Archive for March, 2011

Mar 30
2011

Supercharge MarketingYou just attended an informative digital marketing and analytics conference and you’re pumped to make it a banner year for your organization. Your analytics and marketing goals are set and now you are serious about making a difference and you want to:

  • Better understand your customers
  • Improve your site performance
  • Squeeze every bit of ROI from your marketing initiatives, and
  • Provide valuable insight/recommendations to the business

Lofty goals and they should be. But are they achievable? Yes! Supercharge your marketing by implementing the 6-step Analytics Framework outlined in this post (although, for those of us addicted to data, it seems as though we might benefit more from a 12-step program :) ).

Before I dive into the framework, and for the (hopefully small) minority that is still getting familiar with analytics, it’s time to get serious about measurement or risk falling behind. Here’s why everyone should jump on the analytics bandwagon:

  • Millions of sites, from start-ups to Fortune 25, use enterprise-class analytics solutions such as Google Analytics to improve their site performance.
  • Today, analytics literature is abundant. Do a quick search for “web analytics” on Amazon and you’ll get over 200 results.
  • Even in this day and age, it seems that only a few companies are serious about measurement and analysis. It’s time to move beyond the basics and treat data as a strategic asset. So if you’re looking for gold, it’s clear where you have to dig. Big companies like IBM can’t acquire analytics companies fast enough!

So we have established that there is more interest in data and more access to enterprise level analytics – but what is missing? We need smart people and commitment to a process. And as importantly, we need practical tips to guide us through the web of analytics. Assuming you have (or can get) smart people who care about the business and ask the right questions, here is a tried and tested framework guaranteed to take your marketing optimization to the next level.

The 6-step Analytics Framework

  1. Know Thy Channels
  2. Metrics: Less is More
  3. Segmentation: Give Me Context
  4. Intelligence at Your Service
  5. Reporting
  6. Automation

Let’s get started!!

1 – Know Thy Channels

Campaign Segmentation

Your traffic is skyrocketing and you don’t know why. Not a good thing. You deserve more visibility. And since you’re smart and up-to-date, you know you can’t measure every channel using old metrics and by using just one tool. Hello Multiplicity! The good old pageviews won’t cut it anymore. Because channels are constantly evolving (did you know of anyone measuring “tweets” three years ago? :) ), it’s crucial to understand the characteristics of each channel and identify meaningful metrics specific to that channel.

For example:

  • If you are a content site, and you are busy producing videos, you want to measure the success of this digital content. Look at user behavior and events (play, pause, forward etc) and understand where and when your audience is most engaged with your content.
  • If blogging is your forte, measure number of comments, average words per post and average words per comment. Successful blogging is comprised of an engaged audience. We use WordPress’ Blog Metrics.
  • If you’re one of the millions on FaceBook, listen to the conversation through comments, ‘likes’, shares, etc. Today, conversations happen outside of your own site.

Blog Analytics

Power tip: Identify all your channels and document what engagement and outcomes you expect and want to measure.

2 – Metrics: Less is More!

Are you drowning in rivers of data? To prevent sinking, critically examine your load. Just because you have access to large amounts of data and reports in Google Analytics (and the four other tools you have on your site), you don’t need it all. When sorting through data, remember: less is more. Just focus on what keeps your CEO awake at night (or jumping for joy :) ). Focus on key results, here are recommendations:

  • eCommerce: report on revenue, ROAS and compare to expected outcomes
  • B2B businesses: report on qualified leads and cost/lead
  • Report on conversion rates and what channels are best/worst performers
  • If you are just starting your analytics journey and you don’t have your analytics solution fully implemented, reporting on a “basic” yet powerful metric such as bounce rate will help you identify your worst offenders (campaigns and pages) and that’s something you can improve fairly quickly
  • If you’re really advanced, develop your own custom KPIs. For example, check out how philly.com has done it. This newspaper website is measuring engagement on a new (and slightly complex) level. They are asking very thoughtful questions to help them understand their user behavior.

Power tip: Identify and trend 2-3 metrics for each of your stakeholders (business, marketing, IT, product, support)

3 – Segmentation: Give Me Context

Last month, you had one million visitors to your site. Sounds good, but is it? Not if you had three million visits two months ago. So always give your data context, segmentation is key. With Google Analytics, you can apply advanced segmentation capabilities to slice and dice your data in almost every other way you need (e.g. paid vs. non paid searches, engaged vs. non-engaged, geography, visitor type, browser, time comparison, etc. you name it). If you are the deep-dive type, you should then zoom in on your segments for more meaningful data and whatever makes sense for your business.

  • If you have an eCommerce site, report on sales this month, planned sales, sales last month and sales during the same month last year

eCommerce Segmentation

Power tip: Review your current dashboard and assess where to add an additional dimension to each report

4 – Intelligence at Your Service
Let computers do all the number crunching. Make faster, smarter decisions with reports that automatically detect and surface significant changes in your key performance indicators. It’s your site and you’re responsible for it. So log into Google Analytics, set your preferences, and let intelligence do the work. As a result, you’ll have more time to analyze and properly present your data.

Google Analytics Intelligence

Power tip: Set Google Analytics custom alerts for each of the KPIs on your dashboard

5 – Reporting
It’s the end of the month again and reports are due and you know that your site is no longer the center of the universe. You have offline data sources, campaign cost data, mobile applications, surveys etc.) So you want to blend the data for a meaningful presentation, insight and actionability. For your Analytics dashboards, bring in data from different sources and organize it under one framework.

Reporting Framework

Power tip: Trend and report on those 2-3 KPIs you identified earlier

6 – Automation

Better manage your time by automating your reports. Manual reporting can take so long that we eventually neglect properly analyzing the information. Many tools are available to send data to your inbox (or dashboard). So once you have selected your key performance indicators, and to the extent possible, automate report generation. Why you might ask? Trust me, you’ll have much more time to act on the data. But, wait, there’s more!

Reporting Automation - Google Analytics to Excel

For example:

  • Say you run an eCommerce site and you are using Google Analytics, find your favorite tool in the Google Analytics Application Gallery and get that data out of GA and in to your favorite application. Check out the application from our good friends at ShufflePoint who leverage the Google Analytics API to export data into Excel and Powerpoint (we simply are very impressed by what they have done and do recommend their solution to our clients). Done are the copy and paste days. Voila! One click and your data is in Excel! You can then use simple trending/charting options, advanced pivots or more elaborate dashboards as you see in these snapshots. Analyzing the data requires smart people, but getting reports should be a piece of cake. Now, spend your time wisely on important things (like reading E-Nor blog posts :) ).

eCommerce Reporting Automation - Google Analytics to Excel


Concluding Notes

To summarize, marketing optimization is not a one time thing, or something that we “set and forget”. You want to “measure.. analyze… optimize” and start again. I encourage you to establish a weekly, monthly and quarterly set of activities to improve your measurement framework. The details will depend on your business and marketing activities but you definitely want to audit what you do to ensure you:

  • Stay updated on new marketing channels
  • Measure only what matters
  • Run reports efficiently
  • Dedicate time to analysis
  • Upgrade your team’s Excel/reporting/analysis/presentation skill-sets
  • Act on findings to positively impact the business and make sure the organization is aware of the impact!

So here it is. The 6-step framework to supercharge your marketing optimization effort! I hope you put it to use and I welcome your input, comments and feedback.

Related Posts

Mar 20
2011

Working in the Silicon Valley definitely has its advantages even though it sometimes takes a toll on you :) . Search Marketing and Analytics conferences take place right in our backyard and we need to be there (we really don’t have to, but we like to!).

In the last two weeks, we had back-to-back conferences and it was great to meet friends and learn and share experiences with the brightest minds in the industry. We participated in SMX West and had a one-day Google Analytics workshop in San Jose. We then participated in eMetrics (and the Web Analytics Association Gala dinner) and co-sponsored and spoke at the first Google Analytics User Conference GAUGE 2011 in San Francisco, (and somehow still managed to get client work done!).

I wan to specially thank the workshop attendees at both SMX West and GAUGE for their commitment and investment in learning Google Analytics and the great questions and discussions we had. I promised to provide a list with a number of useful posts and help topics, so here it is. Enjoy! :)

Thank you again for participation and attending the training sessions and I hope to see you soon!

Feras

Mar 17
2011

Great news for all of us Google Analytics geeks!  A new version of Google Analytics was just announced today at the Google Analytics User Conference in San Francisco.  The new version is currently in public beta and has been made available to a small group of users, and will be gradually deployed to everyone.  You’ll know you’ve been granted access when you see a link that reads “New Version” in the top right of the screen, right next to your login account. 

Per Google, the goal of the new version is to enhance the underlying platform for major new functionality in the future, as well as design enhancements to make it easier and faster to work with data.  We’ll have more specifics and a detailed walkthrough soon, but here’s a quick highlight of what was released in the new version.

  • Major upgrade to underlying platform
  • Design revamp
  • Ability to view multiple Advanced Segments, without having to include “All Visits”
  • Multiple dashboards including a revamped dashboard interface!!  (finally!!!) 

That’s just a quick list.  We’ll post more details soon.  To expedite getting access to the new version, pay a visit to the beta sign up page.  You can use both versions concurrently and that should help with the learning curve :)

Also, here’s a sneak peak at the new UI:

dashboard

 

reports

Enjoy :)

Mar 14
2011

Update – Feb 21, 2013: The other day, a client of ours got an analytics alert that their site traffic had completely disappeared. They started freaking out.  We set up their site, so naturally, they called us blaming us!  After further investigation, we went to their domain, and found that it had expired (they forgot to renew it!).  Thus, the domain wasn’t pointing to their site, so their analytics code wasn’t getting triggered. If they had known how domains, DNS’s, hosting really worked, they could have immediately addressed the issue avoiding panic!  This post is will help you understand what really is going on with your domain and website so you can avoid the same issue.

(P.S. The google analytics alerts really minimized the amount of damage and lost sales by letting us all know asap that their traffic dropped.  Don’t forget to set those up.  If you don’t know how, we can help!  Contact us here for a Google Analytics audit!)

ready-for-analytics-banner

While we usually focus on subjects like web analytics, web design, and marketing optimization, we do occasionally get questions from site owners and marketing managers (who want to launch campaign sites or microsites) asking what’s technically involved in making a site live.

Imagine you’ve spent thousands of dollars creating a website that you’re expecting to return millions!  You’re ready to launch!  But the inevitable question is “how the heck do I do that???!!!!”  As far as you’re concerned, the Internet is this weird space dimension where all these websites are floating around.  You usually just type an address that ends in a “.com” and the website you need magically appears on the screen.  “How do I get MY SITE to do THAT?!”

Hopefully this post will explain as simply as possible how to get your website “live” so you can start getting that cash!

Let’s start with some basic definitions and concepts.

  • Your Website – your website is actually just a bunch of files, images, flash files, php files, html files, and more, sitting on a computer somewhere.   These computers are called “Servers”.   It basically displays information based on html code or instructions (hypertext markup language or “html” – a language that tells browsers how to display data). Each server has an “ip address”, which is simply a bunch of numbers assigned to a server (like 69.199.xxx.xxxx).  When your server/website is set up and you type its ip address in your browser, your site will pop up just as if you entered your web address.  Trick now is to get your website address to do that!
  • Hosted Servers – If you don’t know what type of server to buy, how to set it up, or you simply don’t have the capital to purchase a server – join the club.  Don’t worry – most people simply rent server space for a low monthly fee from third party hosting companies. An example of a hosting company is Crystaltech.
  • Domain – Your domain is the text-based address that you would like to point to your site.  For example, “www.yourdomain.com”.  You can “register” (which basically means you’re renting it) a domain from a selection of many domain registrars.  An example of a domain registrar is GoDaddy or Network Solutions.  If your domain hasn’t already been registered by someone else, pay the low yearly fee and the website address is yours for as long as you want it.
  • Domain Name Servers (DNS) – These are special servers and pretty much all they do is hold a bunch of records associated with domains (called DNS Zone Records).  These records map the domains to their corresponding ip addresses.   When you enter a domain in a browser, you’re essentially forwarded to these nameservers, and like a rolodex, it finds the domain’s record and then forwards you to the right places (the right server or ip address).  Multiple places, like your domain registrar and most likely your website’s hosting company, have nameservers that contain these records.   An example of what a name server might look like ns1.domainregistrar.com.

Let’s tie all these together in the following diagram:

dns faq

 

  • (Item 1) Someone types your domain (www.yourdomain.com) into a web browser.
  • They are forwarded to the appropriate nameserver (log into your  domain registrar control panel to see what is assigned to it or change it).  The nameserver can either be the default one provided by your domain registrar (Item 2a) or another one you specify.  Once it reaches the nameserver, it will find your record.  If set up correctly, the “A” Record is the record that contains the ip address of your site, telling it where to forward.
  • www.yourdomain.com will be forwarded to the ip address in the “A” record (Item 3).
  • Other important records include your “mail” and “mx” records.   If a surfer types in “mail.yourdomain.com”, it will look for the “mail” record and be forwarded to the ip address of the login interface for your mail server (which may be located at your hosting company or somewhere else you decide that may have more mail space).   The MX Record tells your server where to send emails that have an address like address@yourdomain.com.  Thus, these need to be configured correctly.
  • Finally, you can also create what are called CNAMES.  For example, if you want “blog.yourdomain.com” to a different site or a special blog you have somewhere else, create a CNAME “blog” and forward it to the appropriate site, perhaps a wordpress or tumblr blog.  Maybe you want “store.yourdomain.com” to go to your store – then you’ll set up “store” to forward wherever.  Etc.

Making Your Site Live

Bottom line: “what do I have to do to make my site live????”  Now that we know how the process works, you hopefully can see there are 2 options:

Option 1) Access the DNS Zone Record on the nameserver that your domain is currently pointing to (usually the default nameserver is provided by the domain registrar) and change each record manually to forward to the correct servers and ip addresses (usually, the most important records are the “A” record to forward to your ip address to get the site live and your mail/mx records) (Item 2a).

Option 2) Log into your DNS and change the nameserver to one that already has all the correct addresses filled in its DNS Zone records.  As mentioned, usually, your hosting company will have such a nameserver (Item 2b).

Your site is now live!  Now all you need is to figure out what to do with all the ROI you’re gonna get!!!

Farid

Mar 07
2011

E-Nor’s Google Analytics workshop will take place on Friday 3/11. It’s not too late to register for SMX West or the Workshop (or both), and yes, I do have a $100 promo code for all of you last minute folks :) . The promo code is smx100feras, feel free to use it and pass it along to your friends and colleagues.

Take a look at the workshop agenda and drop me a comment or an email if you have any other questions.

The morning session is marketing/business focused and the afternoon is more tailored to webmasters and techies. Analytics sits in between IT and Marketing, and to do it right, you really need to be aware of what’s involved in both aspects.

And rest assured that your questions will be answered. Even if we didn’t have time to cover a specific topic in-depth during the day, myself and one of our senior analysts will be available during the breaks and after the seminar for Q&A and hands-on review of your GA account and any data/analysis questions that you might have.

Register today and save $100 with this promo code (smx100feras).

I look forward to seeing you at the seminar!

Thanks,
Feras