Archive for September, 2011

Sep 29

Today, Google Analytics announced the launch of Premium, a paid product that is specifically targeting organizations that have huge amounts of data or require a service level agreement.  The first question most of you have is what does this mean in relation to the free version?  Google has made it very clear that you shouldn’t be worried. They are committed more than ever to the free/standard version.

Google Analytics has spent a huge amount of time developing out the new interface and adding many new features to it.  In the last 3 months alone, we have seen social media tracking and multi-channel funnels added.  I am confident that in the coming months many new impressive features will be coming.

What is Google Analytics Premium

Google Analytics Premium looks and feels like Google Analytics Standard Edition, the interface we are all familiar with. It includes more processing power, advanced analysis, and dedicated support.  Below is the list of differences that will only be in Premium

Processing Power

  • Guaranteed processing for up to 1 billion hits per month
  • Faster, intra-day processing for up to 1 billion hits per month
  • Service Level Agreement around data collection, reporting, and processing
  • 99.9% on Collection up-time
  • 99% on Reporting up-time
  • 98% on on-time Data Freshness (within 4 hours)

Advanced Analysis Tools

  • Up to 50 Custom Variable slots
  • Unsampled report downloads for custom report requests
  • Unaggregated report downloads for large report requests (up to 1 million rows per download)

Dedicated Support

  • Dedicated Account Management
  • Phone & Email support 10 hours per day, 5 days per week
  • Implementation Consultation & Tagging Audit
  • 24/7 Product Emergency Escalation Support, if the product is ever outside of the SLA
As mentioned before Google designed Premium to look and feel very much like the Standard Edition.  There are slight differences in each though.  There will be unsampled downloads available for all reports and custom reports.  Also, you will notice that reports load faster, and that data is available much sooner.

I strongly feel that this is a very strong edition to the Google Analytics offerings.  It is targeted at a very specific audience, who has very complex needs and require high levels of customization.  For, the average Google Analytics user, they will never require these features.  For those that have large data sets and much higher levels of needs, many of their needs can now be met.  If you have any questions about Google Analytics Premium or Google Analytics in general, I encourage you to contact me or leave a comment.

Sep 29

Today, Google Analytics released Real-Time, a new dashboard that will show your website traffic and certain metrics as it happens. Google Analytics has shown they are committed to the free version, by making this feature free and available to all starting today. The data that is shown only has a delay of 1-2 seconds from when a visitor clicks to one of your pages.

Main Dashboard

The image to the right is the main dashboard for Real-Time, you can click on it for full size.  The top of this report is the most visually appealing part, the top left shows there are 1,680 active visitors on the site.  These visitors have been active within the last 30 minutes.  Every 10 seconds this number updates.  The graphs to the right show pageviews by minute and second.  These graphs update every second, and  watching them update can be quite mesmerizing. The video embedded below, shows these first graphs and metric updating.

Looking at the middle of the main dashboard we can see the top referrals/referring sites that are sending our site traffic.  Top active pages finishes out the middle portion, by showing us where all of our visitors currently are on our site.  These visitors have been active in the last 5 minutes, any one not active for over 5 minutes is dropped. The bottom of the main Real-Time dashboard shows us the organic keywords that visitors searched for to find our site, and what locations they are coming from.  If you want to see the top of the dashboard in action, watch the video below.  Scroll down to read and learn about the other reports included in Real-Time and how all of this may be useful to you.

Content, Traffic Sources, and Locations

Real-Time includes 3 other main reporting sections besides the overview.  Content, Traffic Sources, and Locations provide you with more detail about how visitors got to your site and what they are currently doing.  The Content report will let you see the top 20 pages visitors are on right now and over a rolling 30 minute period.  You can select any of the pages and the top 20 sources for where the visitor originally came from to get to that page will be shown.

The Traffic Sources report will show you how visitors got to your site instead of a specific page like in the Content Report.  This allows additional drilldown into each medium of traffic (organic, referral, cpc, etc) that is sending traffic to your site.  For example, if you click on organic, you will see a list of all the search engines that sent traffic and clicking on one of these will show you the keywords for a particular search engine.  If you are campaign tagging emails you are sending out, you could drilldown and see which emails visitors clicked on to get to your site in this report as well.

The Locations reports shows a map and table of what countries are sending traffic.  You can drilldown on a country and see the cities visitors are coming from.  Google added in a fun feature by allowing you to change the map view to the Google Earth view.  This will zoom to a random visitors location in 3D every 10 seconds.  This would be an excellent view for a TV in a lobby for your company.  Below is a video of this happening, its much more smooth in the actual report, but I think I still captured it decently.

How This is Useful and a Feature Request

Overall Real-Time feels very polished and is a great addition to Google Analytics.  There are a variety of ways Real-Time will be useful.  Depending on the size of your account Google Analytics can take up to 24 hours to show you data, Real-Time shows you it within 1-2 seconds.  Lets take a social media campaign, which usually has a very short period of engagement.  You can see visitors coming in Real-Time and see where they are going on your website.  Lets say you are seeing visitors make it to the shopping cart page, but the conversions aren’t happening.  You could go back to your social media post and offer an incentive such as a discount code or free shipping code, to try and rectify the low amount of conversions.  Before Real-Time, it would take up to 24 hours for this data to appear in your reports, but now you can view and act upon incoming data as quickly as you desire.

One feature that I hope to see added soon is the ability to set custom alerts for Real-Time data.  I know some of you will have Real-Time open 24/7 in the corner of your screen, but imagine how useful it would be to have Google Analytics send you an e-mail or even a text message if all of a sudden your site saw an increase of 260% the amount of expected traffic.  You could then go look inside Real-Time and see your website was receiving a huge amount of traffic from the New York Times.  Further investigation showed that you are featured in an article on their homepage.  You could then alert your marketing manager and start pushing out content to promote this.  The way Real-Time is right now, unless you are glued to your screen, Real-Time is reactive, meaning you usually will not look at it until you have a question that it could help answer.  With custom alerts, it would become a proactive tool, sending you alerts when unexpected behavior occurs.  The tool was just released, but it is my opinion that Google will have more additions for us!

Sep 23

A BIG thank you for all who attended the Google Analytics training day in Las Vegas. I know it was an information packed day but your questions, comments, and the “on-the-fly” analysis requests made a huge difference, and I truly appreciate your participation and engagement.

Here are the links to the topics and posts you requested; feel free to contact or email if you have any other questions or comments.

Two other notes:

  • You should have received the slide deck by now
  • The follow up Q&A online webinar is scheduled for Friday 9/30 at 8 AM pacific. You should receive an invitation early next week so mark your calendar!

In preparation for the Q&A webinar, please add your questions and/or comments here and we will get those answered ahead of time or review them during the webinar.

Thanks again and happy analysis!! :)

Sep 19

facebook engagement
A while back, I attended an awesome webinar by Webtrends on Social Marketing, particularly using Facebook pages.  I know I’m a tad late, but it had such great information, I thought it would be a shame if I didn’t post it.  They have a great social analytics tool (free trial) you might want to try out on your Facebook page.

Interestingly, they had a different strategy than the traditional one, and it actually made a lot of sense.  Normally, you might try to build your page fan base as large as possible, then use that free stream of connection to push your product/services, either through updates on your wall (that will appear your members’ news feeds) or through message “updates” that appear in your members’ inboxes.

However, changes to the Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm (called EdgeRank) threw a little bit of a wrench in that – most of your posts actually aren’t seen by your page members.  Also, “updates” show up in an unnoticeable “other” box that may be ignored.

Webtrends’ strategy takes this into account and apply a different approach – engage your visitors to build heavy rapport, then reach them through paid ads.

EdgeRank !

EdgeRank actually suppresses 95% of posts! The EdgeRank algorithm uses Engagement of the post,  Affinity of a user to your page, and Decay to determine whether an update makes it to a member’s feed.   Facebook hopes to provide as relevant content as possible to you (since it’s impossible to feed everything).  That means if people aren’t interacting with your post (engagement), a member doesn’t really visit your page often (affinity), and/or a post is old (decay), the chances of your members or friends seeing it in their feed is pretty slim.


Webtrends stresses the importance of social engagement.  That’s the intended nature of social networks – to start a conversation.  Build rapport with your members and get them to consistently engage with your page through fun and simple posts rather than simply using your page to push your own products and promotions.  Promotional posts statistically do not generate as much engagement as “fun”, simple, conversational posts.

Some key points:

  • “Emotional stories” and “sports wins” get great engagement.
  • Simple and easy questions are the most successful in engaging users.  Example, Lane Bryant’s posts with maximum engagement were “Like this is you are a curvy women” and “Fill in the blank: My favorite color is:_____________”
  • Promotional posts don’t get as much engagement as simple, social questions.  A good ratio of promotional posts to other posts is one in every 10.
  • Keep a close eye on posts and respond – the more responses and the quicker the reply, the more likely a conversation will break out, which will higher the EdgeRank score of that post.

Monetize (Using Ads)

Once you have enough “reach” (your membership is large) and your existing members are engaged, use Facebook’s targeted ads to target your own page members for products/promotion.  Since you have built rapport and you now have a strong bond with them, they are more likely to pay attention, click through, and convert (assuming you have an optimized conversion page/process).

Sep 02

Google Analytics released Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) last week to everyone.  There are many  very powerful features that were included in this release, some of which I mentioned briefly last week.  These features can help make the analysis potential much more powerful. One of the features that everyone needs to take advantage of is Channel Groupings.  Google included a basic channel grouping template in MCF, that categorizes a few channels automatically, such as direct, organic, AdWords, and a couple more.  If you are using campaign tagging, which you should be, you should have a variety of other channels that are assigned sources and mediums that you defined. If you are taking advantage of this, the default MCF view for Top Conversion Paths will look like this:

Before Channel Groupings

For this view I have filtered the report to only show Paths that include other, which are the undefined Channel Groupings.  This isn’t a very useful view, as there is not much analysis that you can do with it.  You don’t know what other is, but after going through the steps later in this post you can break these out and you will have paths that look like this instead:

After Channel Grouping

Above is a report that provides much more information, and is more appealing to look at.  Instead of being presented with a bunch of “Other” we have broken apart other into the marketing channels that we have been tagging correctly using Google Analytics campaign tracking.  This is extremely useful as you can start to analyze how the various marketing channels you are using such as QR Codes, Banner Ads, and even offline media are contributing to your site conversions.

How To Create Channel Groupings

To create your own Channel Grouping like the one presented above, you select the Channel Grouping dropdown and select “Copy Basic Channel Grouping template…” which will copy the settings for the default view that you see in MCF’s.

After clicking on “Copy Basic Channel Grouping template…” you will be presented with the view below.  This is how Google has chosen to categorize the channels in all the reports for MCF’s.  As you can see the “(Other)” channel comes from a rule that Google made if something doesn’t match any of the conditions above.

When you click “Add new Rule” which can be found under the last channel that has been created, you will be presented with new options to create your new channel, which should look like the image below.  Here we have grouped everything that contains “affiliate” in the Medium and grouped it together with a pretty color.  The amount of different combinations are very extensive.  An example of this is for AdWords you could split the Channel into two Channels, those that came from  display advertisements and those that came from paid search.

After you have applied and added new rules for your campaigns your should have a nice list of all your channels, with channel specific colors to make your reports more appealing and easily readable, as shown below.  Again the possibilities of different channel grouping are many.  Google uses a suggestion of making Generic Keywords vs. Branded Keywords, you could incorporate this into the new template you just made by making another copy of it.  You could split your organic search into the two keyword groups, and go from there.  I foresee channel groupings being essential to providing support to marketing questions that arise.  In a meeting a question that may be asked;  “Is social media really worth the time invested?”  To help provide insight into this, you could start breaking apart the social media channels and see which contributes to conversions.  Channel Groupings is my favorite feature of MCF’s, and I have a feeling it will be most peoples as well.

Sep 01

Chart Incline
An age old debate never seems to settle is whether Analytics is hard or easy. Ironically, this debate could be resolved if we (those of us in the web analytics industry), simply realized that analytics is both hard and easy. What’s certainly hard is convincing end users to commit and leverage analytics and make better use of data. When more people become data driven and adopt analytics, then analytics geeks (such as yours truly!) will find themselves impacting strategies at the executive table. Marketers, business owners and consultants could benefit greatly from making the “easy” accessible and the “hard” simplified.

To reach this goal, marketers need a guide to help build the marketing accountability that analytics, and smart people, bring to the table.

I hope to provide this guide and structure in my 7-Step Analytics Reporting Framework whitepaper. This framework will help marketers navigate through seas of data and reports and leverage insights to impact their business.

You can download the full whitepaper here.

Download Whitepaper

And for those of you on the go, here’s a quick outline of what to expect:

1- Define your requirements

Clearly identify what you need to measure and extract key data to measure your performance. This is the foundation for all following steps.

2- Know your channels

Pageviews alone won’t cut it anymore.  Different media platforms require different measurement approaches and techniques. Understand the characteristics of your channels and how to track each of them.

3- Trim your metrics

When it comes to reporting, apply this strategy: “less is more”. Just because you have a lot of data doesn’t mean you need it all.

4- Segment for context

Absolute numbers and aggregates hide a wealth of insight and can be very misleading. . Segment and allow “context” to give your data meaning.

5- Put intelligence at your service

Let computers crunch the numbers. Let reports detect and flag significant changes in your key performance indicators automatically. (If you are not a Google Analytics user, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon and leverage its powerful Intelligence engine.)

6- Integrate reporting

Data from your website offer just few pieces of the puzzle. Incorporate data from mobile, social, offline, competitive, etc. and look at the big picture.

7- Automate

Tired of manual reporting? Automate your reports. This gives you more time to do proper analysis.

Bonus Step

Channel Attribution & Multi-Channel Funnels

Download the full whitepaper here. Feel free to comment and share.

Download Whitepaper