Analytics Tips: Using Affinity Reports and Second Dimensions In Google Analytics to Learn Consumer Interests and Mobile Strategy

Google Analytics Affinity Report

Segmentation has always been the raison d’être for analyzing data. After all, analytics is greek for “breakdown”, and businesses are trying to breakdown data into segments that can reveal ideas to serve customers easily. Understanding data segments reveal the kind of customers who are discovering your online media…and thus, discovering if your business is a good one to do business with.

But when it comes to data segments created from traffic sources to a site or app, mobile data drives the heart of the analysis especially if there is an Internet of Things influence in the strategy, such as beacons in a retail location.

So how can a business direct its analysis to make an IoT strategy better?

The best answer comes from combining Affinity reports and second dimension to know where people are coming from when they arrive to your site and to learn how people journey in general.

Affinity reports are useful in discovering new sites and topics that customers hold an interest.The Affinity and In-Market Reports offer lifestyle (Affinity) and purchase-intent (In-Market) topics that attracted an audience to a measured site or app.

But sometimes reviewing Affinity report results on one dimension does not reveal a pattern or a trend that tells the user something meaningful.   Selecting a relevant second dimension can help reveal more information to help the user see a pattern and make decisions.  (This Zimana post talks about second dimension selection in more detail.)

So where to start first?

Go to an Affinity Report and determine what topics are typically of interest to your site traffic.

Next set the Second Dimension in Affinity Reports to one of the following, based on the purpose of what associated information appears with the results in the Affinity Report:

Device

  • Devices highlight  the topics are accessed through a tablet or smartphone.  The highlights can spark ideas for planning AdWord campaigns for mobile versus desktop/laptop.

Time

  • The time selection highlights if the topics in the affinity report are accessed at a particular time.  The highlights can spark ideas for planning adword campaigns for when people view the ads the most.  You can examine time to see if people are arriving during a particular part of the day, or if there is some variation in topics between time periods.

Age Range

  • Can give an ideas of topics and source sites that are age appropriate  – useful for sites contain content suitable for children, young people, or a certain age demographic for the site owner. Use age range to know you are seeing activity from the intended group.

Verifying attribution can help you see if your media usage is in step with an target audience or within your industry.  You can do so with the Google Customer Journey Tool (I explain how the tool works in my CMSWire post – Pierre). The purpose of the tool is to see how customers general use different channels in a sequence before they purchase.

After planning the strategy marketers can set the reports that will be accessed frequently. Dashboards permit a view the most important reports in a glance, while Shortcuts permit faster access to the reports you use most often.  Dashboards can be viewed in the Google Analytics app easily.

 

Digital Retail Tips: 5 e-commerce site sales mistakes to avoid

E-commerce has become an essential component to retail, but it also can introduce a number of missteps to allow a customer to make a sale.  These 5 tips highlight the flaws that can appear (and some tips in avoiding them with e-commerce analytics).

1. Making online activities difficult for the customer to complete.

E-commerce sites can get a bit complicated when tasked to carry a multitude of products.  Any commerce site will require some adjustment to ensure that customers can complete purchase easily.

Thus a key analysis is to examine the visitor flow reports to determine which pages keep the purchasing behavior simple. Highlight where visitors are exiting a page, and examine the content on that page for improvement ideas.

Page speed can also be examined, to determine if images or scripts are creating page load issues. Slowly loading pages can persuade visitors to leave a site. Page load service Yottaa discovered in its analysis that a 1 second delay in page load speed can lead to a 7% decline in conversion, which means lower sales.  Check out this Zimana post for more on page load tools  and this post on tips to improve page speed for e-commerce.

2. Not targeting the right customers

To attract the right customer to the site, use the Demographic reports in Google Analytics to monitor how site traffic best matches the intended audience.  The age group reported should reflect the expected customer base.  For example, a music site offering downloads should reflect younger customers if the bulk of its music sales are the hottest acts that appeals to teens and younger adults.

3. Advertising that eats into low margin products 

Selling low margin products online does not eliminate the risk of selling at a loss. If those items require paid search to be highlighted, then the advertising costs can exceed the margins from each sale.   For example, if an AdWords campaign costing $2-$3 a click exceeds a $1 margin of an advertised product, then a retailer is spending more than what it makes on that product.

Periodically analyze the average order value of each purchase, and examine sales by SKU.  Is there a better way to offer the product – by advertising a low margin product as part of a package rather than as a solo purchase.

Moreover, analyze conversions from AdWords campaigns – are the click throughs leading to sales? Use Smart Goals to help plan the identify visits that are “most likely” to convert.

Follow up with bidding alerts in the AdWords manager to stop campaigns when bid cost exceed a planned amount.

4. Not carrying what customers are looking for.

Using the site search reports can highlight the terms in which customers are constantly looking for.  The terms will likely be brands or products not offered.  Frequent appearance of such terms indicate potential interest; Time after search metrics can indicate if people are remaining on-site after a search, or leaving immediately after a query, implying a dissatisfaction and that the item should have been offered on the site.

This CMS wire post can explain more about how site search reports can be best analyzed.

5. Annoying your customers with hidden costs.

No customer like surprise details about a transaction when they shop online, so a good e-commerce site should highlight complete  purchase information at the check out stage.  A product page should set expectations of what the customer will expect when purchasing.

Monitoring the check out metrics in the commerce report can provide an indication if customers are consistently leaving the check out process.  There are two steps that can address traffic decline.

One way is to set up a survey to trigger at the shopping cart when the customer drops out of the cycle.

Another way is setting up an A/B test to compare content can highlight what images or descriptions better resonate with customers.

 

Digital Signage Augments Branded Search

There’s no doubt that online search remains a popular medium among customers in finding information. But with altered considerations for social media combined with updated online presence options, there can be doubt in how a bank should proceed to strengthen its appearance in a search engine.

One way to build customer recall is to develop a strategy for supporting branded keyword terms. Branded search results in an analytic solution is an expression of your customers’ recollection of your business online. Your bank should consider its brand strength – how can its current notoriety be used effectively.

The newest capabilities in paid search in Google and Microsoft’s Bing have linked ad services to other Bing and Google related platforms. The end result for paid search ads is an expanded relevancy towards intended customer segments and purposes. Google Adword Express, an Adwords extension, links your ads to Google Maps, highlighting its location. This provides a larger display on a computer screen, encouraging your customer to seek a bank branch if it is in a convenient location and increases the likelihood of clicking on an ad.

With regard to branded keyword terms, banks that have a long established relationship with its communities can put together a paid search strategy for extending branded search terms to these newly introduced services. Doing so would catch the segment of customers who are familiar with the bank but may not know what other services are provided. Features such as the aforementioned Adwords Express can be combined for provide further value online.

Branded search can be further augmented is an alternative appearance of services via a dynamic keyword insertion, a feature in which different keyword within an ad group appear in the ad based on the search query. The advantage can be grouping services together for a certain segment of customer, as well as creating a targeted campaign by context. So an ad for a “Bear Bank” offering home mortgage can have alternating text – refinance or first mortgage – in the title. A thought to consider is that words with similar meaning may differ in result appearance across search engines, so using additional tools such as Searchmetrics Suite and Wordstream can provide advanced keyword suggestions beyond the standard Google, Yahoo, and Bing accounts.

Digital signage ices the cake for many branded keyword programs by establishing customer recall of branded terms and intended service keywords in its media. The display’s impact occurs before the customer later decides to research services online. Customers will then recall the bank name and associated wording.

Once an ad campaign has been run, your analyst should confirm the impact from the results in a placement performance report. This report compares results across the campaign networks to identify and exclude poor performing ads based on networks. An online survey can be used at the landing page to assess if visitor did a search and had seen a digital display running. Influence from running a signage campaign can then be assessed, with a choice to pause the display message if the lift in click through rate is not significant.

Considering strategies to enhance paid search has a pay off. Recent white papers and studies are suggesting campaign sophistication in deploying paid search such as Google’s announced study back in 2012 that a combined paid and organic search usage can lead to a higher CTR. Enhancing branded search traffic with digital signage is one way in which a paid search campaign can lead to further payoff.

When to engage mobile customers: The Basics On Dayparting Ads

Time seems to be scarce with each day of a marketing campaign. But the answer in gaining some time back lies in targeting an effort at the right time. Dayparting is one nuanced way to connect to customers in the right time. Moreover, it can aid planning with digital signage by determining when messages can be most helpful to retail customers.

But first, let’s review a definition for dayparting.

Dayparting is the segmentation of marketing campaign responses by time period. The goal of dayparting is to match marketing efforts to time periods that are a best fit for potential response to a campaign message.

A little history on dayparting: first kind of contextual marketing, dayparting is a byproduct of radio and television programming. Programs included commercials tailored to the audience – If you recall seeing a Tide commercial during daytime soap operas, even their name stemming from Proctor and Gamble sponsorship in the 1950s, then you get the idea of dayparting pretty easily.

But the internet developed with a widely held belief that online advertising equated to advertising all time – if you have a website, people will “see” your business all the time. With smartphones becoming more and more shopping devices and tablets used alongside the TV viewing, the idea of selling around the clock online is morphing into discreet periods. Dayparting advertising has transferred from old media to the internet due to new features in less expensive advertising channels like paid search. Moreover, analytics solutions have begun to incorporate dayparting measurement capability.

What created this trend? In a word, mobile. The increasing acclimation of consumers to smartphones, netbooks, and tablets, combined with more public internet accessibility in places once considered offline, has shifted the way in which people arrive to a website. They engage, and the access is technically available around the clock, but genuine mobile connections are being made at hours different than behind a laptop. While much of the initial data is shopper-oriented, the retail behavior will surely filter into other tasks, such as account transactions and viewing sites through mobile devices.

Digital signage can easily use dayparting methodology for events such as announcing an upcoming bank branch seminar or cross-advertising events at various retail locations. To time announcements of events, dayparting display messages can be coordinated with mobile ads and SMS that lead to mobile sites.

Beyond reducing the amount of printing and shipping static materials to announce new events and limited-time offerings, dayparting on digital signage can provide the right message announcing event times and locations, services that customers can access on their mobile phones, or increase visibility of reminders. The end result is an increased likelihood of a customers using a retailer’s services that very day. Google in its 2011 study The Mobile Movement noted that 88% of respondents take action within hours to within the day of receiving local information in a smartphone. Dayparting signage marketing messages to drive customers to nearby branches can lead to increases transactions.

When I wrote this post originally for Digital Draw, I noted a comment from one of my colleagues, Daniel Berthiaume, that marketing managers “put a little extra into an analytical system to determine how often to refresh the content”. Combining digital signage with dayparted ads can provide solid means for that little extra by using mobile ads and sites.

For additional perspective, check out this Zimana post on dayparting.

IoT Primer: Beacon Basics For Retail Analytics

Maybe the joyous reaction of marketers to beacons, low-cost sensors that can communicate with tablets and smartphones, comes from the fact that the word’s spelling is close to bacon – seems to be a lot of memes suggesting that bacon is a favorite food.  But let’s stick to a more straightforward reason:  Marketers are as excited about beacons as a child is excited about Christmas day.

So what is the beacon excitement about? Here’s the run down:

  • The idea of using sensors in commerce started with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. These tags were used in retail and operations mainly for inventory management and shipping identification.
  • Beacons represent the next “evolution” of sensor usage because they can communicate with apps on smart devices.  The apps are activated by shoppers, allowing the device to be picked up by the proximity beacon.  This establishes proximity broadcasting, which means objects can continuously “communicate” information. The devices and sensors communicate in a data broadcasting environment that pairs mobile devices with beacon sensors on a physical item – a display, a store shelf, or in a store location.
  • A network of beacons are popular because mobile-savvy customers have opted-in through using an app provided by a retailer which has beacons placed in a retail space. Smartphones, tablets and laptops already use Bluetooth, so there is a natural usage already primed for beacons acceptance.
  • The latest generation of Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4.0, expands the breadth of beacon sensor capability. It includes metadata association to the objects, allowing objects to essentially broadcast their identity, location, and additional information.  The data shared in this environment gives users valuable information, from on-the-spot announcement of a sales offer to simple assistance in finding the right product selection.
  • All of this plays into the Internet of Things (IoT) environment, in which machines are now communicating signals to each other in a coordinated effort.

Where are beacons being used in retail?

Luxury brands are becoming the first movers in experimenting with beacons as part of an augmented reality strategy. Sephora, a make up provider, announced beta testing beacons in its San Francisco store.  And Burberry uses augmented reality technology in its flagship store in the UK.

So what does beacons mean for analytics?

Beacon-generated data can then be pulled up into a corporate cloud application for tracking and analysis, influencing the business intelligence and the analytics associated with it. Real time analytics that include beacon-sourced referral traffic must consider digital activity over time.  Additional analytic tools highlighting foot traffic patterns can aid where message are being triggered, and facilitate inventory planning.   Integrating the associated metrics mean increased tagging complexity, so marketers must consider what capabilities lie within their tools.

Adoption is still early – eMarketer reports that 29% of retailers have incorporated beacons into their stores.

But as the IoT environment emerges from the budding stages, retailers will learn how to use beacons to determine how well their business model aligns with the customer experience needs.  Customers are demanding sophisticated experiences. Beacons provide the the building block for understanding those experiences.