by me, I’ve been requesting it since 2006). This can actually be a manual import, it doesn’t have to be automatic. I’d spend that extra minute on the first of each month and upload my Yahoo! or my Microsoft AdCenter cost data into GA, via a CSV file, so that I could compare that data up against my AdWords data, wouldn’t you?
#6 – Integration with Google Website Optimizer
A logical request, as I already have requested an integration with Feedburner. This makes a lot of sense to me – you would be able to see the results of your A/B or your Multivariate Tests in Google Analytics, and be able to compare your successful combinations or pages against your other current website pages.
#7 – Embed the Map Overlay on your website
This one isn’t necessarily for me – However, I have heard a ton of requests for this particular item. I guess what you can do right now is simply take a screen-shot of the Map Overlay, and save the image and upload it to your site…but maybe there could be some way to provide a snippet of code to be placed on a website?
#8 – Improved Site Overlay functionality!
I completely LOVE the Site Overlay report. However, whenever there is flash present on a site, or there are heavy amounts of dynamic scripts, Site Overlay “breaks” and cannot show any clickstream data. I hope that someday, Site Overlay will be upgraded – and possibly with a few bells and whistles added on to it?
#9 – Bring Back the Lookup Table!
Google Analytics has an advanced filter option called “Lookup Table”, that is currently unavailable. In fact, it has been unavailable for a very long time. Basically, I’d like to play with it, so please bring it back and re-activate it! I actually had a possible use for the Lookup Table a while back.
#10 – Goal re-ordering option
I would love to have the ability to re-order Goals in the same fashion that I can re-order Filters. This way, if I happen to create a Goal in the G1 slot, and then I create a Goal in the G3 slot, I could move the one in G3 to the G2 position, so that I can be as organized as possible, and keep similar goals close together. I hate having to rename and re-configure a goal to have to do this – a lot of times I create a goal or two goals, and later on down the road, another goal becomes available or thought of. Meanwhile, the original goals have already gathered data, so it would be a shame to change the Goal URL and / or Goal Funnel.