For retail or e-commerce paid search, look at the full picture.
That’s the concept Meghan Danielson of Adlucent presented in one of the mini-sessions at the 2012 Search Engine Strategies New York expo. She was speaking about product analytics, identifying words that lead to specific conversions.
Three ideas she mentioned in a short presentation are worth checking if you having some difficulty attributing conversion for your retail or e-commerce site. Meghan summed it up – “If they came in and bought something else, what does that tell you about the keyword and the page their landing on“
Because of a strong consistent presence in search traffic, branded keywords can mask seasonal trends. If a keyword led to a product purchase, then you have a starting point for a bid strategy – that keyword can be enhanced with a paid search program (Pierre’s note: eMarketer noted that a study indicated that people were more likely to act on a keyword result that appeared in organic and paid search).
Visitors brought to a site by one keyword may purchase a different product. Such purchase may be an indicator to bundle products together. Businesses should consider what backend processes would be affected with this kind of retail offer. (Pierre’s note: This may be a good coupon/ad and landing page strategy to use)
Another factor similar to the bundled amount is price. Meghan says sometimes people decide to select another product shown on the site when the price of their original intention was not the amount expected. “Am I price competitive to let people get what they came for?”
For these last two points: Consider planning an A/B test on products offered or on price (multi) to see what is an actual factor.
Many small businesses think of web analytics as search engine optimization, but that perspective is a partial view. Analytics encourages the organization of a digital presence for a business or an organization. These days such planning is important. It means providing speedy management of marketing content, be it online or off, such that a business can ultimately manage costs.
Some small businesses analyze results from a campaign effort – after a website is launched, a video is uploaded in YouTube, or a Facebook page is launched. This is an understandable step – many businesses see analytics in an application and treat the analysis as an audit. But the real work happens during the preliminary planning of a digital presence. This can consume some time, particularly now with so many options for a small business to choose. A business should review two aspects first before tweet or a site visit is measured.
1. What is the purpose of the website in the business model? Does it serve as an augment for offline marketing? Is it for sales through e-Commerce? Is it a way to deliver customer support through online chats and community hosting? Answering these questions will set the tone for what content should be on the site – images, downloads, and which pages should retain visitors for longer than a moment. Even trust badges can be influential (see my Business Agility post Building Trust Through Transparency). It will also lead to how a site and its subdomains are set. The end result is the arrangement of how a site should be tagged.
2. What marketing is planned? Thanks to QR codes and URL tagging, for example, small businesses can create marketing plans to anticipate how customers discover the company site, and ultimately the business itself. Experian, eMarketer, and other research firms have indicators that people tend to review products and services online prior to making a purchase. The ideas is establishing an reasonable assumption of how your business is exposed to leads and customers. An assumption may change overtime, but that is reasonable given that marketing materials can become outdated over time.
Once these two steps are addressed, a small business can begin to make reasonable adjustments to a marketing plan with few headaches and reduced expense. There are still some technical verifications needed, depending on the complexity of the site and tagging required – many large enterprises have a team on analytic experts to manage the effort. But for small businesses developing a plan and monitoring as it moves ahead makes any analytics information valuable.
This link to a Business Week article in October 2006(Wow, that feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) states how small business advertising has changed to require more “analytics” in determining the right marketing channel in which to advertise. Yet according to the author Neal Polachek (then Senior Vice President, The Kelsey Group: He is now CEO):
“In recent telephone surveys conducted by The Kelsey Group with small-business owners (with one to 99 employees), however, we found that less than half of small-business owners actually take the time to measure the performance of their advertising.”
Now this may sound at first like a “So what?” statement. You may think to yourself, “Hey, since most of my competitors are not measuring their data, why should I?” This is far from the truth! Businesses succeed when they measure appropriately, then act on the information. That action can lead to more efficient internal processes and insights to additional services and products that can delight customers. As suggested in the article, analytics is not just about numbers. The analytics applied can be simply taking stock in the customers and vendors to determine how to best leverage the resources available.
The movie Saving Private Ryan is one of those movies that grips you to the point where you have to study the details. It’s been years since its acclaimed release in theaters, yet movie goers remember its opening sequence, the bloody taking of Omaha beach during the Normandy invasion of World War II.
But for this web analytics perspective, I recall one particular scene that makes the point of what you want to do with data.
In Saving Private Ryan, General George Marshall is informed that three of the four Ryan brothers have all died within days of each other. In a scene after the opening battle, one of the notification typists sees a similarity of the planned Ryan death notices. She stops typing, stands ups, and walks the notices to an officer. The notices are then brought to the attention of the general, who then decides that the fourth brother, Private James Ryan should be sent home.
In simple terms, it took human intervention to notice and take action. Your business should strive for a similar intervention to stay on its strategic course. But what kind of alerts make sense? The following alerts and tips can help you decide what is effective and useful for your business.
1. First, decide what online actions may have an important influence on your business
Develop a list that shows what metrics would create an action if it were to change. How would an increase in a number of visits affect your business? Assign one person or small team that manages the marketing as the “General Marshall” of your online properties — that person/team should have some ability to implement changes quickly, such as a comfort with modifying text or a broken referring link in a site.
2. If monitoring your brand or products is important…
3. Use alerts in your analytics tools to determine changes in website metrics that will affect your business choices.
Google Analytics, for example, offers an intelligence alert setting for changes in key metrics such as average time on site, CPC, Bounce Rate, goal conversions, or changes in custom segments created in the advanced segmentation wizard. The alerts can be named, and shared across profiles, as well as sent via text to a mobile phone.
4. Set up a repository email for response
The alerts mentioned in 2 and 3 are delivered to an email address, so a deposit email (say firstname.lastname@example.org) should be selected and monitored by the “General Marshall” in your business. Even further, you can add the targeted email to a mobile phone for alerts on the go. Your “General Marshall” should have access to the receiving email alerts and can take appropriate action — respond to a customer query or send a discount.
5. Use Annotation in Google Analytics
Finally, have the Google Analytics administrator use the annotation feature to add notes for events, website updates, and key events which may affect business performance. Doing so can help determine which efforts make a different as well as reveal new traffic trends that result from the effort. Do so once a month to catch all updates and edits as needed. The postings can also be shared to other employees who have profile access.
Alerts can be beneficial for any business, because their presence can order which actions require attention. If set correctly, a performance check is less frequently needed, allowing more time to focus on other matters in the business. For example, if you are receiving an alert triggered on visitor spikes very frequently every month on a page for a product, you can examine if sales are also increasing at the same time as those spike and consider adjusting inventory if the trend has continued over time (and even investigate why the spike are occurring).
Stay alert with alerts…They can be the best way to win the ongoing battle to serve clients and customers better, as well as to keep to sales momentum going strong.
Big news from Facebook, analytics fans — Insights is now improved with more Facebook-ishness. Ok, ok, no such noun, adjective, or verb. But it is improved.
With anticipation of expanded usage, Facebook now allows Insight administrators to measure social plug in usage — the plug ins being the well-known “Like” and “Share” Facebook buttons. Facebook also revised the dashboard for more drill-down capability into data and graphs.