Internet Marketing Tools Collection by TrafficMotion

This list is an ongoing work in progress. The goal is to provide a useful and broad list of internet marketing links. It will range from web analytics, to search engine optimization, social media, paid online advertising, conversion optimization, affiliate and email marketing, and more.

Online Marketing Tools from TrafficMotion

Stay tuned for weekly, if not daily, updates to this list of internet marketing tools.

Web Analytics

Competitive Intellligence

Call Tracking

Search Engine Optimization

Local SEO

Social Media

Paid Online Advertising

Keyword Research

Email Marketing

Conversion Optimization

Miscellaneous Tools

Setting the Google Analytics Site Speed Sample Rate to 10% in Magento

I’ve written before about how slow Magento can be, even with a moderately-sized store, only a handful of customizations, and all of the cache settings enabled. Following some of the steps in that previous article can increase site speed, but how can we get a better measurement of this vital metric?

Magento Tricks by Traffic Motion

Google Analytics has a report on Site Speed under Behavior > Site Speed > Overview, but the problem is that, by default, the analytics tracking code samples only 1% of pageviews. This is woefully underpowered for small and medium sized businesses, who may only get several dozen page timings per day. In a store with several thousand products (and double that number of duplicate pages that Magento will construct), this would mean that some very fast or very slow load speeds could throw off your measurements, making it difficult to determine if your site is performing adequately for visitors.

The solution is to set the Google Analytics page time setting to sample 10% of pageviews. Before we look at how to do it, here is the actual code that needs to be placed in the GA Tracking Code snippet, and what the GATC should look like once it is inserted.

_gaq.push(['_setSiteSpeedSampleRate', 10]); // line we need to add to the Google Tracking Code

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-12345678-1']);
_gaq.push(['_setSiteSpeedSampleRate', 10]);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);

// code needs to be inserted BEFORE _trackPageview is called

Here’s how to do it a couple of different ways.

Just Modify the Core — Bad!

We could, of course, just go into magentoroot/app/code/core/Mage/GoogleAnalytics/Block/Ga.php and add the line. That’s one option, and here’s what it looks like:

// Original Code

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', '{$this->jsQuoteEscape($accountId)}']);
" . $this->_getAnonymizationCode() . "
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview'{$optPageURL}]);

// Modified Code

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', '{$this->jsQuoteEscape($accountId)}']);
" . $this->_getAnonymizationCode() . "
_gaq.push(['_setSiteSpeedSampleRate', 10]);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview'{$optPageURL}]);

That’ll work, and functions just fine by enabling Google Analytics in the backend of the Magento store. But hacking the core is a big no-no both in WordPress and Magento. So let’s look at a different method of setting the site speed sample rate to 10%.

Custom Module — Good!

Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics.xml File

First, let’s activate the module and let Magento know it’s there. We’ll call this module Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics, and create a Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics.xml file to put in our magentoroot/app/etc/modules folder. Here’s the simple code for this file:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<config>
    <modules>
        <Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics>
            <active>true</active>
            <codePool>local</codePool>
        </Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics>
    </modules>
</config>

Module Directory Structure

Easy, right? Now, let’s set up our directory structure for this module. Create these folders:

  • magentoroot/app/code/local/Trafficmotion/GoogleAnalytics/
  • magentoroot/app/code/local/Trafficmotion/GoogleAnalytics/etc/
  • magentoroot/app/code/local/Trafficmotion/GoogleAnalytics/Block/

etc/config.xml File

Next, we’ll create the config.xml file in the magentoroot/app/code/local/Trafficmotion/GoogleAnalytics/etc/ folder. Here’s the code for that one:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<config>
    <modules>
        <Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics>
            <version>0.1.0</version>
        </Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics>
    </modules>
    <global>
        <blocks>
            <googleanalytics>
                <rewrite>
                    <ga>Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics_Block_Ga</ga>
                </rewrite>
            </googleanalytics>
        </blocks>
    </global>
</config>

Another easy file, right? Now, all we have left is to create the block that’s going to be rewritten to include the site speed sample rate update.

Block/Ga.php file

Create a file called Ga.php and put it in the magentoroot/app/code/local/Trafficmotion/GoogleAnalytics/Block/ directory. And here’s the code to make it work:

<?php

class Trafficmotion_GoogleAnalytics_Block_Ga extends Mage_GoogleAnalytics_Block_Ga
{
    /**
     * Render regular page tracking javascript code
     * The custom "page name" may be set from layout or somewhere else. It must start from slash.
     *
     * @link http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/gaJS/gaJSApiBasicConfiguration.html#_gat.GA_Tracker_._trackPageview
     * @link http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/gaJS/gaJSApi_gaq.html
     * @param string $accountId
     * @return string
     */
    protected function _getPageTrackingCode($accountId)
    {
        $pageName   = trim($this->getPageName());
        $optPageURL = '';
        if ($pageName && preg_match('/^/.*/i', $pageName)) {
            $optPageURL = ", '{$this->jsQuoteEscape($pageName)}'";
        }
        return "
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', '{$this->jsQuoteEscape($accountId)}']);
_gaq.push(['_setSiteSpeedSampleRate', 10]);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview'{$optPageURL}]);
";
    }

}

Wrapping Up the Custom Module

And that’s it! You’ve achieved the same same result as hacking the core, and all you had to do was create three new files, and a varying number of new directories.

Now, if you have Google Analytics enabled on your store, you should see something like the following by viewing the Page Source, with your own Google Analytics account number instead of “12345678.”

<!-- BEGIN GOOGLE ANALYTICS CODE -->
<script type="text/javascript">
//<![CDATA[
    var _gaq = _gaq || [];
    
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', '12345678']);
_gaq.push(['_setSiteSpeedSampleRate', 10]);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
    
    (function() {
        var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
        ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
        var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
    })();
 
//]]>
</script>
<!-- END GOOGLE ANALYTICS CODE -->

Why Path Analysis is Such a Waste of Time

Once upon a time, path analysis was all the rage in web analytics. If we could just identify the most common way that visitors to a website entered, progressed, and converted, maybe we could shoehorn them all into that one perfect path, optimize the user experience, and get ridiculously high conversion rates. Unfortunately, almost all path analysis, as that term is understood, is unproductive and a waste of time.

What’s the Problem?

Path Analysis
What the results of path analysis basically boil down to.

One reason that path analysis is unproductive is that it tends to fragment huge chunks of content into many different paths. And people do not follow one particular path through a website with many pages, so analyzing even the “most popular” paths will represent only a small fraction of the total traffic on the website. If you are looking for the perfect path in 2% of your traffic, which immediately becomes fragmented even further, you are ignoring the 98% of your traffic that follow other paths.

Another reason is that analytics programs can only represent linear paths that visitors take to convert and do not take into account the non-linear nature of website browsing. People may go back and forth in between pages, or take so little time one one page or another that the analytics tracking code never gets loaded, misrepresenting the actual path taken.

This is a huge problem for modern analytics programs, and the more familiar with your site users become, the easier they will be able to navigate so quickly that they do not trigger the tracking code to send the pageview data to the analytics program. It gathers data from an incoherent website experience and represents it into a “path” that is completely devoid of actionable insights.

In general, path analysis is unproductive, a waste of time, and provides no actionable insights on which a business can optimize or change strategies. Too small a number of people take one path on your website before converting, and even that most popular path may be hopelessly misrepresented by the tracking software.

When Is Path Analysis Useful? (When It’s Not Path Analysis)

So why bother with these reports? My guess is many analysts do it at the behest of management, because the reports look pretty cool, or because there is a very top-down perspective of directing people into a website experience where they will inevitably be converted at the end of it. Unfortunately, nothing like this perfect path exists, the reporting is aesthetically pleasing but useless, and management simply do not understand what path analysis can do and what it can’t.

Are there any times when path analysis is useful? Well, yes. But at this point, it’s usually no longer called path analysis, and is called funnel analysis instead. A funnel is a structured experience on a site, such as an ecommerce checkout process, where the steps are defined in advance, and people will either complete them or abandon the site entirely.

There are only a few scenarios where path analysis may be actionable, however. Some examples include filling out a multiple-page form or multiple-step checkout process before purchasing a product or ebook, but this is again more likely to be termed funnel analysis of a small portion of website traffic than overall path analysis through an entire site. A funnel exists as a structured experience on an otherwise open website. Path analysis looks for the yellow brick road to the emerald city when there are highways, overpasses, bike lanes, dirt paths, and side streets.

Yellow Brick Road
Doesn’t exist for web analytics, won’t take you to see the Wizard.

One scenario that may work is where a website is set up to create one specific customer experience, perhaps a multiple-page webcomic or online story divided into chapters, where path analysis can be used to determine where people drop off from the experience, or where they skip ahead or go back. But this is using a website in a very different manner than most companies do that exist to generate sales, phone calls, subscriptions, or form submissions. And a site like this is, arguably, just a funnel writ large.

Google Analytics Individual Qualification

Las Vegas, NV – With a Passing Score of 88%, Nicholas Heeringa Has Joined a Select Group of Google Analytics Qualified Individuals

Google Analytics Individual QualificationInternet Marketing Director for the web design and online advertising company Traffic Motion, Nicholas Heeringa recent became Google Analytics Certified.

Nick passed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification Exam on July 23, 2013, with a score of 88% and joined the exclusive list of certified analytics professionals in the United States.

The certification, which is valid for 18 months, allows individuals the opportunity to learn more about how Google Analytics works and how its data and reports can be applied to help companies and their websites turn traffic into conversions. The qualification, awarded by Google Analytics upon completion of a 70-question exam, signifies that Nick possesses the theoretical and practical knowledge of the most popular web analytics platform on the internet. The exam covers such issues as account setup, ecommerce tracking, event tracking, goal conversions, Intelligence Events, and real-time tracking, among others.

To become certified, an applicant must pass a comprehensive exam and demonstrate a solid background of web analytics and Google Analytics knowledge. “As web analytics moves from the IT department to the marketing department in many organizations, knowing how to use Google Analytics to optimize user experiences on the web will become more and more important,” states Nick. “Passing this exam is one more way to demonstrate our company’s dedication to continual improvement and professional development.”

Traffic Motion recently released a fully updated list of services that it provides in the areas of website design and internet marketing, including Google Analytics setup and implementation. Nick also prepared a Google Analytics IQ Study Guide for other professionals who want to become Google certified.

About Nicholas Heeringa
Nick is the Internet Marketing Director for Traffic Motion, which helps both local and national companies with website design and online advertising services. Businesses wanting to realize the true value of their websites can contact Traffic Motion and get a free trial of the company’s services by calling (888) 557-0095.

Study Resources for the Google Analytics IQ Exam

When preparing for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam, I had already used Google Analytics for several years. However, even with that base, there’s so much that’s always changing in GA, and sometimes multiple ways to do the same thing. What I wanted before taking the test was a formal introduction to the platform, as well as some study guides.

web analytics blog iconThe first place I started was with the Google Analytics IQ Lessons. These consist of fifteen short videos from Google explaining the very basics of the the Analytics program. It’s a great introduction, but, simply put, it’s not enough to pass the test. With a lot of experience in GA, you might be able to pass after watching the 2 ½ hours or so of videos in the IQ Lessons, but it won’t be nearly enough if you’re pretty new to GA.

However, watch the videos at least a few days before you take the test. And try to download or copy-paste the notes from the slides and study them. They’ll help you answer some of the easy questions on the exam, and might give you 40-50% of the material that you’d need to pass the entire test. A good introduction, but not enough.

The second comprehensive resource I used was Brian Clifton’s book, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics. If you’re going to get one resource to learn GA and study for the test, make sure it’s this one. This book has the most updated information and might give you 85-90% of the material needed to pass the test on your first try.

It’s almost hard to say enough about Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics as an introduction to GA. It goes in depth on nearly every aspect of the platform, including ecommerce, profiles, setting up accounts, filters, segmenting data, and which reports show what. Even more important, Clifton worked at Google on the Conversion University and IQ projects, so he knows what he’s talking about.

One of the more important study guides I used was the Google Analytics Reference Guide, from BlastAM.com. It consists of a two page Reference Guide, and a one page Regex Reference Guide. While I didn’t get many questions about regular expressions on the exam, the Reference Guide is a quick read for a few days or few hours before taking the exam.

In two pages, it doesn’t go into huge depth as to any particular topic, but it provides a good overview of each major section and use of Google Analytics. These include ecommerce tracking, cross domain tracking, AdWords integration, cookies, referrers, Intelligence Events, and more. It even has a small section on Real-Time Reporting.

And the main topic that the exam tested me on that I wasn’t familiar with was Real-Time Reporting. Google seems to be focusing more on this aspect of the Analytics platform, which is relatively new. It’s barely covered in Clifton’s book, which was published in 2012. I think there were at least 3-4 questions referencing it in the exam I took.

Finally, the last study guide I used was Slingshot SEO’s “How to Pass the Google Analytics IQ Test,” which you have to sign up to download for free. It had a couple dozen pages of definitions and example questions. The main thing I learned from this guide was how tricky the questions could be regarding eCommerce tracking, and were they ever right! It’s a basic guide, but worth reading.

The two main sections that I felt somewhat unprepared for were ecommerce and Real-Time Reporting. While I got an 88% on the exam and could probably identify which questions I got wrong, I’m almost certain they were in these areas.

Ecommerce is a more advanced implementation of Analytics and requires some communication between the analytics, IT, and vendor system people within an organization. Real-Time Reporting is somewhat new, often useless, but seems to be a new focus for Google.

My recommendation for anyone considering taking the test would be to read Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics first, then watch the Google Analytics IQ Lessons videos. Finally, read at least a couple of study guides (including our own free one located here), and familiarize yourself with the Analytics platform and the Intelligence and Real-Time Reporting features.

72 Questions You Need to Know for the Google Analytics IQ Exam

Here’s another fun Q&A post for you when you’re studying for those pesky Google Individual Qualification exams. This one covers much of the material that I came across on the Google Analytics IQ exam that I studied for over the past couple of weeks and took yesterday.

web analytics blog iconThere are a few topics that I don’t really go into here. Coming up with good questions for them is a bit tricky, and you should read much more about them than whatever I can write here! Those topics include eCommerce in particular, and some more material on Profile Filters. Just understand how Profile Filters are applied, and what the consequences are for applying the same two filters, but in reverse order.

In terms of eCommerce, there were a handful of questions on the exam and I found them to be the most difficult. This is probably due to the fact that implementing eCommerce tracking can involve your IT or web development team, rather than just making some small manipulations to your Google Analytics Tracking Code.

There were only a couple of questions on regular expressions, so don’t worry too much about them. Match types (exact match, head match, and regular expression match) were also quizzed once or twice. Just understand the differences between them, rather than worrying about having to construct any. Those questions were fairly simple, compared to some of the stuff on Profile Filters and eCommerce tracking.

But I suppose that’s enough of me talking to you. Here’s the Google Analytics questions and answers that you need to know to have a shot at passing!

Q: What is the purpose of “_trackPageview()”?
A: To register a pageview in Google Analytics.

Q: True or False: Google Analytics can NOT track visits to cached pages.
A: False. The Analytics tracking code will still be executed on a cached page.

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the number of visitors.
A: True

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the referrer that directs visitors to your site.
A: True

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the average amount of time spent on your site.
A: True

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the click path of individual visitors.
A: True.

Q: Where can you find the Google URL Builder?
A: The URL Builder is located in the Help Center.

Q: What can the URL Builder help you with?
A: The URL Builder can help to create URLs with tracking parameters already attached.

Q: True or False. You should manually tag banner ads with campaign tracking variables.
A: True

Q: True or False. You should manually tag email campaigns with campaign tracking variables.
A: True

Q: True or False. You should manually tag non-AdWords PPC campaigns with campaign tracking variables.
A: True

Q: True or False. You should manually tag organic search results with campaign tracking variables.
A: False, you can’t do this.

Q: True or False. You should manually tag AdWords campaigns with campaign tracking variables.
A: False, autotagging will do this for you.

Q: True or False. You should manually tag bookmarks with campaign tracking variables.
A: False

Q: How can you track visitors from a newsletter, banner, or email marketing campaign?
A: Manually tag the destination URLs of the campaign that you send visitors to.

Q: What is the formula for ROI?
A: (Revenue – Cost) / Cost; be prepared to do some basic ROI calculations during the test.

Q: What are the three minimum campaign variables you should utilize to tag a URL using manual tagging?
A: Source, Medium, and Campaign.

Q: What is the correct parameter to identify different versions of an ad?
A: Use the content parameter utm_content

Q: What is the formula for Click-Through Rate?
A: Clicks / Impressions

Q: Google AdWords data is not showing up in your account as google / cpc. Why might this happen?
A: It can happen if autotagging is not enabled in your AdWords settings, or if a redirect is stripping out the gclid.

Q: True or False: You can view Campaign data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: True.

Q: True or False: You can view Placement URL data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: False.

Q: True or False: You can view Match Type data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: False.

Q: True or False: You can view Ad Group data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: False.

Q: Reports show that visitors are coming from paused or discontinued campaigns. Why might this be?
A: If the visitors were originally referred by that campaign, and are now coming back as direct visitors, they will be attributed to the paused or discontinued campaign.

Q: What is a referrer?
A: It is the URL of an outside website from which a visitor comes to your website.

Q: On your website.com, you are seeing traffic coming from website.com / referral. Why might that be happening?
A: You may have several subdomains and the Google Analytics Tracking Code is not configured properly.

Q: A search engine appears in the list of referring sites. Why might this happen?
A: It could happen if someone was referred to your site through a personalized search page, for instance.

Q: What are the two most common ways that visitors can be recorded as “direct / (none)” in Google Analytics?
A: If they type your website’s URL into their browser directly, or if they come to your site through a bookmark.

Q: In the Google Analytics Intelligence Events, what types of alerts are available?
A: You can get Daily alerts, Weekly alerts, Automatic alerts, and Custom alerts through Google Intelligence.

Q: True or False: You would use Intelligence to set up a custom alert.
A: True.

Q: True or False: You can use Intelligence to alert you if weekly revenue increases or decreases by an unexpected amount.
A: True.

Q: How can you use the Landing Pages Report in assessing website performance?
A: You can use it to identify landing pages with high bounce rates, and to determine where visitors are entering your website.

Q: What is one indication of a poorly performing landing page?
A: A high Bounce Rate, perhaps greater than 90%.

Q: What is Bounce Rate?
A: The percentage of visits on a website where the visitors views one page and leaves without any interaction on the website.

Q: You are getting high bounce rates on a landing page from a particular keyword. Why might this be?
A: If the content on the landing page does not meet the expectations of people searching for that keyword, they may immediately leave your website and contribute to a higher bounce rate.

Q: Which metric can you use to determine if one type of campaign was responsible for initiating conversions?
A: The Assisted Conversion Value

Q: Your visitors have a habit of visiting your site several times before converting. Which metric could help you determine whether or not a particular keyword is part of a conversion path?
A: Assisted Conversions

Q: What are some valid location dimensions?
A: Country/Territory, City, and Region are valid dimensions. Address is not a valid dimension, as Google Analytics does not track Personally Identifiable Information.

Q: True or False: Bounce Rate is a dimension.
A: False. It is a metric.

Q: True or False: %New Visits is a dimension.
A: False. New Visitors is a dimension, but %New Visits is a metric.

Q: True or False: Screen Resolution is a dimension.
A: True.

Q: True or False: Region is a dimension.
A: True.

Q: True or False: Browser is a metric.
A: False, it is a dimension.

Q: True or False: City is a metric.
A: False, it is a dimension.

Q: True or False: Average Time on Site is a metric.
A: True.

Q: True or False: Pageviews is a metric.
A: True.

Q: You want to find out which keywords visitors from Chicago use to find your website. How can you do this?
A: In the Map Overlay report, select the Keyword dimension for the city of Chicago.

Q: How can you determine the conversion rate for people on a certain Operating System and located in a particular city?
A: Looking at the Operating System report, choose City as your secondary dimension.

Q: People are spending more time on your site. How can you tell if they are actually interacting more on the site?
A: Look for an increase in Pages per Visit.

Q: What does the Visit Duration report show you?
A: It categorizes visits based on the amount of time they spend on your website.

Q: If a visitor conducts two transactions on your website during one visit, how many conversions and how many transactions will be tracked by Google Analytics?
A: 2 transactions, and 1 conversion.

Q: If a visitor subscribes to your newsletter, than someone else on the exact same computer also subscribes during the same session, how many conversions will be tracked?
A: Google Analytics will count 1 conversion.

Q: What is a good metric for measuring the quality of traffic to your website?
A: Conversion rate.

Q: If Channel X equally initiates and assists in conversions, what would its Assisted/Last Interaction Conversion value be?
A: It would be exactly 1.

Q: What does the Site Search Report tell you?
A: It can help you determine how your visitors are searching your site.

Q: How can you determine whether people who use your Site Search have a higher conversion value than people who do not?
A: Go to the Site Search Usage report and view the Goal Conversion tab.

Q: What types of goals can Google Analytics track?
A: Destination URLs, time on site, pages per visit, and events.

Q: What is available in Google’s Real Time Reporting?
A: You can view pageviews per second, pageviews per minute, and active number of visitors.

Q: Can Real Time show you whether or not the Google Analytics code snippet is working on a particular page?
A: Yes, according to Google.

Q: You just added new content and would like to see if people are viewing it. Can you use Real Time to determine this?
A: Yes.

Q: What are some ways you can use profiles?
A: You can look more closely at traffic to one subdomain, you can look more closely at traffic to one directory or section of a website, and you can limit access to some segments of data.

Q: You want a profile to include only Google AdWords data. How can you do this?
A: Use an Include filter.

Q: Is profile filter order applied in order, or all at once?
A: In order, so be careful how you apply filters on your data.

Q: True or False: You can apply an Advanced Segment to historical data.
A: True.

Q: True or False: You can compare Advanced Segments side by side in reports.
A: True.

Q: How can you track user engagement on websites that use Flash or AJAX and are located on one HTML page?
A: You can use Event Tracking, or track interactions as Pageviews and set goals.

Q: What is the purpose of a virtual pageview?
A: To track activity that visitors may complete that does not result in a natural pageview.

Q: How can you track Flash Events with Google Analytics code?
A: _trackEvent() or trackPageview() will work.

Q: You have two buttons on your website and would like to track if people click on Button #1 more than Button #2. Can you do this in Google Analytics? If so, how?
A: Yes, you can track this. Use Event Tracking.

Q: What are the three elements of Event Tracking?
A: Categories, Actions, and Labels.

Q: Using regular expressions, how could you filter out the IP address range of 222.11.222.1 through 222.11.222.10?
A: ^222.11.222.([1-9]|10)$ (Use the IP address range tool for questions like this one!)

And that’s all I’ve got for you! I’ll be back in a day with some great resources for further study! I think I used a book, the Google Analytics IQ video series, and 2-3 more website study guides. I’ve had experience with Google Analytics before, but now I feel much more like an analysis ninja than I did a week ago!

Google Analytics Individual Qualification Test Initial Thoughts

I just took and passed the Google Analytics IQ test. I’ve got some blog articles coming up, and some drafts that just weren’t finished over the past few days. But for now, I’m going to take a break and celebrate passing this test. I’ll have a much longer write-up on it in the coming days, and a new study guide full of questions. There are a handful of online resources that I used to pass it, as well, and I’ll link those as well.

web analytics blog iconStay tuned for a lot more Google Analytics content over the next week or so as I put together all of the most useful information and reflections from the past two weeks of reading and studying.

A couple early observations, though:

  • The Analytics test isn’t as hard as the AdWords Advanced Display Network Test.
  • But it is harder than the AdWords Fundamentals Test.
  • You’ll need to study more than the 2 1/2 hours or so of videos available through the Google Analytics IQ center, but those videos will give you a good base.
  • There was a lot more practical application questions than simply definitions.
  • There were hardly any True or False questions on the whole test, so be prepared to think a little more deeply.
  • There were some either-or questions, and a lot of multiple-answer questions.
  • Some great books and short study guides are available out there, so make sure to read!
  • But read only the most updated information; I took a look at some older books and Analytics has changed quite a bit since 2011, when a lot of popular books were published.

Check back tomorrow for more info on the Google Analytics IQ Test!

 

Metrics for Measuring Social Media Success

Measuring social media metrics can be one of the most difficult problems for internet marketers and web analytics professionals. Even if you can measure the traffic coming from your Facebook Page to your website, how can you measure how well your social posts, shares, and videos are received by your fans?

web analytics blog iconI absolutely love Avinash Kaushik’s definitions of social media metrics like Conversation Rate (# of comments per post), Amplification rate (# of shares/retweets per post/tweet), Applause Rate (# of Likes/Favorites per post), and — most important — Economic Value (sum of short & long term revenue and cost savings).

These are more of micro-conversions that help contribute to the economic value of a website overall, rather than always directly add to the bottom line, but they can be tracked and provide a good guide to measuring social media reception.

Focusing on these metrics are fairly easy with the amount of analytics available. There are programs that will analyze the retweets you’ve gotten, Facebook Insights can help you analyze your FB shares, and YouTube Analytics shows number of likes/favorites/views for videos.

Focusing on just those four metrics (Applause, Conversation, Amplification, and Economic Value) is one great way to cut down on data overload from attempting to track down social media analytics. They ignore the # of views per post, for instance, an irrelevant metric in many cases and one which not all social analytics will track anyway.

I think 3-4 metrics (defined upwards as KPIs) are the most any business should focus on, and these four fit the bill nicely. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid data overload and simple data dumps that decision-makers will never look at in depth.

It’s important to have metrics that are actionable, and 10-12 metrics start to turn back into noise. Watching just a handful of metrics is much more actionable and can provide more relevant insights to the company. This list of KPIs can be changed with some being deleted or added to the list as the company’s priorities or the internet change.

The most important insight about generating social media metrics is that people love to share information that is out of the ordinary. For instance, a carpet cleaning company can share tips for steam cleaning which might get a handful of likes and shares, but before/after pictures of extremely dirty carpets are more visual and will attract more social media interaction.

Another example could be an interior designer that offers generic tips and is given token appreciation, but offering advice for a specific house (maybe even a famous or fake house, like a TV show’s set) can give readers a different perspective on something they are familiar with in pop culture, garnering more social media attention and educating them in the process, while building brand awareness

The best advice I can give is that businesses should carefully plan out social media promotions. You don’t need a social media post everyday to get traction. Instead, focus on a specific piece of content that is educational/entertaining/offers a discount, and identify the social media outlets where the company’s audience tends to congregate. Implement the social campaign there, see what the reaction is, respond to feedback, analyze the results, and learn some lessons for the next promotion.

Thoughts on Avinash Kaushik’s Four Attributes of Great Metrics

I’m taking the Market Motive Web Analytics course through one of the company’s partnered universities right now, and there was an interesting discussion question that I wanted to explore more deeply on this blog. It had to do with Avinash Kaushik’s Four Attributes of Great Metrics, a topic he wrote about on both his website and in his book, Web Analytics 2.0.

web analytics blog iconThe question revolved around whether I had any suggestions for improving these Four Attributes, or whether I had any issues with them. I’ll take a look at each Attribute in a little more detail before discussing any issues I had.

The first Attribute is Uncomplex. It’s a fairly straightforward concept, even if the word Kaushik chose is a little clumsy. I completely, 100% agree with this principle in theory, and web metrics should be as simple and elegant as possible. They should have clear definitions and be easy to understand, both for marketers and decision-makers within a large organization.

The second one is Relevant, another concept that is easy to understand. This is one principle that should be front and center for all advertisers, but especially online. The more relevant the ad, the more relevant the landing page, the more relevant the website the ad appear on, the greater chance to receive a conversion. I don’t want to see ads for plus-sizes women’s clothing on the power tools section of Home Depot, for good reason.

The third Attribute is Timely. Kaushik’s lesson of the three-month gap between quarterly success and analysis is well taken. If the metrics spit out by your analysis system are not timely, your decision-making ability is simply crippled until you get the data and can start making some sense of it.

Finally, we have Instantly Useful as a metric. If it’s not actionable, it’s probably not relevant. This is also a great principle to put into use to undo the clutter of dozens of metrics and reports coming through via email or on an analytics program’s dashboard.

Now we come to my issues with a few of these metrics.

First, Uncomplex. What a complex way to say “simple.” Even if you wanted to go the intellectual route, the word “elegant” would suffice. For some reason, and while I love the principle, the word Uncomplex bothers me. It’s not a word. Incomplex is. Uncomplicated is. But Uncomplex isn’t. The only reason I could see going with Uncomplex is if the Four Attributes spelled out some acronym, but they don’t create a particularly memorable one at URTI.

Relevant and Timely: no issues there. Your metrics better be timely and relevant, or why are you bothering to collect them?

But the Attribute of Instantly Useful doesn’t seem like its own metric. Instead, it seems like a combination of the two previous ones, Relevant and Timely. Is an irrelevant metric useful?

Is a late metric instantly actionable? Going back to his discussion of the three-month gap between performance and reporting, when those metrics finally came back to the company, the world had probably moved on to the point where those analytics were no longer instantly useful to decision-makers.

If I was do redo Kaushik’s Attribute list, I would change Uncompliex to Elegant. Timely and Relevant stay, while Instantly Useful becomes Causative. If the metric can not cause a change in course or action depending on its analysis, why track it, other than to satisfy curiosity?

Then, we have four of the letters making up the acronym METRIC.

Are there two more attributes that could be added to the list to make the word METRIC stand for six must-have attributes of any metric? Or could any of them be rephrased and moved around to make room for others?

M – ?
Elegant
Timely
Relevant
I – ?
Causative

If not, Elegant, Timely, Relevant, and Causative would keep alive both the spirit and order of the original Four Attributes, while getting rid of the un-word Uncomplex and simplifying Instantly Useful to Causative.

I’m not critical of Kaushik’s concepts on this topic, but rather think it could be cleaned up, made less complex, and built upon. However, I don’t presume to build upon them all on my own, considering Kaushik’s deserved credibility and expertise on the matter.

Avinash Kaushik is the author of Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. You should read both of them, preferably BEFORE I review each of them in the coming weeks!