In addition to your standard keyword reports, it is often very useful to segment into groups by keyword phrase length. This will not only allow you to gauge how much of you traffic is short/medium/long tail but also the comparable performance between each group. The purpose of this post is just to share with you (with a little help from Avinash Kaushik) some premade Google Analytics custom segments which you can easily add to your own account.
To copy these segments into your account simply log into your account and click on the links below, you will then be prompted to save the segments to the profiles you would like to use them in. Once saved you can use these segments to compare different keyword phrase groups by the amount of words in each phrase:
If there are any other advanced segments you are trying to setup but just can’t get the results you’re looking for why not contact us for some expert help.
Please note while these segments have been tried and tested, it is your responsibility to verify they are working correctly in your account.
Want to know what your users are looking for once they get onto your site? Want to know if they actually find what they are looking for? The Site Search reports in Google Analytics are a good place to look to help answer these questions.
You can find these reports in the Content reports section on the right of your GA interface:
These reports will show you a range of useful metrics specific to the Site Search reports, such as:
- Number of people using your site search facility vs those who didn’t
- The interaction, visitor type and conversion rates of people who searched vs those who didn’t
- The keywords and search categories they used to search on your site (make sure these are incorporated into your search engine strategy)
- The number of times they refined their search query in a session (which helps show if they found what they were looking for first time)
- The length of time they spent on the time after they searched
- The percentage of ‘searchers’ which exited the site just after searching, indicating they didn’t find what they were looking for.
Apart from the Site Search metrics in these reports, by applying custom segments to other reports in your Analytics account you can gain even more perspectives and comparisons of your web data. Below are two links to copy some basic Site Search related custom segments into your account, which will help you segment your analytics data based on whether visitors used your site search facility or not:
Setting Up Site Search Reports
If you open your Site Search reports and there is no data there, you would most likely need to still set up your Site Search (if Site Search is set up in your account and still not tracking you can always contact us for some expert assistance). This can be quite simple if your site uses parameters in the search results URL like below:
www.mysite.com/searchresults?keyword=new iphone&search_category=apple products
What you would need to do to set up the internal search features for your profile is to go to the profile settings in your Admin panel:
Scroll down to the site search settings and enter the relevant parameter names, which using the above URL example would be:
If your site search results don’t have the search details in the URL with parameters, there is a workaround for this using virtual page views to artificially insert the parameters in the page URL which is sent to Google Analytics (see below the code using our example). This would mean that while the displayed URL of the search results doesn’t hold any information of the search made, the data sent to your analytics profile does. This is however trickier to setup so if you need some expert help contact us and we will be glad to assist.
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/searchresults?keyword=new iphone&search_category=apple products' ]);
What is Digital Strategy?
If you go to Wikipedia the answer you will get is this:
“Digital strategy is the process of specifying an organization’s vision, goals, opportunities and initiatives in order to maximize the business benefits, digital investments and efforts provide to the organization.”
While this definition may seem very abstract it contains a few key points which allows us to greatly simplify it into something much more digestible:
At the core of this definition is the fundamental assumption that every organisation and digital investment has a goal. Moreover, that the goal of a digital investment is inextricably linked to the goals of the organisation.
Despite focusing on the digital assets of an organisation, at the end of the day digital strategy is still just a strategy. As such the process thereof can be broken up into four steps of strategy development:
One mustn’t however forget the fundamental building block of measurement, which is critical for each step of the way. This is especially relevant due to the measurable nature of the digital world, which is also one of its key strengths.
You might think this a very broad theoretical outline, which is hard to keep focused of in day to day activities. That may be true, especially since each phase will have its own sub processes which more often than not, incorporates elements from other phases. That said, I still think it is very important to have an ongoing and structured strategic outlook which incorporates these different phases, and most importantly the relation between them.
This means for instance, making sure that in the planning phase, a framework is properly outlined, to be effectively developed in the implementation phase, so that when the organisation has to react (possibly months or even years from now), it has a solid framework which allows it to be agile. A classic example would be how Amazon was able to completely change their ‘store front’ only hours after Steve Job passed away to accommodate the expected surge in interest in Steve and Apple in general.
At the end of the day my point is: Agility is arguably one of the most common elements which distinguish industry leaders. Moreover, it is only with a holistic and ongoing view of the strategic process that this agility can be achieved, especially in the digital space where things are moving so quickly.
An important part of a solid digital strategy is effective budget planning. Of that budget the main ongoing talking point is generally traffic generation, or in other words “how much and where should we invest in order to get people into our website”. In fact many digital strategies are completely based around budget allocation for traffic channels. These strategies resemble a process as follows:
The goal of this post is to focus on one of the most overlooked and beneficial areas to invest in: Conversion Optimisation. More specifically, the cost benefit of budgeting for and executing Conversion Optimisation projects.
You may ask what Conversion Optimisation is. The broad answer would be “anything which could increases conversion rates”. For the purpose of this post let’s just focus on site changes, where examples would include testing different landing page layouts, testing different call to action copy or even just testing the colour of a button.
Now before we continue, I would like to highlight the underlying principle for this post: Successful Optimisation projects have ongoing benefits. While increasing conversions purely through increasing traffic is an ongoing cost increase and with little effect on ROI. In other words: successful optimisation project = once off cost = extended benefit.
Let’s use a practical example to really show the principle:
- You have a website.
- It sells widgets at R100 each.
- For every 1000 visits to your site you sell 20 widgets. In other words your conversion rate is 2%.
- You get an average of 40000 visits to your site every month.
- You’re paid traffic brings in 30000 of your monthly visits and costs R60 000. That’s R2 for every visit.
So assuming you don’t invest in conversion optimisation and all other things held constant your forecast over the next four quarters will look something like this:
Now let’s say you take 10% of your traffic budget in the first 2 Quarters and invest in conversion optimisation testing. The first quarter you start with a landing page test and increase your conversion rate to 2.1% the second quarter you hit it ‘big’ and increase it again to 2.30% with more effective copy. Then in the final quarters you put all your budget back into just traffic generation. Your forecast will look like this:
Through no budget increases you have managed to increase your ROI and yearly revenue by R80 400.
This is of course a huge simplification, but the principle I am trying to drive home is not that conversion optimisation will always produce rewards (the first quarter actually had less ROI and revenue) or in what ratios you should allocate budget. Rather what I want to drive home it that optimisation efforts do cost money and require an ongoing commitment of testing and implementing to really reap the extended benefits.
So if need be, start small, but make sure to start at all. The chances are the more you practice and test the better your organization will become at running and implementing successful tests, which means even lower marginal costs for optimisation and more potential wins.
Possibly the most important performance metrics we all know is ROI, return on investment. Every online marketer will probably agree on this, understanding what your marketing spend is earning you is critical to effectively managing marketing campaigns and budgets.
What is often overlooked however is making sure campaigns are being properly tagged and tracked. Without proper campaign tracking, it becomes very difficult, and sometimes impossible to effectively measure ROI (even on a high level).
A classic example would be email campaigns: Did you know that if links are not properly tagged in your email communications all clicks from email clients such as Outlook or Thunderbird (the most common method of viewing mails) will be attributed to Direct traffic, while webmail clicks will be attributed to referral? The implications of this are huge especially if you are investing a lot of time and money into your email channel.
Fortunately to get around this Google has made it extremely simple to tag your campaign links. How it works is that you simply have to append your links with three (minimum) tags called utm tags. In fact Google even provides a tool call URL Builder to create these links.
Here is an example of a tagged link with the tag parameters in different colours:
UTM Tags, What They Mean:
This tag tells Google Analytics the site/source which directed the traffic to your site. For example this can be “april_newsletter_list22”, “twitter”, “our_blog”, “myspace” etc. In fact you can call it whatever, but the key is that you use the same name for the same source and also that the name is relevant to the source. Best practice though is to just name the unique site where the link is placed. If you have the same email going to multiple lists remember to indicate this on your source.
This tag defines what type of channel sent the traffic. You can potentially name this medium whatever you want (banner, postcard, listing) but there are some naming conventions which are recommended to be used for certain channels. Yet again consistency is key:
Social media sites: social
Pay per click search: cpc
News/RSS feeds: feed
Website banners: banner
Offline ads: offline
This is to name the campaign the link is in aid of. Yet again you can name this tag whatever you want, but be sure to be consistent in your naming conventions and which links you tag.
This tag is optional and is generally used for paid search campaigns to track the keyword which generated a click. It can be used for a manner of other uses like a blog author name or a page category on a site.
This optional tag is generally used to distinguish between different variations of an ad or link. For example you could have two ad banners running on a website, one with an image of a cat and another with the dog. Using the utm_content tag you can see which ad variation works best for you.
UTM Tags The Bigger Picture
As an example, let’s look at a Christmas Promotional campaign targeting bicycle sales. The campaign utilises 3 channels over 5 different sites and mailers to increase sales. The diagram below shows how the structure of this campaign’s tags fit together. For all links the campaign tag will be the same, the medium tag however will be one of the three channels used. The only unique tag will be the source which indicates where the link is located. With a structure like this you can easily view the return of your campaign, as well as drill down to see which channels and sites/mailers gave you the most return within the campaign.
REMEMBER all campaign tags are CasE SensiTive eg: tag ≠TAG
Automatic UTM Tagging
Unfortunately tagging often has to be done manually, there are two big exceptions though: Google Adwords and Email. Since Adwords can be integrated with Google Analytics it’s no surprise that Adwords has the function for Auto Tagging to track your campaigns. A little less known fact is that most Email Service Providers offer the functionality to also auto tag all links in your emails. That said you should always check the tools you are currently using if they do offer auto tagging. Also make sure the automatic tagging is working in the most optimal format for you.
Our Gift To You: Bulk UTM Tagging Tool
Google’s URL builder is definitely useful, but only doing one tag at a time can be a bit of a drag. So to help you tag and manage your campaigns more efficiently we have created a special Bulk URL Tagging Excel sheet for free download. All you have to do is paste in the required parameters into the sheet and your tagged link will be generated. You will find two sheets in the workbook, for simplicity the first sheet only covers the 3 required tags, but if you want to include the optional utm_term and utm_content tags you can find these options on the second sheet.
*This workbook has been extensively tested but the responsibility to make sure the built links work rests on the user. If you do however find any fault with the workbook, please let us know.
SMART Tip: UTM Tags and Link Shorteners
With all these tags, you find that your links are getting a bit too long for your liking. This is particularly relevant for social media sharing especially with services like Twitter. Good news though, if you do use a link shortener your tags will be still be preserved when the visitor is directed to your site.
That’s all for this post, stay tuned for the next post where we look at some more advanced methods for tracking offline campaigns and overriding conversion attribution settings.
All too often web analysis is confused with online analytics tools and data they measure. For example, it will surprise many that Google Analytics is not in fact Web Analysis! Nor are website hits and time on site the bedrock of Web Analysis.
How has this happened? Well, one just has to look at the dashboard reports of any online analytics tool to get an idea. There you’ll find loads of data and ‘interesting’ indicators and graphs all available at the click of a button. In fact there is so much data available presented in such an appealing way that it must mean something and must be important. And not knowing what it means or why it’s important, makes it easy to put the data and the tools in the same box as analysis itself.
The fact of the matter though, is that the whole of “web analysis” is not that new, just the “web” part is. As an example let’s take an ecommerce site. The purpose or goal of this site is fundamentally to sell goods, and increase revenue. In fact its goal is essentially the same as an offline store.
Now let’s look a little closer at the task of product positioning in an offline store, in particular the task of arranging goods on a shelf. Over the years, much time and effort has been invested into optimising this seemingly simple task. Now imagine if instead of running expensive real world tests marketers could measure exactly what goods consumers are looking at, picking up and not/purchasing as they are shopping (and re-arrange the shelves in real time!).
Now let’s look at an online store. The end goal is exactly the same (sell goods). The shelf is now a screen. And guess what, all those key points of interaction can be recorded: where the consumer is looking at (heatmaps), what they’re picking up (clicks) and finally what they purchase (ecommerce tracking). Just like the offline store data still has to be tracked interpreted, which is often more tricky than it seems. But the point is at the end of day it’s not the “analysis” part which is new, just the “web” part and the data sets and methods of data collection it brings with it. This is a great simplification of course, but the principle is there. A web presence exists to accomplish goals and web analysis is a just a methodology for optimising online activities to achieve those goals.
So next time you look at web metrics do try remember, ultimately the data is just a (rough) etching of what real people did when their worlds interacted with yours, just like before the internet. And the task at hand has remained the same (albeit new data is now more readily available): to make sense of the data available to improve your world and subsequently your visitors’ worlds as well.