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

Friday, March 28, 2008

Google Analytics Benchmarking Data, Comparing Your Website Data to Industry Verticals

Google Analytics Benchmarking Data, Comparing Industry Vertical Data to Your WebsiteEarlier this month, Google Analytics added a new feature, the ability to view benchmarking data across verticals. The idea is to enable you as a website owner to compare your reporting to that of your industry as a whole or to other industries. You would obviously want to do this in order to glean insights about how your website compares in context (and not in a vacuum). Context is very important to have or your web metrics are just numbers. For example, your visitor level might be low or high compared to your niche, but you won’t know that unless you have context (or in this case other comparable data from your vertical.) Overall, I think Google providing benchmarking data is a good start and I’ll explain more below, but it really is just a start… Anyone that does competitive research for a living probably cracked a grin when they saw this very high level information.

How to View Benchmarking Data:
In order to view benchmarking data, you need to enable it in your analytics settings from within Google Analytics. The first page you see after logging in (which shows your various profiles) has a link that says “Edit Account and Data Sharing Services”. After clicking that link, check the box that says, “Share My Google Analytics Data… Anonymously with Google products and benchmarking service”. Then click “Save Changes”. Note that it could take several weeks for this data to show up. You will know if it shows up by clicking the Visitors Tab from within Google Analytics and then the “Benchmarking (BETA)” tab. Then you can dig in.

Enabling Data Sharing in Google Analytics for Benchmarking Data
What Does Benchmarking Reporting Include?
The first thing you will see is a dashboard of reports, including Visits, Pageviews, Pages Per Visit (PPV), Bounce Rate (my favorite metric), Average Time on Site, and Percent of New Visits. Each graph will show you how your site compares with the industry you have selected. So how do you change the industry vertical to compare against? At the top of the report, you can click “Open Category List” to reveal all of the verticals you can select to compare your site’s data to. OK, I’ve revealed problem #1. If you want to compare apples to apples, you might not be thrilled with GA’s initial list of verticals. Again, this is a great start, but if you focus on a vertical that’s not directly reflected in one of the listings, is the process of analyzing the data worth it? Every vertical and type of site will have their nuances, so it’ll be hard to accurately compare data unless your vertical is listed.

Comparing Visits:
Everyone wants to know how their visitor counts stack up against their industry. This is actually one of the graphs that can help you. For example, if you see a dip in traffic during March, did your industry see the same dip? Did they see an increase instead? What does the trending look like for Q1 for your site versus your industry? Do you want to find partnerships based on seasonal traffic levels? Take a look at various verticals to note similar trending or inverse trending. Maybe you can help each other. You get the point…

Comparing Bounce Rate:
When I first found out that the benchmarking service would include bounce rate, my favorite web metric of all, I was psyched. I’ve written a series of blog posts about bounce rate, since I don’t think there’s a better metric for telling you more as fast as Bounce Rate. That said, I preach that bounce rate at the aggregate level (or site level) doesn’t really tell you much… you need to segment your data to truly understand where the problems lie. For example, social media traffic from Digg might have an 85% bounce rate, where your email marketing campaigns might be at 25%. Paid Search might be at 30% and organic search at 15%. Those numbers analyzed separately can tremendously help you. Combine them and you have a 39% aggregate bounce rate. Is that good or bad? I’m sure you get my point. Back to the benchmarking data. So, looking at the aggregate bounce rate on your site compared to an industry vertical probably won’t give you actionable data. That is, unless your BR is 90%. Then you don’t need benchmarking data anyway, you need some serious help. :)

Comparing Percent of New Visitors:
You want your visitors and customers to come back, right? So this metric can at least give you a feel for how your visitor retention compares to your industry vertical or other industry verticals. Every industry is different, but let’s say you are 30 points higher than your industry vertical for percent of new visitors and you aren’t running any crazy new campaigns (which would skew your data), then you might be on to a customer retention issue… Again, it really depends on your vertical and which marketing efforts you launched during that time period. If you see high numbers for return visitors against your industry totals, then how can you keep that trend going? These are just hypothetical situations, but it could be a valuable process to go through.

Comparing Pageviews:
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on pageviews. This metric bothers me slightly. I’m focused on conversion, so I don’t care if that takes 3 pageviews or 18 pageviews. That said, you can possibly find some interesting data here, like if pageviews in your industry are significantly lower than yours…maybe there is an industry trend for implementing new functionality that radically cuts down the amount of pageviews needed to find the right product. Hypothetical of course, but you might be able to glean insights from the reporting. The other problem is based on rich media functionality or AJAX, which won’t show up as additional pageviews. So, how do 10 pageviews compare to 2 if the 2 is really closer to 10, but completed via AJAX?? Again, I wouldn’t focus on this metric…

Comparing Pages Per Visit:
This could be a valuable metric to analyze compared to your industry vertical if your goal is to keep visitors on your site (advertising model). This essentially answers the question “how sticky is your site compared to your industry vertical?” Are there elements that your competition is using that increases their pages per visit? Is your site much stickier on average? Why is that? Did you just implement new content areas or various types of media content like video? For an e-commerce site, this isn’t as big of a deal. Again, if it takes my visitors 5 pages to convert or 10 pages, I don’t necessarily care. I want to provide the right information to the right people at the right time in order to build trust and convert them to a customer. It’s not always about speed…

Average Time on Site:
This is similar to pages per visit to me. Again, it really depends on your type of site. Are you trying to keep visitors on your site longer based on your business model? How are you achieving this? Did you implement social media functionality? Did you just implement video content? Is there messaging functionality? How does your site’s average time on site compare to your vertical? Or to similar verticals? A low average time on site compared to your industry vertical could indicate a problem with your campaigns, content, or navigation.

To summarize, I think Google Analytics has taken a step in the right direction with providing benchmarking information. It’s not elaborate and deep, but it does give you a decent comparison against your industry vertical and to other verticals. You’ll have to take some of the data with a grain of salt and really drill into your own analytics to glean insights. Maybe some of the GA benchmarking data pushes you to do additional competitive research using more elaborate tools like Hitwise. Just remember that context is everything and competitive research tools and services give you that context. So go ahead and compare away! :)


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Monday, March 17, 2008

Job Titles, Overtitling and Undertitling | How Ash from Army of Darkness Was Spot On

Ahh, the classic quote from Ash in Army of Darkness (watch the video clip above if you don’t know what I’m referring to!) I’m a big horror movie fan and this quote always cracks me up… And Bruce Campbell delivering the line makes it even better. So why the video clip? Well, I had a great conversation recently with several internet marketing professionals about job titles and I thought this clip was a good example of overtitling (more on that later). The question I posed was this, “Does a big and fancy job title hurt you or help you down the line?” And, does it even effectively communicate what you actually do on a regular basis? Recruiters and HR professionals deal with undertitling and overtitling all of the time and I figured I would give my 2 cents on the issue.

Let's start off with some basic definitions:
The definition of overtitling is holding a job title that is too senior for what you do and the level of experience you have. I believe smaller companies and agencies do this all the time… They want to attract and retain top talent, so they hand out big job titles.

As you might expect, the definition of undertitling is having a job title that is too junior for what you do and your level of experience. Larger companies that have a steep hierarchy developed by HR professionals tend to undertitle. “I’m sorry Joe, but our professional blueprint for job titles says that you have 3 months to go before I can give you the title of “Director”. I know you just generated $20MM in revenue for us across multiple channels, but our HR folks say it’s no go. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen this happen to people.

So, as Ash clearly demonstrated with the “Duke” in the video clip above, his overtitling wasn’t going to help them out in their given situation, right? “OK, you are so powerful that you need multiple fancy titles, but you’re still in a heap of trouble!” :-) BTW, if you enjoy horror films and haven’t seen the Evil Dead trilogy, I highly recommend it! Sam Raimi is a genius… And more importantly for you entrepreneurs out there…watch the making of the Evil Dead and learn how he dropped out of college knowing he could create killer films (no pun intended). He did, and with big risk comes big reward. He’s got serious moxy. Now back to job titles...

A Quick Lesson In Humility…
Early in my career, I ended up golfing with an executive at my company and we had paired up with 2 other gentlemen. If you golf, you know that usually by the second or third hole, the inevitable question pops up… “So, what do you do for a living??” I went through an elaborate explanation of what I did, being excited about the web booming and being part of it on multiple dimensions. Then, the executive I was playing with (who was also on the Executive Team no less), said quite simply, “I work in {enter the department name here} and I help our employees {enter the description here}”. What?? Dude, you’re a big deal! ;-) His response left a big impression on me. He didn’t need to throw around his title and that he was on the Executive Team of a multi-billion dollar company. He just told people what he did. I think that’s a good policy to have…

Internet Marketers Define Your Job Titles
So, with web marketing booming and new channels always emerging, what job title do you want? Do you want a traditional job title like “Director of Internet Marketing”, which is fairly broad and can mean focusing on multiple channels or do you want a highly focused title like "SEM Strategist”? There are some people who have broad and deep skill-sets in online marketing, but I think most people breaking in now have a strong focus. I actually consider myself fortunate to have started when I did (1994), which enabled me to gain a broad skill-set in online marketing (based on starting when the web hit). However, what if someone mainly focuses on 1 or 2 channels or focuses on analyzing those channels, or selling products and services for a distinct channel. Which type of title makes sense? Should they include a highly focused title that clearly explains what they do? I’m not here to answer that question, but I think it’s extremely relevant in today’s dynamic marketplace.

Here's a Recommendation for Developing a Job Title That Makes Sense
OK, here’s my 2 cents on job titles for internet marketers. Sit down and map out exactly what you do on a regular basis. Include all the details, whether you focus on web analytics or manage paid search or develop viral campaigns or focus on natural search. Seeing your job responsibilities on paper will help you get a firm grip on what you actually do. Then start some divergent thinking and jot down all the possible job titles. Then choose the top 5 for your given position. You can mix and match, expand on some titles, create new titles, etc. I highly recommend being as specific as possible and seeing how that sounds… I’m not saying that the position titled “Director of” or “VP of” should go away, but if you are a professional focused on a certain area of an industry, it will probably benefit you to have a focused job title. For example, I think Director of Social Media Marketing is focused enough… Once you have a few killer job titles, go to the leader of your respective organization and present them. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no? They might see your point and make a change. It could help you and others in your company down the line.

If all else fails...
...and you find yourself without a strong job title, you can always try to combine everything you do into one title! Check out my "About Glenn Gabe Page"...where I created a new title called Chief WebDeVideoSearchMarketBuzzAnalytics Officer.

Now try and put that on a business card. ;-)



Monday, March 10, 2008

Google SMS and More Mobile Marketing Ideas

Google SMS, Texting Google for Quick AnswersLast week I wrote about short code marketing and using text messaging for mobile marketing campaigns. Last year (around this time), I wrote about Goog 411, Google’s free 411 service that returns results based on its local listings. So today I figured I would combine the two concepts and write about Google SMS, Google’s way of answering your search queries on your mobile device. The short code is 466543, or “Google” on most devices. If you are unfamiliar with short codes, please check out my last post (see link above).

What it is Google SMS and What are the Benefits?
Some of you might be saying, “Why wouldn’t I just browse to Google on my mobile web device and enter my search??” Well, SMS is much faster (at least for now). Texting a quick search query using SMS, with the ability to save that query for future text messages, is a great way to get fast answers to your questions.

What types of searches can you text to Google?
You can see a quick list on the Google SMS site, but here are a few possibilities to get you thinking… How about checking the weather, the score of the Yankees game, defining a word, a stock quote, product prices, directions, flight information, currency conversions, etc. These are just a few of the searches that you can text to Google and I’m confident you are starting to see the value of Google SMS… The problem is that many people don’t even know about it. Don’t believe me? Lean over and ask your coworker now if he or she knows about Google SMS. {Glenn waiting.......OK, you're back} I bet you got a confused reaction from them, right?

To text your search to Google SMS, simple enter the search feature and then what you are searching for, like:

weather pennington, nj
score Yankees
movies 08540
price blackberry curve 8310

Cool, right? And for those of you wondering how much faster it is to text a search versus browsing the mobile web, here’s a quick test on my Blackberry Curve 8310. I’ll look up the price of a Canon Powershot G9:

Browsing the Mobile Web:
Loading browser…
Finding Google….
Waiting for data…
SERP returned…
Checking listings….
Finding solid listing and price for G9
Total Time: 1:25

Using Google SMS:
Texting “price canon powershot g9” to 46653
Price returned via SMS in 8 seconds
Total Time: 16 seconds

Convinced this is a smart way to go? :)

Why this is important to you as a marketer…
Because you don’t have to be Google to achieve the same results for your customers and potential customers. You can do this for your business. Think about it…you can use text messaging to quickly answer questions, no matter what line business you are in. And, the more answers you provide, the more customers and prospective customers you can make happy. The more people you make happy, the more they will talk about your business (can you say WOM)? The more they talk about you, the more business you can acquire. The more business you can gain, the more money you can generate. Do I need to keep going here?

Some SMS marketing examples:
Let’s say you run an accounting firm targeting small businesses and you want utilize SMS marketing. Maybe you can answer basic accounting questions that you know small businesses always have via your short code. i.e. text “FICA” or “1099” to {your short code here}. Help enough small businesses and maybe you build new relationships along with new clients. Do you own a car dealership? Maybe you can answer questions about pricing or features for the latest models. Are you an electronics retailer? Maybe you’ll answer top product questions. i.e. text “SPECS for IPOD Nano” to {enter your short code here}. Again, the possibilities are endless. I explained some other uses for short codes in my last post, but I’m just focusing on the search and answer model here… Do you own a chain of weight loss centers? Provide the number of calories for various products or meals. i.e. text “calories slice of pizza” to {enter your short code here}. You get the idea!

Go ahead, stir up mobile marketing at your company!
I wanted to write this post to keep mobile on your mind after my last post… (Hey “Mobile on My Mind”… sounds like a new Carrie Underwood song…) I truly believe mobile marketing will be huge and it’s basically an untapped channel right now. Heck, there are short codes just waiting to be purchased…and you would be shocked to see how many big brands are not involved yet. It would be the equivalent of Coke not being interested in 10-15 years ago. BTW, I’ll beat you to the punch…Coke already owns the short code for COKE. They are on top of it! Are you? :)


PS Don’t forget to test out my short code…just text IMD to 23907 to sign up for mobile alerts when I update my blog. You can always opt out, but it’s a cool way to see how this works!

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Monday, March 03, 2008

SMS and Common Short Codes, Using Text Messaging for Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Using Short Codes for Mobile Marketing (SMS and Text Messaging)I’m sure some of you reading this blog post are asking, “What’s a short code?” I’m also sure many of you reading this blog post watch American Idol. What’s the connection? Well, at the end of the each performance and each show, Ryan Seacrest gives you a 4 digit code that you can use to text message your vote for your favorite contestant. For example, text “Vote” to 5706 to vote for Jane Smith. Well, 5706 is a short code. Although TV has made short codes famous in the US, it’s still not as popular as in other parts of the world. In my opinion, its popularity will begin to grow in the US, and sooner than later... Common Short Codes (CSC) are basically the domain names of the mobile age, yet many marketers still don’t know much about them, which is crazy, since Mobile Marketing will be an important element in your marketing mix in the near future. My hope is that after you read this post, you’ll agree that SMS can be used creatively to enhance your marketing campaigns. I’ll explain more about this later in the post.

Basic Information and Definitions About Mobile Messaging and Short Codes:

Let’s define SMS – It stands for Short Message Service and it enables you to send text messages on your mobile device. When you hear people talk about “text messaging” or “texting”, they are referring to SMS.

Let’s also define Common Short Code – A short numeric code of 5 or 6 numbers that can be used in place of a longer phone number for messaging. Since the codes are shorter, they are easier to remember and utilize, especially for marketing purposes. i.e. Text “Vote” to 5706 to cast your vote…

How to Obtain a Short Code and How Much Do They Cost?
You can visit the Common Short Code Administration’s website and review the process for obtaining a short code. In a nutshell, a "select" short code, or vanity code, is $1000 per month and a random short code (random numbers) is $500 per month. Both must be paid up front and you can lease a short code for 3, 6, and 12 months. A select short code (or vanity code) would be something like COKE, IDOL, JEEP, etc. Once you obtain your short code, then you’ll need to gain approval from the wireless providers for routing your common short code (CSC) throughout their network. Then, in order to implement your CSC, you’ll probably want to get in touch with an application provider and connection aggregator that already have relationships with the specific providers. Think about it in normal web terms, you can register a domain name, but what does that really get you?? You still need a website built and way for visitors to do something on your site, right? You can talk more with a connection aggregator about what you’ll need in place for your campaigns.

OK, Use Short Codes for Mobile Marketing…But How?
There are literally dozens of ways to creatively use short codes for marketing purposes from voting to contests to rewards programs to wom to viral marketing. American Idol made using short codes for voting famous and you can use SMS marketing for the same purpose. That’s definitely a natural fit (especially for your customers who have used SMS for voting in the past…) You can also use short codes for lead generation. For example, include your short code in an advertisement and have people text the code to learn more about your service or product. You can use short codes for subscriptions purposes. For example, have people text your short code to sign up to receive notifications when your product or service is updated. Are you ready to launch a viral marketing campaign? Use short codes within your viral campaign to give customers access to additional information, media, ringtones, etc. How about organic word of mouth marketing (WOM)? Maybe you set up a short code that your company evangelists can use to post updates about their latest word of mouth experience. i.e. They just spoke with someone on the train into Manhattan about your product, so they quickly message your short code with the details. Running a rewards program? Enable your members to text their latest promotional codes to your common short code to increase their rewards points. I can keep going here, but it obviously can be an extremely useful tool for a smart mobile marketer. You just need to think creatively and keep mobile in mind…

Glenn Gabe and the Internet Marketing Driver, Mobile-Style
OK, so I couldn’t resist… I asked a mobile marketing friend of mine to set me up with a short code for my blog. Here’s the deal…if you want to receive notifications from me on your mobile device when I update my blog, then follow the directions below:

Simply Text IMD to 23907 now. You’ll receive a text message from me immediately.
Reply YES to the message if you want to receive alerts on your mobile phone when I add new blog posts or update my blog. I may also message you now and then with internet marketing tips and tricks. You can always opt out at any time, so it’s worth a try to see how it works. Go ahead, try it now!

In closing, I hope this post helped you gain a better understanding of common short codes and how mobile marketing can be a part of your marketing mix. If you haven’t thought of using short codes for marketing purposes, my recommendation is to start thinking about it now. Actually, your desired vanity short code may be registered already! Don’t get caught like many did with domain names…get your short codes sooner than later.

Now, have any of you already worked with short codes as part of your marketing campaigns? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Post a comment now!


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