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Based on the book Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics - by Brian Clifton

All 'Metrics understanding' posts in date order i.e. newest first. Click on the post title to read in full.

Not Provided: Now impacting 80-90% of organic traffic

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I have tracked this issue since the beginning – plotting the percentage of organic traffic impacted by not provided. First, only visitors logged into their Google account were effected and hence tech related websites (attracting a more tech savvy audience) were disproportionately impacted. However, Google has since applied this to pretty much all visitors using Google organic search.

The position now: Not provided impacts 80-90% of organic searches…

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10 Micro Goals for Tracking Content Engagement

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Assuming you have no other “macro” drivers on your site – for example, no e-commerce facility, lead generation request from, store finder information, or advertisement click-throughs – how can you measure content engagement?

Here is my list of 10 tangible goals:

1. Show a snippet/summary first and then require a click to expand for more information
2. Use ratings e.g. rate this page/article, did this answer you question (y/n)?

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Google Content Experiments – A good or bad feature?

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 10 »

Quote: [Google Analytics] “Content Experiments sucks and I will never use it for any of my clients….run away

The above snippet came from a post by Michael Whitaker (smart thinker, worth following) who asked for feedback on comments made at the Imagine 2013 conference earlier this year. My initial response was “hmmm – poor comments indeed. Whether you like a G product or not, to say that Google’s stats methods are unreliable, or reporting doesn’t work really is silly and lacks credibility.”

I am actually no big fan of the Google Analytics Content Experiments either, but I wish to put my views into context based on the following simple A/B test.

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Calculating your REAL ROI for AdWords

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 2 »

Here’s the problem… The default Return on Investment (ROI) displayed by Google Analytics is misleading for two reasons.

Issue 1: Google Analytics combines revenue form your transactions and goals. That can lead to double counting, if for example, an add-to-cart click is a monetised goal.
Issue 2: Google Analytics has no idea about what profit margins you operate under – how can it? Google therefore has to assume that *ALL* revenue generated by your visitors is 100% profit.

In this post I show you how to avoid these issues and calculate your AdWords REAL ROI. Its purpose is to take you to the next level – allowing you to move beyond adjusting bids simply based on conversions. Instead, you can go after the “highest” value converters.

Figure 2 - How big a difference is the default ROI versus the REAL ROI?
real-roi-chart
As you can see in Figure 2, we are not tweaking the edges here!

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Multi-Channel Attribution Modelling – don’t write off the default models

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding 1 Comment »

 

Avinash Kaushik is a great measurement thought provoker (up there with the likes of Tufte imho), all-round nice guy and friend of mine. I always come away from his posts challenged and simulated – quite a feat to achieve for your peers in a niche industry. The following post from him – Multi-Channel Attribution Modeling: The Good, Bad and Ugly Models – is a great reference read, though I disagree on a couple of items. Once you have digested Avinash’s thoughts, here is my input…

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The Cost of a Poor Website User Experience

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$53 million per month Estimated cost to a global brand white-goods manufacturer due to a poor website experience
Let me explain the story…

A global white-goods brand, lets call them GlobalBrandlux.com, sent me a survey asking what I thought about my recent website experience. Here’s my response – I wanted to be honest and constructive:

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A Flawed Feature – The New Multi-Currency Support in Google Analytics

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 5 »

wrong-way.jpegWhen speaking at events I am sometimes accused (light heartedly) of drinking too much of the Google Koolade – meaning I endorse the good parts and skip/skim the pitfalls. However this post is a criticism of Google for what I consider to be a flawed thinking with their recently announced support of multiple currencies in Google Analytics.

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eMetrics London 2012 – Day 2 Thoughts

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A busy day…

- Tag Management Systems (panel)
- Privacy Q&A with the UK data privacy authority
- Fiduciary…

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eMetrics London 2012 – Day 1 Thoughts

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I have been to all of the London events (I think) since 2004 so its been interesting to see how things have changed over the years. Here’s my thoughts:

What’s Out
Talking about cookies i.e. deletion rates
Feature wars – tool X has 10,000 “must have” features Beauty Parades – vendors lined up to pitch their products
KPIs – How to select/choose your key performance indicators
Data accuracy questions

What’s In
Big data – we all now have it
Tag Management – the CMS of third-party script placement
Privacy – good/practise, how does Google fit in
Case studies – more examples of what works, what does’t, search marketing and content optimisation

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The Future of Google Analytics – GA Summit 2012 [Infographic]

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Implementation ABCs, Metrics understanding Comments 8 »

Last week I attended my 8th GA Summit in Mountain View (the first one had just 10 people in the room! Four of that original group where there this year*). For a change, I summarise the highlights – and why I consider them important to you the GA user – as an infographic

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Know Your Limits – A Google Analytics Reference Guide

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 11 »

Its good to know the limits of your Google Analytics implementation. All software has it limits and Google Analytics is no exception. From Google’s viewpoint, setting boundaries and limits prevents errors and system overload, and it ensures that other users of the service are not affected by the processing of someone else’s data. For example, a website with a relatively low amount of traffic data should not have its reports delayed due to the processing of another user’s data from a site that has more traffic.

The table below lists the limits set for the free version of Google Analytics.

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What is the future direction of analytics?

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding 1 Comment »

I was recently interviewed by CMSWire. Apart from pointing you to the full article, I thought the questions, expertly posed by Siobhan Fagan, were very relevant. I particularly liked:

What do you see as the future direction of analytics?

I enjoy sticking my neck out on future predictions, so I reproduce my answer to this question here…

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Why Web Analytics Users Are Falling Behind The Industry

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 4 »

In my post form last week, I commented on Econsultancy’s 5th Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2012. An area that stood out for me in that report was the 8% market share of GA Premium, the paid version of Google Analytics. In this post I wanted to spend more time sharing my thoughts on the wider points raised by this report…

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Online Measurement and Strategy Report

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 2 »

I am a big fan of Econsultancy because of the quality of the work these guys do. In case you missed it they published their 5th Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2012 today. As with the previous reports, it’s fascinating snapshot on where web analytics is right now – both as a process and as an industry.

But what got my attention are the GA Premium numbers… [...]

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Jumpstart Regular Expression Tutorial for Google Analytics users

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 11 »

If you manage a Google Analytics account, then understanding regular expressions – and how to set them up – is a key part of your job. This tutorial is intended to jump start novice users into the world of regular expressions – specifically from a Google Analytics point of view. [...]

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A 10-Point Check List to Setup Your Google Analytics Properly

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 9 »

A good friend of mine, Daniel Waisberg, and I were discussing how organisations are reluctant to invest in their Google Analytics setup – be it implementation, training & education or insights/consultancy. Our conclusion was, that is difficult to get even the richest of companies to invest in a product that is free. The perception is that everything else that is required to make it “work” i.e. all of the above, should also be free.

Of course the new GA Premium product changes this a great deal – though that is very much aimed at large enterprises i.e. Fortune 500 types. That group aside, why is it an organisation will pay tens of thousands of pounds on a CMS platform or CRM solution, but fail to see the opportunities of investing a similar amount (or less!) in their web analytics?

As I wrote in an article last year, the hard part of web analytics is gaining insights form your reports when all you have is the basic setup. You must go beyond the basics if you wish your measurements to actually impact your business.

With this in mind, I asked Daniel to write a guest post on what it takes to get your GA implementation up to the next level. Below is a 10-point check list he recommends for both beginners and advanced users.

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Should you pay $150,000 for your web analytics tool?

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 19 »

Why use a paid-for tool? A client considering GA Premium (the paid-for version of Google Analytics) asked me the following question recently:

“One thing that would be great to cover in our meeting, is the value of the Premium product for us. How will it save us money by spending $150k a year instead of simply adjusting our approach and using the free product?”

That’s a great question – getting right to the point of value for money. And this was my two-point response that can be applied to any paid-for vendor….

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“not provided” – Organic search terms blocked by Google

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 26 »

An odd announcement form the GA product team was made last night that affects all users of web analytics tools: When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, Google Analytics will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site. – Full announcement That’s a BIG change! Essentially marketers will no longer be able to view the keywords used by visitors that come from Google organic search in their web analytics reports (the fact they came from a Google organic search is still shown). Instead the keyword will be listed as “not provided” The rational for this, as the announcement explains, is to protect the privacy of users who are logged into their Google account. What’s my view? As you know, I am a big fan of user privacy and putting the end-user experience first, so on the one Read the full article…

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Improving a website *without* Web Analytics – a case study

Categories: Implementation ABCs, Metrics understanding 1 Comment »

Improving a website without web analytics may sound odd coming from a data analyst, but its quite a common occurrence for me, and in fact, part of my day job as a website performance consultant.

Following John Ekman’s guest post on the two types of personas he has observed in this industry (Conversionistas are from Venus and Metrics people from Mars), I started thinking about how best to illustrate these. I consider myself a HYBRID – part conversionista and part metrics person (may be 50:50), and this case study illustrates the conversionista side of my work…

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Conversionistas are from Venus and Metrics people from Mars

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I had an interesting conversation with John Ekman at eMetrics summit in Stockholm last year. John was a new face to me and I admit to being particularly curious as to what his title entailed – Chief Conversionista. Thirty engaging minutes later and I was much the wiser!

John has an interesting take on the different types of people involved in website performance optimisation so I asked him to share his views as a guest post here…

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Real-World Analytics: How much money does EasyJet lose…?

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 8 »

I was quite surprised to find the booking engine for EasyJet flights (the UK’s most popular airline website) will not work when I access it via my Chrome browser – either on PC or Mac. So I began to wonder how much that oversight/mistake is costing them…? Here’s my calculation…

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Five Predictions For Web Analytics in 2011

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 4 »

Predicting the future invariably means you will be wrong most of the time. However, it is an interesting process to go through as even getting just one prediction right can have a significant impact – to me personally, my business or my client’s business. So I was honoured when Daniel Waisberg asked me to look into my crystal ball for what may happen in the world of web analytics in 2011. Here’s the summary of my predictions:

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Track Offline Marketing with Google Analytics – Whitepaper

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding, Pro Lounge Comments 10 »

When it comes to tracking offline marketing campaigns, many marketers are unaware of the potential of using their existing web analytics tool to measure success. Typically, the reliance is on traditional, imprecise data such as print distribution figures (a.k.a. readership numbers), viewing figures (TV audience metrics), or footfall metrics (“20,000 people walk pass this sign every day”).

However, none of these metrics can provide any indication of success. That is, was my print, TV, or radio ad successful? Yet, if these readers, viewers or listeners visit your website as a result of exposure to your offline campaign, you can access a rich stream of success metrics. This whitepaper is a how-to guide to track your offline marketing efforts.

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Integrating web analytics with marketing (not IT) is the future

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 20 »

I have been following some interesting posts on the recent IBM acquisition of Coremetrics. The following three are from respected sources that all glow positively about the potential upside of the deal - Econsultancy, Eric Peterson, Stephane Hamel. However, I am not so convinced that the deal will lead to great success for IBM, or is the start of a coming “revolution” for the web analytics industry… and here’s why. Whilst the deal makes perfect sense – its a logical and smart with obvious synergies, remember that in 2006 IBM *sold* their commercial web analytics tool, Surfaid, to Coremetrics in the first place (though Coremetrics only used the WebSphere client base and not the technology). Clearly IBM did not understand the significance of web metrics in 2006 and nothing makes me feel that they do now… For me, the success of the web metrics industry today is due to the “simplification” that Google Read the full article…

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Why web measurement is easy, yet gaining insights is hard

Categories: Implementation ABCs, Metrics understanding Comments 2 »

Collecting data is very straightforward – you simply paste a few lines of JavaScript to your pages and data will start to stream into your account. I am specifically referring to Google Analytics here, but the principal is the same for all the main web analytics vendors. Superficially that’s all there is to it. If you just wish to view visitors and pageview counts you don’t need an analytics specialist to help you – all you require are basic webmaster skills. However, products such as Google Analytics have 100+ reports so that you can analyse much more than these – in fact, regardless of how much traffic you receive, those can be covered in a handful of reports. So why so many reports…? If all you require are traffic volume graphs and a site-wide conversion rate (i.e. the number of transactions divided by the number of visits), then you don’t! That’s the Read the full article…

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Show Me the Money: How much value is your website generating?

Categories: Metrics understanding, SEO & Analytics No Comments »

It never ceases to amaze me how much emphasis organisations still put on measuring website volume – “How many visits (or conversions) did our last campaign generate?” It surprises me because volume metrics are a very useful guide to failure – but not success. That is, low traffic and conversion numbers tell you that something went wrong. For example, wrong message, wrong audience, wrong timing, or a landing page error – but they are a very blunt metric for success. A key meaning for measuring success is knowing which visits and conversions are your high value ones. In other words, which visitors are the most profitable to acquire. This can be measured directly if you are a transactional site, or indirectly as new leads/contacts/advocates. That is the principal behind optimisation – focusing your efforts on attracting/converting your most valuable visitors and pages. Dave Chaffey is a SEO expert, distinguished author, active blogger, Google Analytics Read the full article…

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Understanding Web Analytics Accuracy – Whitepaper

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy, Pro Lounge Comments 8 »

I first wrote about web analytics accuracy in 2007 while working at Google. At that time numerous clients (big spending Google advertisers my team helped) were contacting their Adwords account managers asking why Google Analytics numbers did not match their AdWords click-through reports, or for that matter, match the other web measurement tools they were using.

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How to choose between Advanced Segments versus Profile Filters in Google Analytics

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 15 »

As anyone who has looked at the plethora of web metrics data available knows, even for a moderately active website, segmentation is the key to gaining insight. It allows you to group similar visitors e.g. customers, subscribers, contributors, engagers etc. together for comparison. Therefore instead of viewing metrics that are average of averages, the numbers actually mean something. For example, quoting the Average Order Value for all customers is pretty meaningless. Knowing that the Average Order Value for visitors that have downloaded your PDF catalogue is twice that as people who haven’t, is a KPI that values your digital collateral. It allows you to make informed decisions about its prominence, content, update frequency, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. [ After defining and configuring goals, I view segmentation as your next most important step for your best practice web analytics setup. ] Segmentation is important you – no, critical. So what options Read the full article…

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Benchmarking site performance can be misleading

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 6 »

As you may know, I occasionally write articles elsewhere (journalism.co.uk, eConsultancy, DaveChaffey.com). In case you miss these, and because I like to keep my thoughts in one place I also reproduce here a little later. The following is from my September post at eConsultancy. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are important to drive improvement for your website. Although it is obviously interesting and insightful to compare how your website is performing against your peers and competitors, it can be a mistake to place too much emphasis on external industry benchmarks. These external benchmarks can be misleading and often end up with you finding the benchmark that fits your story, giving a false impression of success. KPIs vary greatly by business sector, and even within subsectors there is wide variance: think “flights” versus “holidays” or “food retail” versus “clothing retail”. Even comparing against your competitors with identically defined goals is fraught with Read the full article…

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Training Workshop – Using Google Analytics to Improve Your Online Business

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding 1 Comment »

Just letting members know that I will be in Palo Alto (California) this October presenting a Google Analytics workshop with e-nor. Title: Using Google Analytics to Improve Your Online Business This is a two-day training workshop on web measurement aimed at Marketers and Webmasters. Presented by Brian Clifton and Feras Alhlou (e-nor) 19/20 Oct. If you’re looking to get on top of your web metrics, please drop me a line before sign up as I have a 15% discount code for readers, valid until the end of this week. If you would just like to stop by and say hello, I will also be at Web Analytics Wednesday (WAW) social event in PA on Thursday(!) October 15, from 6:00 PM If you bring a copy of the book I will happily autograph it for you Brian Clifton

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Should you focus on website visitors as individuals?

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 22 »

Leaving aside the issue of privacy, is it valid to track visitors as individuals? From a marketer’s perspective, tracking individuals sounds great in theory – you understand your customers better right? But if you receive 10,000 visitors per day and have weekly marketing performance meetings, that equals 70,000 data points to discuss? Best practice is to consider longer time frames in order to mitigate against calendar anomalies i.e. weekends v weekdays, holidays, the weather, force majeure etc… So for one month that could be 280,000 data points.

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Are you attending eMetrics London?

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 2 »

eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit – London UK, 18-19 May 2009 If you are attending this (www.emetrics.org/london), please come and say hello. I am presenting on the Monday and will be around Tues morning. Running alongside this is the SMX conference – at last, Search & Analytics together… If you haven’t been before, eMetrics and SMX are great opportunity to attend the industry’s leading web analytics and search marketing events. As a speaker I have a limited number of discount codes for registration (15% off!). Please contact me directly if interested. See you there.

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SEO and Analytics – part 1

Categories: Metrics understanding, SEO & Analytics Comments 8 »

Many people use Google Analytics for Search Engine Optimisation. As you may know, I started my digital life way back(!) in 1997 in web development and SEO – odd as it seems now, at that time Alta Vista was the Google of its day and Google was still a university project at Standford called Backrub. Although I now focus more on the overall performance of websites for clients, I am still very active when it comes to search engine optimisation. I was therefore honoured when Dave Chaffey asked me to do an interview for his Marketing Insights blog. Below is reprint of the interview I did last month. I reporduce here to keep my thoughts in one place… BTW, I am a regular reader of Dave’s material – both at Marketing Insights and his work for eConsultancy . Both are great resources for the digital marketer – end of plug Read the full article…

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Creating the perfect (trackable) blog article

Categories: Metrics understanding, Plugins & Hacks Comments 15 »

Crafting your article to entice click-throughs to your site If you write the perfect blog article and publish the full content via RSS, there is a strong possibility that the visitor will read your content in their RSS reader, be entirely satisfied (strong engagement) and then move on i.e. not visit your web site. … This is a great way to track engaged RSS readers – casual readers of you headlines are screened out because they don’t click through (so are not tracked), while engaged visitors click through and therefore are tracked.

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Improving the web with web analytics

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 2 »

This post comes in four parts:
1. Summary – there is no accuracy debate!
2. Introduction – why most of the web is junk and what role web analytics plays
3. On-site versus Off-site web analytics tools and how they work
4. Discrepancies – what’s accurate and how can accuracy be improved

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This is a multi-page post
Page: 1 2 3

Why counting uniques is meaningless

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 25 »

The term ‘uniques’ is often used in web analytics as an abbreviation for unique web visitors (i.e. how many unique people visited my site). The problem is that counting unique visitors is fraught with problems that are so fundamental, it renders the term ‘uniques’ meaningless. Firstly, cookies get lost, blocked and deleted. Research has shown that after a period of four weeks, nearly one third of tracking cookies are missing, which means the visitor will be incorrectly considered a new unique visitor should they return to the same website (see Accuracy Whitepaper for further reading). The longer the time period, the greater the chance of this happening, which makes comparing year-on-year data invalid for example. In addition, browsers make it very easy these days for cookies to be removed – see the new ‘incognito’ features of the latest Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers. However, the biggest issue for counting uniques Read the full article…

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Google Analytics Accuracy – Comparing Google Analytics, Yahoo Web Analytics and Nielsen SiteCensus

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 16 »

          Last year I wrote an whitepaper on web analytics accuracy. The intention of this was to be a reference guide to all the accuracy issues that on-site web measurement tools face, and how you can mitigate the error bars. Apart from updating the article recently, I wanted to illustrate how close (or not) different vendor tools on the same website can be when it comes to counting the basics – visits, pageviews, time on site and visitors. To do this, I have looked at two very different web sites with two tools collecting web visitor data side by side: Site A – This blog, running Google Analytics and Yahoo Web Analytics. According to Google, there are 188 pages in the Google Index and traffic is approximately 10,000 visits/month Site B – A retail site that runs Nielsen SiteCensus and Google Analytics (site to remain anonymous). According to Google, Read the full article…

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Tracking social media with Google Analytics

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 27 »

This is not really a hack – rather the application of a simple (yet powerful) filter that allows you to compare visits from social networks side by side next to other referral mediums. The result allows you to have a quick comparison of the significance of social networks to your site in your Google Analytics reports, rather than having to drill down into each referrer. For example: All Traffic report view after the filter has been applied Background on social networks and user generated content (taken from a recent Bowen & Craggs presentation) Social networks have exploded on the Internet. The vast numbers of people now participating in them has resulted in a huge influence over brand perception. Hence their importance when considering your digital strategy. Some companies such as Dell*, Harley Davison and Starbucks, to name a few, use social networks as a direct feedback mechanism to actively drive Read the full article…

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When Voice of Customer Surveys can Damage Your Brand

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 35 »

This year’s buzz word in the world of web analytics is “Voice of Customer” or VOC for short. Essentially this boils down to presenting a survey/questionnaire to your web visitors asking them to respond to questions that can be used to ascertain how they feel about the web experience they have had. Why voice of customer surveys are so useful As you are no doubt aware, web analytics tools and methodologies are great for telling you the “what” and the “when” of your web site visitors. That is, what happened (a goal conversion event, a transaction, a specific pageview or a combination of pageviews etc. or any kind of engagement on your site) and when it happened (time/date, do they repeat the same thing over again and at what frequency etc.). This is quantitative data that is invaluable for identifying poor performing pages and poorly targeted marketing campaigns. However, the missing Read the full article…

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A KPI is not always an average, ratio or percentage – sometimes raw numbers are better

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 2 »

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used throughout organisations for defining success. They are particularly essential in web analytics due to the plethora of data collected. In fact without KPIs, it is easy to become overwhelmed. So once you have set your overall web site objectives, use KPIs as the metrics to benchmark your progress. By definition, these are a small subset of “key” information points taken from your web analytics reports. A prerequisite for benchmarking is having KPIs that are in context and temporal. So for example, saying “we receive 10,500 visitors” is a piece of underlying data that raises more questions than answers. However saying “our new visitor acquisition was up 10% week on week” is a powerful KPI placing the metric in context (new visitors have increased) and is temporal (over the past 7 days). While most KPIs will be averages, ratios or percentages for this very purpose, it is sometimes more Read the full article…

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Farewell to Google

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 10 »

As some of you may be aware, I was the first member of the EMEA analytics team to join Google back in October 2005. That feels like a decade ago, both in time, but also in terms of our positioning within the company – remember the GA invite code system? Last Friday after two and a half years based at the London office, I hung up my Googlepex pass and switched off my environmentally un-friendly lava lamp for the last time. I leave behind a well established team of dedicated product experts and a third-party Partner network to help. As you may suspect following the recent book launch, I will very much remain in the industry and continue to discuss web analytics (with only a slight bias for Google as usual!) both here on the blog and at industry events/conferences. So what’s next for Brian Clifton? FACT: The vast majority Read the full article…

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Google is Like a Bank

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 17 »

I have heard the notion of Google being analogous to a bank for a number of years. Recently, Jim Sterne also referred to this bank analogy while we were discussing online privacy at the Orion Analytics panel of SES London . So I wanted share and expand upon this discussion. Please take a moment to read my disclaimer before continuing – that is, the views express on this site are entirely my own and do not represent those of my employer. Is Google entering into online banking? In this respect no (I am not considering Checkout here). What I mean by being analogous to a bank, is in the way that data itself has become "currency". Information has always been valuable – no one likes to be the last to know, and being the first to know gives you a competitive advantage. So whether online or not, the storage and Read the full article…

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How to Integrate your visitor data – both on and offline

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 7 »

This started off as a reply to a comment from Sara Andersson (of search-input.com) concerning my post about the accuracy limitations of web analytics and the difficulty of aligning data from disparate sources: 2008/02/16/accuracy-whitepaper/#comment-2153 However, the subject is broad enough to warrant a separate post, and probably subsequent ones too! To start off, I paraphrase Sara: “Most sites are not conducting e-commerce and we [marketers] need to spend our resources analysing the lead generations through a combination of the online traffic to the other trend tools available. In your opinion, how would you best go about to study a trend when you have to aggregate additional resources of information from various tools – all with their accuracy problems?“ As I said in my initial reply, this is a very good and difficult question and it got me thinking… Huge sums of money have been invested by many a corporation in Read the full article…

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Accuracy Whitepaper for web analytics

Categories: Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 10 »

This accuracy post is an extrapolation of a section in Chapter 2 of the book which has led to a separate PDF accuracy whitepaper available to download for free. [updated April 2010 – see new post] Why is this necessary? Well, the question of accuracy crops up all the time on numerous forums and at conferences. Essentially many practitioners of web analytics worry about accuracy. Some vendors even claim greater accuracy than others (though as I explain in the whitepaper this cannot be true), and there is the inter-industry debate about whether off-site analytics (for example, Hitwise, comScore, Neilsen//Netratings etc.), are better at predicting traffic levels than on-site analytics tools (such as Webtrends, Omniture, IndexTools, Google Analytics etc.). I won’t go into that debate here, except to schematically illustrate the two different web analytics approaches in Figure 1. Figure 1 : On-site v off-site web analytics The truth is, for Read the full article…

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Defining Transactions v Goal Conversions v Goal Completions

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 14 »

When viewing Google Analytics reports, I constantly need to remind myself of the difference between goals and conversions (may be its just me that gets confused..!). Whatever, I thought I would share my clarification.

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What is Urchin 5?

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding, Urchin software specific Comments 7 »

Urchin is the software company and technology that Google acquired in April 2005 that went on to become Google Analytics. Urchin software remains a product in its own right and is a downloadable software tool that runs on a local server (Unix and Windows) providing web analytics reports by processing web server logfiles – including HYBRID logfiles – which are the most accurate.

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What is the 4th thing to do when considering a web analytics implementation?

Categories: Implementation ABCs, Metrics understanding No Comments »

[This article is part of a series entitled: GA Implementation ABCs] So far what I have discussed in this series has been fairly straight forward – dare I say “easy”! The next step is the difficult part – not from a technical perspective, but purely in terms of communication. To recap the story so far, the first three best practice implementation principals are: Tag everything – get the most complete picture of your web site visitors as possible Clean your data – apply filters Define Goals – distill the 80+ reports of GA in to performance benchmarks If you have followed these steps so far, then you have done an excellent job. However, the usual problem is that few other people in your organisation know this or even appreciate your work. You have created a set of nice charts and reports, “so what?” is a common response that is thought, Read the full article…

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Hosted v Software v Hybrid tools

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding, Urchin software specific Comments 7 »

My colleague Avinash recently presented at SES San Jose his thoughts on the current vendor space including: Visual Sciences, Omniture, IndexTools, Clicktracks, WebTrends and Google Analytics. As always, his talks are very engaging and thought provoking. For me though, one slide really stood out – the idea that a HYBRID web analytics tool can’t hunt – you need to view his presentation to follow that, but essentially the analogy is that HYBRIDs are not good as a web analytics tool. As Avinash knows, I disagree with this point of view, so I wanted to explain why here. By HYBRID tool, what is generally meant is the combination of the page tagging technique combined with logfile data to produce cookie fortified logfiles. This was discussed in a white paper before I joined Google – Web Analytics Data Sources . There are significant advantages to doing this as shown in the diagram Read the full article…

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What is the 3rd thing to do when considering a web analytics implementation?

Categories: Implementation ABCs, Metrics understanding 1 Comment »

[This article is part of a series entitled: GA Implementation ABCs] In Part I of this series, I discussed the importance of simply getting the data in. Part II concerned keeping the data clean by using filters. In this third install I discuss defining goals – the building blocks for your Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Remember this is all before tackling the much wider (and also more complex) issues of mapping your stakeholders, building your KPI list or assessing your business needs from your web site. The importance of Goals in web analytics After collecting and cleansing your initial visitor data from your GA reports (Parts I and II of this series), you then establish your benchmarks. Assuming there are no horror stories from viewing your initial traffic volume, consider your web site goals. A goal is quite simply the purpose of your web site, which in theory should be Read the full article…

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What is ABCE?

Categories: Metrics understanding, Urchin software specific 1 Comment »

Recently, the perception of ABCE’s role for the web analytics industry appears to have become blurred. Hence I wanted to post some comments here – these were also posted on the Web Analytics Association’s forum last month. ABC ELECTRONIC is the trading name of Electronic Media Audits Ltd. To briefly summarise from their web site: ABC ELECTRONIC is the industry owned, not-for-profit organisation that works with and for media owners, advertisers and media buyers to help them gain confidence in the data they use. The UK company performs many services but essentially conducts independent audits of client’s digital data to ensure it complies with agreed industry standards – as defined by JICWEBS (The Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland). To clarify, an ABCE web audit is NOT an accuracy report – it is a verification report for web site owners. Simplified that means ABCE auditors Read the full article…

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What is the 1st thing to do when considering a web analytics implementation?

Categories: Implementation ABCs, Metrics understanding Comments 4 »

[This article is part of a series entitled: GA Implementation ABCs] I had an interesting conversation while in Seattle recently. On discussing the progress of the book (95% complete now..!) with a friend from the industry, I described how my last chapter is going to be a sum up all the things learnt plus my thoughts on what’s next for web analytics. For the sum up, I was asked, “so what do you think should be the first thing to do when considering a web analytics implementation?”. “That’s a great question” I replied and gave the following response: “Tag all your pages i.e. Collect the data”. The conventional wisdom for web analytics, has traditionally said that before you even choose your preferred vendor for an implementation, you should prepare your web analytics business objectives, map who your stakeholders are, canvas throughout your organisation for KPIs, business plans, marketing plans etc. Read the full article…

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Why is Google Analytics free?

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding, Privacy and Accuracy Comments 6 »

The Google Analytics business model is unique for the web analytics industry – a deep dive reporting tool suitable for companies of all sizes (see Who uses Google Analytics? ) given away free of charge. But is there a catch to this uniqueness? Well in my view there is none. Of course, given my background I am slightly bias, but the idea behind giving away Google Analytics makes perfect sense: Provide accountability and transparency to existing Google advertisers Provide confidence and prove the value of online advertising to potential new advertisers Happy customers are good for business For Google, may be as a result of using Google Analytics, customers will remain advertisers for a longer period, become less likely to lapse their accounts (take breaks from advertising), even raise their AdWords budgets to capture a greater share of the search market. For those users that are not advertisers, perhaps Google Read the full article…

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Defining a new KPI #1 – New Customer on First Visit Index

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 10 »

Some background information… Often web analytics data can be extremely revealing – I have seen conversion rates increase ten fold as a result of web site changes brought about by such data. However as the analyst, you will know that interpreting the data is only half the story. You also need to communicate this story effectively across your organisation in order to get the buy-in required for the wholesale changes you may be proposing. You do this by creating internal “stakeholder” reports. The report is a very abridged version of your web analytics reports, usually summarised in Powerpoint and/or Excel and known as a Key Performance Indicator report (KPI Report). There are literally dozens (if not tens of dozens) of possible KPI values to include in such reports and Eric T. Peterson’s The Big Book of KPIs lists just about all of them. The trick is to only select a Read the full article…

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SES, Milan – don’t chop off the head that feeds the tail

Categories: Metrics understanding, SEO & Analytics Comments 3 »

On Weds 30th May, I had the pleasure of attending SES Milan for the first time. I started my career with web development and SEO back in 1997(!), so over the years I have been to many of the SES events. Its great to observe that the search market has evolved since those “smoke-n-mirror days” as well as discover country/regional differences around the world. As a pan-EMEA manager I am ashamed to admit that my language abilities are poor – just English and a small amount of Russian (I am always amazed at how some people can simply switch between languages – both in thought and speech. Or do they always think in their native language I wonder?). Of course SES events are held in their local language and Milan was no exception. So many thanks to Sante Achille (SES moderator) who found the time to summarise the Measuring Search Read the full article…

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eMetrics, Dusseldorf – what’s next for web analytics vendors?

Categories: Metrics understanding Comments 3 »

As Jim Sterne completed the second and last leg of his European tour I attended eMetrics Dusseldorf last week. My German is a tad limited to say the least, so my colleague Timo took the lead on the vendor panel and managed the Google Analytics booth with Rene. Despite my lack of local language, two excellent presentations caught my eye: Rapheal Nolens from Pioneer Europe Mathias Blum from Lycos Europe Of course I am slightly bias here as both of these included analysis work conducted using Google Analytics. However Rapheal made an excellent analogy which has stuck with me: Conducting web analytics is like riding a bicycle. The tool you use in the bicycle, but in order to get anywhere you still need to pedal i.e. do some analysis. That is very much where the web analytics industry is today – great tools, some with bigger bells and whistles than Read the full article…

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eMetrics, London – questions to ask your web analytics vendor

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding Comments 4 »

An important series of events for anyone interested in web analytics is Jim Sterne’s eMetrics Summit. There are currently 4 of these per year with the London event held last Thurs and Fri (29/30 March) at the Russell Square Hotel. Unfortunately, due to illness I was unable to attend in person, though Avinash Kaushik stood in for me on the vendor panel and I hear did a great job… Some questions directed to the vendor panel and from the Google Analytics booth: Q: What features differentiate your product from others? Quick Answer: Ignore feature lists! That’s always a good question that regularly comes up. I don’t know other tools in detail, but essentially as far as features go there is very little to differentiate any of the vendors. For example, they all have site overlay, geo-overlay, marketing analysis, eCommerce analysis, x-segmentation etc. Of course there are many ways to skin Read the full article…

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Search Marketing World, Dublin – measure and understand your traffic

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding 1 Comment »

At the Measuring Search Engine Marketing Success session, I had the pleasure of presenting along side Brian Donnahue (IQContent) and Nick Walsh (Net Affinity). Moderated by Danny Sullivan, the session looked at the tools available as well as an overall process for measuring search marketing successes. It was great to see ‘measurement’ taking such a prominant role at a one day event with around 70+ people at this session. For me the key take away was – whatever you use you your web site for, measure and understand its traffic. A separate though very interesting session was ‘Ad Agencies and Search‘. Damian Burns from Google presented some novel ideas that had been used by some of the more pro-active media agencies integrating search with off-line campaigns. For example in his Pontiac demo, the tv campaign ended with a call for the viewer to go and search online for what people Read the full article…

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GlobalStrategies.com aquired by Neo@Oglivy

Categories: Metrics understanding No Comments »

Today Gobal Strategies Inc. announced that they have been acquired by Neo@Ogilvy – the Ogilvy Group’s global digital and direct media company (a subsidiary of WPP). I have come to know Sara, Bill and Motoko (from GSI) quite well in recent months from presenting at the same events – for example, the ‘Converting Visitors into Customers‘ session at SES London. GSI is a pan-global search engine marketing company that has specific expertise in web analytics – “Missed Opportunity Matrix(TM)” and “Shelfspace reports” are common terminolgies from their presentations. Congratulations to the GSI/Neo team!

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SES London, Feb 13-15 2007

Categories: Google Analytics specific, Metrics understanding No Comments »

As usual I will be at SES London this year speaking at a couple of relavent sessions. Feel free to come over and say hello… A highlight for everyone has got to be the keynote conversation with Matt Cutts on the Wednesday, though I wonder if the “cat woman” will be there again…

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