Tag Archives: Yahoo! Analytics

How Web Analytics Helps Small Businesses – Where to Start with Measurement

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  An assumption may change overtime, but that is reasonable given that marketing materials can become outdated over time.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.

 

Watch out for a Profit! How Google Alerts and Google Analytics alerts improve your sales

Google Alerts

Use Google Alerts to monitor buzz on the internet

Like the soldiers of Saving Private Ryan, know when to send in help to sustain a valuable effort

Saving Private Ryan showed how human intervention makes an alert valuable

 

 

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…

…use Google alerts for, well, alerts on online mentions of your brand, product, or other important phrase. Another tool, Nutshell Mail from Constant Contact provides social media alerts, such as for activity on a fanpage or changes in Youtube.

3. Use alerts in your analytics tools to determine changes in website metrics that will affect your business choices.

Google Analytics Alert dashboard

Use a Google Analytics Alert dashboard to see if there is a potential triggering trend over time

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 alerts@gmail.com) 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.

Recognizing that your online traffic creates offline traffic, and how to manage advertising costs in the process.

Here is an interesting, though a bit brief article on US customers and online shopping.  This should not surprise too many small businesses: According to eCommerce Journal, 83% of US customers shop online weekly.  What should interest analytic-minded businesses is the following detail:

• 44% of consumers reported that they research electronics online, but ultimately purchase electronics at a store, 30% do so with kitchen items, 28% with media and 28% prefer to research furniture online and buy it in the store.

This implies that..

  • A well planned website is necessary not only for an online presence, but it drives interest for offline sales.
  • Consumer behavior online should not necessarily be treated separately from the offline retail resources.
  • Store owners must take time to appreciate how customer work their way to making a purchase.

To the second bullet point, analytics can become an essential tool for discovering how customers are referred.  For example a store can offer an in-store coupon online on a landing page tagged with Google Analytics, Yahoo! Web Analytics, or another solution that offers a Map Overlay feature. While customers would come to a store to redeem, a business owner can use the Map Overlay feature to see where customers geographically viewed the landing page.  This information can help determine regions where more or less advertising would be needed, adjusting costs and resources.

One caveat: A Map Overlay is generally useful from town to town comparisons, not within a New York City borough (from Park Slope to Crown Heights, for example).  But a map overlay combined with a coupon indicates that an analytics tool with some planning can help analyze marketing cost and serve offers where they will be seen the most.

How to expand your analytics knowledge: Three books that show managers how

Web Analytics 2.0

Avinash Kaushik's excellent guide for analytics in management


Yahoo Web Analytics

Dennis Mortensen has written a great guide on analytic dashboards as well as his analytics solution, sold to Yahoo in 2008

Need a little more information on using analytics within your organization?  There are three great books that I have had the pleasure of reviewing at Small Business Trends, an award winning small business blog started by editor Anita Campbell.  Written by the leading experts in web analytics and business intelligence, these can help develop an organization around the timely use of analytics tools.

  • Analytics At Work (Thomas Davenport, Jeanne Harris) — focuses on analytics within an organization.  Differing from their first book, Competing on Analytics, Analytics at Work is for medium sized organizations that want to incorporate business intelligence tools for operational efficiency but not as a leading advantage in a given industry.
  • Yahoo Web Analytics (Dennis Mortensen) — this book is more than a how-to regarding Yahoo! Web Analytics.  It’s perfect for online merchants who are interested in Yahoo Web Analytics, but also advanced analytics practitioners who need additional ideas for Javascript code and segmentation analysis.

I have also reviewed other business books with Ivana Taylor, founder of DIY Marketers and the book editor for SBT.  We try to review business books we genuinely like and that have great use for small business owners.   A great one Ivana did  is called Success Made Simple which featured perspective from Amish small businesses

Small Business Trends covers a number of great small business subjects and tips.  Definitely a must follow for any small business owner.

What other business books have been a great aid to your business or outlook?

Increase your patience, retailers! Online Shopping is becoming Online Browsing

Which would you believe is true when a customer comes to your website – the customer sees what they want, then go ahead to purchase? Or that the customer visits several times?

If you said the latter, you get a gold star.  Recent Google posts indicate that more customers are delaying their online purchase, and browsing. This has increased the number of days between first arriving on a site and making a conversion (in this case purchase).

You can see a bar graph of the average number of browsing days by product category on the Google Retail Advertising blog.  This data is based on the 2009 holiday shopping season.  Electronics, home appliances, and home furnishings had the longer average number of browsing days (16 days), while beauty items, gift cards, and pet supplies had the shortest periods (7 days).

The data also confirms what many analytics folks have said for a long time —

  • Your traffic does not immediately purchase when they arrive on your site.
  • Your traffic is not monolithic – they come for different reasons. In this case cited, there’s browsing as well as taking action
  • Your analytics is important for understanding the site behavior
  • You have an opportunity to provide content that would inform your visitors and potentially encourage conversion

Have you and your marketing team seen a difference in website performance from more browsing at your site? What do you feel lead to more “browsing”? Or is it just client and customer behavior that was inevitable? Feel free to share your insights…