Web Analytics

2 Easy Ways to Start Tracking Social Media with Google Analytics


By now, even the smallest of small businesses know that an active social media presence is necessary to appeal to web savvy customers in the digital age. But for many, the strategic thinking ends there. The built-in analytics/insights that come with most social platforms really don’t help the problem, since they’re typically not results-oriented enough to drive strategy.

social marketing

That’s where Google Analytics can help. The versatility and customization available through this great (and free!) set of tools is well worth the effort of learning how to use them. And if you’re already using Google Analytics for your website analytics, it’s a simple step to extend that to social media platforms.

The major flaw in almost all Insights that come bundled within a social media platform is the lack of customization. Think about your Facebook Insights dashboard:

Google Analytics comparison

It's very big picture: there’s no way to quantify specific content marketing efforts, to follow clicks through to their end result, or to even adjust the layout of your Insights so they fit the data you’re interested in. Facebook Insights (and Pinterest Analytics, Twitter Analytics, etc.) are only interested in the kind of results you can achieve within the platform, like post views, shares, clicks, likes, retweets, repins, and comments. But you’re running a business, not a social media extravaganza. You need to be able to quantify results beyond all that, to determine what types of content and marketing efforts work best for your bottom line.

1.     Track social media visitors using customized URLs.

You’ve probably seen these types of long, complicated URLs before – they often have the name of the post or website included, and then a lot of garbled text and symbols at the end. These are called UTM parameters, and they allow you to send data back to your Google Analytics whenever someone uses that specific link to reach your page, maybe by clicking on a link in your Facebook post or tweet. Create your own trackable URL with Google’s easy to use URL Builder.

Related Class: Introduction to Web Analytics

There are many advantages to keeping track of clicks through UTM parameters rather than through the Insights/Analytics that come with each social channel. Google Analytics will give you one easy place to compare clicks across all your platforms, so you can see which types of content or offers perform best on which of your platforms. This makes it easier to think strategically about content, instead of blanketing all off your social channels with the same posts. You can also use UTM parameters to track things like sponsored posts, advertising campaigns, etc., so it will be clear which ad keywords or images are performing best for you.

2.     Set goals to get results-driven data.

When Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics shows me that several people clicked on a link to a landing page that I posted/tweeted, I’m glad to hear it. But it’s not exactly data you can take back to the CEO or sales team to show your success in social media. Using Google Analytics to set goals will help you keep track of the behavior of social media users once they get onto your site, and can give you much more detailed, actionable data than you’ll get from social media insights alone.

Related Class: How to Measure Social ROI

Since you create your own goals in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to identify exactly the behaviors you’re interested in. For example, if I wanted to test the success of a blog post, I could set a duration goal to monitor when visitors stay on the page for over 45 seconds or 1 minute. Or if the blog post drives readers with a CTA like downloading an eBook or reading more on another page, I can set a destination goal for when they click on the link and land on that specific page. If your interest is in specific actions (signing up for the mailing list, downloading a product guide, playing a video) you can create event goals associated with those actions.

social tracking

If you’re already using Google Analytics, I don’t need to tell you that there are many, many more ways to use this free service to track your efforts and refine your strategy. From A/B testing ad buys to focusing the content you share, these tools are more specific, customizable and ultimately useful than the built-in insights you get from Facebook and other platforms. Use both together to get a big picture and close up look at your social media efforts and their results.

Interested in more ways to track social media with data? Check out this class, Measuring the Value of Social Media Using Simple Analytics, to learn about best practices for integrating Google Analytics with your social media channels.


5 Tips for Defining Key Performance Indicators


In this blog, I will reveal five lessons learned from the course, “Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).” According to the instructor Bill Bruno, CEO of Stratigent, there are many metrics that are important to track, but only a few are KPIs. A metric is a KPI if it meets two criteria: it is tied directly to a business, marketing, or campaign objective; and there are time-sensitive targets that can be measured and rated.

1. Useful KPIs Trump Actionable KPIs

How do you determine which KPIs are the most important? This chart shows that the most useful KPIs provide a high amount of insight and have a short-term impact. In contrast, it’s better to avoid KPIs that are low on the insight and actionable scale.

For example, below are long-term vs. short-term insightful goals:

  • Long-term: “Create a fully customized unique experience for my visitors.”
  • Short-term: “Start by monitoring the number of people who come from our partner site and see how they interact on our site, in order to create a unique experience for subset groups of visitors.”

What KPIs do you use to measure your marketing campaign performance? It’s important to keep this framework in mind when defining KPIs.

Related Class: Defining Key Performance Indicators

2. Metric Types Classified by Use

In terms of metric types, the chart below indicates five types of metrics and examples of each. These help to answer questions such as: How well am I doing? How can I do better? What am I doing poorly? Will I do better? Where is the opportunity?

In addition, while some metrics inform your short-term tactics (Key Performance Indicators), others inform your long-term strategies (Provide Keen Insight). Bill recommends a balance of metrics across all of these levels. What type of metrics do you use in your organization?

3. Strategic KPI Definition Process

KPI identification typically involves a three-step process: get clarity and consensus on website goals; align your web analytics and website goals; and identify what is important to measure. The framework below illustrates five steps in defining strategic KPIs.



It includes the following: articulate the objective; define the measures of success; identify diagnostic metrics; gain stakeholder buy-in; and finalize business, technical, and process requirements. 

4. Interim Metric Identification Process

However, more commonly in organizations, the three-step process is executed backwards: identify what is important to measure; align your web analytics and website goals; and get clarity and consensus on website goals. While this isn’t the ideal process, below is the suggested framework for organizations that use the backwards process.


This process includes: identify report goals; identify your target audiences; determine which metrics help to achieve the report goals; and finalize business and technical interim requirements. What approach do you use for developing KPIs?

5.  Global KPIs for Complex Businesses

For complex global businesses, it is important to look for commonalities; remember that no KPI is an island; look for overarching objectives; and use targets/goals rather than raw numbers. Below is a great representation of a KPI dashboard.



It covers performance goals by business; overview section with basic analysis; different activity markers; and metrics that are important to the business (visits, average visit duration, opt-ins, and brand health). While the business is complex, this dashboard provides a simple and easily digestible interface covering KPIs.

In conclusion, measurement is the reduction of uncertainty about a quantity through observation (in order to understand something, you need to measure it!) To learn more about this topic, check out the book “How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business” by Douglas Hubbard.

Lastly, here’s a quick exercise to identify and prioritize key metrics. From your existing reports, select the key metrics that should be included on a dashboard for your target audience and determine which key metrics should be highlighted. How will you modify or continue reporting on your KPIs? What tools do you use for tracking metrics? I hope this blog provides you with some valuable insights on how to define, measure, and optimize your digital marketing efforts.


For practical web analytics and measurement training on how to implement proper tracking and measure and analyze data to optimize your website and marketing campaigns to improve ROI, sign up for the Online Marketing Institute Web Analytics Certificate program. Enroll today to learn the step-by-step process you need to identify actionable KPIs and translate these metrics into a solid business ROI.


Data Driven Marketing, is 2014 the Year?


After reading the great predictions post  from our friends at Anametrix, I could not help but think, "Is this the year we see data driving the direction of marketing, programmatic advertising and retargeting, predictive CRM,  pervasive use of attribution modeling and all the goodies that now famed "big data" can provide?"

I think yes. And here's why.

Smart companies like NetApp, Cisco and thousands of other smaller organizations are actually seeing success. They are using the tools, mapping the strategy and clearly gaining results to the tune of 300%+ lift when making data work for them. Moreover, planning around big data will quite simply be the difference between the winners and loser in the race for greater market share in any vertical market, and the ultimate weapon of competitive differentiation for the mid-tier company to blow the socks off the incumbent.

Word of advice, take the blue pill and dive into the "data matrix" thinking strongly about predictive, data analytics and focused use of big or third party data.

See the what the big boys have to say about data driven marketing in 2014 below and decide for yourself.

Pelin Thorogood − CEO, Anametrix

@PelinT Pelin is a new media marketing and analytics expert who is CEO and a board director of Anametrix. She also serves as an Executive-in-Residence for the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Her predictions for 2014 include:



  • Marketers will move beyond “current state” reporting, that all too often passes for analytics, to discover the actual levers of change in their increasingly complex environments. They will ask their data specific questions for the insights to make time-sensitive business decisions.
  • Right-time marketing will become more and more common as businesses are able to combine and make sense out of consumer breadcrumbs across all channels of engagement in a timely manner.
  • As marketers begin to understand their data and begin to predict behavior, they will be more like the “quants” on Wall Street with automated trading algorithms − but with one caveat. New tools will enable not just the “data scientist,” but also the average marketer to easily create forecasts, determine optimal approach, automate all necessary consumer-facing actions, observe actual outcome, learn and repeat for improved results!

Advances in analytics technology AND marketers’ acceptance of this technology will deliver data not just on the “what,” but also the “why”, the “when” and the “what if” for true decision support. This next-gen approach will require access to real-time, granular multichannel data that can be analyzed in real time to reveal hidden relationships and shed new insights into critical business decisions. The good news is that we are moving into an era when we can monitor, analyze and, most importantly, act on the high volume, variety and velocity of data ever more rapidly to enable right-time marketing. And, those businesses that leverage analytics for decision support in 2014 will reap tremendous benefits.


 R. Ray Wang – Principal Analyst, Founder and Chairman, Constellation Research

@rwang0 A thought leader focused on enterprise strategy and disruptive technologies, Ray advises organizations worldwide on diverse business and technology topics. Ray defines three “rules” for successfully using data in 2014:

  • Data driven marketing is changing as folks realize that “Rule 1” is to use the data you already have very well, rather than worry about big data. We already have a lot of information at hand. We’re not even taking advantage of that.
  • “Rule 2” is that context is king. How we bring relevancy to users helps us make the data relevant. So role, relationship, location, time, sentiment and even intent play a key role.
  • “Rule 3” means we have to democratize decision-making to the every end point. The CEO and the event marketer should be able to make a decision based on the data at hand with confidence.

In 2013, everyone cried out about the need of a data scientist. The reality is that there are not enough qualified folks in the field. What we see in the future are systems that make it easy for the everyday user. From improved user experience to mobile access, we see marketing technologies advancing at a rapid rate. We also see the incorporation of social tools that allow for the rapid collaboration required for today’s shorter cycles.


 Joe Pulizzi − Founder, Content Marketing Institute

@JoePulizzi Joe is a content marketing evangelist speaker, author, coach and entrepreneur, as well as founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which Inc. Magazine recognized as the fastest growing business media company in 2013. Here’s his take on 2014:



  • We are in the middle of a transformation of the marketing department looking and feeling like a publishing operation. That means that our in-house journalists and content creators have to know what makes customers’ tick, what their pain points are, and where their interests are going and why they behave in certain ways. That takes a lot of information, and people that know how to break down that data into usable chunks.
  • While we have more data and information about our customers, so does our competition. The brand that can take that data and deliver the right information to customers at the right time will be the winner. Easier said than done. Most of the content created and distributed by brands is less than acceptable and highly tactical. Documented content marketing strategies are needed (most brands do not have documented content marketing strategies).
  • Brands continue to wrestle with multiple technologies: content workflow tools, insight tools, marketing automation tools, CRM systems, content discovery and amplification tools and more. In many cases, brands are still at an experimental stage with many of these technologies, and bought many too early in the process. The good news is that these technologies are necessary to really using our content to enhance or change behavior. Could the marketing technologist role be on the rise?

 Jay Baer – Founder and President, Convince & Convert 

 @jaybaer A well-known social media and content expert, Jay is also a frequent speaker and author, his most recent book published in the past year: “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype.” He cited these notable trends for 2014.



  • Data interpretation will continue to increase in importance in 2014, as data availability becomes “table stakes.” Ultimately, data without context and understanding has very little use, so data analysis and the ability to launch marketing experiments based on data-driven insights will become critical.
  • On a related front, a second big move will be toward data aggregation. The best insights come when smart marketers can evaluate information pulled from the widest possible array of sources, looking for patterns of correlation or causation that tell truths and boost efficiencies. Platforms (and human analysts) that can combine and parse data from disparate systems will be gold next year.
  • Lastly, with so many marketing initiatives moving online to venues with open APIs, this is the year that competitive analysis and comparison data becomes commonplace. Monitoring the marketing behavior (and outcomes) of the companies in your category, and benchmarking your own results accordingly will drive a lot of decisions – and bruise some egos – in 2014.

 Jim Sterne − Founder, eMetrics Summit and Digital Analytics Association

@jimsterne Jim is an international consultant and the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association. He also produces the eMetrics Summit. Here’s what Jim told us after looking in his crystal ball for 2014:



  • Data-driven marketing will stop being a fad, a “thing,” a cause to celebrate. By the end of the year, it will be as expected as social media participation by brands is today. We’ll no longer hear about its potential or possibilities, or even see articles lamenting how few are doing it. Instead, we’ll read about the rigors of making it work and the big gains made by those who are doing so.
  • The focus will shift to third-party data as never before. With everybody and his brother capturing more and more data about, well, everything, it will become a much more fluid marketplace. This will spawn a rash of data-gathering start-ups that will then be consolidated in a “Few Big Payers.” Google will have a tough time in this arena due to trend #3, which follows.
  • There will be a privacy event that will be more compelling than the NSA/Snowden affair and finally kick corporations into taking a stand on customer data from a brand perspective. In the same way the government couldn’t make corporations “Go Green,” privacy will never be won through legislation. It will only be truly adopted by corporations when it makes sense from a public relations perspective. Privacy will be embraced when customers kick up a fuss. Until then, laws will be discussed and lobbyists will continue to rake it in while subverting the legal system.

Marketing has always been a collaborative effort requiring many, diverse talents. As a result, an infrastructure of creative agencies and media planners and development organizations has grown around the needs of the marketer. Now that people have stopped complaining about the term “Big Data,” we can simply get on with making the most of it.


 Andrew Edwards − CEO, Managing Partner, Efectyv Digital 

 @AndrewVEdwards Andrew is a senior digital analyst, author, speaker and director emeritus of the Digital Analytics Association, as well as a founder of Efectyv and the consulting firm, Technology Leaders. Here are his digital predictions for 2014:



  • 5 million people will subscribe to Obamacare, using a much-improved interface at the government’s www.healthcare.gov website.
  • At least two major newspapers will cease print production because of the impact of digital distribution of news.
  • Despite NSA revelations, the public will care less and less about privacy.
  • Cloud-based universities will experience explosive growth.
  • Insurance companies will introduce digital dashboard cameras in exchange for reduced rates.
  • Tag management will become standard practice for most large digital assets.
  • Amazon will deliver a package before it is ordered, upsetting our notion of the space-time continuum

 Josh Manion − CEO, Ensighten 

 @joshmanion Josh is leading a revolution in tag management as CEO of Ensighten, a company he founded in 2009 to deliver breakthrough technology to clients. He shared three trends for the industry in 2014: 



  • First, omnichannel will continue to be very important to how consumers interact with brands. Consumer interactions will continue to be spread across many digital touch points, including mobile apps, kiosks, game consoles and an ever-increasing number of smart devices.
  • Next we see data ownership and brands maximizing the value of data, but insisting on owning it. Businesses have found it difficult to define digital interactions with their customers because data has been stored in third-party cookies owned by varied vendors. In the future brands will take steps to own their data. Customer profiles are an asset that accrues to the benefit of the brands and not third parties.
  • And last, best of breed technology will rule for the CMO. The rapid evolution of interactive marketing technologies continues. CMOs will benefit from selecting a portfolio of independent, best-of-breed technologies. Those that maximize ROI in these investments and allow their marketing organization to be agile will see benefits, including growth in revenues and market share.

 Aaron Kahlow − Founder & CEO, Online Marketing Institute 

@AaronKahlow A digital marketing and social media thought leader, Aaron has founded and built three prolific digital marketing companies in his career. He now leads the Online Marketing Institute. Here’s his view on what data-driven marketing will require in 2014: 



  • Being Smart − means attribution adoption by thoughtfully looking at data from the buyer’s perspective and not leveraging our simple, linear analytics reporting to tell us the story. I believe attribution modeling tools will finally start to be more universally adopted, in contrast to “last click.”
  • Being Resourceful − using predictive “Big Data” in “Little” ways with existing CRM data available to map back to on-site analytic buying behavior. Businesses will also use Lead Scoring Data to map and predict sales, increase sales opportunities, and use internal data, as well as third-party big data, to leverage time and money spent. Tools like Lattice Engines, 6sense and the overlays onto Marketo and Eloqua will really drive better decisions.
  • Being Mature − growing up a bit when it comes to marketing in digital and spending the time “sharpening the saw” to learn how to do this right. Folks are getting fired, and rightfully so, for saying “Social Media doesn’t work for B2B.” What companies are telling us “mature” marketers is they are not tracking right or executing right, and haven’t grown up past 2009. Of course events like ClickZ Live and eLearning platforms like the Online Marketing Institute would fit that bill.

I believe that marketing teams will become more operationally organized around driving demand and measuring demand, and then learning how to create content for more demand. The blend of Content Marketing Management tools with the use of Marketing Automation tools to map content to leads and leads to sales is going to be huge. The really smart companies will then find good Predictive CRM tools to map all the third-party data to their own to get a clear and accurate picture of what’s working.


 Bill Bruno – CEO, Stratigent

 @BillBruno A leader in the multichannel analytics space, Bill is CEO of Stratigent, a digital marketing consultancy, which last year was acquired by Ebiquity, an international agency advising global media and the marketing community. Here’s what he told Anametrix about trends for 2014:



  • Companies will realize that ‘big data” does not mean throwing all of their information into one place, but rather getting the right data to the right people at the right time to allow them to make decisions in real-time.
  • Responsive design will continue to pave the way for a much more focused testing and optimization program that spans across all devices and channels.
  • Niche vendors, such as mobile analytics, will pave the way for cross-channel personalization − and the ability to deliver relevant offers in these channels based on a much more complete “history” of each individual or group.

As a result of these trends, I expect to see marketers becoming much more comfortable picking the right solution for each of their business needs, instead of looking for an all-in-one solution. We are seeing a lot of this with clients, and quite frankly the ones that we have moved into this mentality are having the most success with improving the customer experience. I also expect to see a lot of consolidation within the retargeting/remarketing and attribution sectors since other technologies are chipping away at the capabilities of these solutions each day.

 @abehnam Ali co-founded Tealium in 2008, helping to design and launch the company’s enterprise tag management platform, Tealium iQ. He’s a long-time expert in online marketing, web analytics and tag management. As to 2014, he put a spotlight on two important trends:




  • Mobile & multi-channel growth: Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosive growth in usage of mobile and tablet devices, surpassing the time people spend on their computers. Yet mobile marketing lags online marketing in terms of both adoption by companies and spend. Mobile marketing is bound to grow, as more companies will look to make mobile an integral part of their marketing plans. This also means the growth of technologies allowing companies to better understand the customer journey across channels. This is will allow better personalization and a consistent brand experience.
  • Data activism:This one’s dear to my heart. Having been involved in the analytics space for almost 14 years, I’ve seen many companies spend time and resources generating more reports and dashboards without being able to take action on the data. The maturity of the space means that more companies will increase their investment in systems, people and processes to start taking action on the data and getting more value from their analytics. This is referred to as data activism.


5 Web Analytics Truths for Smart Digital Marketing


web analytics truthsIn the past, marketers were always looking for useful data—analytics data that would justify the dollars (and time) spent advertising and promoting their product or service. But now, there is often an over-abundance of data. It’s everywhere—web, mobile, social, offline etc. So where do you start? What do you do with the data? Here are 5 fundamental analytic truths you can follow to get you where you want to be.

1. Think People and Process, Not Just Technology

How do you measure ALL the data you have coming in? Well, in addition to the analytics tools (as we all seem to be obsessed with technology), it’s important to have the people and process in place too. Know how, and when, to bring in (or build) a digital analytics team. From there, develop a measurement plan for each of your marketing initiatives. This plan should be outcome-focused, and should include input from your various stakeholders to understand what matters to them. For example, your digital marketing manager would be interested in metrics such as visits by campaign, user interactions (engagement), conversions, and maybe repeat customer behavior. Your support manager, on the other hand, is probably not interested in any of the above. They want to know if those visiting the support portal are finding answers to their questions quickly, so KPIs such as issue resolution time would be very important to them. Take time and care to thoroughly understand your stakeholders’ measurement needs. RELATED TUTORIAL: How to Create a Data-Driven Culture

2. Segmentation—Do or Die

Today, there’s more to data than just total number pageviews (yes, many organizations unfortunately still report on total pageviews and miss out on all the non-pageview interactions such as video, downloads and rich media). Today’s analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, MixPanel, Flurry and others, are very powerful and allow us the ability to go beyond simplistic hit collection, and really dive into rich data and patterns. You can easily report and derive insights with visitor segmentation, have quick visibility into buyer or non-buyer behavior, group content by asset type, measure gated or ungated content consumption, and relatively easily run a cohort analysis. These are just a few views that could be utilized when segmenting your data. There are so many ways to slice and dice the data to help you gain the most beneficial insights on your visitors. Just find those that best suit your needs.

3. Gone Are the Visits—It’s All About the Visitors

With all this data readily available, we need to look beyond visit-based (or session-based) analytics to a more user-centric view. Again, the analytics platforms today provide the means to examine the entire visitor experience and user cycle. Explore data such as where visitors came from, what course they took between pages while on your website, and where they spent the most (or least) time during their visit and then in 2 or 3 visits later they converted and become customers. With this information, you’re able to gain increased awareness of visitors and how they interact with your content throughout the buying cycle. And, for the marketing ninja’s out there, bringing offline visitor interaction into the mix is not beyond reach these days.

4. Optimize What Matters Most

As we mentioned earlier, it’s past the time of just tracking click-thrus or pageviews. Now you want to optimize conversions on the all things digital. Take it one notch higher and optimize on the Lifetime Value of a customer. Put into place a system that gives you the ability to measure behavior and interaction across multi-devices and multiple channels for (most) users that come from mobile, web, etc. By tracking this way, you’ll have a more complete view of how each visitor interacts with your business a whole.

5. Deriving Insights Cannot Be Done in a Vacuum

You’ll maximize the return on gathering, reporting and analyzing data, when you do so consistently. Commit to the process and develop a list of priorities and a measurement “roadmap.” Audit what you have periodically. Websites and mobile apps are constantly evolving, so ensure your analytics implementation is in-line with such changes. Then, save time (and frustration), and move from manual to automated reporting. If you are not testing, it’s never too late! Go after some quick wins and shine like a star! Leverage data visualization tools such as Tableau and enable your stakeholders to have a clear path to insights.

Take your web analytics practice to the next level.

Watch 5 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths for a Data-Driven World with Feras Alhlou, and learn how to develop a web analytics practice that enables you to optimize what matters most to your business, and ignore the rest. Access it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute.  Get instant access now.


4 Steps for Creating an Effective Website that Visitors Love


Website Visitors LoveIn my last post, I explained the importance of website usability. In this post, I explain what it takes to make a website so easy to use that your audience will love—and return to again and again because the experience is simple, painless and quick. Let's dive in and explore 4 steps for creating an effective, usable website—that is to say, usable by the people you are targeting.

1. Identify your target audience.

As with everything in communications and marketing, creating a website that is tailored to your audience first requires identifying that audience. Most businesses are clear on who they are targeting, but may not have considered all aspects of how users will use their website. Rather than hoping that your customers will do what you want them to do, you must guide them to the desired action through website design.

RELATED TUTORIAL: B2B Website Redesign

2. Determine what your audience is looking for.

Be very clear about what you want users to do on your site. You may have more than one kind of user, and the different users may be looking for different things when they arrive at your site. What stage of the buying cycle are they in when they arrive? There are several sources of data open to you that can help determine what the users’ goals are:

  • Support call data
  • Field surveys
  • Speaking with current customers
  • Analyzing web traffic patters on your current site
  • Look at referring data from search engines and other sites

3. Set goals for your site.

If your website isn’t designed with specific objectives in mind, it’s unlikely to fulfill your expectations. Here are some typical things you may want your site to achieve:

  • Sales
  • Awareness
  • Support
  • Lead generation

If you are a non-profit charity, the list might look like:

  • Donations
  • Awareness
  • Volunteers
  • Education about the charity’s focus (such as heart disease, childhood hunger or animal rescue)

It’s fine to have multiple goals, but map them out before you begin development (or redevelopment) so that you can influence how users behave on the site.

RELATED TUTORIAL: Measuring What Matters: Analytics Tips for Success

4. Understand how users interact with the site.

Understand how users currently use your site (this is an ongoing effort). A friendly site will anticipate what users want to do and make it easy for them. There are a number of different tools that can be used to gather this information, including:

  • Eye tracking
  • Web analytics
  • Focus groups
  • Individual user Q&A session

Here’s a short list of online tools you can use for analysis. Some of them are free:

  • Google Analytics: Google makes a complete set of web analysis tools available for free. These tools can tell you who visited your site, how long they stayed, which pages they looked at, and how long they stayed on each page. They can also tell you where the visitors were referred from, what they do while on the site, and much more.
  • Google Content Experiments: Formerly known as Google Website Optimizer, this tool compares how different web pages perform using a random sample of your visitors. Up to five different versions can be tested, allowing you to define what percentage of your visitors are included in the experiment and choose which objective you’d like to test.
  • Autonomy Promotes/Optimost: This allows you to leverage real-time data sources from social media, customer feedback, web comments, call center calls and more to define the best keyword bid strategies for online advertising and improve campaign elements to be more effective with the target audience. It also consolidates all of our social media and unstructured customer data to allow higher conversion rates.
  • ClickTale: This in-page analytics program records every visitor’s mouse move, click and scroll to reveal how they use your site, including heatmaps that show where your visitors’ eyes move on the screen and also analyzes where and why visitors leave your conversion funnel, allowing you to increase conversion rates.
  • UserTesting: This service uses real visitors to test your site for usability.
  • CrazyEgg: Tests eye tracking and heat maps on your site to understand where users’ eyes move to on each page. If their eyes are always going to a lower-value area instead of to the sweet spot where the sales happen, you’ll want to change that!
  • AttentionWizard: Also tests eye tracking and heat maps.

In the next post in this series, we will explain some of the techniques introduced here, such as eye tracking, and provide some examples to illustrate how and why these techniques can be used to turbo-charge the value of your website to your business.

Learn how to convert more visitors into customers with better usability. 

Watch the tutorial—Convert More Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics— and discover proven best practices for maximizing website conversions. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.


4 Tips for Using Google Analytics to Measure AdWords Performance


Google Analytics Measurement for AdWordsMany businesses both large and small rely heavily on Google AdWords to drive qualified visitors to their websites and mobile sites. Some run these AdWords campaigns quite effectively, while others have their campaigns on a “set and forget” mode. If you fall into the latter category, your campaigns might yield some “ok” results, but you are likely missing out big time on so much more the program has to offer.

The AdWords platform offers many key metrics to help you measure success, such as impressions, clicks, cost-per-click, average keyword position, and ad click-thru rate. These metrics should be monitored against your campaign goals to help determine what you ultimately need to optimize. You can also measure the outcome (and you should if you are not) by tracking conversions (leads, sales, upgrades, etc.) on your site and understand what keywords, ads, campaigns are actually bringing you the money.

1. Avoid Missing AdWords Metrics

There is one optimization aspect that is often forgotten in terms of measuring AdWords performance, and that is the “post-click” performance. This is what happens after someone clicks on the ad and visits your landing page. Are they finding what they are looking for? Are they engaged? Bouncing? If they convert, you can track that in AdWords. And for those who do not convert, there are two different methods for tracking why this may be happening.

Engagement and post-click performance can be measured in a number of ways. You can pull a few metrics such as bounce rate, time on site, etc. from Google Analytics (GA) into AdWords (see AdWords help topic on this here), but I see very few people applying it to their AdWords setup. The other tracking option is to see this data in GA reports. Those who utilize GA for all their reporting will find it more beneficial to go to one place for all their data information, rather than switching back and forth on platforms. Plus, in some cases, GA users who are interested in reviewing the AdWords data may not always have access to the AdWords account they are working with. These folks find the engagement metrics data in GA to be very helpful - and this article is for you! The one prerequisite is that you want to ensure that your AdWords account is linked to your Google Analytics account (as described in the AdWords link above).

2. Leverage an AdWords Dashboard in Google Analytics

Everyone loves their “dashboards,” and the best dashboards are the actionable ones. Below is one that is super actionable! (And I want you to be hooked on it, so you can save costs and increase profits! )

So what do I look for in Google Analytics? We mentioned previously wanting to measure and improve user engagement on a landing page after visitors clicked on the ads and before they converted. Let me suggest we examine our good old metric friend, the “bounce rate.” This is the percentage of visits that go to one page, and then exit the site without any other interaction. For example, if the majority of visitors to JoesComputerShack.com come from AdWords campaign “Computer Monitors” but just arrive at his landing page and click off, the bounce rate percentage is going to be high, and you won’t know that critical fact if you’re are just looking at your AdWords metrics. If this is the case, Joe is going to want to know why these people are leaving so quickly, and why they are not converting. (Maybe Joe doesn’t carry monitors and he is bidding on a broad keyword “computer” or the landing page doesn’t have any mention of monitors.)

This dashboard highlights some valuable information, and we’ve broken it out for you here:

Visits and Bounce Rate by Campaign

Quickly see which campaigns have the highest bounce rate and act on it. Ideas for optimization include:

  • Check your targeting options in your AdWords campaign settings.
  • Check your geotargeting: are your targeting the right region?
  • Check the ad serving schedule. Make sure they are not set when your prospects are not searching, and you just have “happy clickers” wasting your ad budget. Adjust ad serving time as needed.
  • Maybe (and on purpose) you are bidding on very broad keywords for a specific marketing/awareness purpose, so you are expecting a high bounce rate.

Google Analytics - Visits and Bounce Rate by Campaign

Visits and Bounce Rate by Keyword

Similar to campaigns, we want to focus on the work performers. Our top keyword and the 8th top keyword appear to be performing miserably. Almost seven of each visitors comes to the site, and then bounces (ouch!). Optimization ideas here include:

  • If you are bidding on very broad keywords, review your negative keyword list. Should you add more?
  • Check your Search Terms report in AdWords. Are the queries that are driving clicks relevant to your offer?
  • Test using more specific keywords and other matching options, such as Exact.
  • Check to see if the keywords you are bidding on are relevant to the landing page.

Google Analytics - Keyword Bounce Rate

Visits and Bounce Rate by Landing Page

This is going to tell us the performance of our landing pages. Some of these pages are bouncing at 96%... wow what’s going on??? Here are some optimization ideas to examine:

  • Check your page load time (people are very impatient these days!).
  • Are your calls-to-actions clear?
  • Is the page relevant to the keywords you are bidding on?
  • Does your landing page pay off the promise of your ad?

Google Analytics - Bounce Rate by Landing Page

Now if you want to see all three together in one view and one dashboard, you sure can. See the snapshot below and I have shared a link so you can easily create this dashboard in your own Google Analytics account.

3. Create Your Paid Search Dashboard in Google Analytics

Google Analytics Paid Search Dashboard

To create this same dashboard, just login into your Google Analytics account, and then click this link—your dashboard will be created.

Obviously, savvy analysts and marketers wouldn’t just stop at the bounce rate analysis. They are likely to look into enhanced targeting techniques, content consumption, micro conversions (e.g. pdf downloads, demos watched, etc.). But starting off with bounces is definitely a good start and on-going optimization technique that I highly recommend you adopt.

4. Create Intelligence Alerts

Take your monitoring a step further by adding in Intelligence Alerts in Google Analytics. Once you’ve linked your Google AdWords to Google Analytics, you can create alerts that recognize specific criteria and alert you when that criteria is hit. With Intelligence Alerts, Google Analytics can help you identify positive or negative changes on your site or campaigns. We recommend you review these alerts daily, and monitor important changes.

Google Analytics Intelligence Alerts

Take your most important landing page and set an Alert to be triggered when your landing page bounce rate is higher than 60%. That is it! You don’t even have to monitor your dashboard anymore. You can set up the alerts you want and if you like, even have them emailed to your inbox.

In conclusion, there are several benefits to linking your Google AdWords and Google Analytics accounts. When you key in on specific information you’re looking for, you’re able to expand the data delivered and in turn, benefit your overall online marketing efforts.

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4 New Ways to Personalize Google Analytics


With so much of today’s marketing and advertising being geared towards personalization, it’s no wonder Google Analytics took its interface a step forward in making their dashboard a little more personalized for users too. Earlier this month, a handful of changes were implemented, all of which make Google Analytics easier for its users and provides a much more unified placement for tools within the platform.

Customized Dashboards

A huge beneficial change to the new Google Analytics platform is that it now gives users the ability to create personalized dashboards. This then offers up a lot more options when it comes to how the dashboard is laid out and how users can see their data. With this change, Google Analytics now offers a handful of options available when choosing the best layout for you.

What is nice about the new personalized dashboard is the added feature that you now have the ability to share them with others. This feature allows users to have their dashboard seen by others, such as stakeholders, marketing directors and IT managers, and export a personalized view to each, based on what data their department needs.

Google Analytics Layout Options

New Dashboards Widgets

Two new widgets have been added to the updated dashboards; Geo Maps and Bars. Within the Geo Maps widget, users are now able to color code by country, state, etc. While the Bars widget provides more advanced graphing of data.

Google Analytics Goal Completions

Updated Navigation

Fewer tabs now line the top of Google Analytics. This is yet another change that’s been implemented to provide a more powerful dashboard to users. Reporting, Customization, Admin and Help are the only tabs now listed atop the dashboard. This area has been cleaned up, moving some of the tabs to the left sidebar, which makes for a more unified placement of tools.

Another neat addition to the new Google Analytics interface is that the top orange navigation bar now floats with the page. So rather than being a static component on each page, this bar now scrolls down along with the user.

Google Analytics New Navigation

Advanced Segments Added to Dashboard

The updated Google Analytics interface now provides Advanced Segments as a feature on the dashboard. This tool is nothing new to the platform, but with its move to the dashboard, again, makes for easier gathering of specific data for users. So, for example, those interested in looking at paid traffic performance versus organic traffic performance can click on the Advanced Segments button (upper left corner of the dashboard, near Audience Overview in standard Google Analytics dashboard layout), select two options you’re interested in seeing reports on, and hit “Apply” to review the data.

As you can see, there have been some pretty simple, yet beneficial changes to the Google Analytics interface. This comes as a pleasant revision to the already highly useful platform.

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4 Guidelines to Using Marketing Analytics for Customer Retention and Lifetime Value


marketing analytics dashboardPut yourself in the place of this hypothetical marketing team under pressure to drive revenue from a new product line that had been introduced in the previous quarter with disappointing results. The CMO tells her team, “Fix the problem.” She wants new customers for this high-end line of tennis rackets, but she also needs campaigns that target repeat buyers from all the merchandise associated with the sport – shoes, apparel, tennis balls, carrying bags and the like.

Theoretically, this marketing team has all the data it needs to do the job; in fact, the team has more information about both new and repeat buyers than at any time in history. Consumers leave breadcrumbs of data signaling, “I was here,” every time they browse for product information, read reviews, clicks ad banners, “like” Facebook pages or opt to take advantage of promotions. But these big opportunities for insight come with complexity in our increasingly connected world. That complexity only gets deeper when you correlate behavior among in-store, online, social and mobile channels, searching for why some consumers become loyal, repeat buyers, while others simply walk away.

Ask the right questions

Analytics empower marketers to decode the Rosetta stone of customer behavior: how, when and why they buy, as well as the best ways to retain them. But you need to start with the right questions and know your data can answer them. Consider these examples:

  • What factors motivate repeat and more frequent purchases among your most valuable customers?
  • What campaigns and offers drive repeated sales of multiple products, and how does buyer reaction differ for different segments?
  • How does purchase-order size, recency and frequency relate to the likelihood of churn or new purchases?
  • What factors support customer loyalty holistically across all touchpoints – in-store, mobile, social and online?


Transform Data “Chaos” Into Customer Insight

Many marketers secretly find the tidal wave of data available to them almost too much of a good thing. According to Forbes , 70 percent of CMOs feel they are underprepared to manage the explosion of data and “lack true insight.”

Here are four guidelines for building analytics capabilities that allow you to get to the bottom of questions like those above:

1. Connect your data

Consumers don’t restrict themselves to shopping in one channel. Measuring performance within individual channels, as marketing often does, leads to misinterpreting who buys and how. You need to connect all internal and vendor data. This can (and should) include many of the following: web analytics, online advertising, email marketing, social media, search-engine marketing, surveys, live chat, CRM, marketing automation, U.S Census and third-party market research, along with sales, revenue and margin data from your internal systems.

2. Identify the right metrics

Top-line metrics typically produce little actionable information. Customer satisfaction scores are a case in point. They show you whether your customers are “happy” at a given time. But the metric will not reveal what causes churn or drives repeat sales. Or think about this example in the social realm – you can measure Social Shares (top line), but more relevant is a Virality Index correlated to Purchases, Loyalty sign-ups and Cost-per-Loyalty sign-up. Note that the right metrics often include data from multiple sources!

3. Integrate the data

Your data analysis needs to reveal interrelationships among paid, owned and earned (POE) media. Correlations of behavior across traditional and digital media reveal factors driving campaign and channel performance trends. A video that goes viral, for example, may boost ROI in online banner ads or change buyer churn for the better. You need the power to correlate key demographic, behavioral, social and financial factors to find what motivates buyers and repeat buyers.

4. Course-correct in real time

Data is most valuable when timely. Track your teams’ marketing mix performance in real-time, identify the levers of change, and act now to ensure marketing is indeed driving lifetime customer value for your business.

To get all this done, know that help is at hand with marketing analytics that provide deep intelligence throughout the entire customer journey with your brand. While the underlying technology with advanced analytics is highly sophisticated, you should have an interface that allows ease of use day-to-day and actionable reports that can be distributed throughout your organization.

We’re sure your company has put a great deal of focus on customer retention. Please share your stories, comments and insights on the opportunities and challenges you’ve encountered along the way, including what you need most in terms of analytics capabilities.
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5 Must-Use Features of Google Webmaster Tools


As I work with new clients I find many are not fully utilizing all of Google’s free tools to understand how their site is being found by Google and how to help the search engines more easily find their content. Along with Google Analytics, which most people know about and use, Google & Bing also offer Webmaster Tools. Now I know Webmaster is a term that sounds like it’s stuck in the 90’s, but there is some really great information you can get directly from the search engines. Below are my favorite tools from Google’s Webmaster Tools:

  1. Submit a sitemap: You can submit a sitemap to Google of all the pages on your site you want the search engine to crawl and index. You can even include in the sitemap a ranking system to tell the search engine what pages are most important. Uploading a XML sitemap and setting it to index in the Webmaster Tools gives Google a little nudge to go and index your site.

  2. Review crawl errors and site speed issues: You can see if Google is having any issues crawling your site or is finding error codes as well as any site speed issues. Once you resolve any issues you can notify Google to re-index those pages because issues have been resolved.  If you can’t find your pages in Google this is the first place I check to see if Google is having issues finding those pages.

  3. Search Queries: You can see if there has been an increase or decrease in organic search queries. With the latest Penguin & Panda updates we have been able to clearly see any changes to our client’s websites as a result of these updates by reviewing the queries in Webmaster tools.

  4. Fetch As Google: Have a new page or a page with updated content login to Webmaster Tools, enter the URL and fetch as google to help get that content indexed. This is basically a quick way to say to Google you should check out this page.

  5. Add or Demote Sitelinks: If you have a sitelink in your organic 6 pack that you don’t want, say Terms of Use, you can login to Webmaster Tools and demote that sitelink and add a page that you want to appear. This isn’t guaranteed to change it, but we have found by making this request it usually updates in a couple of days.

These are just a couple of my favorite tools from Webmaster Tools but there are so many more things you can learn about how your site and Google are interacting it’s worth an hour to just go and play around to see what you can learn about your site.

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3 Tips for Google Analytics Success


Getting the basics down regarding Google Analytics can be overwhelming even for seasoned veterans. By keeping in mind some best practices, you’ll be able to better utilize the capabilities of Google Analytics and cater to your particular needs. Take a look at some of the best practices we recommend below.

Admin and Set-Up

  • If you haven’t already, update to the asynchronous Google Analytics before the closing </head> tag. This new version allows for easy-to-implement event tracking and earlier load time.
  • If you have multiple subdomains with multiple profiles, be sure to set-up a catch-all profile with no filters or exclusions. This is recommended in case there are any issues with the other profiles – if needed you can do a little digging and get the same profile information in a crunch from that catch-all.
  • Exclude your network or internal traffic from tracking with Analytics. Surprisingly enough, internal traffic can skew the data significantly. This can be done at the domain level or a range of IPs.


  • When looking at your Analytics data, be sure to include annotations. If there was a spike in traffic and you can attribute it to an email blast for instance, then be sure to note it. Chances are you aren’t the only one looking in the Analytics account. By including annotations you eliminate any confusion and can see who added a particular annotation.
  • Depending on your industry and other online initiatives, a fast way to look at a particular group is to create a custom segment for it. The example below is an advanced segment for MSN PPC traffic. This allows for a quick glance at how MSN as a search engine is performing.

  • Create goals. Plain and simple. Even if you aren’t an e-commerce site and can’t track sales, set up other goals like time on site, pages viewed, downloads, etc. A trackable action will provide additional insight as to what people do on your site. Sure you can get them there, but what else can they do that adds value? Determine what that is and track it.


  • At some point or another you’re going to have to report on your findings within Google Analytics. Make it easy by taking advantage of the new export options. Have any Standard Reporting – Explorer dashboard exported as a spreadsheet, PDF, or even emailed to you at regular intervals.
  • Make reporting even easier by adding those same Standard Reporting – Explorer’s to a custom dashboard. Building out custom dashboards makes for an instant overview of key metrics without having to dig.

All of these best practices are designed to make using Google Analytics easier for beginners as well as advanced users. But not all of the best practices may apply to your site. Consider taking a look at each one in an effort to add value and gain insights into your online presence – or just to familiarize yourself more with Google Analytics and the plethora of information it provides.