Last week, Google made major announcements about upcoming changes to how Google Analytics will function and contribute to the future of digital marketing measurement. At Three Deep, we view all of these changes as improvements to the program, but it should also be noted that a few changes may affect how people currently have Google Analytics configured.
The first major announcement of the week was Universal Analytics, which is a version of Google Analytics that allows us to move away from a session based tracking paradigm over to a user based tracking method. This allows marketers to measure activity by users across multiple computers, devices and mediums. With the proliferation of mobile devices, tablets and multiple computers, this form of measurement is becoming more and more important. It’s also important that Google Analytics adjust to measure the world outside the web, because otherwise the tool is in danger of being left behind for new tools that do a better job of measuring activity in these new mediums.
Without getting too technical, Universal Analytics is achieved by minimizing the reliance on cookies to track visitors, replacing cookies with server-side processing of visit data to increase speed and flexibility. When you send data to Google’s servers, you can also attach a user identifier to that visit that will be used to match up visitors across devices, which is then matched up by Google server side to create a unified picture of how your users interact with various touchpoints.
If you want to learn more about the announcement and get more detail, I live-blogged the Universal Analytics announcement last week, complete with screenshots and explanations from the event.
Import Cost Data from Third Party PPC Programs
The AdWords reports in GA are among my favorites, because they allow for end to end analysis right in the tool (you know how much you spent and how much you earned, allowing for an ROI). One of my pet peeves with this report has been that you only can do this level of analysis with AdWords data, and you would need to download data and match up details in excel to do this analysis for Bing, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Now this is something that you can do by uploading your cost data into Google Analytics using the API or an application provider like Next Analytics (an excellent tool and friend of Three Deep).
With Universal Analytics, we will now be able to import external data into Google Analytics to be used in measurement. This external data can be turned into dimensions that we can use to further enhance our reporting capabilities within the tool (for example, we can create a dimension such as gender or age).
You will be able to create up to 20 custom dimensions in a free GA account. This will give significantly more flexibility than what can be achieved currently with Custom Variables. It will also eliminate the need to code each page with custom variables, allowing for retroactive data matching since all dimensions will be based on the data you import.
You can use dimension widening to better understand activity that is happening offline, outside of your standard website metrics. Does your website generate a lot of leads and phone calls? You can now import lead status and sales data into Google Analytics for complete online/offline customer measurement.
Websites must have universal analytics configured to take advantage of Dimension widening and Offline Measurement, because this data is tied to the Unique ID that you assign to your website users.
Implications on Cookie Integrations
One of the things that we should also address is that some of these changes by Google to a virtually cookie-less tracking solution will take away our ability to do crazy integrations with cookie data. This may mean that some integrations will be phased out in their current form (like pulling data out of cookies and pushing into your CRM system, and phone call tracking replicating cookies). For lead generation sites that rely on these integrations, this is a drawback and a loss of functionality.
However, the good news is that these will ultimately be replaced by a simpler method for achieving the same effect (integration between your offline and web analytics data). It also paves the way for many more advanced integrations and mash-ups. The long term benefits of moving away from cookies outweigh any minor setbacks we may see along the way. I wouldn’t be surprised if phone call tracking solutions begin to tout their improved Google Analytics integration in the near future.
Exciting Times Ahead
As someone who is fascinated by web measurement and passionate about unlocking insight from website visitor data, I am very excited about what we have in store for the future. Google Analytics has long been the leader in making web measurement easier to grasp and now they are helping marketers measure activities well beyond the screen.
Whether you are just learning about web analytics or have been measuring for years, these announcements and product upgrades will only help bring measurement to the forefront of the decisions we make as marketers in the future.
Are you as excited about these advancements as we are?
Three Deep is proud to announce today that they have received a partner certification with Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager is a newly launched tool from Google that is free of charge, and consolidates your website tags with a single snippet of code. It also lets you manage everything from a web interface, so you can add and update your own tags, with just a few clicks, whenever you want, giving you greater flexibility, and let your webmasters focus on other important tasks.
With a variety of tags, rules, and macros, marketers now have a wide spectrum of tag options for all of their campaigns, including AdWords, Doubleclick, and remarketing campaigns. As a Google Analytics Certified Partner, Three Deep was among some of the first to try out this product in Beta. We are very excited for the potential that this will bring to new clients and current clients alike. If you’re a current client of Three Deep, we are excited to work with you on this new tool, and look forward to improving your campaigns with this new tool. If you’re interested in learning how Google Tag Manager and Three Deep can work for you, please contact us! To find out more about Google Tag Manager, we invite you to check out the official blog post from Google.
A few weeks back, I received two emails back to back in my inbox. This is a regular occurrence of course, but both of these were promoting two different social analytics tools. One was for Instagram, the other for Pinterest. If you subscribe to news from any of the various social software programs, you’ll discover that they are quick to innovate a new way to track metrics for the latest social network. This is great if you’re already paying for a software subscription, and it’s added free of charge, but what if it’s not?
Before you pull out your company credit card to place an order for the latest social analytics software, take a second to think about what you’re going to measure. Are you going to measure the trend of new “likes” or followers? The total amount of repins that each of your new products gained when placed on a company Pinterest board? Be sure to determine what your objectives are in measuring your social efforts. It often has something to do with the value of social referrals to your website or to the value of your greater social community.
The Value of “Like” on your Website
Do you ever link to your website from your social accounts? If you have some basic website analytics software, such as Google Analytics, Adobe Omniture, or WebTrends, pull it open, and see what sorts of traffic each network has generated for your website. Do you see a big spike in your Facebook-referral traffic after hosting a big fan competition, or a decline from Twitter when you took a vacation and no one bothered to send out a tweet or two? Mark down what dates you saw spikes or dips from your social networks, and any rationale for why you think it may have happened. If you track conversions, or purchases that users make on your site, check to see if they mirror the same spikes and dips that your social traffic experienced.
Social Value from the Network
If you don’t particularly care about traffic to your website from social networks, think about how your company generates revenue from social itself. Is there an app that they use to download coupons, or make purchases right on a particular network?
If you find yourself saying “we just use that social network to build community, not generating revenue”, that notion is completely fine. But then ask yourself: Is it worth spending money on a software for a social tactic that doesn’t usually generate additional money for your company? Are there analytics tools that you can use for free to track community growth? Facebook Insights provides some great baseline metrics, and tools like Crowdbooster can give you weekly emails on how your Twitter follower count is doing.
Digging Deeper into Social Analytics
This past week, I attended an event with the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) presented by Adam Singer of Google. He showed us that there are even more options than just tracking referrals from social media, you can see some of the conversations that are happening on certain networks in Google Analytics. If you haven’t checked out this option, I highly suggest that you do!
Here, not only you can tell which social networks are getting you the most traffic, but which ones are actually making you money. You can see how it compares in generating new visitors to your website, and finally, how much traffic your site generates from mobile.
If your social efforts are purely based on building community and gaining the largest number of “likes” in your industry, then certainly check out those special analytics tools geared toward particular networks. But if you want to get down to the details and tell your CEO why you should stick with social because it will make you money, then I’d definitely make sure you have Google Analytics properly configured on your site and get started analyzing some results!
Welcome to the tenth edition of The Search, a weekly recap of all the interesting posts from the areas we deal with most: paid search, project management, social media, SEO, email, and mobile marketing. Check back each week to stay on top of the latest and greatest techniques in online marketing so that you can improve your skills and better serve your clients. Enjoy!
Earlier this week I was invited to lead a discussion for #NPTalkIRL (non-profit talk in real life) about the topic of Google Analytics. Since it was a very open ended topic area, I chose to talk about how to more effectively use Google Analytics and to gain insights into your website (in this case non-profit website). The format of the presentation was very informal – no powerpoint or computer allowed. Just an intimate group of non-profits interested in getting better at web measurement. And a great group it was!
Normally I post slides to my presentations on the blog for people to see, but since there were no slides allowed, I normally wouldn’t have anything to post.
Fortunately one of the attendees of the event, @coien, was “live tweeting” my tips for everyone to enjoy. I rounded up all of his tweets and included below. Thank you, @coien, for making me sound much better than I likely did IRL.
* Blessing and curse of Google Analytics: it’s free and easy. So easy that you get into the habit of not doing anything w/ it.
* Add custom tag to the end of your URL so you know if ppl visit site site from Twitter, etc. Otherwise may turn up as direct visit
* People who visit your site from social media behave completely differently from people who come in from search or typing in URL.
* See a Google Analytics report that you like? Click Add to Dashboard to access it easily.
* Ask yourself early and often: what is the goal of this website?
* Your top 10 searches are probably all for your specific brand name. Getting beyond that is how to build search traffic.
* Another next step: site surveys like 4Q that can ask visitors if they accomplished their goals, and to rank their experience
I also enjoyed interacting with @jjmillard, @shayspeed, @nomadic_mind, @nonoah and @aokolue, and wanted to thank @jlbraaten for making the introduction and @SocialNicole for doing great things with #nptalk.
Over the years I have attended many conferences spanning a variety marketing of topics, including the MIMA Summit. At each of these events, my role was quite simple: attend the most relevant presentations to my area of interest, take copious notes, and apply the learned tactics and techniques in my day to day work. If our team feels ambitious enough, we will even post the notes on our blog and share reactions for the world to see (like our Google Analytics Summit and Online Marketing Summit notes from 2009).
This year’s MIMA Summit was different, because this would be my first time presenting at the conference. While I had blogged earlier this year about my goal to be a presenter at a marketing conference, I never imagined that it would actually happen. That is, until I met Betsey from Sugarbeet Creative and she gave me the opportunity to have my voice heard!
Continue Reading My MIMA Summit Experience: From Audience Member to Presenter →
Here at Three Deep, we are constantly thriving to provide actionable insights for our clients. For those who are unfamiliar with our company, we are a very data-centric organization. The name Three Deep actually refers to our discipline of looking past surface-level data, and digging three levels deep into the data at hand to provide the highest quality feedback possible.
We have recently developed a way to tightly integrate phone conversions with web analytics data to paint a more accurate picture of our clients’ marketing efforts, right down to the ROI.
The idea was sparked when we identified a disconnect between the online and offline conversion data of lead generation clients in our home improvement vertical. Nearly every lead generation website (regardless of industry) includes a phone number as a point of conversion, but we never really had a concrete way to tie this to online metrics.
Continue Reading Integrating Phone Calls with Google Analytics Data →
Last week I came across a great slide deck put together by InsightR consulting that compares two free web analytics tools: Google Analytics and Yahoo Web Analytics (formerly IndexTools). While we haven’t had much experience working with Yahoo! Web Analytics, the results from this study are quite intriguing, and favorable for Yahoo! in many areas.
As a GAAC consultant, this really does not change anything when it comes to our preferred choice of tools, but I do think that it proves Yahoo Web Analytics to be a true competitor in this space. Competition is good!
Continue Reading Yahoo! Web Analytics vs. Google Analytics →
The Mad Analyst is happy. Why you ask? Because I’m now using some of the latest Google Analytics features and it makes my life easier, particularly the Advanced Table & Report Filtering function. The release couldn’t have been more timely, considering a recent client request.
I was asked to look at the content of their site to determine “choke” points within the navigation. Now the site doesn’t have a lot of page depth to begin with so I wondered how I might look at where people are falling off. Previously, you could look at page data and only sort by the headers – so if I sort by Exit% or Bounce Rate, I either get the pages that are performing well or I get the pages that have super high bounce rates (100% !) but only 2 visits. What do you do? Export all 2,346 rows and then apply a filter in Excel? Not anymore.
Instead I utilized 2 semi-recent functions and the very recent report filtering to easily export a nice little analysis identifying the pages that need attention because they’re losing visitors.
First, I created a custom report that showed me the key metrics I wanted by page:
As marketers, we all know that there is a fair amount of turnover throughout the dynamics of the client/agency relationship. This post series covers solutions to many common problems that may arise while inheriting a Google Analytics account.
One of the key objectives in value added Web Analytics is answering the question “what is the point of this website” and “what do we want visitors to do when they visit.” The metric we use to determine success is a conversion occurring during a site visit.
This is a pretty elementary aspect of web analytics, and a fundamental foundation for a solid analytics install… or is it? From my experience, this is often overlooked. The fact is that most web analytics installations do not have even the most basic fundamental configuration elements in place.
Continue Reading Google Analytics: Inferring Conversions with No Goals →