The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Review of Google Analytics v2 - Part 1

Google Analytics v2The latest version of Google Analytics (v2) arrived a few weeks ago, and although I'm a big Coremetrics fan, I am also an advocate of Google Analytics. I have several clients that use Google Analytics and I also use it for my own websites. The new version is really strong and I plan to write several posts about the new features over the next few months. Today I wanted to begin my review with some of the top features that I use on a regular basis. Let's jump right in!

The New Interface:
Well, you can't miss this one when you log in. :-) The new interface is extremely slick. Google obviously worked very hard to make it as easy as possible to find the information you are looking for and in as few clicks as possible. For example, clicking the Visitors tab, you are presented with trending in the top area (along with a dropdown for changing the metric). Then you are presented with additional key metrics below the trending graph along with links to even more information (a good drilldown feature). The trending graph is flash-based and enables you to hover your mouse over a time period to see data in real time. Very nice. Using the dropdown, I can easily change the metric from visitors to bounce rate, pages per visit, etc. It's fast and there is no refresh needed...and no need to jump to additional pages.

Screenshot of New Interface:
Google Analytics New Interface

Revenue Just a Click Away:
If you are running an e-commerce site, then revenue is what you are looking for, right? With the new version of Google Analytics, e-commerce metrics are simply a click away. For example, if I click the Traffic Sources tab, then click Referring Sites, I am presented with site usage information (like visits, pages/visit, avg. time on site, etc.) However, there are two more tabs next to Site Usage, which are Goal Conversion and e-commerce. Clicking e-commerce now shows me Revenue for each referring site. I did not have to jump to another page and I didn't even have to refresh the page. Again, fast and slick. Get me the information I want as quickly as possible. Then, I can click on a specific referring site to see more information. For example, I can segment Referral Path and see where visitors came from on the referring site, or segment Visitor Type to see if they are a new or returning visitor. Note that the e-commerce tab is present on many reports, enabling you to quickly match visitors with revenue. i.e. Click the New vs. Returning tab under Visitors and you can easily see the revenue from each segment (as well as goal conversion).

Screenshot of e-Commerce:
Google Analytics e-Commerce

Traffic Sources:
Many people involved with web analytics are fanatical about checking which sites are sending traffic their way. Was it from a blog post, an article, social media, search engines, etc. The Traffic Sources tab enables you to quickly find the information you are looking for, as well as revenue associated with those sources. For example, if I click All Traffic Sources under the Traffic Sources tab, I am presented with a list of sites/channels that have sent traffic our way. So, I see that Google Organic ranks second in sending traffic our way for the time period I selected. Then I quickly click e-commerce to see revenue totals. It shows me that Google Organic was the third highest revenue generating traffic source. So, I'm intrigued...I click the link for Google Organic, which gives me more information about the channel. I see trending over time, I can segment the traffic (maybe by landing page so I can see where Google organic visitors are landing on the site), and I see other key metrics like pages/visit, bounce rate, and avg time on site.

If I click the Search Engines Tab under Traffic Sources, I see the top search engines that sent traffic our way. I can click each search engine link to see the actual keywords and associated revenue per keyword. Fast, easy, and extremely powerful. Also note that there are three links at the top of Search Engines page (under the trending graph). The links enable you to select Total Search Engine Data (both paid and non-paid), Just Paid Search Data, and Just Non-Paid Data (organic). Again, no post back, no jumping to additional pages, it's all right there on one page.

Under Traffic Sources, there are also tabs for Referring Sites, Direct Traffic, AdWords (to track your AdWords Campaigns), and Campaigns (to track non-AdWords campaigns). These other tabs deserve their own blog post, so maybe I'll cover them in Part 2.

Screenshot of Search Engine Traffic Source:
Google Analytics Search Engine Report

The Map Overlay Feature: Wow!
Under the Visitors tab is a feature called Map Overlay. Now, if you ever wanted to segment your visitors by location easily and efficiently, the folks at Google have really stepped up and given you what you needed. I am first presented a map of continents that sent traffic our way, so I click the Americas to drill down. Then I click North America. By the way, if you hover your mouse over a continent, country, city, etc, you can see the data in real time. Also, you can segment the data by using the dropdown I have mentioned throughout this post (so you can see revenue, bounce rate, conversion rate, etc. for each location.) Yes, impressive. Back to my example. Now I see all 50 states, each a shade of green, based on the number of visits. It looks like California sent the most traffic (it's the darkest green), so I click on the state to drill down. Now I am listed with the cities that sent traffic our way. I notice that Los Angeles tops the list. So I click e-commerce to see how much revenue the city has brought in...can you see the power of this feature?? Then I click on the city link to see more data, like trending over time for key metrics. Needless to say, this is a powerful feature that I hope more people find out about.

Screenshot of Map Overlay:
Google Analytics Map Overlay Feature

Exporting and Emailing Reports
Google Analytics v2 has made it easy to export and email reports from the interface. In almost every report, you can click Export at the top of the screen and you are presented with several options. You can export the report as a PDF, XML, CSV, or TSV file. If you want to send the report to someone else, click the Email tab. Here you can enter email addresses, a subject line, description, and then choose a format for the report. In addition, you can easily schedule reports to be sent on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. The email feature is what I use extensively, and it works great. How many times have you found something in your reporting, jumped back, and said "Darn...Jim would love to see this..." Well, simply click the email tab and in seconds your report is on its way.

Summing Up Part 1 of My Review...
I can keep going here...but as you can see, the new version of Google Analytics is a powerful tool for analyzing your web operation. I wanted to hit on some of the features that I use on a daily basis and I definitely plan to keep my review going with additional posts. I am impressed with the new functionality and ease of use of the new version. As I said earlier, I use other web analytics programs as well, but for the money (it's free), Google Analytics is a great package. There are some limitations as compared to a package like Coremetrics (read more about attribution windows here), but if you need a cost effective and powerful way to analyze your web operation, then you should definitely take a hard look at Google Analytics. If you want to learn more, then definitely check out Avinash's blog (he is the master, the official Google Analytics evangelist, and is known in the industry by just his first name!)

Wait a minute...just picked up something in the new Google Analytics that Jim would love to see {clicking email tab, copy and paste his email address, and poof, he's getting a pdf shortly}. :-)

Have fun!


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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Comcast HD DVR vs TIVO

Comcast HD DVR vs TIVO
I’m a big fan of TIVO, but when HD Tivo’s are going for $800, I naturally had to take a look at the Comcast HD DVR. I wasn’t thrilled that I had to do this, but $800? I’ve been using Comcast’s On Demand service for years now, but wasn’t thrilled with the speed and the functionality of the service. I naturally thought that the DVR would be similar, so I’ve stayed away. OK, I was wrong. Read on.

TIVO has been a part of our lives for over 3 years now (since my daughter was born). We knew that time would be limited for watching TV, so we thought it would be smart to watch the shows we like when we want to watch them. It has been an invaluable gadget for us…even my daughter understands that we can rewind a show, that the Wiggles record every day, and that we can zip forward through commercials. (Sorry advertisers.) :-) That said, I really didn’t want to spend $800 on an HD TIVO. So I called Comcast. On one Saturday, I picked up the new DVR, pulled out one of my TIVO Series 2 DVR’s, and started testing out the Comcast DVR. We’ve been using the Comcast DVR in our family room for a few months now and my findings are below:

What I like about the Comcast HD DVR:

Seamless Integration with the Comcast Cable Box:
Tivo was relatively big, a second box that needed space, and was slow to react…more about the reaction time soon. With the Comcast DVR, you only need space for the cable box, which made my wife extremely happy! It’s also darn fast, which TIVO wasn’t. There was always a lag between changing stations with TIVO and it’s communication with the cable box. In addition, there were times that TIVO thought the channel had changed, but it didn’t. Then it would record a show we didn’t want thinking it was recording the correct selection… This annoyed the heck out of us, but didn’t happen often, probably twice per month on average.

At $10/month for the Comcast DVR, there’s not a big investment and it’s covered by Comcast (if something goes wrong, you can call the cable company to come fix it or replace it). Compare this to TIVO HD at $800 and if it breaks, good luck. I’m sure you could call TIVO and have someone repair it (maybe), but knowing Comcast is right around the corner is nice.

HD Anyone?
Yes, TIVO has an HD box, but the Comcast DVR is less expensive, easy to integrate, and I was recording and watching HD footage the same day I picked up the DVR. On a somewhat related note, who else can’t wait for all stations to be broadcast in HD?? It’s hard to look at standard definition when you turn the station from HD. Am I wrong? :-)

Dual Tuners, Recording 1 Show and Watching Another:
This bothered us greatly with our TIVO Series 2 DVR’s. I love being able to watch one show and record another. It makes sense, right? Let’s say I’m watching the US Open and Tiger is on a tear. If the Yankee game comes on, why do I have to change the station? This is what happened with our TIVO… This feature with the Comcast DVR is really nice. It would be hard to revert back…

What I don’t like about the Comcast HD DVR:

TIVO software is better:
You have more functionality with TIVO, and sometimes it’s the little things that you miss. For example, I cannot jump forward in 15 minute increments like I could with TIVO. So, if you recorded an hour long show and you want to hop to the last 15 minutes, good luck. You might actually have a seizure watching the footage zip by at full fast forward speed (which is still a minute per 1 or 2 seconds.) I also liked the ability to watch something in slow motion. This isn’t available on the Comcast DVR. There is a series pass, like the season’s pass on TIVO, so that essential bit of functionality is there. I do believe Comcast will keep enhancing their software, so this might not be much of an issue down the line. Right now, however, TIVO wins the software battle.

Weird Audio Problems:
At first I thought it was my TV, but doing some Google searches revealed many other people having weird audio problems and freezing issues with their Comcast DVR. For us, the annoying little problem is that the audio goes out and you cannot get it back without switching sources or turning off the TV and then turning it back on. So, I switch from HDMI to AVI and then back and the audio comes back on. Yes, this is annoying and I hope Comcast figures it out…

Limited Space for Shows:
At 100% capacity, our Comcast DVR is holding about 40 hours of footage (mixed between HD and standard definition). It’s ok, but we would obviously like more space. It hasn’t been a big problem yet, but I can see it becoming a problem down the line if the space issue isn’t addressed. We don’t watch a huge amount of TV, but we like to record our favorite shows, which are mostly in HD. Then we have our daughter’s shows, mostly in standard definition. My son isn’t old enough yet for TV, but when he gets involved, we will definitely need more space. I’m assuming that Comcast will keep increasing the space as their service becomes more robust, but it’s worth noting now.

Dare I say…
In closing, as a TIVO fan, dare I say that my experience with our Comcast HD DVR has been…pretty darn good?? Well, it has and I need to call it like I see it! There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about TIVO’s lifespan (or lack thereof). I’m not exactly sure what the company has planned and which areas they will focus on in the future, but I can tell you that if I switched to the Comcast DVR, many others are going to do the same. I’ve told countless people over the past 3 years about TIVO (with my very own mini Word of Mouth Marketing campaign), but I feel much less connected with the TIVO brand right now… I’ve still got a TIVO Series 2 in another room in my house, but it’s been getting less and less attention. Do you think it knows that Buzz Lightyear is downstairs recording some HD right now? ;-)


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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

WebmarkTrium™ Hits Market - Smart-Pill That Enhances Web Marketing Knowledge

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* and dozens of other web technologies!

Please view important safety information before taking WebmarkTrium™.

4 out of 5 doctors agree that taking WebmarkTrium™ along with hiring a highly skilled web marketing consultant can lead to increased profits, likelihood of promotion, increased athleticism, and a longer, happier life.

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Important Safety Information:

1. The most common side effects of WebmarkTrium™ are bloating, wheezing, cramping, and dry mouth. Less commonly occurring reactions include blurred vision, double vision, and severe headache.

2. WebmarkTrium™ may lead to excessive use of banner advertising, including animations that take over a visitor’s entire screen. Please see for examples.

3. Some patients saw decreased search engine rankings, increased search engine penalties, and even search engine banishment in severe cases. Please see Google's Webmaster Guidelines for more information.

4. In some instances, patients experienced hot flashes, profuse sweating, and severe chest pain, especially when taken in conjunction with decreased organic search rankings (Please reference item #3 above).

5. Some delusional behavior may occur, such as believing that Social Media alone will make or break your business. If this occurs, drink 8 tall glasses of water, throw out WebmarkTrium™, and read professional web marketing blogs until symptoms subside. Then reference this primer on SMO for more information.

6. If WebmarkTrium™ is taken on an empty stomach, it may cause excessive frequency of email blasts with poorly crafted subject lines, lack of text content, and ridiculously bad offers. In some cases, abysmal Open, Click Through, and Conversion rates were seen in patients who refuse to scrub their lists.

7. In aggressive marketers, WebmarkTrium™ has been known to cause hostile and frequent spamming of social media sites, which may cause retaliation in the form of attacks on the patient’s website. WebmarkTrium™ is not responsible for server downtime, negative blog posts, or threats from social media users (especially digg users).

8. WebmarkTrium™ may cause extreme nervousness and jitters, especially when accompanied by executive team meetings where patients are required to explain web marketing results. We recommend breathing into a paper bag, drinking exorbitant amounts of green tea, and doing yoga prior to the meeting. If all else fails, try telling jokes in order to deflect any severe criticism and/or termination.

9. Patients may experience feelings of desperation, which may lead to skewed web analytics reporting, especially when reports are generated after failed email campaigns. (Please reference item #6 above.)

10. WebmarkTrium™ has been known to cause duplicate content issues, temporary redirects, extreme use of session variables, and cloaking, especially when taken while implementing website redesigns.

11. Your doctor may choose to start you on lower doses of WebmarkTrium™ if there is a history of unethical use of Word of Mouth Marketing, including paying others to buzz about your products, not revealing the relationship, or in severe cases, faking your own identity and blogging about your own products in a hope that it will drive sales. WebmarkTrium™ may enhance the feeling to conduct unethical WOM.

12. May lead to decreased quality scores, low ROI, and increased click fraud in patients that began the use of WebmarkTrium™ prior to understanding how paid search actually works.

13. Taking WebmarkTrium™ while visiting YouTube may result in the launch of dreadful web video campaigns, shot by a “buddy you know”, with no script, bad actors, horrible lighting, bad audio, shaky footage, and the use of copyrighted music. In some cases, lawsuits follow quickly and aggressively.

14. WebmarkTrium™ may cause some patients to hire agencies based solely on name versus skill-set and actual results.

15. The combination of caffeine and WebmarkTrium™ may cause sleeplessness and fatigue, primarily after launching poorly crafted web marketing campaigns. This was followed by excessive nail biting, fainting, and bouts of nausea.

16. WebmarkTrium™ may also lead to a strong denial that a patient’s products and pricing are actually competitive when all information collected by analysts point to a bad business model and a sinking business.

17. If a patient is new to web marketing and doesn’t understand blogging, WebmarkTrium™ may lead to anonymous blog posts, the faking of identity (infiltration), blog spamming, and other naughty things people shouldn’t do.

18. In “flavor of the month” patients, WebmarkTrium™ may lead to allocation of budget and resources to web video campaign of dancing dog with product dangling from collar. We are not responsible for web video campaigns that tank, injury to animals as the result of WebmarkTrium™, or for customer backlash. Patients are on their own if this occurs…

19. In clinical studies, no difference was seen in patients taking WebmarkTrium™ versus placebo.

20. We cannot guarantee that WebmarkTrium™ will actually increase your web marketing knowledge.

21. OK, don’t use WebmarkTrium™.

I'm Glenn Gabe and I approved this message.

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