Key Takeaways from GoMeasure with Google Analytics Melbourne 2011

Last Thursday I was fortunate to attend GoMeasure Melbourne and listen to some inspiring presentations on Data Measurement  and  Google Analytics.  The full list of speakers and agenda can be found on the event site which  has now been updated to include all the presentations. Two local partners, Internetrix and Loves Data also presented at the event and shared Australian case studies including NIB Health Funds and BT Super for Life. Some of the case studies showed changes to page elements delivering conversion rate improvements upwards of 30% .

Some of my key takeaways:

  1. Engagement rates are down YoY which means site owners have to make messaging and conversion funnels more efficient or risk losing increasingly less engaged consumers.
  2. Google Analytics v5 now provides Multi Channel Funnel Reports, so you can measure the impact of all your digital touch points in the consumer journey.
  3. As web usage becomes more mobile and social, setting up analytics to understand engagement with these channels is imperative.
  4. Set up and track goals at each stage of the consumer decision journey not just the point of purchase
  5. When testing pages, prioritize ones where you lose most money (or traffic).
  6. Instead of making wholesale changes, test incremental changes
  7. Every second of latency can change the conversion rate by 7%. Page load time can be reported by adding a simple line code in your GA code. For a free page load time assessment go to
  8. Internal site search reports are valuable for identifying visitor segments. Low conversion rates could indicate navigation issues or broken CMS.
  9. Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign team is looking for digital people.

These were just some of my topline takeaways, you can view the presentations in entirety at the event site. Most Melbourne clients I have worked with in the last 3 years use either Omniture or Webtrends, but weren’t deriving enough insights to improve ongoing acquisition programs. I would recommend Google Analytics to any client who doesn’t have an analytics solution in place, for its integration with Adwords, availability of locally based  expert certified partners and the new features in Version5.

I certainly gained a lot from the experience and will be doing a deep dive into Google Analytics v5 in the coming weeks. If you were at the same event, I’d like to hear about your experience.



Debate over online privacy and behavioural targeting heats up

This week the debate on online privacy heated up further with the US FTC coming out with a strict online privacy report that put behvaioural targeting networks on red alert. I’d like to use this post to provide a summary of the technology and the issues in the mix.

Behavioral targeting advertisers can target users by interests via their internet ‘behaviour’ i.e. which sites they visit, what type of content they’ve spend time on etc. Advertisers and publishers claim that BT is beneficial to users by showing them only relevant advertising thereby improving their web experience. On the other hand web surfers are generally ad agnostic, finding online banners either irrelevant or creepy. Most of us trawl hundreds of sites in a year, some of which we stop by only briefly or discretely. The thought that big companies are keeping a track every step on this trail and serving ads based on the cumulative data is scary.

The abililty to offer behavioural targeting is a great hook for publishers and ad networks to get large offline advertisers on board online advertisers. Data from Emarketer shows 1 in every 5 US Display dollars by 2014 will be linked to BT and that this tactic is twice as effective as RON ads. These advertisers can now use the large sets of psycographic data they have at their disposal through market research to target users by their lifestyles and behaviours. Knowing where someone likes to vacation, the kinds of cars they are interested in allows powerful interest – based targeting. As users visit different websites within an ad network, a profile is built and the user is bucketed in one of pre-defined segments and served ads when he visits another website that is part of the same network. The technology has been refined over the years and now most major network and publishers including Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft offer this service, with revenues from this tactic poised for strong yearly growth.

Last week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US announced support for a measure that requires publishers to offer a “Do Not Track” option so users can “opt out” of data collection. Another suggestion is to have a symbol on every online ad that will give users access to see who sent the ad and what data is being collected about them. Overnight Microsoft announced that its Internet Explorer 9 would have ‘Tracking Protection’ functionality allowing users to manage which organisations have access to their data.

6 Must-have elements to include in your Digital Analytics Dashboard

The appeal of online marketing is that a site owner can track almost everything related to site and visitor behaviour. This leaves us with a problem of plenty and often data overload, not knowing which are the important areas that can give us information leading to actionable changes. I am reminded of a quote by Einstein “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” To put it simply, my recommendation is to build a dashboard covering 6 business critical areas only and share and review these with your leadership team every week. Each department head viz Marketing, IT Head etc can then go away and use deeper analytics reports with their supplier agencies to investigate issues arising out of this dashboard.

1. Sources of Traffic
Know where your sites visitors are coming from on a weekly basis. Broad sources are Search Engines (SEO and SEM), Direct/Bookmarked (when a user types your url in the browser or uses a prior bookmark), Other Sites/Campaigns (traffic from sites you have partnered with or have paid to put your ads on).
Benefit: Track the changes in trend of each and see the correlation effect of your marketing activities eg Direct traffic going up when you have a TV campaign running.

2. Campaign Performance

Track and compare the CPA and Conversion rate for each paid campaign eg Adwords, Affiliates, Email. Observe the impact one channel has on another.
Benefit: Understand which online channel gives you the best ROI. Also note how different channels perform at different times of the month and adjust your schedule accordingly.
3. Conversion Funnel

Chart the consumer journey from the time they land on your site and then go through the various steps in your purchase path.  If you are A/B testing two different landing pages, compare conversion funnels for both for greater insights.

Benefits: See where drop-outs occur and apply changes to plug the leakage.

4. Keyword Ranks
Identify the top 10 most important keywords for your business category that you should ideally rank high for in the search engines. Record your sites ranking for these keywords in both Paid and Organic Rankings once a week, preferably on the most important business day/time and when your PPC budgets are unlikely to maxed out. You can get an analyst to do this manually or use a paid monitoring tool like AWR to automate the task across multiple search engines.
Benefits: Benchmark your search ranking against competitors and also monitor changes in PPC rank strategy by others.
5. Website Usage

Top line numbers on how visitors are interacting with your website. Trends in metrics such as ‘time spent’ and ‘bounce rate’ can indicate the engagement levels and navigational ease of your site. If your ‘bounce rate’ increases consistently, you probably have a page or site section that users frequently exit from. This may be because they are confused or haven’t found what they were looking for.
Benefits: Understand how visitors use your site and identify problem areas around content and landing pages.

6. Webmaster Stats

Measure back end stats such as site average page load times and server down times as these can severely impact metrics like bounce rates, time spent and conversion rates.

Benefits: Understand how your infrastructure and hardware capabilities impact the users experience. Keep Marketing and Analytics team informed when a server side issue occurs so this reasoning can be used to explain fluctuations in other metrics.

One area I have omitted here is Competitor Tracking which is important as no online business operates in a vacuum and one should never be blindsided by a key competitor. However this kind of tracking is usually through 3rd party suppliers and comes at a premium and as such can be deferred until a business can get numbers 1-6 right first. I will cover this area in detail in a future post.