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

sunday, April 25th, 2010

A Baker’s Dozen: A Quick Update on Kati’s Kupcakes, The Winner of The Search a Small Business Holiday Giveaway [PODCAST]


If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, then you probably remember the Search a Small Business Holiday Giveaway I launched this past December. The purpose of the contest was to give an ultra-small business in New Jersey a free online marketing audit, which would produce plan for enhancing the company’s digital strategies.

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monday, April 19th, 2010

Conversion Goals and Events in Google Analytics: What’s The Difference and When To Use Them


As online marketing evolves, more and more companies are realizing the power of effectively tracking their marketing efforts via web analytics. I’m finding myself doing a lot more analytics strategy work for clients and I absolutely love it (on multiple levels). I’ve worked with a wide range of web analytics packages since 1995 and it’s amazing to see how the industry and technologies have progressed.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Advanced Segmentation in Google Analytics: How to Set Up and Use Advanced Segments to Analyze Social Media Traffic


How to set up and use advanced segments in Google Analytics to analyze social media traffic.When I’m helping clients analyze website traffic and performance, I try and help them avoid the time-consuming process of “report browsing”. Instead, I emphasize entering the process with a very specific goal in mind. You need a purpose when diving into reporting or else you run the risk of spending hours scanning metrics with nothing to show at the end but a headache and a bottle of Visine. I also emphasize focusing on actionable data, or information you can analyze and then make decisions based on. This is why segmentation is so important. I’ll explain more about segments below, but for now think of a segment as a slice of your site traffic (based on traffic source, type of visitor, etc.) For the example I provide in this post, visitors from Social Media websites could be a segment of your site traffic.

Back to web analytics and actionable data. Aggregate data from a broad view of your site traffic doesn’t tell you very much. However, data related to specific traffic sources, locations, keywords, and campaigns can reveal incredible information (and you can act on that data). For example, an aggregate website bounce rate of 70% tells you almost nothing. You cannot take action from that metric alone, since you might have dozens of traffic sources all with varying bounce rates. Some may be low (15-20%), while others may be extremely high (90%+). If you just focus on the average bounce rate at the site level, you won’t be able to make an impact easily. On the flip side, if you had a 70% bounce rate for a specific ad group in paid search (which focuses on a specific theme based on your product line), then you know there’s a problem. That’s actionable data. You can then start to analyze the keywords you are bidding on, the ad text you are using, the landing pages you are driving visitors to, etc. And actionable data impacts conversion, revenue, registrations, and overall campaign performance.

The Social Media Segment
With all the buzz about social media marketing, many companies are trying to figure out how to effectively analyze traffic from social media sites. Sure, it’s easy to see visits from social media sites, but in order to understand the impact of that traffic, you need to dig deeper and have a clearer view. It’s sometimes hard to analyze the specific data you want when several sources of traffic are mixed in your reporting. It can get extremely frustrating to say the least. For example, what content on your site do social media visitors consume the most, how engaged is that traffic segment, how much revenue do they generate, do they return to your site, so on and so forth. So, wouldn’t it be great to isolate that traffic and then run Google Analytics reporting just for that custom segment? The good news is that you can set this up using one of the most powerful features of Google Analytics – Advanced Segmentation.

What is Advanced Segmentation?
Setting up advanced segments in Google Analytics enables you to analyze very specific slices of traffic. Instead of analyzing reporting based on major types of traffic, you can slice and dice the traffic to glean actionable insights. For example, you can set up segments for social media traffic, visitors from specific countries or cities, visitors that searched for specific keywords, campaign traffic, etc. You get the picture. It’s extremely flexible and the segments you choose to set up are based on your specific online marketing initiatives. Once you set up an advanced segment, you will only view data for that segment while you traverse your reporting in Google Analytics. Advanced Segmentation is incredibly handy, and again, you gain actionable intelligence from the reporting for the segment you are analyzing. You can view the Google Analytics help area for more information about advanced segmentation.

Setting Up Your Social Media Segment
Let’s say you’ve been focusing heavily on social media marketing and want to gain a clearer picture of how that traffic is performing. For argument’s sake, let’s say you have a Facebook page and accounts at Twitter, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Digg. You hired a social media marketer who is managing each account and that person has started gaining traction. Based on your social media efforts, you want to find out as much as possible about how that segment is performing. Sure, you could go into referring sources and view some top-level data for each traffic source, but you want more. You want to drill into several more reports to see what content they are viewing, how much revenue they are generating, which events they are triggering, where they are located geographically, etc. Let’s get started.

How to Set Up Your Social Media Segment in Google Analytics:

1. Log into Google Analytics and find the Advanced Segments dropdown in the upper right-hand corner of your reporting. It will be located above the date range and the default segment will say “All Visits”.

Finding the advanced segments dropdown:
Finding advanced segments in Google Analytics.

2. Click the “All Visits” dropdown and find the link on the left-hand side that reads “Create a new advanced segment”.

Creating a new advanced segment:
Creating a new advanced segment.

3. Now you will see a slick drag and drop interface for creating your custom segment. I love that Google Analytics made this so intuitive. On the left hand side, you will find a list of dimensions and metrics that you can use to create your custom segment. On the right-hand side, you will find an area where you can drag those dimensions or metrics and then define them. Clicking the arrows next to each category on the left hand side will reveal all of the dimensions and metrics you can utilize.

Dragging metrics and dimensions to define a new segment:
Dragging metrics and dimensions to create a new segment.

4. For our purposes, we want to define several referring sources as our segment (various social media websites). Click the arrow icon next to “Traffic Sources” and then drag the “Source” tab to the area that says “Dimension or Metric”. The “Source” tab is located near the bottom of the list under “Traffic Sources”. When you drag the source tab over the box labeled “dimension or metric”, you will see the bounding box change from a light grey dotted line to a dark grey dotted line (indicating that you can drop it there). Once you drop the source tab in the box, Google Analytics will let you type the first few letters of the site in a text field to select the specific traffic source. Google Analytics will also auto-populate the field with your current traffic sources (as you type). So, if you start typing Twitter, you will be able to select Twitter.com. You will also notice a “condition” dropdown, which gives you the flexibility for setting matching options. For our purpose, we want to use “Matches Exactly” as we want the exact social media website.

Entering specific traffic sources to define the custom segment:
Entering specific traffic sources to define a segment.

5. Once you set up Twitter.com, you can add more traffic sources by clicking the “Add or statement” link and then dragging another “Source” tab to the dimension or metric box. Start typing Digg and then select Digg.com. Note, Google Analytics will only auto-populate sites where visits exist for your website. So if you don’t have any visitors from Digg.com, then it won’t show up. You will need to manually enter Digg.com in the field if that’s the case.

Adding more traffic sources to your custom segment:
Using the add or statement to include more metrics or dimensions.

6. Add traffic sources for Stumbleupon, Facebook, and Delicious as explained above.

7. Name your custom segment by typing in the text field below the drag and drop section you have been using up to this point. You can enter something like “Social Media Traffic” for this example.

Naming your advanced segment:
Naming your advanced segment.

8. At this point, you can click “Test Segment” to see the data that Google Analytics will pull for the segment. The “Test Segment” link is located on the right side of the screen next to your various social media traffic sources. It’s not required that you test the segment, but it’s always a good idea to ensure you set up your custom segment properly.

9. Finally, when you are ready, click “Create Segment”, which is located next to the Name Segment field mentioned earlier.

10. After creating your segment, you will be sent back to your Google Analytics reporting. Note, your new segment will not be active at this point. You will still be viewing “All Visits” until you manually select your segment. To do this, find the “Advanced Segments” area again in the upper right-hand corner of the reporting and click the “All Visits” dropdown. You should see your new segment titled “Social Media Traffic” in the list. You can click the checkbox next to “All Visits” to remove that segment from your reporting and instead check the box next to “Social Media Traffic” to include the segment in your reporting. When you click “Apply” at the bottom of the advanced segments form, you will be able to view only social media traffic in your Google Analytics reports (as defined by your segment). Voila, you’re done.

Now comes the fun part. Go ahead and browse your reporting to view data just for your social media segment. This includes the content the segment is consuming, locations they are visiting from, conversions, revenue, event tracking, return visitors, etc. Pretty cool, right? Note, you can also activate multiple segments at one time to compare them in your reporting. But, that’s for another blog post. :)

Go Ahead, Segment Away…
Although this was a quick tutorial, I hope you have a better understanding of what advanced segments are and how to use them to analyze specific slices of traffic. Based on how flexible and powerful advanced segmentation is, I plan to write more about the topic in future blog posts. So go ahead and log into Google Analytics and create some custom segments. Don’t worry about corrupting your reporting or messing up any of your data. Advanced Segments won’t hurt any of your current profiles or reporting. It simply filters data for you based on the dimensions and metrics you choose. It’s like a segmentation sandbox (less the shovel and pail of course). Have fun.

GG

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Your Google Local Business Center Dashboard, Analyzing and Refining Your Google Maps Listing Based on Analytics


Google Local Business Center DashboardMore and more small businesses are realizing the importance of advertising online, including how to maximize their presence in Search. As local businesses get more involved in online marketing, they begin to understand how prospective customers research products and services. Needless to say, many are searching for information online. And, if you offer a product or service they are looking for, it’s obviously important for you to show up for targeted searches. If you don’t rank highly for target keywords, other businesses are...and they are the ones receiving calls (or visits in person).

In addition, there are searches that Google and the other engines deem as “local” in nature. For example, bakery in Princeton, NJ and florist in Miami, FL. Google may provide a 10 pack of local results for searches like this, and it’s important to make sure you show up. Even further, Google recently changed the way it processes requests that it deems local. For example, you often don’t need to put a location to trigger the 10 pack. Google knows your location and provides tailored local results for you. How nice. :)

To learn more about local listings in Google, you can read a previous post of mine about how to set up a Google maps listing in Google Local Business Center. In the post I walk you through what it is and how to set one up. By the way, once you take a hard look at Google’s 10 pack of local listings, it should be no surprise that it attracts a lot of attention. The 10 pack, which sometimes shows less than 10 listings, contains a map with markers showing the location of each business. It’s pretty hard to ignore this on the results page… The 10 pack also pushes down the organic results, which can potentially move your organic listing down the page.

Why Continual Analysis Can Provide Serious Benefits
I've found that many local businesses either don't have a listing or they set one up and check it off their list, never to return to analyze and refine the listing. But hold on a second… businesses should really be asking themselves, “How is that local listing working for me?” I recently had a client make some relatively minor changes based on reporting. These changes ended up having a significant impact on their local rankings and subsequent visits and calls from prospective customers. That’s pretty powerful considering the reporting they analyzed cost them nothing. Yes, $0. I helped my client use data provided to them in their Google Local Business Center Dashboard. You might have heard about this recently, as Google launched it in June of this year. That said, I’m sure some of you reading this post have no idea what it is. That’s ok, since this post is here to provide a thorough overview of your local dashboard, while also giving you some ideas for how to best use the data to attract prospective customers.

The Google Local Business Center Dashboard, Free Analytics for Local Businesses
OK, let’s assume you read my post about setting up your Google maps listing and you are showing up for some targeted searches. That’s great, but do you really know how well that listing is working for your business? Until recently (June 2009), you really didn’t have a lot of insight into the performance of your local listing. Sure, you probably had Google Analytics or another analytics package set up, but that doesn’t specifically give you data about your local listing. Thankfully, Google understood this and did something about it. They rolled out a Local Business Center Dashboard that is basically a scaled down Google Analytics report for your local listing. It provides some important data about how your listing is being triggered, viewed, and accessed. Let’s explore the features below.

The Features of Your Local Dashboard
First, log into Google Local Business Center. You will see your business information, status, and a label for “Statistics”. Under the heading for statistics, you will see a quick view of impressions and actions. Impressions include the number of times your local listing was triggered and viewed as a result of a search on Google or Google Maps. Actions include when someone viewing your listing actually interacted with it. More on this shortly. Click the “View Report” link to access your dashboard.

Accessing the dashboard from Google Local Business Center
Google Analytics-like Graphs for Impressions and Actions
The first thing you will see is a timeline at the top of the page showing activity for your listing. The chart breaks down impressions and actions visually by day, over the time period you selected. The default timeframe is the past 30 days, but you can easily change that by using date range selector in the upper right corner and then clicking apply. Right below the timeline, you will see the number of impressions, which again is the number of times your listing is viewed as a result of a search on Google or on Google Maps. Underneath impressions, you will see a breakdown of actions, which is the number of times a user took “action” with your listing. Possible actions include clicks for more information on Google Maps, clicks for driving directions, and clicks to your website. Actions are aggregated in the graph, but actually broken down underneath the graph. Providing this reporting enables you to get a quick snapshot of the performance of your local listing.

Viewing impressions and actions in Your Google Local Business Center Dashboard
What to look for:
You might notice spikes in impressions and actions based on advertising campaigns you have launched. You can identify the most active days of the week or periods of time based on activity. For example, are many people searching for your services on weekends or during the week, right before holidays, or heavily during a specific season? You can also test the effectiveness of the details of your listing. Google provides the ability to edit the details of your local listing, so my recommendation is to test various ways to communicate your business and then view the impact on impressions and actions. For example you can refine your description, specialties, and categories served to determine the optimal combination of elements. Don’t just throw up a local listing without revisiting its performance on a regular basis.

Top Search Queries
Below the breakdown of actions, you will find top search queries that triggered your local listing, along with the number of impressions. Although this isn't a robust list of keywords like you would see in Google Analytics or another analytics package, it still provides important data for you to review. You probably have an idea about the types of keywords that trigger your listing, however, I’ll bet some of the keywords in the list surprise you. It’s just like when I talk about performing keyword research, you should find what people are actually searching for versus what you think they are searching for. Trust data, and not necessarily opinion.

Click the image below to view a larger version:
Viewing top search queries in Your Google Local Business Center Dashboard

Are there keywords you never thought about targeting that people are actually searching for? Analyzing even this simple keyword report can help you target the right people locally, based on what they are really looking for. For example, let's say you are a florist focused on wedding arrangements and none of the keywords triggering your listing seem targeted for that niche. You find that most people are searching for gifts or flowers versus a specific type of arrangement. Or, you might find the opposite is true and that people are searching for very specific types of arrangements. Again, you never know until you look. Then you can determine the best path to take with regard to your local listing.

Based on what you find, you should start to think about why your listing is showing up for those searches. Is that because of the type of search being conducted or the information contained in your actual listing? It’s a good question and it is definitely worth analyzing... For example, did you let Google know that you provide organic food at your restaurant? Take the time to analyze the data and make changes to your listing. Don’t miss out on customers. In addition, the data can help you craft new marketing messages, and even possibly how you explain your business in person or via other forms of advertising. Using the example above, are you using the word organic in your advertising, whether that’s on TV, in mailers, at shows or festivals, and when you speak with people in your community. If they are searching for it, you might want to start including it. :)

Know Where Your Customers Are Coming From (Literally)
Underneath top search queries, you will find a list of zip codes, based on where driving direction requests are coming from. To clarify, this is when someone clicks “Directions” or “Get Directions” from your local listing. This data would mean more to a business with a physical location serving local customers and can provide some interesting data. For example, you can see the impact of offline marketing, you can see which areas provide high demand for your products or services, and can help you craft future advertising campaigns. For example, I know some local businesses like to attend town festivals, which enable you to set up a booth. Let’s say you planned to attend four festivals in the fall (at $750 per booth). Your knee jerk reaction might be to set up at festivals that are in close proximity to your business, maybe the four closest towns to your business. However, you might change that strategy based on data you view in your dashboard. Maybe more requests are coming from locations 10-15 minutes away versus 5 minutes away. You actually might pass on the festivals right around your town and target ones that are two or three towns over. Again, you don’t know until you review the data. If you don’t, you could miss opportunities to get in front of more targeted groups of people. This is why I always recommend continual analysis and refinement based on data. It has become a motto here at G-Squared Interactive.

Click the image below to view a larger version:
Viewing where direction requests are coming from in Your Google Local Business Center Dashboard

Go Check Your Local Dashboard Now
So there you have it, an overview of your Local Business Center Dashboard, or what I like to call a scaled down Google Analytics report for your local listing. I would love to see the ability to access more data, but this is still better than flying blind (which is what many businesses were doing beforehand).

Here are some key points to think about after reading this post:
* First, do you have a local listing and are you effectively managing that listing?
* Second, are you reviewing reporting for your listing and making changes based on the data?

Remember, you don’t want to miss an opportunity that’s right around the corner…literally. :)

GG

Related Posts:
How to Set Up Your Google Maps Listing
How to Perform Keyword Research for SEO
The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Connection Between High Search Engine Rankings, The Latest Google Heatmap Study, and The Long Tail of SEO: My Guest Post on Search Engine Journal


Glenn Gabe's Guest Post on Search Engine Journal, The Connection Between Page 1 Rankings and The Long Tail.
I’ve been a big fan of Search Engine Journal for a number of years now. They provide excellent search-related posts and information, as well as outstanding coverage of the Search industry. So, as you can imagine, I was extremely excited after speaking with them about becoming a contributor. My first guest post went live yesterday and it details an experiment that I recently ran across a number of websites I manage.

A Custom Google Analytics Filter for SEO
Based on a great blog post by Andre Scholten, I set up a custom filter in Google Analytics to track where each keyword ranked in Google when people clicked through to the websites I tracked for the experiment. This enabled me to view all of the keywords (head, torso, and long tail keywords) leading to the websites I tracked, but also let me quickly see where those keywords ranked in Google when people clicked through. Yes, I could use a number of search tools to run a position analysis on target keywords, but that’s not realistic when you include all of your long tail keywords, since you might be analyzing thousands of keywords at a time.

The Results Were Pretty Darn Compelling…
So I set up a custom filter on a number of websites I manage and waited for the data to stream in. It only took a few hours before keywords started showing up in my reports (along with their rankings). And, I picked up an interesting trend pretty darn quickly... I started to see a strong connection between page one rankings and the long tail of SEO. I’ve written about the powerful long tail of SEO before on my blog, and I believe it’s often overlooked by many people outside of the Search industry. You can start to connect the dots if you add the latest Google heat map study, which found that people are quickly scanning the first few organic results in Google, and if they don’t find what they need, they are refining their searches. My experiment definitely started to connect the dots...

Eager to see the results? Well, you’ll have to check out my guest post on Search Engine Journal to find out more about my experiment and to view the results! It’s a thorough post, and if you have enjoyed the rest of my posts on the Internet Marketing Driver, I think you’ll really dig this one. :)

My guest post: The Long Tail of Page 1 Rankings

Also, definitely feel free to post your comments after reading my guest post. I’d love to hear your own experiences with the long tail of SEO.

GG

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Flash Tutorial, How to Track Flash in Google Analytics Using the Google Analytics for Adobe Flash Component (GAforFlash) Part 2 of 2


Flash Tutorial for Using the GAforFlash Component (AS3)In part 1 of this series I introduced the concept of tracking flash applications, why flash has been hard to track for many marketers, and I introduced the Google Analytics for Adobe Flash Component. To quickly review, the GA for flash component enables you to easily make calls directly from your ActionScript code in order to track pageviews, events, conversions, etc. in flash. It’s an important step for understanding how your flash elements contribute to the success of your website, and not just because you think it’s a killer flash app. ;-) In part 2 of my series, I will walk you through how to actually set up flash tracking using the gaforflash component (step by step in the flash authoring environment.) By the end of this tutorial, you should have a solid understanding of using the flash component and making calls to Google Analytics from within your ActionScript code. I will reference the flash movie that I created during my own testing and show the resulting Google Analytics reporting to tie it all together. So without further ado, let’s start coding. :)

Quick Disclaimer, Code Ahead:
As I mentioned in my first post, if you have some knowledge of developing flash movies and writing ActionScript code, then you should be able to follow along. If you aren’t familiar with developing in flash, grab your flash developer and possibly your web analyst and set up a working lunch. By the end of the tutorial, I’m confident you will see the power of using this technique to track your flash elements.

Visit the Google Code Project and Download the Components
First, visit the Google Code Project for Google Analytics for Flash (gaforflash). http://code.google.com/p/gaforflash/ Click the downloads tab at the top of the page and download the zipfile listed. The current version as of this blog post was v1.0.1. Once you download the zipfile, unzip the contents to a directory on your hard drive. Open the readme textfile and follow the instructions for copying the components to the proper directory in your Adobe flash folder. This will differ depending on if you are running a pc or a mac and you will be creating a new folder within the components directory where you will copy the files (the instructions tell you to create a Google folder and drop the components there). Once you copy the components into the new directory, then go ahead and launch flash. Again, make sure you follow the readme before launching flash.

The Google Code Project for GaforFlash:
The Google Code Project for GAforFlash

Determine What You Are going To Track:
To me, this is the most important step (and I bet the web analysts reading this post agree!) Mapping out what you want to track is essential to having clean reporting and a structured hierarchy. You can really have some messy reporting without working through this step… We’ll keep this example very simple to keep the amount of coding down, so here’s the scenario.

You will be adding a new flash element to a category page on your website and want to track how visitors engage the flash movie and how that flash element contributes to the success of the website. In our sample flash movie, there will be a start button, which launches the rest of the flash movie. The start button is there for a reason and you’ll learn why in a second. Once someone clicks the start button, they will be presented with two product thumbnails. The goal of our sample flash movie is to get visitors to learn more about each product and then click an email button at the bottom of the flash movie to get in touch with sales. Again, this is completely made up and simple, but we need to map this out in order to know what to track. Also, we'll track when users hover over each thumbnail and then when they click each one to reveal more information. In addition, they obviously want to track the email link at the bottom of the flash movie, since clicking the button will be a conversion in GA.

To summarize the key pageviews, events and conversions we will track:
1. A start button will trigger a pageview so you know how many people engaged the flash movie. This is so you know that the flash movie was triggered (and not just sitting on the page).
2. The two product thumbnails will trigger events when someone hovers over the thumbnail and when someone clicks them.
3. The email link at the bottom of the flash movie will trigger a pageview for when someone clicks the button. That pageview will also trigger a conversion.
4. Note: you will need to set up a conversion goal in Google Analytics for the email pageview that we trigger when visitors click the email button. This is easy to do and then will start showing up within your Goals tab in GA. You can read more about tracking goals in the GA help center. http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55515

Open Up Flash and Create the Necessary Assets
In order to work though this tutorial, you will need to create some simple flash assets (buttons). Don’t worry about how they look. The core point of this tutorial is that you learn how to use the flash component to make calls to Google Analytics and not to win design awards. ;) You will need to create a start button, a product thumbnail button, and an email button (which can be simply text if you want). Once you have quickly created each button, proceed with the rest of the tutorial.

Import the Tracking Libraries
First, make sure your current flash movie is targeting ActionScript 3. Open up the publish settings dialog box (control shift F12), click the flash tab, and use the dropdown to select an ActionScript version to target. Choose ActionScript 3. Next, you need to drag an instance of the AnalyticsLibrary Component to the stage in order to import the code libraries. Create a new layer in flash and open the components panel (control F7). You should see a category named Google (which you created earlier in this tutorial). If you don’t see the Google category, then go back to the beginning of this tutorial and follow the directions again in the readme text file that was part of the download. Click the plus sign (+) next to Google and drag the AnalyticsLibrary component to the stage. Don’t worry where you place it on the stage. It should now be present in your project library (you should also see it listed in your library. Click Control L to see your project library.) Keep in mind I’m referring to your project library, which holds all of the assets you create in your flash movie (buttons, movie clips, images, components, etc.) I’m not referring to code libraries, which we will discuss shortly.

Finding the AnalyticsLibrary Component in Flash:
Drag the AnalyticsLibrary component to the stage.

Next, create an Actions layer and select frame 1 of the timeline in that layer. Click F9 to open the Actions window (which is where you write ActionScript code). Since we are using the Analytics Library Component to make calls directly from our ActionScript 3 code, you will need to import the libraries that you will use to instantiate a tracking object and make calls to Google Analytics. If you don’t import the libraries, you will not be able to make calls to GA.

Here is what you should add to frame 1 of the actions layer:
import com.google.analytics.AnalyticsTracker;
import com.google.analytics.GATracker;
var tracker:AnalyticsTracker = new GATracker( this, "UA-111-222", "AS3", true );

A Quick Explanation of the Code:
Note, you would obviously want to add your own GA account number so the data is sent to the correct profile. i.e. Don’t keep 111-222 as the web property ID. The first two lines import the necessary code libraries and the third line of code initializes the tracking object. Keep “this” as the first parameter, which references the current display object. Enter your own GA account number for the second parameter, you can keep AS3 as the third parameter for this tutorial, and keep “true” as the fourth parameter. That sets the debug mode. When true, you will see a trace of all tracking events occurring. When false, this will not be visible. Also, you can read the gaforflash documentation to learn more about each parameter.

Making Calls From ActionScript to GA:
Now, if you create a start button that visitors have to click in order to see anything in your flash movie, then we can logically target that click as a pageview. Then we can view in GA how many people started the flash movie. That would answer one of the first questions from your CMO, right? :) So create a new layer in your flash movie called Start Button and add your button to frame 1 of this layer. To stop the flash movie from playing before someone clicks the start button, simply add a stop action on frame 5 in your Actions layer. Create new keyframe on frame 5 and enter this.stop(); as the code. Again, the intent of this tutorial is not to teach you how to use flash, but I’ll add some tips as we move along. Select the start button on the stage by clicking it once and give it an instance name of start_btn in the properties panel. You can click Control F3 to bring up the properties panel if it’s not on screen. We need to give the button an instance name in order to target it in ActionScript. If you don’t give it an instance name, your code will not work.

Creating an Instance Name in the Properties Panel:
Give your button in flash an instance name.

Now go back to frame 1 of your actions layer and open the actions window again (click F9). Below the code we first added (importing the libraries and initializing a tracking object), add the following lines of code. I will explain them in a second… You can give yourself some space by clicking enter a few times. Your code does not need to be lumped together!

//functionality for start button
start_btn.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, startExample );

function startExample( event:Event):void {
//we know that the user engaged the flash movie (they clicked start)
tracker.trackPageview("/GAFlash/Start");
play();
}

The Code Explained:
The first line is a comment, which is good programming practice. You can simply describe the code that follows. This will not be visible to anyone but you as a programmer. The second line is an event handler for the start button. It targets the instance name start_btn, which we set up earlier. This is why we needed to create an instance name. Now our code will look for a mouse event (CLICK) for the start button and then trigger the function called startExample, which I will cover in a second. Event handlers enable you to react to events in your flash movies. They are critical to creating advanced functionality in your flash applications.

The function startExample() will be called when someone clicks the start button. This function uses our tracker object to trigger the trackPageview method and then plays the main timeline in your flash movie, using the play(); action. Remember, we want the visitor to see the rest of our flash movie after clicking the start button. The trackPageview method tells Google Analytics to track a specific pageview when something happens. The page will show up in GA reporting as /GAFlash/Start in your content tab, as if someone actually visited a page on the website. Pretty cool, right? So, you’ll be able to go into GA and click the content tab and see how many times this “page” was triggered. Nice. That wasn’t so bad, was it? That was all done in less than 15 lines of code.

Tracking the Product Thumbnails:
You will use the same methodology for tracking the two product thumbnails in your flash movie. Remember, we want to know when someone clicks each thumbnail, but we’ll be adding one more event…when someone hovers over the thumbnails. You might find that people were interested enough to hover over a product, but not trigger it. If you see enough of this behavior, you might want to dig deeper to find out what’s causing it. That’s just a simple example and you should work with your web analyst to determine what to track for your specific website and flash content.

A Screenshot of the 2 Product Thumbnails for this Example:
Adding the product thumbnails in flash.

We used the trackPageview method for the start button, but we will use trackEvent for the thumbnails. Examples of events might be clicking a button, hovering over that button, visiting a specific area of a flash movie, etc. GA now provides an Event Tracking tab within your Content tab. Within the Event Tracking tab, you can view categories of events, the specific actions users took, the labels associated with those events, trending, etc. So, we’ll track two events with each product thumbnail in our flash movie. I will only cover the first thumbnail here and you can copy this process to apply event tracking to the second thumbnail.

After someone clicks the start button, you used the play(); action to play the main timeline. At frame 20 on your main timeline, create a new stop action in your actions layer. Add a new keyframe at frame 20 and open the Actions windows. Enter this.stop(); as the code. Then create a new layer for your product thumbnails and add the buttons that you created earlier in this tutorial. Note, for this example, add them to frame 1 so your code can target the button instances. You can place them off the stage (off-screen) in frame 1 so they aren't visible and then move them on-stage later in the flash movie when visitors need to see them. If they aren't on the stage in frame 1, the event handlers you create targeting these buttons won't work. Give each instance on the stage a unique instance name, like product1_btn and product2_btn. You do this by selecting each button and then entering an instance name in the properties panel. Again, we need to give them instance names in order to target them in our ActionScript code. Once you do this, go back to frame 1 of your Actions layer, click F9 to open the Actions window again and add the following code:

//functionality for product btn 1
product1_btn.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, clickProduct1 );
product1_btn.addEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_OVER, hoverProduct1 );

function hoverProduct1( event:Event):void {
tracker.trackEvent("Products", "HoverProduct1");
}

function clickProduct1( event:Event):void {
tracker.trackEvent("Products", "ClickProduct1");
gotoAndStop("product1");
}

So we have two event handlers for the product1_btn. The first event handler will handle the CLICK mouse event and the second will handle the MOUSE_OVER mouse event. MOUSE_OVER is when someone hovers over the button (as you probably guessed). Checking the clickProduct1 function, you see that we are using trackEvent to send an event tracking call to Google Analytics. The two parameters are Category and Action respectively. I lumped both product buttons under the same category called “Products” and then gave specific events to each click and hover (HoverProduct1 and ClickProduct1). You will be able to drill into event categories in your GA reporting and then see specific actions, along with trending.

Important: When you set up the code for the second product button, make sure your event handlers target product2_btn versus product1_btn and that you trigger specific functions, such as clickProduct2 and hoverProduct2 versus clickProduct1 and hoverProduct1. You definitely don’t want to call the wrong functions, as this will ultimately skew your reporting or throw errors in your flash movie. i.e. Someone might click the profile 2 button, but you triggered the profile 1 tracking.

The Email Link, Our Conversion in Flash
Last, but not least, we want to track when people click the email button. We have decided that clicking this button will be a conversion for our flash movie. Create a new layer in your flash movie and add your email button to frame 1 of this layer. Select the email button on the stage by clicking it and give it an instance name of emailMe_btn. Then go back to frame 1 of your Actions layer and open the actions window (hit F9). Below the code we added earlier, add the following lines of code:

//functionality for email button, this is also our conversion
emailMe_btn.addEventListener( MouseEvent.CLICK, onButtonClick );
function onButtonClick ( event:Event ):void
{
tracker.trackPageview("/GAFlash/EmailMe");
}

OK, so when visitors click the email button, we will trigger the trackPageview method to track that click as a pageview in Google Analytics. The page will show up as /GAFlash/EmailMe in your Content tab. In addition, since this is a conversion, you can set up a conversion goal in Google Analytics targeting that page. Then conversions will show up in your Goals tab within Google Analytics. Now you can tell your CMO how many visitors are converting within your flash movie. That’s not as generic as “Sorry, we don’t know”, right? ;-)

Quickly Test and Track Your Flash Movie
In the first piece of code we added in this tutorial, we included this line:
var tracker:AnalyticsTracker = new GATracker( this, "UA-111-222", "AS3", true );

As mentioned earlier, the “true” parameter tells flash whether you want to run debug mode. If you set this to true, then you can see a trace of your calls to Google Analytics. I recommend turning this on during your testing and then when you are ready to go live, you can turn if off by setting the parameter to “false”. Go ahead and test your movie and click the start button. You should see a message when the call is made to GA, and if it was successful. Then as you interact with your product thumbnails, you will also see the calls being made. Last, as you click the email button, you should also see the call being made. If all looks good, then you can add your published flash movie to an html page and then upload the files to your website. Remember to set debug to false as mentioned earlier or else everyone viewing with your flash movie will see the trace of your calls. Then click away and thoroughly test out your flash movie, try different browsers, platforms, etc. Make sure you trigger each of the elements enough and wait for GA to show you the results in your reporting.

Enabling Debug Mode to View a Trace of Your Calls:
Visual debugging with the gaforflash component

My Working Example of Using GAforFlash
I uploaded my example of using the Google Analytics for Adobe Flash Component in case you wanted to see how it looked and worked. I know it's hard sometimes to follow along without seeing the final product.

Checking Your Google Analytics Reporting
I’m going to show you what the reporting looked like for my own example. The first thing I did was click the Content Tab in Google Analytics and then Event Tracking within that tab. I immediately could see the total number of events that took place, visits with an event, etc. {See screenshots below.} Clicking the Categories tab displayed the event categories we set up earlier, such as Products (Note, I used UserProfiles in my example versus Products so that's what you will see in the screenshots below). This category includes the actions of hovering and clicking the product thumbnails. This is why mapping out what you want to track is important. You want a clear hierarchy in your reporting. Drilling into each category, I could see the actions that took place like HoverProfile1, ClickProfile2, etc. Note, I used the word "profile" in my testing versus products. If you click the Actions tab (below categories), you will see all of your actions listed, regardless of category. We didn’t add the optional parameter for Labels so you won’t see anything there (in case you were wondering).

The Event Tracking Overview Report in Google Analytics:
Viewing the event categories in Google Analytics

The Events Category Page in Google Analytics:
Viewing the event categories in Google Analytics

The Event Actions Report in Google Analytics:
Viewing the event categories in Google Analytics

Pageviews and Conversions
Remember we wanted to know how many people started our flash movie (after clicking the start button)? Well if you go into the Content Tab and check top content, you will see the /GAFlash/Start page listed. The number of pageviews shows how many times visitors started the flash movie. In addition, you can view /GAFlash/EmailMe, which shows the number of times the email button was clicked. And since we set this up as a conversion, you can click the Goals tab and see your TrackFlash conversion listed. Drilling into that conversion goal will also reveal conversion rate. And since it’s a conversion goal, you can see conversion by traffic source, campaign, keyword, etc. That’s the benefit of setting up conversion goals… So, you might find that organic search traffic converted 10x as much as paid search, or that visitors arriving via your email marketing didn’t even trigger your flash movie, so on and so forth.

Viewing Flash Pageviews in the Top Content Report in Google Analytics:
Tracking flash pageviews in Google Analytics

Viewing a Flash Conversion in Google Analytics:
Tracking flash pageviews in Google Analytics
Summary
OK, we've definitely covered a lot in Part 2. Either your head is reeling or you're excited to use the gaforflash component in your own projects (or both!) Take your time and test our different scenarios. Work with your flash development team and your web analysts to map out how to best track your flash apps. You never know, it very well could lead to more flash application work… like if you told your CMO that 25% of the people interacting with your flash movie converted! :) Imagine if you could glean insights from your flash content versus it just being slick and pretty. And I’ll take data over pretty any day of the week. ;-)

GG

Read Part 1 of this Series on Tracking Flash in Google Analytics

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How To Track Flash In Google Analytics (GA) Using The Google Analytics For Adobe Flash Component (GAforFlash), Part 1 of 2


Tracking Flash in Google Analytics Using the GAforFlash ComponentI wanted to start this post with some quick points about flash:
* flash content can be extremely engaging.
* flash apps are a great way to create something viral.
* flash is currently used extensively on the web for everything from video to games to product demos.
* Creative Directors love flash.
* Brand Managers also love flash.
* But unfortunately, flash has been hard and confusing to track...

I apologize if you were feeling pretty good about flash until the last bullet! ;-) That is the reality, though.

Why Has Flash Been Confusing And Hard To Track?
Let’s take a quick look at why flash tracking has been an issue. First and most basic, there are many people that don’t know you can even track flash applications. That’s a tough obstacle to overcome, right? Second, the Analytics team is sometimes not involved during the planning of flash-based projects or campaigns. I’m sure some web analysts reading this post probably believe that’s an understatement! Third, you need to coordinate mechanisms for tracking flash with both flash developers and analysts. Fourth, there has been confusion about how to actually track flash even if you already have your flash developers and analysts in the same room. Last (at least for this initial list), some people will focus on the end result (conversions only) and not track the specific elements on the website that lead to the conversion. i.e. As long as people buy something or sign up, I don’t care what they do on the site. As you can probably guess, I’m not a big fan of the latter… I think the more information you can gather about how visitors interact with your website, the more you can optimize the website to increase conversion (whatever conversion is for your specific business).

Yes, You Can Track Flash
I’m here to tell you that you can track flash and you can see how visitors are interacting with your flash applications. The approach I am going to show you is a more elegant method for tracking flash than what's been used in the past. My hope is that this two part series can save you from a potentially embarrassing moment. You know, when your CMO asks how the 6 month flash development project that cost $75K, that looks incredible, is highly engaging, and wins awards is contributing to the success of the website. Unfortunately, many people run for the hills at that moment, or act like they didn’t hear the question (Chevy Chase-style). I’d hate for you to say, “We’re not actually sure Mr. CMO…” ,and I’d rather hear you say, “Absolutely, here’s detailed reporting of how visitors are engaging our flash content, as well as the tangible effects on conversion.” Yes, I want you to be the flash analytics rock star. :)

Introduction to the Google Analytics for Adobe Flash Component (GAforFlash)
The GA for flash tracking component enables you to track specific events and functionality in your flash movies and seamlessly communicate with Google Analytics for tracking. It gracefully handles any DOM issues that could cause problems in other types of flash tracking using GA. It’s an open source initiative between Google and Adobe Systems and you can find more information on the Google Code Project website. http://code.google.com/p/gaforflash/

OK, But What Is It Exactly?
There are two components you can use in flash that enable you to track events, pageviews, conversions, etc. One is a simple flash component that you can customize in the component inspector in flash and the other component involves importing the tracking libraries into your project and then making calls to GA from within your ActionScript code (AS3). I’m going to cover the second approach, since it gives you the most flexibility. And don’t get scared with the way it was explained above. It’s actually straight forward if you are comfortable working in flash.

A Quick Tip For The Code-Averse:
I’m going to walk you through my example step by step in Part 2 of my series on tracking flash in google analytics. If you have worked in flash and written some ActionScript code, I’m confident you will be able to follow along. If not, grab your flash developer and your web analyst and then schedule a working lunch. You can all walk through my example together as a team. After going through my second post, I have a feeling you will collectively brainstorm several ways to use the GA for flash component to track your flash elements, websites, and applications.

So Are You Excited To Start?
Good, then you’re ready to read my second post, which covers how to track flash in Google Analytics using the GA for flash Tracking Component.

GG

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Web Analytics and Tracking Your Online Marketing Campaigns, Why Starting With a Basic Analytics Foundation is a Smart Way to Go


Web analytics, basic setup and strong foundation.You woke up earlier than usual this morning, eager to start the day. This is not your typical week... You’ve got a new product launching and you are having some final meetings to make sure everything is covered with your online marketing campaigns. In one of your last meetings before the launch, your CMO walks in and says, “Great work on developing the campaign and I’m excited to see the results. When can I expect to see some reporting detailing how each channel is performing?” Crickets chirp… {Since this is my blog post, I have the power to freeze time for 10 minutes so I can explain more about web analytics and help you craft your answer to your CMO. Please continue reading.}

There’s no reason that tracking online marketing campaigns should be an issue, although unfortunately, many times it is. There is a lot of talk about bleeding edge web analytics, and believe me, I’m excited about those advancements. But I would be careful with how you implement your web analytics package, or more importantly, how fast you move to an advanced tracking setup.

I think everyone would agree that it's never a good thing when campaigns go live without the proper tracking and measurement in place. It actually pains me to see that occur…especially knowing how some basic reporting can provide powerful and actionable insights. That's right, I said basic reporting and actionable insights in one sentence. For example, wouldn’t you like to track each aspect of your campaign to see which ones perform best? You can use this data to help you determine how to proceed in future campaigns (or even how to tweak current campaigns that are live). Is paid search generating the most revenue, which categories of keywords within paid search are driving that success, is email marketing generating high click throughs, but low conversion? Are your product pages ranking in natural search, how much traffic is coming from Google, and what’s the conversion rate for specific categories of keywords from organic search? If you think that these questions are hard to answer, you are wrong. I’m here to tell you that with some relatively basic tracking in place, you can find out answers to all of these questions, and more importantly, you can pass those insights to senior management at intervals during the campaign. As you can imagine, having campaign data is extremely valuable (even when it's negative). And, that information is easily digestible by all levels of the organization.

Start with a stable and accurate web analytics foundation and build upon it…
Here’s a quick analogy. You just spent thousands of dollars buying state of the art windows for your home. In addition, you decided to put in hardwood floors throughout the house. That’s great, but you’ve got a small problem. Your foundation is badly cracked. Considering that you need to spend a lot of money trying to fix your foundation, now how do you feel about adding all of the extras? You suddenly don’t seem to care, right? Web Analytics is the same way. What good is jumping to advanced levels of tracking when you can't even get basic performance data?? That's why I always recommend starting with a relatively basic implementation. Then, make sure your reporting is accurate and providing you with actionable information. Once you have a solid web analytics foundation in place, you can enhance it and test the new functionality in bite size pieces. For example, advanced segmentation, event tracking, tracking visitor engagement, implementing an advanced testing platform, etc. I don’t recommend jumping into the most advanced analytics setup right out of the gates. I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that you won’t be in a good place. There will be confusion, disappointment, frustration, and then you’ll probably revert to the basic setup like I recommended in the first place! By that time, you might have wasted countless hours, days, and months trying to get the advanced setup working. Even worse, there may be people in your company that have been using the reporting to make decisions... and decisions based on poor data is not good, to say the least.

What type of information can you get from relatively basic reporting?
Let’s go through a hypothetical campaign so you can see what I’m referring to. Maybe you have a new version of a product launching soon. You’ll be running paid search, display advertising, email marketing, and then optimizing the new section of the website for organic search. You’ve decided to use Google Analytics to track your campaigns and have installed the tracking code on each page of your website. For our example, there are two conversions, an e-commerce sale and an email list signup. You will be running paid search in Google and Yahoo, your display advertising is running on a number of industry-specific websites, you will be blasting out several email campaigns to your segmented in-house list, and you’ve optimized your new pages based on keyword research for natural search. With Google Analytics in place (a package I’ve written about often), you will be able to track each aspect of your campaign to determine the effectiveness of your efforts. With the proper tracking in place, you won't be surfing your web analytics reporting aimlessly for hours. Instead, you will be able to drill into GA and pull relevant information that can help you understand what worked and what didn't.

But Glenn, how do I track my campaigns?
That’s a good question and one I hear often. You’ve already added your GA code to your website, which is the first step. The next step (for our example) is to make sure GA tracks conversions and then revenue. You can learn how to set up conversion goals in Google Analytics here. After you learn how to set up conversion goals, you can read about how to set up e-Commerce tracking. It’s not hard to do and should take your developers a relatively short amount of time to set up. When that’s completed, you will be able to see conversions and revenue by channel (Paid Search, Natural Search, Email Marketing, Display Advertising, etc). Even better, you can drill into your campaigns to see which ad groups are driving the best performance, which keywords, which email creative, which creative elements are working best, etc. For example, you might find that one version of your email creative outperformed other email creative by 65%. That’s the type of powerful information you can glean from even a basic setup like this.

Now, GA natively tracks your AdWords campaigns so you are covered there without any additional tagging. For your other campaigns, you will need to tag your creative using GA’s tracking parameters. You can learn more about how to tag your links here. They are basically querystring parameters that enable GA to identify specific campaigns, and then will enable you to run reports on what those visitors do on your site. So for our example, you would want to tag your Yahoo paid search campaigns, your email marketing campaigns, and your display advertising so they can be uniquely identified by Google Analytics. BTW, I’ve written a post about how to tag your email marketing campaigns so you can track each element clicked in your emails. I’ve also written about tagging YSM campaigns using dynamic variables. Once you tag your campaigns, you can access your reporting within the Campaigns tab in Google Analytics (under Traffic Sources).

But can I really track valuable information with this setup?
You bet, but I’ll let you be the judge. Take a look at the bullets listed below and mark down how many you think would be valuable or important when tracking your campaigns:

*Visitors from each channel and then each campaign within that channel. i.e. Paid Search campaigns, email marketing campaigns, banners, etc.
*Conversions and conversion rate by channel, by campaign, search engine, keyword, email creative, banners, etc.
*e-Commerce revenue by channel, campaign, search engine, keyword, email creative, banner, etc.
*Bounce rate of all campaign landing pages.
*Exit rate of pages within your site and campaign section.
*Conversion Funnel analysis, or where people drop off when trying to complete a conversion.
*Trending over time per channel (and per campaign within each channel.)
*Top products and revenue during the campaign time period.
*Referring websites that are driving traffic to your campaign landing pages, including conversions and revenue from those traffic sources.
*Which geographic regions generate the most revenue or conversion.

I can keep going, but I’ll stop there.

How many bullets did you identify as valuable? I hope all of them (or at least most of them). Once you have this data, you can easily compare the reporting to previous campaigns, you can use it to refine the current campaign (on the fly), or use it to improve future campaigns. It’s actionable data. For example, you might find that display advertising cost you $50,000 and generated only $10,000 in revenue. Drilling into your display advertising, maybe two websites outperformed the others by a huge margin. Maybe you’ll find that paid search generated a 350% ROI. Drilling in further, your brand keywords accounted for most of the revenue and you already rank in natural search for those keywords, so do you need to run brand terms next time? Maybe your email marketing generated a lot of click throughs, but almost no conversion. You also notice a 90% bounce rate from email. Why?

OK, I think you get the picture. You will gain all of the information I listed above, and more, by using a fairly basic analytics setup with some minimal tagging. Can you see why it’s frustrating to some people in web marketing when campaigns go live without the proper analytics setup or tracking in place? Now, would I love to track even more than this by using an elaborate web analytics setup? You bet, but compared to having no tracking in place or unreliable tracking, I would be happy with this level of reporting! Wouldn’t you?

Back to your CMO for a second:
{Now I will unfreeze time so you can answer your CMO.} Earlier in the post, you were ready to answer a question from your CMO about campaign reporting by channel. Now instead of crickets chirping, I hope you’re chomping at the bit to answer his question. Maybe something like this will do, “Tracking? Absolutely, you’ll receive reporting 48 hours into the campaign and then twice per week for the life of the campaign. Then we’ll create a presentation detailing our findings once the campaign ends.” He smiles, and then walks out with a confident look in his eye. You turn around and open Outlook, create a task, and enter “Send Glenn a quick thank you.” ;-)

I’m going to leave you with one last question. If you were the CMO and had 2 senior marketing managers provide you their campaign reporting and one provides you the level of detail that I listed above (from a relatively basic analytics setup), and the other provides you with almost no reporting, or sketchy reporting at best, which one would you allocate more budget to next year?

GG

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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! :)

GG

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tagging and Tracking Yahoo Search Marketing Campaigns in Google Analytics


Tracking Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) Campaigns in Google AnalyticsDisclaimer: Before I begin to cover tagging and tracking your Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) campaigns in Google Analytics (GA), I highly recommend using an integrated search marketing package to manage your Paid Search campaigns, such as Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools or Omniture Search Center. Using a robust set of search marketing tools that are integrated with your web analytics package is obviously the optimal way to go (if that’s possible for your organization). Now let’s move on!

I Can Easily Analyze Google AdWords in Google Analytics, but…
Since many companies are now using Google Analytics, I often receive questions about how to best track Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) campaigns using GA. When you use Google Analytics, your paid search campaigns using Google AdWords are tracked natively, so there is no additional tagging that you need to implement. You will be able to drill into your campaigns, ad groups, and keywords easily from within GA and view sales, goal conversion, site usage, and cost. This is a great feature, because tagging your paid search campaigns is about as fun as writing "I will always remember to tag all of my Paid Search campaigns properly." a thousand times on a chalk board. :-) So I’ve decided to write this blog post offering you a good option for tagging YSM campaigns for analysis in Google Analytics.

It’s All About the Tagging…
For those of you not familiar with tagging, it’s the process of adding querystring parameters to your campaign URL’s so Google Analytics can accurately track your campaigns. I’ve written a previous blog post about tagging emails for analysis in Google Analytics here. To track YSM campaigns in GA, some marketers are tagging at the keyword level and some at the ad level. I recently helped several clients use a technique that enables them to tag their YSM campaigns at the ad level and utilize some of YSM’s enhanced tracking parameters to analyze their campaigns in GA by Ad Group, Keyword (the keywords you are bidding on), and Raw Keyword (what people are actually entering).

YSM Enhanced Tracking Parameters (Dynamic Values from YSM)
If you turn on “Tracking URL’s” in YSM, then you can access a list of Enhanced Tracking Parameters each time someone clicks one of your keywords. You will use two of these tracking parameters for our GA tagging example.

The 2 Enhanced Tracking Parameters You Will Utilize Are:
{OVKEY} – or the keyword that a visitor clicked on. Note, these are the keywords that you bid on, not the original query from a visitor.
{OVRAW} – Yes, you got it… It’s the original query (or raw query) that a visitor entered in Yahoo.

*Note, there are several other enhanced tracking parameters available, but we’ll use the two listed above for our tagging purposes.

The Yahoo Search Marketing Tagging:
I’ll begin by providing a tagged URL below and then explain the parameters. Note, you will be tagging your URL’s at the Ad Level. So, you’ll create your ad (or access one you have already created and use this dynamic URL as the destination URL for your ad). Then you won’t need to tag at the keyword level. Yes, this will save you hours of work and hopefully meet your tracking requirements as well. :-)

Tagging Your YSM URL:
http://www.yourwebsite.com/products.asp?product-id=25&utm_source=Yahoo&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term={OVKEY}&utm_content={OVRAW}&utm_campaign=Spring%2BClothing%2BMen

Let’s quickly cover each parameter:
utm_source=Yahoo, This is simple, it’s just the traffic source. For our purposes we are using Yahoo to signify YSM.

utm_medium=CPC, Signifying Cost Per Click.

utm_term={OVKEY} This is the keyword that was clicked on. Note, this is the keyword you are bidding on and not the raw query. The beautiful part of {OVKEY} is that no matter which keyword was clicked on, the {OVKEY} enhanced parameter will hold that keyword. It's basically a variable for the programmers out there...

utm_content={OVRAW} This is the raw query that was entered into Yahoo. This is valuable information and I’ll explain more below.

utm_campaign=Spring%2BClothing%2BMen This is the name of the campaign, which will show up under the Campaigns Tab under Traffic Sources. BTW, %2B is a plus sign, %20 is a space (these are URL encoded characters, which you should always use in your URL's). You should be descriptive with the campaign name so you can easily find your campaign in the list within GA.

Why Did I Tag the URL This Way?
Good question. Because I want you to quickly access your campaign reporting in Google Analytics and be able to segment your reporting by keyword and raw query. Now, let your test campaign run for a day and then access your GA reporting. Click the Traffic Sources tab and then click Campaigns. You should see a campaign titled, “Spring+Clothing+Men”. You can review your top level information for the campaign here, like Ecommerce Revenue, Goal Conversion, and Site Usage. Click this campaign to drill deeper. Once you are in the Campaign Details report, you can easily segment the report to analyze keywords and raw queries. Click the segment dropdown and choose Keyword. This will show you the keywords (that you bid on), that led to your site. You can easily view site usage statistics, sales, and goal conversion per keyword. Click the segment dropdown again and select Ad Content. Now you are viewing the raw keywords (or the query) that people entered in Yahoo to view your ads. This is especially powerful, since you can find new, longer tail keywords for your campaigns (which will probably yield a lower CPC). You can easily export the raw keywords and then import the ones you want to use in your YSM campaigns. For example, you may be bidding on the word Khaki Pants, but you might find that visitors are entering New Dark Khaki Pants or 32 inch Khaki Pants. You would export these raw keywords and then add them to your campaign. You get the idea…

Screenshot of the YSM Campaign Reporting:
Click on the image below for a larger version:

Viewing YSM reporting in Google Analytics

To summarize…
So there you have it. A nice way to tag your YSM campaigns, save time, and accurately view your Paid Search reporting in Google Analytics. I still recommend using an integrated paid search package when possible, but regardless, this technique will definitely save you time and frustration. It’s a nice way to drill into your YSM campaigns to view sales, goal conversion, site usage, and all by campaign, ad group, keyword and raw keyword. Now, I would still love to view YSM campaigns with the ease of AdWords campaigns in Google Analytics, but for now, I’ll just keep using this technique. I hope this helps your paid search efforts! Let me know how it works for you.

GG

Related Content:
* Analyzing Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns Using Google Analytics

* Site Search in Google Analytics

* The Referring Sites Report in Google Analytics

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Site Search in Google Analytics, One More Weapon in Your Analytics Arsenal


Site Search Analysis in Web AnalyticsIf you run an e-commerce website, then you already know how important site search is to your business. As websites grow more complex, visitors love to use site search to find products on your website. So, how good of a job does your site search do at connecting visitors to the products that they are looking for? Did you pause? :) In my opinion, site search analysis is a key component to understanding customer behavior and can greatly help enhance your online business. Google Analytics recently launched its Site Search functionality and I wanted to give an introduction to the functionality and reporting now available.

Why is Site Search Analysis Important?
I’ll give you the quick answer… Because visitors on your site are giving you a lot of feedback about how you handle their questions, but unfortunately, the feedback isn't given directly to you. If you were a salesperson in a retail store, you would get immediate feedback, right? “Excuse me Glenn, I’m looking for an HD TV from Samsung. Can you point me in the right direction?” You would obviously know how well you directed that person or how well your store could handle the request (i.e. you might not even carry Samsung HD TV’s.) On a website, you don’t hear the feedback, you don’t immediately know which “aisle” visitors traveled down, and you might not know how much revenue came from that query. This is where site search analysis can greatly help your efforts. And, you can take action relatively quickly based on the data. Again, this will be an introduction to keep the post from being 15 pages long…but I plan to write more about this in future posts. Let’s jump in…

Finding Site Search in Google Analytics:

Clicking Site Search in Google AnalyticsFirst, I’m assuming you have set up site search in your profile. It’s very easy to do and you can find instructions from Google here. Once you are logged in, click the Content tab in the left side navigation, and then click Site Search. You will be taken to the Overview page, where you are provided with several options. Let’s start with the most obvious report for site search, the actual keywords that your visitors are entering on your website.

Search Terms (or Keywords) Used on Your Website:
Click the link under Site Search for Search Terms to view all of the keywords that visitors are using on your website. Cool, right? Do they match what you thought were the top searches? I’m sure there are some surprises… This is a great way to get a top level picture of what people are looking for on your site. Let’s quickly look at some of the key metrics on this page (Note, I will not cover all of the metrics in this post…)

Screenshot of the Search Terms Report:
Click on the image below for a larger version:
Viewing search terms (keywords) in Site Search

Total Unique Searches - This is the logical starting point. You can easily see the hot keywords on your website and then drill into them when you want to view more detailed reporting.

% Search Exit - What a great metric! This is the percentage of people that exited immediately from the search listings after searching for that keyword. It's very similar to bounce rate and it's a great red flag indicator. Imagine you see a 90% search exit rate for a keyword that matches a product you have! Why is that happening? A quick search on your site could possibly reveal the problem. Then go and fix it immediately! :)

% Search Refinements - Or the percentage of people that refined their search keywords after searching for a specific keyword. This reveals a lot about how your visitors search for products. You will love this metric if you plan on making site search enhancements… More on this later. For example, a visitor might start with HD TV, but then refines their search as follows:
HD TV --> Samsung HD TV --> Samsung HD TV LCD

Revenue Anyone?
And of course you can click the tabs for Goal Conversion and E-Commerce at any time to view revenue per keyword or your site conversions per keyword (like newsletter signups, RSS subscriptions, etc.)

Drill Into Your Top Keywords:
You can click any keyword to drill into more detailed reporting. One of my favorite reports is the Search Navigation report, which you can find by clicking the Analyze dropdown once you drill into a specific keyword. Click Analyze and then select Search Navigation. This will show you the page that visitors started their search on (using that keyword), and then where they ended up. You need to click a page on the left and then Google Analytics will show you the page that visitors ended up on (the destination page). You may find some interesting results, like visitors ending up on pages that you would rather them not end up on given their specific search! For example, if someone searches for Samsung HD TV and they end up the Digital Cameras page, you would want to take a hard look at how that happened…

Screenshot of the Search Navigation Report:
Click on the image below for a larger version:
Search Navigation in Site Sarch


Search Term Refinement:
You can also use the Analyze dropdown to select Search Term Refinement, which will enable you to see how visitors refined their searches after first searching for the selected keyword. Using the example I listed above, you might see that visitors started with HD TV, then added a manufacturer Samsung HD TV, and then added a screen type like Samsung HD LCD TV. The way visitors search may be completely different based on the categories of products you sell. You might end up refining your search functionality by category to enhance your visitors’ experience and to maximize sales.

Screenshot of the Search Term Refinement Report:
Click on the image below for a larger version:
Search Term Refinment in Site Search


0 Search Results
Interested in knowing which search terms result in a 0 search results page? This is not built into GA, so finding this takes an extra step. I typically start by finding high % search exits and then hit the e-commerce website in question to see the results. For example, if you see a 90% exit rate after the search for LG HD TV, you might want to check it out. Finding keywords like this can help you determine problematic search results (like if you really had LG HD TV’s!) It can also help you determine possible new product additions. If you don’t carry LG HD TV’s and you have a lot of visitors searching for them, you might want to consider adding them, right? You get the point!

Site Search Usage - Let’s take a step back and look at the usage reporting.
Click the Usage link under Site Search in the left navigation. You can see the number of visits to your site that utilized site search versus not using site search. Then you can use the dropdowns to analyze additional metrics. For example, use the dropdown to show revenue so you can see how much money was generated by visitors using site search. Or, you can view number of transactions from site search versus visitors not using site search. On the right side, you can view a pie chart based on visit type (visits with or without site search). For example, use the right dropdown to view time on site (for visitors who used site search versus not using site search). The Usage reporting is a great way to see how much value your site search is providing your business.

Screenshot of the Site Search Usage Report:
Click on the image below for a larger version:
Search Usage in Site Search Reporting


Which Destination Pages Performed the Best?
By clicking the Destination Pages link under Site Search in the left navigation, you can view all of the pages that visitors were taken to after searching for a keyword. You can quickly use the dropdown to view metrics for that destination page, such as revenue, total unique searches, complete orders, conversion rate, % search exits, etc. This is a great way to look at top performing pages versus poorly performing destination pages. For example, you might be able to find certain elements, calls to action, visuals, etc. from a top performing page that you can apply to poorly performing pages. You can also drill into each page to see the keywords that led to the page. And, you can still use the dropdown up top to view key metrics (now by keyword versus destination page).

Start Pages
To view the pages where searches on your website originated, click Start Pages under Site Search in the left navigation. So, why did searches originate from these pages? Is there something you can do to enhance certain pages? Do any of those pages also have a high bounce rate or exit rate? You can click any of the start pages to view the search keywords that visitors entered while on that page. For example, you might find a category landing page with searches for products not listed on that landing page (even though they are part of that category). If you see enough of a demand for certain products or subcategories, you might try adding them to the landing page. Remember, you want to connect your visitors with the products they are looking for as quickly as possible. If you can take a barrier away, like having to search for the product, then do it. Small adjustments might reap great rewards.

Site Search Trending
The last set of reporting I’m going to cover is Site Search Trending, which can be found under the Site Search tab in the left navigation. By clicking the link for Trending, you can easily see data over time for key metrics in site search. Using the Trending dropdown at the top of the report, you can view visits with search, % search exits, % search refinements, search depth, etc. Keep in mind, this reporting is top level and not for specific searches. It will give you an overall snapshot of how your site search functionality is working. For example, let’s say you’ve had a slight problem recently with visitors not being able to easily find your search box. So you made some changes to its location and want to see if that change affected the percentage of visitors using site search. This is a great report for finding information like this… The trending graph enables you to easily view data over time. That was just a quick example, but I wanted to make sure you understood that Trending was at the site level when looking at this report.

Moving forward with Site Search Analysis…
I hope this post helped introduce Site Search Analysis in Google Analytics and gets you excited about digging deeper. Let’s face it, if someone is searching for products on your site, you don’t want to lose them… To use the retail sales analogy I explained earlier, visitors who are using site search are actually giving you feedback. The problem is that they aren't directly giving the feedback to you! You need to channel their approval or frustration through your site search reporting within Google Analytics (or other web analytics packages). It can help you reveal what’s working and what’s not working. You might be surprised what you find!

GG

Related Posts:
* Analyzing Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns Using Google Analytics
* The Referring Sites Report in Google Analytics : Know the Value of Websites Linking to You
* A Review of Google Analytics v2

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