Archive for 2009

Dec 23
2009
Would you like to increase your sales or number of leads by 10%, 20%, or even more, without increasing your marketing spend? I’m sure most of us wouldn’t mind that extra bit of sales and revenue :) . Well, there is no better time to do it than now. Roll up your sleeves, summon your web designer and your web analyst and then marvel over data available from Google’s new tool: Browser Size, with data from Google Analytics, and then start rockin’ n rollin’.

Google Browser Size

Google has recently introduced a new tool called Browser Size to help web designers “ensure that important parts of a page’s user interface are visible” by a wide audience. You basically type your URL in the tool and it’ll then load your page and show what percentage of users see what sections of the page, without having to scroll i.e. giving us a visual view of what is seen “above the fold”. The idea is if more people have to scroll to find your “calls to action” they are less likely to click and convert. For example, Google applying this method on Google Earth download page layout had an impressive 10% increase in their download rates by moving the download button up by 100 pixels.

So what does the Browser Size look like? Here is how our home page appeared in the Google Browser Size:

Google Browser Size

As you can see, 90%+ of the web population can see our “Optimize Your site” Call-to-Action, the green button (surrounded by a red box for you to see it in this above snapshot, but the home page doesn’t have this ugly red box :) ). Kudos to our creative director and web designer (luckily we recently distributed Nordstrom’s gift certificates for the Holidays, otherwise they both would be asking for a bonus after reading this post:)).

Design Best Practices

Now that you have a visual view of your most important page elements, it’s time to put this useful information into action. We do know that design best practices for usability and conversion teach us that your important information should be immediately visible and easily accessible to users. An example of such an element is a conversion button, such as “Buy Now” for an ecommerce website.

Let’s say you have a “Buy Now” button at the bottom of the page, where only 20% of users can see it. And say your “add to cart” rate is 5% for all the visitors that come to this page – so for 1000 visitors, that’s 50 starting the purchasing process.

If we know that according to design best practices, a visible “Buy Now” button that catches your users’ eyes will entice users to buy, thus, “above the fold” is the way to go – that is, making sure this button is visible to as many users as possible (not requiring them to scroll down) could significantly increase your “add to cart” rate. That is, if 20% of your users seeing the “add to cart” button is leading to a 5% “add to cart” rate, imagine what 90% of your users immediately seeing the button may do. Even if that causes a 5% increase in “add to cart” (the new “add to cart” rate will now be 10%), you’re looking at doubling the number of visitors that start the purchasing process and you are likely to double your sales/revenue.

So with the help of this tool, if your page is being designed for 1280×720 and you realize 20% of your users can see that resolution while 90% can view 800×600 – though you don’t have to change your design to be tailored to fit the smaller size, at least the important elements should take this into account.

It’s worth mentioning that some folks have other views about the benefits of the “above the fold” concept, for example we really shouldn’t be cramming too much information up “above the fold” and we should keep in mind that “less is more”. Nonetheless, the Google Browser Size is still very useful.

Google Analytics offers additional data points & insights

The data in the Google Browser Size is collected based on visitors to Google.com. What you can also do is to use screen resolutions data from Google Analytics on your own site . Here is how to get the data in Google Analytics:

  • Click on the “Visitors” tab
  • Click on “Browser Capabilities”
  • Then click on “Screen Resolutions”

You’ll get a report on screen resolutions that visitors to your own site use. You can then optimize your site based on this information. Here is a look at the report for our site:

So it appears that from our own screen resolutions data, most of the visitors can more or less view the entire page (a very good thing!).

Now, if you had a site that had a different screen resolution distribution, like the one below, you’d want to review the current design/layout of your pages and tailor them to the different visitors’ pattern.

Google Analytics Screen Resolutions 800x600

Segmentation, Segmentation Segmentation

And as always, don’t just look at data in aggregates, use segmentation to your advantage and zoom in on the data segment that is most important to you. Here are some examples of how to slice your data before you start your analysis and fact finding:

  • If your targeted audience is only in US & Canada, then run the Screen Resolutions reports on an Advanced Segment for the US & Canada audience
  • You might want to also segment by buyers and non-buyers and monitor any interesting trends between these two distinct groups of visitors
  • If you have different page layouts on your site, for example, your blog, your home page and category pages, you’d want to run the above analysis on each unique layout and make sure the messaging/calls-to-action are where you want your visitors to see them

Testing with the Google Website Optimizer (GWO)

One last note. If you are used to running tests, whether A/B or Multivariate, then it’s probably a no-brainer to run an experiment before you make massive (or small) changes across your site. If you haven’t tried testing yet, then this is a perfect opportunity to take the data and analysis to your manager and convince them to support you with resources to begin testing and realize site and revenue improvements! You can use the powerful and free testing tool from Google, the Google Website Optimizer (GWO), or another testing tool of your choice, to confirm (or disprove) your hypothesis before your roll out the design and layout changes.

Hope you find this post helpful. Feedback, comments and questions are most welcome!

Related Posts

Dec 21
2009

This release adds support for all 11 of the officially supported languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Japanese, Chinese (both simplified and traditional), and Korean.

No other changes were made but it is cool that Urchin can be used in so many countries in their native language!

You can download multilingual Urchin 6.602 from our Urchin Analytics page.  If you have any questions on Urchin, feel free to contact us via this blog, the form on the right, or our toll free number 1-866-638-7367.

Related Posts

Dec 07
2009

For those of us who started implementing and benefiting from the recently announced Google Analytics features, more is coming your way, and the Google Analytics team is calling it the “holiday bonus”! :)

Today our dear friend Phil Mui, Google Analytics’ Senior Product Manager, announced at SES Chicago, new and advanced features in Google Analytics. We will have specific posts with detailed examples and case studies in the future, but for now here is a quick summary of these cool new features:

Annotations

I would say, a very very long-awaited for feature. You can now quickly add your own notes within the Google Analytics user interface!!! Say you see a spike in traffic in last week’s reports and you know exactly what caused it (e.g. a recent email campaign that worked well). Now, you can add use Annotations to add a comment about this email campaign, so few weeks down the road you’ll have a reference of what happened and you won’t be searching all over your email, notes, and asking your colleagues (and maybe pulling your hair as well :) ) to help explained the traffic spike. Other scenarios where annotations can be very helpful:

  • Very successful marketing programs (or maybe unsuccessful ones :( )
  • External campaign not tagged properly causing data from one source to show in another source
  • Introduction of new design/landing pages
  • Site related issues causing data collection problems and inaccuracies

As you can see the relevant marketing campaign and site information will be right there next to your Google Analytics reports “bringing more Intelligence to data” as Phil said in his post. Very very useful and time saving feature, give it a try and start using it! Also, you have two options in Annotations, you can have the comment private or shared with others.

Here is an example of using Annotations to comment on a spike in traffic generated by a blog post.

Google-Analytics-Annotations

Multiple Custom Variables In Advanced Segmentation & Custom Reports

You can now create custom reports and use advanced segmentation to leverage the power of the new Multiple Custom Variables functionality. Slice your data and reports based on the visitor, session, or page level custom variables you have created and get the insights and actionability you that will make you a hero!

New Google Analytics Setup Wizard

For those of us that are less technical savvy, this Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) Wizard will be our best friend :) . You don’t have to manually construct the GATC code for sub-domains, multiple domains, cross-domains, mobile, etc; the wizard will help you get the code in a packaged and ready to use form.

For the GA ninjas, you also have a reference on How to Structure your Google Analytics Account.

New Version of the Google Analytics API

More details to come out later this week, but get ready for more capabilities in the GA API, namely support for Advanced Segmentation.

Whoa, it sometimes feel like it’s a challenge to keep us with all these new features, but it’s worth every bit of effort. Roll up your sleeves and give these features a try, and start improving your site and your marketing campaign performance.

Comments or thoughts about these new features?

Nov 20
2009

It is a crime to have your AdWords campaigns on auto-pilot! :)

Google AdWords Alert functionality allows you to proactively monitor your AdWords campaigns with custom alerts. Set your campaign criteria via custom alerts and AdWords will notify you within the account or via email.

Log into AdWords and Alerts will greet you and you are presented with changes to key performance indicators at a glance.

Increase Traffic with New Keywords Alert

Please note the keyword suggestions need careful review. Please take the time to review the keywords before adding, also consider giving feedback to AdWords regarding the relevancy of suggestions.

Custom Alerts

To support active monitoring of KPI fluctuations you want to track and take action on, email yourself the Alert. In the office or on the go, use the powerful AdWords Alerts to stay plugged in to your campaign performance.

Similar to the Google Analytics intelligence alerts, AdWords offers customizable alerts – thirteen alert types!

From Impressions to Conversion metrics, you can choose:

  • metric
  • operator
  • comparison timeframe
  • frequency of alert
  • method of delivery

Powerful data formally requiring a manual investigation is now neatly delivered to your AdWords interface or email for quick action! :)

If you have a MCC, hang on because there is no alert access via MCC yet; you will have to log in to each account for Alert control.

See AdWords Alert blog post more details. This functionality is only available in the USA and a few other locations for now.

Happy Optimization! :)

Nov 06
2009

At eMetrics in Washington just a short while ago, two new and quite cool features for GWO were announced that you might want to check out:

  • An experiment management API which allows you to create and manage experiments outside of the interface.  For those that work with a lot of experiments or deal with third party integration, this will save you a lot of work!
  • Conversions over time charts can be found on the reports page of GWO.  Conversion rates are rarely a static number and websites might undergo changes during an experiment, so visually seeing how your combinations performanced over time might give you that extra bit of insight you were looking for.

Nov 04
2009

I find it interesting how misinformation can widely spread and at times remain uncontested. You might have seen a recent webinar and a guide by Omniture about “The Cost of Free” and the analogy of “Free analytics tools are much like free puppies” and that “free can turn into a lot of responsibility!” Well, while the analogy is cute, the premise and the details are misleading.

The problems with Omniture’s argument are that they are irrelevant and out-of-sync with the challenges that exist in the web analytics industry. When was the last time technology/features were the main issue in analytics? Also, the argument of cost is extremely misleading. So what if a Google Analytics solution isn’t free? That plain and simple ignores the fact that Omniture’s solution is priced well above what a Google Analytics “total package” would cost. When you criticize your competitor for a point that you’re not particularly strong at yourself, the argument loses all credibility and respect.

The biggest challenge facing all of us in the web analytics industry has little to do with the tool; the real challenge is creating an analytics culture. Getting the right people with the right processes to think “measure, analyze, take action” is way more meaningful. Google Analytics is more capable of facilitating this because:

  • Google Analytics allows you to stretch your marketing dollars. According to Forrester: “Enterprise companies must ask themselves if they are paying too much for capabilities that they simply do not need. In some cases, gaining fewer seldom-used capabilities is a worthwhile trade-off if funds can be reallocated to hire more resources necessary for analysis”
  • Google Analytics ease of use (GA has set the User Interface standard really high)
  • Google Analytics support eco-system (see details below)

There have been many articles, posts, comparisons, etc. between GA and other solutions, so I won’t bore you here with repeating the details. I’ll just shed some light on two areas of misinformation:

  • Over-emphasis on Technology
  • Customer Support & Consulting

Over-emphasis on technology

You don’t have to be a CMO or a CFO at a Fortune 100 to realize that tools and software alone don’t get you the intended results. This applies to project management, accounting, Sales Force Automation and other aspects of running a business, and not just web analytics. For example, if you are looking for a sales force automation or a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, you can invest all the dollars you want in a solution like SalesForce.com but until you train your sales personnel and build the in-house processes for lead management and client communication, you can’t claim that you have a CRM system in place. So whether you use SalesForce.com or use an open source CRM, the investment you should be prepared to make is NOT just in the software, it is in people and process. It’d be gullible to think otherwise.

  • The often repeated messages we keep hearing from fee-based analytics vendors is the over-emphasis on technology and feature-set.
    • Features are indeed important and Google Analytics is definitely feature-rich. Yet what matters is not the long list of features, but what’s important to the customer. Who cares if your solution offers a gazillion features but your customer’s business only needs 7 metrics/features and your solution doesn’t give them what they need!
    • Analytics industry experts across the spectrum have said it over and over, it’s not just about technology. Consider: people (in-house staff, consultants, professional services organizations), process, the organizational analytics maturity, among other factors. We are aware of Avinash’s 10/90 rule, and Eric Peterson reminds us of the staffing and process chasms.

Customer Support & Consulting – Investment in People & Resources

  • If one listens to some of the fee-based vendor claims, they’d think that Google Analytics has no support or at max very limited support. This is far from the truth. Google is a unique company and does things in a unique way. Instead of establishing a professional services organization, Google Analytics opted to create an open, global and collaborative eco-system, which as a model, is more superior than a traditional, centralized, and closed professional services organization.
  • As an enterprise manager/business owner, you have many options to establish and nurture your in-house team’s expertise and/or leverage the Google Analytics eco-system resources. Education, Training, Customer support & professional services are available through the following channels:
    • Professional Services & Paid SLAs: Google’s worldwide network of authorized consultants, known as GAACs offering:
      • Technical Implementation
      • Validation & Configuration
      • Consulting & Best Practices
      • Ongoing Optimization
      • Testing
    • Training
      • In-person through the Google Analytics seminars
      • Regional Summits, Conferences & Webinars
      • Industry Conferences (workshops at eMetrics, SES, etc.)
      • Certified Training Programs (GAIQ)
    • The GAAC partners go through a rigorous vetting process, have direct access to Google Analytics technical team members and are required to maintain up to date product know-how, including training at the Googleplex. The GAAC global network is 100+ strong and provides professional, local (and personable :) ) services in these regions:
      • North America: USA, Canada, Mexico
      • South America: Argentina, Brazil
      • Europe: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands,
      • Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK
      • Middle East & Africa: Israel, South Africa
      • Asia Pacific: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Sri Lanka
  • In addition, fee-based solutions providers do have “professional services” organizations and they do sell these services (last I checked, these services weren’t free either!). Here’s a quote from Omniture’s services: “Omniture Engineering Services provides both standard packages as well as custom solutions. Specialized solutions are priced hourly on a per-project basis. Please coordinate with your assigned Omniture Account Manager to discuss your needs. The Engineering Services team will then engage with you and your Omniture Account Manager to scope the project, provide timelines, and deliver your specialized solutions.”

One final thought on technology/features. While there is always room for improvement and the product can benefit from additional capabilities, Google Analytics’ commitment to innovation is evident by the on-going enhancements including:

  • Last year’s features: advancement segmentation, custom reporting, on-the-fly analysis capabilities, etc.
  • Data Export API (and it’s network of developers and innovations), and
  • The recent announcement at the D.C. eMetrics , including: “intelligence”, custom alerts, mobile tracking, and multiple custom variables.

So here you have it. Don’t get distracted by the misleading information, and stay focused on building your expertise in analytics and nurture a team (in-house and/or outsourced) that will utilize all the “free” resources to save you money and improve your returns!!!

Related posts:

Oct 22
2009

Google has just released version 6.602 of their Urchin Software product. Version 6.602 contains one major new feature, along with several small improvements and bug fixes. The major new feature in this version is multi-language capability. Now our friends from Germany, Spain, Mexico, Japan, and other regions can have localized instances of Urchin. Very cool :)

Here is a quick overview of the features included in this release:

  • Switch between supported languages (total of 10)
  • Added SSL/TLS protocol support to External Authentication (LDAP)
  • The Urchin “Home” page (sometimes called the Roll-up Report) now displays metrics for all profiles visible to the logged in user. Data can be shown in 3 views: Basic, Business, and Admin.
  • Easier one-click installation: New one-click installation which also sets up the included postgresql database server at the same time! This reduces much of the setup time, since the database server no longer has to be setup and configured. The user can still opt to use existing database servers if desired.
  • Optimized GeoDB. You can now select between a full GeoDB or a lighweight GeoDB providing metro information up to the country level only. This significantly reduces the memory footprint.
  • The zip utility has been updated to work with data files > 2 Gb.
  • New UI tweaks have been made on the Marketing Summary report so that the user can sort metrics sources, keywords, and campaigns by their appropriate metrics.
  • Remote log file downloading. A new configurable parameter for remote log download timeout has been added to urchin.conf.

In addition, many bug fixes in the areas of log processing, licensing, migration, and embedded help were included in this release.

Important notes:

  • Urchin 6.6xx no longer supports the MySQL 4.x.x. database. If you are using this version of MySQL, you’ll need to upgrade to 5.03+.
  • FreeBSD 5.x platform has been deprecated.

That’s a lot of new stuff for a point release upgrade :)   This new version has currently only been released to Urchin Resellers.  If you would like a trial copy, please contact us, or you can download version 6.6.0.1 (the current version) here.

Oct 20
2009

Marketers and analysts, are you ready for the latest version of Google Analytics!!! :)

As announced today on the Google Analytics blog and at eMetrics, the Google Analytics team is rolling out a new version of GA (version 4) with exciting new capabilities, many more customization options, and the totally awesome and super powerful Intelligence feature.

Over the next several days I’ll be posting specific posts about each of the new GA features, but for now here is a quick summary of what you’ll start seeing in your reports.

  • Expanded goals
  • Mobile reporting
  • Advanced table filtering
  • Unique visitor segmentation
  • Multiple custom variables
  • Sharing of custom segments and custom report templates
  • Intelligence
  • Automated and custom alerts

Please note that some of these features are rolled out as we speak (ok, it is past noon Pacific, 10/20/09 :) ), and others will be rolled out in the next few days or weeks.

More Power!

  • Goals and more goals! We have conveyed your requests to Google. You weren’t satisfied with 4 goals and now you can have up to 20; yes, 20 goals! Measure those important actions! In addition, you can now measure two engagement metrics, Time on Site and Pages per Visit.
  • Expanded mobile reporting. Not only you can track traffic from your iPhones, but now GA allows you to track mobile applications built for iPhone and Android devices (great way for application developers to measure engagement). In addition, traffic to mobile sites can be tracked (for sites built in PHP, Perl, JSP, ASPX), for devices with or without JavaScript.
  • Secondary dimensions and pivoting. Great table and filtering features. Check out our post on these here.
  • Unique Visitors Segmentation: now available across many dimensions in your Custom Reports. Answering the question of “how many actual visitors” got a little bit easier.

More Flexibility and Customization Options

  • Multiple custom variables. The requests of the analytics ninjas have been answered! Define an important interaction for your site and set a custom variable to track it. Tracking can be done at the page, session, and visitor level.
  • Sharing custom segments and custom report templates. If you can create them, you can now share them :) . It’s as easy as copying and pasting a URL.

Intelligence

  • Analytics Intelligence. This new feature is just great! Any time a tool can help automate the mundane and allows you to focus on the business, you gotta love it! This new report will provide automatic alerts when significant changes in your data occur, in daily, weekly and monthly intervals.
  • Custom alerts. You can create your own custom alerts and be notified by email or through the UI.

That is it for now. Log in to your GA account and check out some of these features and let us know what you think!

Oct 18
2009

It’s one day away, eMetrics will be in Washington DC, and it’s not too late to register (you never know, check with your boss for some unused training budget :) ).

Jim Sterne and the eMetrics team have an incredible line up of speakers and tracks, including multi-channel metrics, search analytics, emergent media and many others.

In addition, there is a number of workshops offered. Topics include: reports, predictive analytics as well as a workshop on Google Analytics by our dear friend and GA Ninja Caleb Whitemore of AnalyticsPros.

So don’t miss out if you can make it, you can still register here.

Oct 16
2009

Third day at the Google Analytics conference at Google. The day started off with a talk by Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google. Hal is just at another level when it comes to analysis! He does a very good job at taking something complex and make it simple for the rest of us to understand :) .

Didn’t take a lot of notes (I was mesmerized most of the time) but here are some takeaways:

  • Data is available and relatively cheap but we still need humans to analyze and make sense of all these piles of data
  • Check out this graph about the US recession, http://www.slate.com/id/2216238/, and I’m sure you’ll agree it is not a pretty picture!
  • I really liked his comment, “if you torture the data long enough it’ll confess to anything.”
  • If you haven’t already, check out this very cool and super useful tool, Google Search Insight. With this tool, one can assess patterns of search volume. you can select a specific region or categories, time frames, and properties. See seasonality impacts on keywords related to what you sell, compare search volumes, and more. Don’t forget to examine the “forecast data”.