Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
(312) 884-9017

Archive for the 'Analytics' Category

When A High Bounce Rate is a Good Metric

Most people examine bounce rates and immediately assume that if the bounce rate is high, the page or traffic source is bad.

That’s not always true.

First, bounce rates do change by analytics systems. Some use true time on site based upon server and browser behavior. Others, such as Google Analytics only look at when the script executes.

So, let’s say you are using Google Analytics and someone comes to your site. When the first page loads, Google knows you have a visitor and how the visitor got there, along with a lot of metrics about browsers, operating systems, etc.

They have no idea how long someone is on that page until that user goes to another page and the script executes again.

Phone Calls Lead to Bounces

Therefore, if someone goes through these actions:

  • Goes to your site
  • Examines your offer
  • Gives you a call
  • Schedules a visit (some phone conversion activity)
  • Hangs up
  • Leaves your website a happy customer

This person is considers a bounce. That’s a very nice bounce, but its still a bounce.

A bonce in Google is a one page visit. That’s all it means.

To even further clarify Google Analytics metrics, if someone spends an hour on a single page and leaves, they are not only a bounce, but time on page isn’t counted. Google has no idea how long someone is on your page until they cause the script to execute again, usually by going to another page. If someone goes to another page, Google Analytics now knows time on the first page, but not time on the 2nd page.  So, time on site is time on site minus last page visited.

3rd Party Integrations Lead to Bounces

In the past, we used Eventbrite for our AdWords Training signup process. Eventbrite hosts the pages themselves, so this is what our marketing funnel looked like:

  • We sent out email / advertised / etc
  • Users came to our landing page
  • Users choose tickets on the landing page
  • Users then went to eventbrite (off our site) to convert

If a user converted, they were usually a bounce. In fact, if a user spent a lot of time on our site, they were less likely to convert. Therefore, a high bounce rate usually meant more sales.

Some 3rd parties support cross domain tracking so you don’t see these high bounce rates and you can see more accurate metrics – but not all of them support analytics tracking.

Many driving direction pages go to Google maps. Many Paypal integrations go to Paypal.com. In these cases, you might have very successful bounces.

Adjusted Bounce Rates

Google Analytics (GA) recently launched a feature to track adjusted bounce rates. With adjusted bounce rates, you can set an event which will cause Google Analytics to track bounce rates based upon a time interval. For instance, if you wanted a bounce to be anyone who spend less than 30 seconds on the site, you can set a 30 second event to occur. At the 30 second mark, GA records an event and since GA did something, that user is no longer considered a bounce.

If you are using a plug-in for your CMS system, such as WordPress or Drupal, the plugins do not yet support this event. I tried to use this with Yoast’s analytics plugin and it not only didn’t work, it stopped the script from working properly so Google didn’t track any data. Hopefully, the plug-in authors will update their plug-ins soon with better control over additional information you can add to the Google Analtyics scripts.

Event Tracking & Virtual Page Views

Another way of handling users to leave your site (for a good reason, such as driving directions, affiliate link click-outs, etc) is to use events or virtual page views to track those clicks. With either of those tracking methods, Google Analytics will track that something happened on the site (and if you use events, you can even make them goals) and will adjust the bounce rate accordingly.

Wrap-Up

If you are using the default version of Google Analytics, then a bounce is just a one page visitor regardless of how much time was spent on the site. Bounce rate is just a metric. It’s neither a good nor bad metric – it’s just a metric. What’s important is the interpretation of that metric. So, next time you look at bounce rates, think about how your site functions and what you want users to do. If your goal is a call or sending a user off your site, a 100% bounce rate might be the best success metric you can reach.

3 Simple Analytics Tips To Bullet Proof Your PPC Conversions

We’re always looking for the next tip and trick to push our campaigns to ever greater heights but one area that feels untapped by a lot of PPC marketers is Analytics. We spend so much time digging around our Search Query Reports that we forget the other side of the coin. So, with that in mind, I want to share a few Analytics tricks to help you out!

Matched Search Queries – True Keyword Data In Analytics

The matched search queries report works in the same way as the Search Query report, you see exactly what your visitors typed in however we can now see exactly what those visitors did on the website.

1-matched-search-queries

This is a fantastic way to find major wins or failures and gives us some valuable data to play with – you may have a keyword on paper that is working really well but if 60% of users are bouncing away (leaving the page within 10 seconds) then you know you can make improvements; it may be to your ad or changes to the landing page to make the most out of your money.

Because we are viewing the keywords in Analytics rather than the SQR then we can also start pulling in the other valuable bits of data and segment the traffic. Are certain keywords performing better in one city than another? Do certain browsers perform better? How many pages are visitors viewing before completing a goal? All this information can be seen in Analytics.

To view the Matched Search Queries, you simply need to go to Advertising -> AdWords -> Matched Search Queries. Using the Secondary Dimensions button will allow you to start segmenting that traffic for more detailed analysis.

I also recommend checking out this article on Adwords in Google Analytics.

Working Backwards – Use Organic Data To Influence Your Ad Groups

It’s quite often the case that Pay Per Click leads the way for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You can very quickly get valuable keyword and performance data by running a campaign which in turn guides and assists the organic growth of the site. However, this shouldn’t be a one way street; organic traffic can also contribute a lot of valuable data that is there to be capitalised on.

If you navigate to: Traffic Sources -> Sources -> Search -> Organic then you will see the keywords driving organic traffic to the site. If you are running with the correct goals and/or ecommerce tracking set up then you’ll be able to see in a similar way to the Matched Search Queries report above what is working and driving those precious conversions.

2-organic-keyword-data

Not only will this allow you to find new keywords to target but also may highlight weaknesses in your Adwords campaigns. Using the Ad preview tool, you can literally copy and paste converting organic search phrases to check whether you are covering the terms via PPC. Why do this? Well there are many great reasons:

a) More Converting Clicks – Getting PPC coverage AND organic search coverage will boost your chances of getting a click on a key phrase you know converts.

b) Conversion Security – What happens if you drop 1,2 or 5 places for a converting search term organically? With the string of recent Google updates there is always the chance that organic traffic or rankings can disappear overnight – and that will really hurt conversions.

c) Brand Boost – studies show that appearing in both organic and paid search, can boost the customers perception of your brand, leading to more clicks.

d) Beat Competitors – Why give your competitors an easy ride? Targeting organic search converters via PPC will limit the market share available to competitors.

*Not convinced? This study at Performics, showed why this simple strategy can be so effective. In their study, by dominating the market (by aggressively bidding on Adwords whilst also ranking highly organically), they saw huge uplifts in conversions (380%), and when pulling back from PPC (when organic rankings were high), saw a massive drop off (474%) in conversions. Not only this, they found that organic search traffic increased by 241% when dominating via PPC.

That is powerful data everyone and well worth a look.

Are Your Landing Pages Really Working?

We have touched on in the points above but that’s the great thing about Analytics – it gives us an integrated view of what is happening and we can filter and segment on every screen we look at.

Another new feature to Analytics is the Page Speed tab, which as you might have guessed, lets us see how fast our pages are loading. Speed has become a huge issue in recent years…slow loading pages kill conversions and even if we have the best ads in the world, if the page loads after 10 seconds then we have a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

You can see the loading speed of each page by going to Content -> Site Speed -> Page Timings.

3-page-loading-speeds

You can view actual landing pages by going to Content -> Site Content -> Landing Pages.

In Conclusion

Analytics is an untapped resource that every marketer should be making the most out of; because the data is completely integrated it makes it immensely powerful. If you’re willing to spend some time digging then you’ll find numerous targets. Don’t just look at your Search Queries Reports!

You can find out a lot more about Analytics in these nifty training videos that Google themselves have provided.

This article was written by Ed Baxter from Ignition Search – A leading internet marketing agency in Sheffield who specialise in PPC management. Visit our website for more information and case studies!

 
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily bgTheory. If you would like to write for Certified Knowledge, please let us know.
 

Overall Conversion Rates are Useless

Overall conversion rates just let you know the percentage of people who completed an action. They do not contain any context about the actual visitors. It’s the context surrounding conversion rates which is the important aspect to pay attention to.

This is some of the analysis we did our our own site a few months ago before we conducted an entire redesign; it was  this type of thinking and data that lead to decisions that have had a very positive impact (more on that in another post).

Here’s a snapshot of overall conversion rates on one site:

image

0.54% doesn’t sound very good from a conversion rate standpoint.

This happens to be the conversion rates for this entire site for just the AdWords seminars goal. Since this site has a blog, information about our company, etc – and the seminars are location based – overall conversions doesn’t mean much as most of the readers do not live in or near a city where we speak.

Conversion Rates By Region

If we were to examine overall conversion rates for the seminars by region, we see a much different set of numbers:

Picture1

In a case of regional items, overall doesn’t matter – examining conversions from those who are eligible to actually attend your event (or come to your store, etc) is much more important.

Conversion Rates by Source

If you don’t have a geographic focus; then examine conversion rates by source:

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Or better yet, segment by both source and region (this could be keyword, campaign, etc):

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If you have more than one conversion type, then don’t just segment by total conversion rates; again that’s useless. Conversion rate just shows you the percentage of people who converted; which might not have anything to do with revenue.

My favorite metric to work with in Analytics is Per Visit Goal Value

I know exactly what a seminar registration is worth. I know exactly what a feed subscription is worth (which is a lot less), a CertifiedKnowledge.org subscription, and I know what a contact is worth. In analytics, each of these items is set with its own value. Now instead of just looking at conversion rates – I can see what source leads to the highest total value for the site.

image

Again, this could be keywords, referring sites, campaigns you are running, etc.

Now we have something to work with – actual revenue and dollar amounts.

How do we get more traffic from the sits sending us visitors worth $67, and not waste our time focusing on sites that are sending us little traffic.

Monetizing Your Site

You don’t have to just focus on traffic coming to your site. Examine the traffic within your site.

The $ index will show you the value of that page view.  Examine your own  site for you pages with the most monetization value.

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Now, compare them to the site average:

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As you can see, our top monetization pages have many less page views than the site average. This means we need to think about how to drive more traffic into those sections.

Conclusion

Overall conversion rates are useless.

Focus on at least one segmentation of traffic. It could be region, traffic source, campaign, etc. But do not look at overall numbers because they don’t tell you anything actionable.

Segmenting by two items is even more useful if you still have enough data to make decisions, and you have the time to not just do the analysis – but also the work.

If you spend all your time figuring out what to do; and don’t do it – then maybe you should have done less analysis and more doing.

Always remember, traffic does not convert the same by source.

I went through this (and a lot more) analysis of our site, traffic sources, etc before we did a fairly major (and inexpensive) redesign a few months ago. You can read about the actual redesign process here.

Now that it has been a few months since we conducted the redesign, and have enough data about what the redesign has actually done for the site; I’ll be writing up those finding and publishing them soon.

How many of Google’s Privacy Policies Are You Breaking?

This was originally posted at Search Engine Land in in my monthly column. It examines some of the commonly violated privacy policy guidelines at Google and how to fix them.

Every website that uses Google Analytics, AdSense, and remarketing that does not have a privacy policy violates three of Google’s terms of service agreements.

I took a look at a couple hundred sites this week and found some startling statistics:

  • More than 90% were breaking at least one of Google’s policies
  • More than 65% were breaking at least two of Google’s policies
  • More than 40% were breaking at least three of Google’s policies

How many of these policies are you breaking?

When conducting this survey, I only included sites that needed to follow at least one of Google’s policies. If a site didn’t need to follow any, then I excluded it from the results.

I also focused on privacy policies, and not every single policy for all of the services; the total number of total policies broken would be a higher number.

This was an unofficial survey of a couple hundred sites and I excluded most larger and authoritative domains from my research – although some sites in Google’s Top 1k List were breaking at least two policies.

What happens if you break Google’s TOS? Technically, you could be sued; but more likely you’ll get warned or lose access to the Google program.

Losing access to your Google analytics data, ability to drive traffic with AdWords, or your website’s monetization efforts with AdSense can have a significant impact on a business.

In this column, we will examine common ways businesses unintentionally break Google’s privacy policies and review the requirements needed for any website to be in compliance.

Note: This column is not intended to be legal advice. I’m not a lawyer nor do I pretend to be. The purpose of this column is to increase your awareness of Google’s policies so that you do not suddenly lose access to Google’s programs such as AdWords, Analytics, or AdSense.

Google Analytics

Google analytics is used on more than 28% of all websites. When you signup for analytics you agree to their TOS, section 7 of the TOS needs to be read carefully:

7. PRIVACY . You will not (and will not allow any third party to) use the Service to track or collect personally identifiable information of Internet users, nor will You (or will You allow any third party to) associate any data gathered from Your website(s) (or such third parties’ website(s)) with any personally identifying information from any source as part of Your use (or such third parties’ use) of the Service. You will have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy and will comply with all applicable laws relating to the collection of information from visitors to Your websites. You must post a privacy policy and that policy must provide notice of your use of a cookie that collects anonymous traffic data.

Source: Google Analytics TOS

If you use Google Analytics you must have a privacy policy. Considering many small websites do not have a privacy policy, those sites are automatically breaking Google’s TOS.

Another reason to have a privacy policy is that ‘transparency to the user’ is one of Google’s guidelines for making high quality landing pages when Google determines your landing page quality score.

To follow this section of the TOS:

  • Create a privacy policy
  • State the usage of 3rd party tracking
  • State the usage of cookies to track anonymous data

By following these simple steps, your site will now be in compliance with the most commonly broken rule of the Google Analytics privacy policy. However, Google Analytics TOS does contain more details about how the service should be used, such as not using it to collect personally identifiable information. You can read the entire Analytics TOS here.

AdWords Conversion Tracking

When AdWords first launched conversion tracking you had to put a script on the page that would show a graphic to someone who converted (and had the AdWords cookie on their browser). Google made a change where you could opt not to show a script and inform users on your own.

conversiontracking

This is the most ambiguous of Google’s policies as there are no guidelines to follow; therefore, a simple statement that you use 3rd party cookies to track data is all that is required to follow this TOS. If you have amended your privacy policy to follow the Google Analytics TOS, then you should be in compliance with this policy. If you are not using Google Analytics, then follow those same steps to comply with this guideline.

AdWords Remarketing

Remarketing is powerful as you can serve ads across the content network to people who were on your website. These ads  have the ability to be creepy as you can follow someone around the web making very explicit statements in your ads.

Because it is easy to abuse remarketing, and cause uneasy feelings in some consumers that can push them away from ads, Google has some policies you must follow if you use Google’s remarketing feature. Here is an excerpt from Google’s policies on remarketing:

If you’re using the remarketing feature, you must have an appropriate description of your use of remarketing in online advertising. The description must be included in the privacy policies of all sites that include the remarketing tag.

The privacy policies should include the following information:

  • Third party vendors, including Google, show your ads on sites on the internet.
  • Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user’s prior visits to your website.
  • Users may opt out of Google’s use of cookies by visiting the Google advertising opt-out page. (Alternatively you can point users to opt out of a third party vendor’s use of cookies by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative opt out page.)

If you’re using DoubleClick’s remarketing pixels, your privacy policy may instead tell users to opt out of DoubleClick’s use of cookies by visiting the DoubleClick opt-out page or the Network Advertising Initiative opt-out page.

Because advertiser sites and laws across countries/territories vary, we’re unable to suggest specific privacy policy language. However, you may wish to review resources such as the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) for guidance on drafting a privacy policy.

Source: Google Help Files

That is a lot of information. Google’s FAQ is old and the DoubleClick and Google advertising opt-out page are now the same. So you can link to a single opt out page if you are using AdWords, DoubleClick, or both for remarketing.

However, there is much more than just a privacy policy update when using remarketing. Google has specific terms by industry as well.

Remarketing Policies By Industry

Several industries have specific policies which you can view here. Most of these policies fall into one of three categories:

  • Don’t use sensitive information in ads
  • Don’t imply you know more about someone than you do
  • Follow the laws – don’t market to children under 13

We will examine the highlights of a few common industries.

Financial:

Financial sites are not just credit card companies, they are also banks, and affiliates who promote products and services in this industry.

Here’s a quote from Google’s remarketing restriction page:

  • Sites which solicit or store information about the user’s financial status or situation cannot use that sensitive information to create remarketing lists.
  • Ads which imply to know the user’s financial status or information should not be run with remarketing.

This means you cannot have a remarketing list that was only compiled when someone visited the ‘bad credit’ section of your website and then serve ads that say, ‘We know your credit is bad. We’ll give you a credit card anyway’. Financial sites have many laws they need to follow; but Google’s remarketing TOS is a must read for any financial site.

Children

More from Google:

Because of numerous laws around marketing to children, in the US and elsewhere, we want to ensure we do not allow advertisers to remarket to children under 13 using remarketing. Sites which store or solicit information about users that indicates their age is below 13 may not create remarketing lists using that data.

Ads which are directly marketed toward users under 13 OR ads which are primarily appealing to those under 13 are not allowed to run in conjunction with remarketing. Ad texts which appear to target children are not permitted to run in conjunction with remarketing:

This is a grey area. If you ads appear like they will appeal to children, you can be outside of the TOS. If you offer services for children or families, you need to make sure your ads are speaking to the parents and not to the minors.

Sensitive Information

Your lists and ads can never be segmented by:

  • Race
  • Ethnic background
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sensitive or private information
  • etc..

While this might seem obvious for privacy reasons; there are times you might naturally segment this way for marketing purposes and you need to be careful. Let’s say you own a dating site, and that site has a Latino and Catholic section. You cannot cookie just people in the Latino section with one list and people in the Catholic section with another list and then target those individuals with ‘Latino Dating Service ads’.

If you run a review site of several industries, it would be nice to make a list by each industry for remarketing purposes. However, what you cannot do is make a ‘drug rehab’ list and serve ads based upon needing a drug rehabilitation center. That is too just too personal.

If you are engaged in remarketing, you should take a look at the Google remarketing policy page.

Interest Based Ads

Interest based ads are still in beta; however, beta users should be following Google policies as well. 

The policies for Interest Based Ads are very similar to the remarketing policies. If you are in the interest based ads beta, even though you might not be using remarketing, you should pay close attention to the terms as you need to inform users of your lists and opt-out methods.

Because this policy is so close to remarketing, there is no need to cover it in-depth; but you can read more on the interest-based advertising policy page.

Google AdWords TOS

What we covered in this column with regards to Google’s TOS mostly concerns the privacy policy. However, you should be aware of the AdWords TOS to make sure you are following all of the practices. The entire policy can be found here.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is so prevalent across the web; and so easy to install, I don’t believe most publishers (especially the small ones with instant blogging plug-ins) understand there is a TOS that all AdSense publisher must agree to.

The AdSense policy (this is for the US, you can see the terms by county here) clearly states:

You must have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy that clearly discloses that third parties may be placing and reading cookies on your users’ browser, or using web beacons to collect information, in the course of ads being served on your website.  Your privacy policy should also include information about user options for cookie management.

This is a very similar policy to Google Analytics. There are many more policies with regards to AdSense about not encouraging people to click ads and so forth. If you use AdSense, you need to read the TOS. However, you also need to have a privacy policy that lets people know about your cookie usage.

About Privacy Policies

Laws concerning privacy policies vary by country. In the United States you do not have to have one – it is optional. However, if you have one you need to follow it.

In other countries, privacy policies are mandatory.

In some tests I’ve run, the simple act of adding a privacy policy to a page has increased conversion rates as well. Consumers are increasingly concerned about their privacy online, and if your site does not tell a consumer what you will do with their data, they may decide to abandon your website and move on to one where they feel more secure with their information.

Creating a privacy policy should be a business decision as it may affect how you collect and use data.

However, if you use several of Google’s services – privacy policies are mandatory if you follow their TOS.

If you would like to learn more about privacy online, here are some good resources:

From a marketer’s perspective, you need to make consumers feel secure in your website and your honesty. A privacy policy that tells someone exactly what you are doing often works well; but of course that effectiveness does vary by market. You can see our privacy policy which is very blunt in what we collect, and yet not a single person has clicked on the opt out links in our policy.

Barrack Obama’s Campaign Used the Same Optimization Methods that You Can Access for Free

It’s easy in the small to medium enterprise world to look at huge companies and think they have access to special tools, people, or metrics that cause them to ‘win’.

While some large companies do have custom software, the advances in technology is lowering the metrics gap between large and small companies.

Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics are both free programs that any company can use to make data driven decision. Guess what? Obama’s campaign used these same free tools to determine what combinations lead to higher donations and other visitor engagement methods.

Here is a video (it’s hand shot by an engineer at the talk, so it’s not completely steady) where someone who worked on Obama’s campaign looks at the software and the metrics used to win an election.

Connect Your Google Analytics Goals to Your AdWords Conversion Tracking

Google very quietly rolled out a new feature – use your Google analytics goals as conversions in your AdWords accounts.

It’s been live for at least a week; and very straightforward to use.

Navigate to the conversion tracking screen (in either UI); and there’s a link for ‘Link your Analytics goals and transaction’.

Google AdWords- Conversion Tracking_1241803552075

However, when you go to link your AdWords and Analytics goals together, you can only use Goal 1 from your Google Analytics account:

Google AdWords- Conversion Tracking_1241803627358

Hopefully, this will be fixed sometime in the future.

Goal Confusion

I looked for a while; but as much as I could have – so if you know the answer or the link please post it in the comments.

Google Analytics treats a goal as the last site entrance, and is attributed to the day of the click.

Google AdWords treats as goal as the last AdWords ad clicked, and the goal as the date of the click (not the date of the conversion).

Therefore, is linking these two together just going to create more goal confusion – or will some nice pattern work itself out?

Google has ahelp file on connecting AdWords and Analytics; however, on that page the link to the help file “Read about how AdWords Conversion Tracking works with Google Analytics once the two are linked.” goes to a 404, not found page; hence the unanswered questions above.

Future?

I might have to set up another couple profiles and just set up single goals to see how well this works.

Since Analytics is a 1st party cookie, and AdWords is a 3rd party cookie – the analytics would be a better tracking mechanism once the details for how a conversion is actually counted are determined. The business rules laid out by Google will determine if this is actually useful for all.

I’d love to hear comments, links to other articles where this is discussed.

The most important question you can ask your team before installing analytics is…

Many companies pick an analytics program and install it without first taking a step back and asking a very important question. In fact, this single question can make the difference between your analytics system making you money or being a time waster.

Look at everyone on your team (SEO, PPC, designer, CEO, etc) and ask them one simple question:

What do you need to know to get your job done?

Make them list out their needs. The designer will want to know things like browser types, browser resolutions, etc. Your marketing people will need to know conversions by traffic sources and keywords. The SEO is looking at referral traffic information. Let everyone list out their needs.

Then look at the list and ask each of them, “What is it worth to our company to pay for this information?”

If you have a team of one, and you use wordpress to run your company, knowing which versions of flash are being used is probably not information that’s worth paying to obtain. If you spend $10k a month on PPC and SEO outsourcing, you might not want to pay $15,000 a month for analytics data.

Armed with your list of critical information – interview the potential vendors

When you interview the vendors, do not forget the most critical information to your company. The vendors will show you interesting features that you may have not considered. Every time you see it, don’t be overly impressed and think that you can’t live without that data.

For every feature you did not consider, ask yourself, “Will we use this to make changes to our marketing or website?” If yes, then follow up with “how much will knowing that information affect our bottom line?

If a new feature costs an additional $5,000 per month, and it’s ‘interesting information’ but not ‘actionable information’, then do you really want to pay for it?

Don’t Get Buried in Data

Any analytics program can bury you in data. You could see what browser resolutions are being used in Singapore when the user has java installed but does not have flash installed. If you receive one visitor a month from Singapore, is that useful data? Is the data even useful to begin with if you had ten thousands a month from Singapore?

There are times you will look at analytics and say, “That’s interesting.”

Interesting is not always actionable. Too many ‘interestings’ will cause you to lose an entire afternoon without making a single decision.

Free Isn’t Always Best – But the Price is Nice

Google analytics is a good analytics program; but it doesn’t have the data everyone needs.

If you need real time stats about your website because you make changes to your homepage throughout the day to direct visitors to the hottest selling items – Google analytics can’t help you.

If you need data warehousing capabilities so you can segment traffic sources from any timeframe based upon their conversion funnels – Google Analytics can’t help.

If you do not have an analytics program, Google analytics is a great place. For many companies, Google Analytics has everything they need. However, you won’t know that until you ask your team first.

Conclusion

Start with your team – they should know what they need to make decisions.

Ask the most important analytics questions that exist:

  • What do you need to know to get your job done?
  • Is that information actionable?
  • What is it worth to our company to pay for this information?

Then ask the vendor, can you provide that information, and how much will it cost.

Making decisions based upon solid analytics data can increase your profits dramatically.

Paying for data you don’t use is a drain on your bank account.

Analytics is just a tool. The way the tool is used is what matters.

When you hire good talent, make sure they have the data they need to help your company succeed.

How to Create Google Analytics Profiles that Lead to Profitable Actions

Google Analytics is a powerful analysis program if set up properly. Inputting the tracking code on Google Analytics does not mean you’re done. It means you’ve taken the first step, but you are no where near tracking the full amount of data you will need to take proper action on all of your data.

Google Analytics captures data in profiles. A profile is just a set of statistics about your website based upon what you’ve told the program to capture. For instance, you could capture all visitors in one profile, but just your Yahoo PPC buy in another one, and just your email blasts in a third profile.

By segmenting data into multiple profiles, you can now fully analyze how just YSM or your email blasts visitors interact, view, and convert on your website.

Planning, creating, and using segmented profile data will help give you actionable insight to increasing profits.

Installing Analytics and Creating New Profiles

First, here’s a quick set of reference materials that will help you install Google analytics and profiles. If you already understand profiles, feel free to skip to the next section. Note, if you do not have the goal copy plug-in, scan this section and install that plug-in for Firefox.

Open and install your Google Analytics account: Tutorial (Note, breeze (i.e. flash-like) presentation that has been taken down).

Create your goals in your first profile. In addition, if you have a multi-step conversion goal, institute goal funnels:

In addition, if you have site search, track it.

Use Firefox, and install the Goal Copy Plug-in. (Note: There are some SEO plug-ins that cause conflicts with Goal Copy. If you are having issues using this plug-in, disable a couple SEO plugins and try again. Since you are not going to use Goal Copy all the time, once you’ve finished inputting your goals into different profiles, you can disable this plug-in and restart the others).

Create a new profile.

Navigate to the goal section of your new profile and use the Goal Copy extension to paste in your new goals. While you’re here, also input your site search parameters.

Creating Profile Filters to Segment Data

This is where the fun begins.

Google has a help file on creating filters here (link removed as Google keeps breaking their own help file URLs). If this is your first filter, keep that window open and learn where to input filters. Once you get to the filter input screen, you’ll want to open this other link: actual PPC keyword data.  Between these two sites, you’ll see how to create an advanced filter. With this first filter, you can just copy and paste the information which makes it pretty easy.

Next, once you’ve learned how to create a filter, it’s time to revisit what you want to track. This is my favorite profile list (each bullet is it’s own profile, I’ll have one profile that is all PPC traffic, and then another profile that just examines AdWords).

  • All PPC
    • Google AdWords
    • Yahoo Search Marketing
    • Microsoft adCenter
  • All Emails
    • Email confirmation for Seminars
    • Seminar follow-up and resources email
    • Any other mass email sent
  • All banners together
    • One profile for each large banner buy
  • Social traffic (I use cli.gs with URL builder below)
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIN
    • Etc…
  • Any other specific types of traffic you’d like to track

I find that being able to look at all PPC or all emails is useful to get high level information of their effectiveness. Then, you can drill down into just looking at one just one PPC type (or just one email blast type).

Creating Multiple Profiles

Creating all of these profile types is not that difficult, it’s time consuming. First, you’ll want to follow the steps above to create that many profile types, copy/paste the goals, site search, adjust eCommerce settings etc first.

Secondly, you’ll want to use Google Analytics URL builder to create the links that you input into your emails, banners, etc so that you can track them appropriately.

For instance, if I wanted to track visitors, and conversions, to our site from an email blast promoting the AdWords Seminars, I could build a URL such as:

https://bgtheory.com/?utm_source=Seminar&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=boston

Now, in my filters, I could choose to have one profile that only contained information from visitors when the source was ‘Seminar’. In this instance, I could then use the same source=seminar in PPC, banner ads, etc to see how the campaign was doing on a holistic basis.

Edit Filter - Google Analytics_1239703508640

I could then create a second profile that only contained information from emails. This way I could see how emails in general were converting.

If I wanted to see just how this one email was converting, I could even create another profile that just contained information from this specific email blast.

Due to only having a limited amount of time to dig into analytics, the only times I track just one specific source is if it’s PPC (one for AdWords, another profile for Yahoo, and a third for adCenter), a large banner buy, or something new that I want to see specifically (such as tracking twitter).

Tracking PPC Keywords in Yahoo or adCenter with Google Analytics

Of course, you would not want to enter every single keyword individually into the URL builder and then paste the information into adCenter or YSM. Use your PPC friend, Excel, to accomplish this easily.

First, let’s look at a completed tracking URL for adCenter:

Brad Geddes Theory of Internet Marketing

If we were to break this URL down:

  • https://bgtheory.com – destination URL
  • ?utm_source=adCenter   — Where our traffic comes from
  • &utm_medium=PPC   — Type of traffic (PPC)
  • &utm_term=Keyword –- Actual keyword
  • &utm_content=adGroup   — Ad Group name
  • &utm_campaign=Campaign -– Campaign name

If you download your account into excel; building this file is pretty easy. If you layout your excel file by column as:

  • Campaign
  • Ad Group
  • Keyword
  • destination URL
  • ?utm_source=adCenter&utm_medium=PPC (this column you can edit the source and medium as desired)
  • &utm_term=
  • &utm_content=
  • &utm_campaign=

Next, do a global find a replace and replace all spaces with plus signs (+) or whatever you like to designate as a space.

Next, for the last column, just input this formula:

=D2&E2&F2&C4&G2&B4&H2&A2

Drag that formula down the page. The new column will be your new destination URL that you can upload into your other campaigns. Of course, you could be much more complex with this excel file and layout some fields as static and others as dynamic, but this is a general layout to give you the idea how to build these URLs.

If you now create a profile that only contains data if the medium is PPC and another profile when the source is adCenter, you will now have two profiles to examine all PPC data, and another one where the only data is from adCenter. Now you can see funnels and advanced metrics only looking at that segmented data.

When do you need the data?

There is such as thing as paralysis analysis. Where you just have too much data to know where to start. That is possible with many profiles. The thing about Google analytics is that you can’t completely segment old data. If you were to create these tracking URL, but not create a new profile, you could not see the conversion funnel by just adCenter data.

In addition, you cannot use data from one profile to pre-populate another profile. Profiles only start collecting data on the day you create the profile.

Therefore, I’m a fan of creating all these profiles first, let them collect data. Then when you need the data it will exist. The issue with Google Analytics is that if you want till you need the data to create the profile, you will not ever have the old data.

Where to begin?

This is a lot of information, so let’s recap in easy bullet points:

  • Map out what data you would like to segment
  • Determine a tracking URL structure (based upon the URL builder inputs) that will let you use unique names as profile segments for those various data points
  • Create a profile for each list of of those data points
  • Copy and paste the goals and other settings into those profiles
  • Create a filter for each profile based upon the data you wish to capture in that profile
  • Create tracking links for your new destination URLs
  • Change any current links to then new destination URLs
  • Analyze your new data to create actionable items within your account

It is worth checking if your email system already has Google analytic integration – some do. If so, you might want to use there medium codes for your other emails so you can track all mails together (if you use mail and your vendor uses newsletter for the medium, all email data will not be in one profile).

Honestly, if you are changing adCenter, Yahoo, a handful of banner campaigns, your email blast, etc – this should only take a day of work for most companies. Some will accomplish this in a few hours, others might need a few days.

What is the data worth to you? If you can now track all banner campaigns to find out the $10k one produces $5k in total lifetime revenue, but the $3k one produces $10k in sales; that knowledge alone could be worth your day.

You cannot analyze what you don’t have.

Planning, segmenting, and changing your destination URLs for later analysis can save you time, money, and lead you to stop analyzing data – but starting to make changes based upon the data.

The goal of analytics is not just data insight. The goal of analytics is insight that forces action and change.

How to view Google Analytics Funnels for Segmented Data

The Goal Funnel Visualization is a critical report in Google Analytics. This report will you see where users are abandoning your conversion activities.

 

image

For example, if you had a 3 page form fill, wouldn’t it be useful if you could see:

      1. Page 1 – 100% enter
      2. Page 2 – 80% enter
      3. Page 3 – 30% enter
      4. Goal completion: 2%

What that data shows you is that consumers are moving down the early stage of the funnel, but there is a large drop off later in the funnel. This is a perfect place to examine for usability, informational, and other issues to see why there is such a large conversion abandonment.

One of the best uses of the funnel (and many of Google’s other charts) is first segmenting users to see how that user type interacts with your site.

For example, you could view your stats only when:

  • Visitors are from a social network site
  • The user converted on your site
  • A user came from an expensive banner ad you’re testing
  • The user is on a mobile device
  • The user is in California
  • The user came from a particular search engine
  • The user came from a paid search campaign
  • The user bought a specific product
  • The user came from an email campaign
  • etc…

By only looking at segmented data, you could see that banner 1 is profitable, and RSS advertising isn’t leading to a high engagement. This level of detail will let you tailor your site to visitor types, but also allow you to make better decisions about which ad types are profitable. Understanding if that the $15k/month banner you’re buying from a site is leading to solid traffic is an insight that will help you make better advertising decisions.

The biggest issue with segmentation on Google Analytics? It doesn’t work with certain reports:

Goal Funnel - Google Analytics_1235476699188

If you are trying to view reports that can not be segmented, there is a way around this issue.

Create New Filter - Google Analytics_1235477039774

  1. Create a new analytics profile
  2. Edit settings for that profile
  3. Go to the filter settings of that profile
  4. Create a new custom filter
  5. In the filter field, choose campaign source, medium, or however you’re tagging your URLs
    • If you don’t know how to tag your URLs for Google Analytics, use Google’s URL builder tool.
  6. Save the filter
  7. Repeat the above step as necessary if you want new sources of traffic added to that profile

Now, that profile in Google Analytics will only contain traffic from that particular source. The biggest drawback is that this will not let you see data back in time. Google profiles only contain data from the day you set the up. However, now you can view the Goal Funnel, and any advanced reports just for traffic from a certain source.

You could set this up so that one profile is just your Google AdWords data, and another is just your Yahoo Search Marketing or Microsoft adCenter data. What to look at organic conversions from just Google, or just Yahoo? You can use a custom profile to see which search engine sends you higher converting traffic.

My favorite use is one profile for bought traffic, and another for each high priced banner or email ad. You could even just see how your email lists are performing by just looking at traffic derived from particular email campaigns.

Make sure you can analyze your data and traffic properly. Custom filters and profiles will give you fantastic insight into your customers to help you make better advertising decisions, but to have the data to know where you need to work for increasing conversion rates.

How to Use Google Analytics Filters to Increase Your AdWords ROI

Google AnalyticsIt’s one thing to have access to data.

It’s another one to know how to make the data usable.

You can use Google Analytics custom reports to segment data in many ways. But how to do you take that segmentation and actually improve your AdWords account?

Here’s one example.

  1. Create a custom filter by city (watch the video below for instructions)
    • In the metrics, instead of using bounce rates, use ‘Total goal completions’,‘Goal conversion rate’, and ‘New visitors’.
    • Save the custom report.
  2. When you’re viewing the report, under ‘Segments at the top of the screen’ (see picture below) choose ‘Paid Traffic’
  3. You will now be viewing conversion rate and visitor information from paid traffic in each city.
  4. Look for cities with low conversion rates and high traffic.
    • For those cities, you should consider creating a geo-targeted campaign to help reach that audience.
    • If you can’t make those geographies convert, you can also block those regions in your campaign’s location settings.

You can do a lot of analytics of the data in Google Analytics and Google AdWords. However, analysis paralysis is common. Before you start the analysis, think about the actions you can take from what you learn. If you can’t take any action – should you even bother to do the analysis?

Google Analytics Advanced Segments:

Custom Report - Google Analytics_1231527587613

How to create Custom Reports in Google Analytics