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

Monday, June 02, 2008

Web Analytics and Tracking Offline Conversions | Why I Wouldn’t Want to be the Email Marketing Manager at Toys R Us

Tracking Offline Sales That Originate Online, Toys R Us Email MarketingMaybe that’s a bit harsh, so let me explain. I’m sure it’s a good job and that the person running email marketing enjoys what he/she does, but there is an inherent issue with that position that would drive me absolutely crazy... So, why wouldn’t I want to be the email marketing manager at Toys R Us? It has to do with sales attribution, tracking offline conversions, and what I’ve witnessed first hand over the past 6 months. Let’s start off with some background information.

Let’s Define Sales Attribution:
The definition of sales attribution is the process by which you assign credit (in this case revenue) to a particular sales channel. If you are using a web analytics package on your e-commerce website (and I hope you are), then sales attribution enables you to break down your revenue by channel (email marketing, paid search, organic search, banner advertising, etc.) to gauge how your marketing campaigns are performing.

Receiving the Email and Then Visiting the Store…
I receive email marketing from Toys R Us frequently (being a parent of 2 young children). If something piques my curiosity, I sometimes click through to the website and browse around. That’s good for Toys R Us and their email marketing manager. But…I almost always buy offline, and that’s not so good for the email marketing manager. Now, I’m sure the person running email marketing wants the best for the company and a sale is a sale, but that specific sale won’t be attributed to the email campaign that sparked the transaction. Do you see where I’m going with this? How would you like it if someone else (or department) always took credit for your hard work? Back to why I purchase toys offline. I think you have to be a parent to understand why I almost always buy offline at a Toys R Us store. You see, it’s actually a blast to visit the store with your kids. And, when weekends sometimes feel like a marathon for parents, it’s a much needed break. The only way I would buy from Toy R Us online is if the store near us didn’t have something I desperately needed in stock (and that’s not often). It’s ironic for me…since I buy everything online, but toys seem to be a different story.

Web Analytics and Sales Attribution
Typically, an email marketing campaign is tagged specifically to be tracked in a web analytics package. This is done via tracking parameters added to the links in the email marketing creative you receive. The tracking variables are appended to the URL in the querystring. To see what I’m talking about, check out the following link from an email I received from Lands End this past weekend.

An email link tagged with tracking variables:

Lands End is using Coremetrics (a web analytics package that I am extremely familiar with). The tagging you see in the querystring will enable the web analytics package to attribute the sale to the email marketing I received on Sunday. Based on what I just showed you, I’m sure you can see why tracking online campaigns is much easier to do than offline campaigns (and why it’s much faster to report). You can track each campaign at a granular level and obviously make decisions based on your reporting to improve campaign performance in the future. That said, you still have a problem with tracking offline conversions that started online (like I explained earlier with receiving an email and then visiting the store.) So, as the sales roll in at the store, the poor email marketing manager back at headquarters won’t really be able to attribute that revenue to his or her campaign. Sure, you can guess that the email drove a certain amount of revenue, but you can’t say for sure… Unfortunately, there aren’t many ways around this issue (for now). However, there are some ways to attempt to capture the sale and attribute it correctly and I’ve listed two ideas below.

Some Ideas for Attributing Sales for Offline Transactions That Originate Online:

1. Include a printable coupon in your email.
If you can provide a printable coupon in your email creative, then you might entice a customer to bring it to the store. If the coupon is used, then you can attribute the sale to your email marketing campaign (as long as your systems can communicate with one another). This is not a new technique and it requires a customer to take a few extra steps, but it can help you attribute the sale to your campaign. Hey, every dollar counts when you’re running that channel, right?

2. Have your cashiers ask the question at checkout.
Now, this is definitely not foolproof, since it’s based on human behavior, but it might work for you. Let’s list a few potential problems… The cashier may never ask the question or ask much less frequently than you want. The customer may not tell the truth or shrug off the question. Let’s face it, relying on people to track your sales is not optimal.

Let's Help The Email Marketing Manager at Toys R Us!
So, can you see why I wouldn’t want to be the email marketing manager at Toys R Us? I can’t imagine how many sales are attributed to other channels. That would drive me nuts! But, we can help... If you’ve received an email from Toys R Us, but visited the store to make your purchase, list the date and dollar amount below. Maybe the email marketing manger can import this data into his/her web analytics package and finally get credit for a job well done!

I’ll start:
May 25th, $72.10


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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Analyticza™ Pill Arrives and Curbs Addiction to Web Analytics Reporting

Analyticza pills help curb severe obsession with web analytics reporting.
The makers of Webmarktrium™ now bring you Analyticza™,
the most powerful way to curb your compulsive web analytics disorder.

Just 1 Analyticza™ per day enables you to lead a healthy, normal life free of obsessive analysis of your web analytics reporting.

Does This Sound Familiar?
Do you have a compulsion with web analytics reporting?* Do you feel a sudden urge to check your web analytics reports?
* Do you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about which websites or blogs are linking to you?
* Can you not go more than 2 hours without checking your analytics package?
* Do you search for reasons just to log on and check your web stats?

Then Analyticza™ might be for you!

Analyticza can help you get your life back!Analyticza™ is lactose free, does not contain wheat, fish, nuts, or artificial colors and is 98% organic. Analyticza™ has a soft, gel-like outer covering so you can take as many Analyticza™ as you need while at work, in meetings, during exercise, at social events, or any other activity where you want to curb your addiction to web analytics.

Find out today why the country’s top physicians call Analyticza™, “The cure for the statistics-hungry demon inside every web marketer.”

Don’t wait any longer! Contact your physician today about getting started. Your life is waiting for you…and it’s a life free of web analytics compulsion.

Please view important safety information before taking Analyticza™:

Important Safety Information:

1. The most common side effects of Analyticza™ include tremors, headaches, wheezing, and eyestrain. Less commonly occurring reactions include hair loss and nose bleeds.

2. When taken on an empty stomach, Analyticza™ may cause excessive analysis of referring sites and backlinks, which in some cases lead to stalking of referring website owners. In extreme cases, restraining orders were necessary.

3. When taken in conjunction with executing busy holiday marketing schedule, Analyticza™ may cause sleepwalking and then analyzing web marketing reporting, with amnesia of the event. Some patients were found in their offices, still in their pajamas (or less), reviewing reporting while still asleep. Termination and lawsuits followed in 65% of the cases.

4. Patients focused on gaining high search engine rankings may fall into a search reporting binge, finding each and every keyword they rank for. In addition, these patients were seen randomly blurting out their rankings to people that actually don’t care. In severe cases, patients tracked down competitors they outrank, performed “keyword celebrations” on the front lawns of their competitors, and typically end up in custody. Analyticza™ does not condone “sticking it” to your competitors with excessive celebrations.

5. Missed dosages of Analyticza™ in combination with parenting has caused extreme head discomfort due to spouse projection of coffee mug at patient. This typically occurred as patient relapsed and forwarded key metrics to his/her mobile device during birthday party of child. This was often accompanied by mother in law projection of punch bowl, father in law projection of pinata stick, and overall family disgust leading to potential exile of patient. Analyticza™ cannot be held liable for head injuries, family disputes, contusions from pinata sticks, or reimbursement for hotel as a result of exile.

6. If taken for extended periods of time, patient may become immune to Analyticza™, which may cause extreme relapse of compulsive analytics behavior. During relapse, marketers often obsess about Bounce Rate, with aggressive behavior towards coworkers that were part of high bounce rate landing pages. If you experience an obsession with Bounce Rate for longer than 72 hours straight, or what doctors call “Bouncy Bounce Syndrome”, flush all Analyticza™ pills down toilet, eat 9 pounds of parsley, and jog 14 miles. Symptoms should subside within 48 hours.

7. Caution should be taken while taking Analyticza™ when attempting to understand sales attribution across marketing channels. Studies have shown that even small doses of Analyticza™ while trying to determine what “sales attribution” actually means can lead to seizures, migraine headaches, nerve damage, and even stroke in severe cases. Analyticza™ recommends you contact Coremetrics to gain a solid understanding of how sales attribution can impact your web marketing strategies.

8. Taking Analyticza™ while also taking Omega 3 pills has shown a dramatic effect on the physical appearance of patients. Note, this was not the intended use of Analyticza™ and thorough testing has not been conducted as of yet. Please reference photos below. Analyticza™ cannot guarantee similar results, increased dating, a career in modeling, or enhanced popularity.

Patient before taking AnalyticzaPatient after taking Analyticza

9. Taking Analyticza™ while reading top web analytics blogs may cause a sudden increase in blood pressure and anxiety. This occurs as Analyticza™ tries to fight off the urge for web analytics analysis. This can lead to over-commenting on blogs in question, which often leads to biting replies back from web analytics bloggers, and can possibly spiral out of control as supporters of top bloggers unite and retaliate against patient (or what is called “The Blogtzkrieg”.)

10. If you are taking Analyticza™ and find yourself greeting coworkers in the morning with “Hey, guess what I’m ranking for…”, “Guess who was on my site yesterday…”, “Nice bounce rate…”, “I know what you were looking at last night on my blog…”, “You can’t handle my RSS subscription rate...”, or similar phrases, you may need to supplement your Analyticza™ treatment with chemicals peels, yoga, the cabbage diet, high gelatin intake, and possibly hypnosis. It’s obvious that Analyticza™ alone is not working for you. Analyticza™ is not responsible for rumors about your sanity, negative feedback at work, notices from HR that you’re creepy, or simply being made fun of by your coworkers.

11. In some cases, taking Analyticza™ before social events has led to the phenomenon called the 6 degrees of blogging. This occurs when you take a normal conversation and somehow connect it with your own blog by 6 degrees. For example, “Hey John, how about that Yankee game last night?” Analyticza™ patient responds, “Great game, I can’t believe A-Rod hit another home run, he just did an interview with ESPN, didn’t ESPN just run a segment on his agent Scott Boras, Scott Boras makes his players a lot of money, by the way, did you know that my blog post about sports contracts ranks #4 in Google?" Person leaves conversation and thinks Analyticza™ patient is weird. This may happen multiple times during the social event. If it does, force feed Analyticza™ patient lots of alcohol, as much as you can find until symptoms subside (or patient passes out).

12. Patients that mistakenly overdose on Analyticza™ may lose interest in Web Analytics altogether. This typically results in lack of segmentation, loss of search rankings, misallocation of ad spend, and failed marketing campaigns. Also seen in patients that overdose was an overall lack of understanding of who actually visits the website in question, where they come from, which pages perform best on the website, and how to improve the website. In severe cases, excessive golfing may occur followed by swift termination.

13. How Analyticza™ works is not actually known.

14. In clinical studies, simply reminding yourself that you have a life outperformed Analyticza™ 99% of the time.

15. Try not to take Analyticza™.

Glenn Gabe works hard every day to stop web marketing medication abuse.
Glenn Gabe works hard each day to ensure people don't abuse web marketing medications.

Are you an Analyticza™ patient?
Please tell us how Analyticza™ has impacted your life by adding a comment below!

--Are you looking for the web marketing smart pill named WebMarktrium™?--

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making Sense of Blog Bounce Rate

Understanding Blog Bounce Rate This is the fourth post in my series on Bounce Rate, which is one of my favorite metrics in web analytics. Many online marketers are concerned with Bounce Rate, which makes a lot of sense since you can learn a lot from this metric… I've recently received many questions about Bounce Rate and how it relates to blog posts, so I thought it would be a good idea to address this topic in a post of my own. Let’s call it “adding context to your blog's bounce rate”.

There are 4 components to this post:
1. Your Blog Philosophy and Goals
2. Your Writing Style and How It Matches the Drivers of Your Readers
3. Related Content
4. Track and Learn

Your Blog Philosophy and Goals:
Determine the goal for your blog. BEFORE you start to analyze bounce rate for your blog posts, you should think about your overall blog philosophy and determine your goals. For example, is your goal to educate readers and to answer questions, are you trying to generate a large readership, will your blog help you sell products or services, is it a key mechanism for getting people to contact you, are you interested in building high search engine rankings, etc? Clearly understanding your goals will help you bring context to the bounce rate of your blog posts. To give a quick example, if your goal is to provide breaking news to your readers, then bounce rate might not be as important as you think. Why? Well, if someone finds your blog post about the latest widget update and they quickly visit the post, check out the breaking news, and then leave, is that bad? No, but that’s technically a bounce. Or, if they find your blog post and immediately choose to subscribe to your RSS feed, is that good or bad? It all depends on your goal... So, stop reading this post for a few seconds and think about the goal of your blog. Then write it down on a sticky note and place that on your desk somewhere you can easily see it. We’ll be referring back to it shortly.

The Angle of Your Blog Posts and the Key Drivers of Your Readers:
Now, let’s take a look at some different types of content and how they match up with the key drivers of your readers. There are a lot of reasons why people visit blog posts and you should try and understand your readers as much as possible in order to provide the best possible experience for them, which in turn, should lead to supporting the goal of your blog. Again, we need to bring context to your bounce rate situation. Note, there are obviously many types of blog posts, but the ones listed below are based on my experience helping clients and working on my own blogs.

Different Types of Blog Posts and Their Effect on Bounce Rate (based on my experience)

1. Educational Posts (Teaching Your Readers Something of Value)
Blog posts that teach your readers something of value. If you know that your readers want to learn something from you, then you have a great chance to provide additional educational content on your blog that would interest them. The key here is to understand what specific topics your readers are interested in based on your analysis, then write high quality posts that focus on that topic, and then provide links to relevant content on your blog. If you understand what your readers want to learn, then there's a good chance they will consume a lot of content on your blog that relates to that topic. And, they will appreciate it…finding your blog a great source of information about an important topic for them.

Educational Posts = Excellent Chance of Low Bounce Rate

2. Focused Entertainment and Isolated Stories
Bill Maher Throws Audience Member Out and Receives over 2000 diggs for it. Some readers simply enjoy finding interesting posts, even if they are very focused and/or isolated. They might love funny blog posts, shocking or disturbing blog posts, unique stories, entertaining posts, misc. facts, weird photos, parodies, etc. If you provide blog posts like this, you might notice higher bounce rates for that specific content. It’s not that readers don’t like you or your posts, it’s just the nature of the content. That said, you still might notice a lot of activity and links (which is a good thing). Think about it, let’s say someone is on digg and clicks through a story to view a video of Bill Maher kicking people out of his audience. You wrote a great post about what happened and how this affects journalists that work in Live TV. You might notice a high bounce rate with this type of post, since the focus might be on finding and watching the video and not on the blog or blog author in question. At this point, look at the sticky note I told you to create a few minutes ago and see how it matches up with the goal of your blog… You might have built 1000 links to your blog from that one post, but no RSS subscriptions. Is that good or bad? Good for organic search, but bad for building readership. Again, it depends on your goal...

Focused Entertainment = Good Chance of High Bounce Rate, but More Eyeballs and Links

3. Product and Service Reviews
Blog posts that provide product or service reviews. Providing reviews based on your expertise is a great way to build a loyal following. The beauty of the web (and blogging and social media), is that you can find reviews from normal, everyday people who will typically give you an honest opinion of a product or service. Readers interested in reviews tend to also follow related content until they have the confidence to make an informed decision. For example, if you review an iPhone and then also review a Blackberry Curve, there’s a great chance readers looking for this type of content will read both posts (as long as you let them know the additional content is there!) More on this later. It makes sense if you think about it. Put yourself in their shoes…you are about to spend a few hundred dollars, you aren’t sure if it’s right for you, and you just found a person like you providing a real-world review without marketing spin. There's a reason that Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) is as hot as it is now.... Just make sure you find the right blogger…

Product or Service Reviews = Excellent Chance of Low Bounce Rate

4. Blog Posts that Benchmark
Blog posts that benchmark. We’ve all wanted to find blog posts explaining the best way to do something, right? (whether it's for business or personal use) For example, some visitors may be looking for the best way to launch a new business or the best way to improve their golf game. These readers are looking to find the best methods in the industry (whatever industry you are writing about), they want to know which is the best company or who is the top person, how they do it, and how to reproduce that effort in their own life. For example, someone may find your post about how to best run a fundraiser. This type of reader will be more apt to check out related posts, such as how to best organize your fundraising team, which marketing methods work best, and the top venues in your region to hold the fundraiser kickoff. You get the picture…

Benchmarking = Good Chance of Low Bounce Rate

5. Keep Me Posted
Breaking news on your blog.This type of content involves providing quick posts about something you just learned about. For example, when Google Analytics recently announced a series of upgrades, many bloggers who are focused on web analytics wrote quick posts letting their readers know. These posts might show a higher bounce rate than others. Again, it makes a lot of sense… you are quickly letting people know about breaking news so they will probably check out your post quickly and be on their way. You can definitely gain a following by doing this, since you are the source of new information, but you can’t expect these posts to be sticky. That said, these readers might subscribe to your feed, since you keep them posted. :-)

Benchmarking = Good Chance of Higher Bounce Rate, but High RSS Subscriptions

Note, there are obviously additional types of posts and drivers for blog readers, but I’ll keep this post manageable and stop here. Again, these are based on my experience. The main point is to understand the angle of your posts and how these posts match up with what your readers are looking for (what drives them to read blog posts).

The Anti-Bounce
Providing related content is the anti-bounce rate. There is a common thread that’s been running throughout this post…related content. For bloggers that are just starting out, unfortunately, you'll need to write faster. ;-) Once you've created great content on your blog, the next step is to analyze your web analytics and then provide killer content that’s relevant to key posts on your blog. The third step is to make sure readers can find your related content! This can be done in several ways:

Ways to Provide Related Content:
1. Inline Links, or links within the blog post content (my favorite)
2. A list of related posts at the end of the blog post in question
3. Tagging your posts
4. Utilizing your sidebar to provide additional links
5. Providing search functionality

Each of these techniques can work, but I’m a bigger fan of inline links, links below your post, and tagging. In my opinion, inline links actually provide better context for the reader, but that’s just my opinion. For example, I’ve also written blog posts about how to lower your bounce rate. This inline link gives my readers some context.

A Quick Note About Tracking Outbound Clicks and Content Navigation
Tracking outbound clicks and content navigation in your web analytics package. Using your web analytics package, you should definitely track as much as you can to determine behaviors that affect your bounce rate and consumption of blog content. For example, if you track outbound clicks, you can see which external links your readers find most important. This can help you determine which topics are hot and possibly what to focus on in future posts. For example, if you wrote a post about how to better your golf score and you notice a lot of readers clicking on a link to Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible, then maybe your next post should focus on the short game (your golf game within 100 yards). Simple example, but you get the point! BTW, reading Dave's books lowered my golf score by 10 strokes. :)

Web Analytics Note: Google Analytics will soon support tracking of outbound clicks natively. This will make your life a lot easier... rather than manually tagging each outbound link!

Content Navigation is also important to analyze. This is where you can target a blog post in your analytics package and view how visitors got to that specific post and then also view where they go after reading the post. So, you might see 60% of the visitors to a blog post landed on that blog post (the first interaction with your site in a session). Then 80% of those readers went to related posts, 10% bounced, and 10% subscribed to your RSS feed. Viewing content navigation can help you determine how readers behave on your site in relation to the type of blog post you provide.

It’s All About Context
In closing, it’s hard to simply look at Bounce Rate for your blog without understanding the other factors involved. You need context. A high bounce rate a on a blog post might actually make sense, as weird as that sounds. If you start by mapping out a goal for your blog, pay attention to how you write your posts, understand how that matches the drivers of your readers, provide related content easily within your blog posts, and track everything at a granular level, then you can begin to understand blog content and reader behavior. Phew, that’s a mouthful!

Now, in the spirit of this blog post, definitely check out the other posts that are part of my Bounce Rate series! :-)

* Bounce Rate and Exit Rate

* Why is My Homepage Bounce Rate So High?

* 5 More Ways to Lower Your Bounce Rate and Increase Your ROAS


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Migrating to Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools - My Favorite Features

Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools - List of Top FeaturesI think everyone agrees that managing paid search is tough and time consuming. In my opinion, you need to be chest deep in your campaigns all of the time to reap the greatest rewards. With keyword research, copywriting, building landing pages, optimizing your campaigns, etc. it takes a lot of time, to say the least. So, if you could leverage technology to make the process of managing paid search more efficient, my guess is that you would probably do it. Of course, you would need a solid tool that provides a wealth of functionality for it to make sense. You probably wouldn’t make a big change if you just added one piece of functionality…you would need a platform that helps you on several dimensions.

The Vendor UI, Spreadsheets, Text Editors, and 3rd Party Software
Paid Search Management Can Make You Crazy!If you walked into the office of someone managing paid search for their company, you would probably see a process that includes a host of products and services. This includes bulk spreadsheets, the vendor UI’s (going directly into Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. to manage campaigns), using AdWords Editor, Text Editors, and 3rd party software for bid management. Then add a web analytics package for analysis mixed with reporting from the vendor and it becomes a world of multiple touch points that can drive a search marketer insane… and can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome. ;-) So, how can you alleviate the madness of paid search management? Well, alleviate might be a strong term, since the fast and furious process of managing paid search isn’t going away, but you can definitely make it easier for yourself. Enter web analytics vendors that provide paid search management packages. Coremetrics is one of the vendors offering this type of functionality and I created this post to list some of my favorite features of the platform. Note, this post is not meant to cover all of the functionality provided by Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools, so look for future posts that expand on this topic.

Some of My Favorite Features of Coremetrics Search Tools:

1. Auto-Tagging of Keywords
Halelujah. :-) For those of you who have to tag keywords so you can accurately track them in your analytics package, you will GREATLY appreciate this feature. Whether you manually tag them or you have developed your own application to tag them (which probably isn’t that good…), you will LOVE this feature of Coremetrics Search Tools. Simply copy the keywords you want to include in an Ad Group and click “Add New Keywords”. Wow, that was tough. ;-) Compare that to the painful, vision-killing, carpal tunnel syndrome-creating, insanity of tagging the keywords yourself, and you can see why this one feature may be worth the migration to CM Search Tools. For example, I added about 300 keywords to an ad group last week in about 10 seconds…and tagged the keywords at a granular level (read below).

2. Tagging Keywords at a Granular Level
Even when you tag keywords, sometimes you want to know more about why those keywords are generating sales (or not generating sales…) With the typical tagging hierarchy, you might see something like this in your web analytics package:

Vendor -> Campaign -> AdGroup -> Keyword

Now, that’s fine and you’ll see revenue by keyword, ad group, and campaign, but what if you wanted to see more? Coremetrics Search Tools enable you to go further by seeing a multitude of additional elements. For example, keyword match type, the raw keyword entered into the search engine, the version of the creative that yielded a click through, and whether the ad was displayed on the content network or in the search listings. Having access to these additional parameters will only enhance your decision making when managing paid search.

To show you the difference, let’s take a look at a hypothetical example:

What you would traditionally see with standard tagging:
Google->Sneakers->Nike->Nike Air Zoom

What you can see using Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools:

You can see how granular your reporting can be using Coremetrics Search Tools. Just to clarify the listing, Google = Vendor, Sneakers_Nike = Campaign and Ad Group, Nike_Air_Zoom_Phrase = Keyword and Match Type, and Search_Creative_VersionA = the ad was displayed in the Search Listings along with the version of the ad creative that the visitors clicked through. Impressive, right?

--Update: I've received some questions about the difference between the vendor dynamic values and Coremetrics dynamic values when tagging keywords. To clarify, I use a mixture of both when tagging keywords for paid search reporting. This gives me the best of both worlds.

3. Finding the Raw Keywords that Visitors Used
By seeing the raw keywords that yielded visitors and revenue, you can find valuable long tail terms to add to your campaigns. For example, let’s say you had a keyword set to Broad Match and 550 people clicked through the site yesterday via that keyword. Using Coremetrics Search Tools, you could drill into that keyword to see what people really entered, which can include terms that maybe you never would have targeted. You can then copy those keywords and quickly add them to the Ad Group in question, enabling you to target high quality visitors based on actual data.

To give another hypothetical example:
Let's say you have a broad match keyword like computer for gaming. Maybe you received 100 visitors yesterday from the keyword. Using Coremetrics, you can drill into that keyword and see what people really entered like What’s the best computer for gaming? or Tricking out your computer for gaming. These long tail keywords can be extremely valuable and can help you target prospects at a more granular level. Think about it, you can target what everyone else is targeting or target long tail keywords that your competitors might not even be aware of? I’d go with the latter almost every time. ;-)

4. It’s directly tied to your analytics program!
To quote Hyundai, Duh. :-) This bullet will cover several reporting elements, but having revenue, cost data, click through rate, bounce rate, average position, cpc data, etc. right in your web analytics program makes your life a lot easier. You don’t need to bounce around (no pun intended) to find the data you need. In addition, having Coremetrics Attribution Windows handy enables you to see first click, last click, and average click data all in one interface alongside your paid search statistics. Nice.

So that’s my first crack at letting you know what I like best about Coremetrics Search Tools. Definitely check back soon as I plan to write more about managing paid search using the platform. For example, I didn’t cover bid management functionality, which can really help you automate some time consuming tasks. Actually, that’s probably a large enough topic to warrant its own post!

In closing, if you are looking to increase your efficiency while expanding your paid search efforts, all while decreasing your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome and having to wear glasses for the rest of your life, check out Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools. Wow, heck of a tagline for their product, huh? ;-)


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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Coremetrics Spring Release – Attributing Credit for a Sale Just Got Interesting

Coremetrics Spring Release and Marketing Campaign Attribution Logic
For those of you who utilize robust web analytics programs to track your online marketing efforts, last click attribution is probably a familiar term. It’s also sometimes a frustrating one... Last Click Attribution means that your web analytics program (Coremetrics, Omniture, Google Analytics, etc.) will attribute sales to the last marketing program clicked. For the most part, it’s a standard in the industry to use Last Click Attribution. That said, there are many scenarios that cause Last Click to inaccurately attribute sales data, which makes the life of a web marketing person a little frustrating.

Here’s a quick example:
John clicks through a paid search advertisement that has been tagged as a marketing campaign (this means that the web analytics package will automatically track the click as a campaign for you in the reporting application.) John visits the site and signs up for email alerts, but does not buy anything. Two days later, John receives an email that has also been tagged as a marketing campaign and he clicks through to the site. John ends up buying $125 in products. Here’s the problem. The web analytics program will attribute $125 to email and not Paid Search. That’s great for the email marketing manager and frustrating for the Search Marketing Manager (that’s if the Search Marketing Manager even finds out at all…) This is obviously not an optimal situation for tracking your campaigns.

Coremetrics to the Rescue! The Spring Update to be Exact…
As part of the Coremetrics Spring Update, there have been some outstanding marketing enhancements built into the application. For example, the enhancements to Attribution Logic are phenomenal. You can now track Last Click, First Click, Average Click, and All Clicks. I actually called CM Support and thanked them personally for adding this functionality. I’m not kidding. Yes, they thought I was a little weird, but heck, adding these attribute types will make my life a lot easier and give me accurate sales data across marketing channels. I cannot wait to see it in action (which should be very soon, given we are upgrading as I write this)…

Let’s Clarify the Coremetrics Attribution Types:
First Click Attribution
– CM will attribute credit for a conversion to the first marketing campaign clicked. So in my previous example, we would see that Paid Search was the starting point for the sale.

Last Click Attribution – this was explained earlier, but CM will attribute credit for the conversion to the last marketing campaign clicked.

Average Across Touches – CM will attribute credit equally to all marketing campaigns that were part of the sales process. So, if someone clicks through Paid Search, then clicks through an email, and then finally clicks through an RSS feed listing, all three will receive credit. That’s powerful!

All Touches Attribution – Similar to Average Click, other than CM will attribute credit to all marketing campaigns that were part of the process (in full).

In addition to the marketing enhancements listed above, Coremetrics also added attribution logic to Natural Search and Referring Sites. I will now have access to the same metrics that are available for marketing campaigns, such as Sales, Last Click 30 Days. It was frustrating not to have these metrics in the past, but being able to set a timeframe and view sales that occurred from an organic search click 2 weeks ago is powerful stuff. I’m now looking at the past 10 days of natural search traffic and it generated $183,000 more than what was being reported prior to the upgrade. This is mostly due to the ability to view sales that were attributed to a click from natural search over the past 30 days (i.e. last click 30 days attribution). This wasn’t present until the upgrade. I’m really liking Coremetrics right now…maybe I should call support again to thank them?? Maybe not…they’ll probably think I’m really troubled at this point! :-)

I plan to post more about the upgrade in the upcoming months as we apply the Coremetrics marketing enhancements to our online marketing reporting.

So by all means, hug a Coremetrics employee the next time you meet one. Tell them Glenn said hi! :-)

Disclaimer: Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive cannot be held liable for any physical injury that occurs from the result of hugging Coremetrics employees. This includes bear hugs, home hugs, thank you hugs, hug it out hugs, and any other type of hug as interpreted by laws of the state of New Jersey. ;-)

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Monday, January 01, 2007

SEO and ROI - Return on Investment of Search Engine Optimization

In addition to rich media marketing, wom and buzz, I've been heavily working on SEO and SEM projects over the past several years. It's an exciting area of online marketing and the SEO part has been enlightening. (It's also fun, which is an added benefit!) That said, I've had several executives ask me, "What would be the return on investment (ROI) for launching an SEO initiative for my business?" That's not an easy question to answer and one that cannot be answered in a short amount of time. There is a lot of work to be done up front before you can even attempt to answer that question, from performing a thorough SEO assessment to keyword research to mapping out technical changes to analyzing the competitive landscape. Then, you might find out that the website needs to be revamped before any significant changes can take place. For example, if a site lacks a robust text navigation, which will enable each page to be properly accessed and indexed, then you've got some technical hurdles to overcome (especially before telling a CEO that he can expect a 250% SEO ROI).

When it comes to hard ROI (revenue-driven), you need a robust web analytics program that provides detailed reporting on your SEO initiative. I've been working extensively with Coremetrics recently and I can tell that it does a phenomenal job at tracking your organic listings. Once in the application, just click through to "Natural Search" and you are given a drilldown into your organic terms broken down by search engine, conversion rate, sessions, sales, orders, and new visitors. That alone would make most executives happy. I've been part of enough internet marketing strategy meetings to know that everyone thinks a given set of organic terms are their "money" terms. With Coremetrics, you can call them on it! The report I am looking at right now has 120 pages of organic terms, sorted by revenue. Drill down into a given term and you can see the search engines that visitors came from, and then you can select the terms for trending. Click the trending report and you can see revenue over time for the selected keywords. Now give that report to someone who thinks their terms rule! :-) I guess my point is that you don't have to guess anymore. When starting an SEO initiative (or any online marketing initiative for that matter), the first thing you need to do is to get your web analytics situation in order. Without it, you are flying blind.

More Detail on Organic Search Analytics in Coremetrics:
There's more to learn in Coremetrics than what I listed above. Using Clickstream reporting, you can take a hard look at pages that rank highly for organic terms. Run a clickstream report and you can see where people are going after visiting that page. This will enable you to notice trends in visitor behavior, which can help you increase conversion on your e-commerce website. For example, if you saw that one page is ranking highly for a competitive keyword, then you could set up a clickstream report to see where visitors go after hitting that page. You can keep drilling down to see where the highest abandonment takes place (where people leave your site). Maybe there is a flaw in your navigation, calls to action, or creative.

The Obvious Benefit:
Well, the completely obvious benefit of using a robust web analytics program to analyze organic search is that you get to see all of the keywords that visitors are entering to get to your site. I'll bet you had no idea that you ranked well for some of those keywords. Then you can take a look at your site to see why that is, tweak other pages to rank higher, and to help your SEM campaigns (like turning off keywords you are paying for in AdWords or YSM when you rank organically for them!) Don't laugh, this happens more than you think...

In closing, SEO shouldn't be solely about ranking for keywords (even though it is fun to see a website start to rank highly), it should be about the return on investment of the project. Set up your analytics, track your natural search terms, and document everything. Then you can show off your cool rankings, but back them up with hard numbers...and dollar signs!


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