Prasad_Ajinkya_Ecommerce

Ecommerce Analytics: From Data to Decisions

Google has launched yet another course for understanding how Ecommerce data can be reported and used within Google Analytics.

The course builds on top of the other two courses, and starts simple. However, it builds onto some of the more complex features that Google has rolled out with Analytics. This goes to show how much of product education and support might be required for users to truly appreciate a product.

Prasad_Ajinkya_Ecommerce

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FoodForThought

Food for Thought: Series II

I had shared some noteworthy articles last month and decided that it’s a good habit to keep up.

Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future

What happens to SEO efforts and Digital marketing when one of your major chunks (organic keyword level data) is not available. Avinash Kaushik gives advice on how to go about working with keyword data and why Google started encrypting organic traffic.

This is a far better approach than simply bitching about Google and hatching conspiracy theories of Adwords trying to maximize their revenues!!

Google+ Guide for Small Businesses

A detailed and step by step guide for Small Businesses to develop their presence on G+. Not only is it very thoughtful, but also it provides links and answers to all the quetsions that you might get stuck. And an awesome UI to boot as well!!

Disillusioned with Facebook? Here’s a way forward

It’s easy to dismiss Facebook as a time sink and a negative ROI generator. I did that. However as time went by, I realized that maintaining a presence on social networks is almost a health factor these days. Darren Rowse of ProBlogger walks us through some of the more important things to keep in mind as you go about trying to rustle up a community on Facebook. All the Social Media Managers out there, you HAVE TO read this.

How to track online RoI of offline marketing

This post is quite close to my heart. It is about measuring the Return on Investment (RoI) of Offline advertising. Traditionally to calculate the RoI, brands would use agencies which specialized in marketing surveys. However, with the boom of Indian e-commerce and the influx of venture capital, most of the online mediums have started offline advertising as well. How does the digital marketing manager of such a firm tackle the RoI calculation? Here is a basic explaination of how you go about Trackign RoI of Offline advertising.

What is Life?

What is Life? is based on a series of lectures delivered at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies by Erwin Schrodinger. This was first published more than 50 years back, and it has found its way in the blue nothing. The PDF file is a lengthy dialogue which meanders through the physical composition of a cell to the destruction of the identity of life using means such as hypnosis. I have to warn you that if you do not take lightly to abstract concepts and discussing them for the sake of discussion itself, then do not read this document. Having said that, this is Food for thought after all!

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Audience Interests

5 Ways to use Audience Interests in Google Analytics

Google Analytics updated their UI and offered a new feature for all the free users. This lets a site owner see the interests of the site’s audience. What this means, is that from now on you can actually track what kind of an audience is viewing your site, and what kind of content are they going to like.

For those of you who haven’t enabled Audience Interest yet, here is the help document.

Check out the Interests screenshot of this blog

Audience Interests
Audience Interests lets you check which topics interest your audience.

A quick look will let you know that the top segment of visitors are technophiles, so how can we use this data to drive higher engagement or even traffic to the site?

Identifying your Niche

Now that you know what kind of an audience frequents your site, write more of that type of content. I used to post frequently about Games, however the data that you see before you clearly suggests that I should write more on Tech, Updates in Technology and even Arts!!

Having a site with a broad interest range has it’s traps, this tool will help you get out of that trap and identify your niche … a niche which clearly works for you!

Deciding the Language for your site

Look at the Age Demographic of your site. Correlate that with your Audience interests. Is the copy you are using on the site apt for this demographic?

Would you be a grammar nazi on a blog where a young audience base visits to read about the games you have played? I guess not. Would you watch writing the f*** word when you know your audience is 35+ yrs and the main interest group is Finance? No again. Would you swear at badly written code with sample snippets and screenshots on a blog such as this? Yes!!

Sometimes in creating content for our site, we do not necessarily close the feedback loop that is available by such data. This is a big mistake that serious content marketers need to avoid.

Tailoring Content for your Audience

A high traffic site needs to do two things –

  1. Get new visitors
  2. Make the new visitors keep coming back for more

Easier said than done! Getting new visitors is the simpler part, there are multiple ways for doing that … social sharing, optimizing content, buying clicks, etc. However, now that the user has visited your site, how do you keep them coming back?

Well, keep writing about subjects which are of interest to the user, and do that on a regular basis! I was tempted to blog about multiple games that I have been playing in the past week, but the data that I have seen shows that I need to focus more on articles such as these instead of Gaming … oh, well!!

Connecting to your Audience

This tool can also be used to generate relevant traffic for your site. If you can find sites which have similar audience profiling, then you can start connecting with that target audience either by Display Ads or by participating in that community and developing your cred. Google has a great product to do this, it’s called Doubleclick, which lets you plan your Display Campaigns properly.

However, using this tool you can also find sites which have similar interest profiling for their audience. Once you have narrowed down to a list of 10-15 sites, go ahead and see how to acquire traffic from them! If the audience cannot come to your site, then you might as well take the site to them!!

Finding the right Audience

This tip is useful for you especially if you have configured Goals on Google Analytics. Goals could be a simple metric such as getting more than 3 Pageviews per Visit, or it can be a purchase on your online store.

If you are familiar with the standard set of Advanced Segments that Google Analytics has, then you would know that there is a Converters segment. This is a segment of all the traffic that converted to a Goal  that you have configured in Analytics.

Obviously, increasing the number of Goals would be a metric for you and your content strategy. The Converters segment alongwith the Audience Interest report will help you find the audience which is converting the most.

Wrap Up

Digital marketing is moving closer to traditional marketing paradigms (the 4Ps, Audience Demographics). The good part about this is that data is immediately available as opposed to conducting surveys which consume a lot of time and money (and of course a few summer interns!).

What about you, how useful do you find the Audience Interest report in Google Analytics? Do share your thoughts!

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Food for Thought

The Slow Winter

A hilarious take on Moore’s Law. If you have studied hardware and transistors, then definitely read through this article. Do note, that it’s a PDF document. What is Moore’s Law? … well

Moore’s law is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.

5 Dos and Don’ts of International SEO – Whiteboard Friday

I had earlier written about Moz’s Aleyda and her checklist for International SEO. Last week Moz had a Whiteboard Friday with Aleyda running us through that Checklist. For people wishing to target other geographies where they do not have any presence, this is a must see video.

Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges

Avinash Kaushik gives simple and clear answers to most challenges that digital marketers. The explanation uses Venn Diagrams to make strong points. If you are a HiPPo (Highly Paid Person with an Opinion), then do take some time from your busy schedule and go through this. If your organization is not actively working on any analytics initiatives, then it is high time that you should start!

Sexy Up Your Marketing Data

Annie Cushing shares her presentation from SMX East and drives a point home. For marketers to make sense to the top management, data visualization is crucial. People prefer looking at great looking data instead of just a series of numbers.

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Annotations-in-Google-Analytics-Peak_thumb.png

Why should you use Annotations in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a tool which often amazes me. It contains so many features packed into it that it would take years simply to understand and appreciate all of them! One such feature which I do not see being used as much as it should be is the Annotations tool within Google Analytics.

What are Annotations?

Annotations in Google Analytics

Annotations are comments which you can put for a particular date. So in this picture above, I have indicated at what dates did I publish a post on my blog. I have been busy in the months of April and June!

You can see the annotations bar in the Audience Overview of your Google Analytics profile, there is a small expandable div which you need to click on first.

The thing with Annotations like most of the Google Analytics features is that in order to retain flexibility, it is an open framework. Meaning you can use it as you see fit. Which could be one reason why its not used as often as it should be!

Why should you use Annotations?

Annotations are a simple way to Attribute certain action that you did to a rise in traffic.

Annotations in Google Analytics Peak

In the figure above, there are two trends which I want to explain using annotations.

  1. One is a clear spike in traffic which fetched me around 350 hits in a day. This I am attributing to commenting on a popular gaming blog with my link (I cross referenced that with the referral traffic coming to that site and they match)
  2. The other is an increase in the site traffic, this I am attributing to the increased frequency of posts that I am publishing on this blog

So, How does one use Annotations?

Well there are multiple scenarios how you could use annotations –

  • If you are a team working together on a site, then you can decide on a format for annotations such as Dev. Post, SEM. Having this communicated across the team helps ensure that too many annotations do not clutter your dashboard and confuse you or your team members.
  • If you are a blogger like me, then simply noting the time of the day you blog will help you maintain some regularity on the blog, with a clear sight on how this is impacting your traffic.
  • If you are a marketing manager of a site and handle additional campaigns, say a product launch or a TV Commercial, then you can correlate the increase in traffic and goals on the site to that particular campaign. Remember the first step in attribution is measurement!
  • Cyclicality and Seasonality can be tracked and predicted in the future using annotations. A simple example of this in action is when I had written about the Sunday Dip.

Enough of ideas on how one can use annotations, did you use annotations before and how did you use them?

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hitcounter.jpg

Why hitcounters are a waste of script?

A simple search on Google about hitcounters would lead you to literally hundreds of different sites which offer pretty looking widgets which display a counter in your site. The question is do you think that the number really means anything to you?

What are hitcounters?

hitcounterHitcounters are simple scripts solely created for measuring one thing only. The number of hits you are getting on the site. They are included in the HTML script so that when your site loads, the hitcounter records this as an increment to the total hits on your website. Yes, if you are interested in web analytics, hitcounters are a cumulative measure of pageviews. Thats it.

There used to be a time when web analytics was based purely on parsing server log files and crunching them into numbers. During this time having a hitcounter had a great value (since you would not be required to do the heavy lifting of understanding which page had which files and then parsing the server log). This is the era when these hitcounters really flourished … in fact in the pre Google Analytics days even I had tried a couple of these hitcounters. That’s around a decade back and things have changed.

So what has changed about hitcounters?

With the onset of free web analytics programs such as Google Analytics, Clicky, Mixpanel, you can measure far many things than a simple pageviews metric. In fact the pageviews metric these days is almost meaningless. Hitcounters these days serve only as a source of eye candy on the site … an eye candy which is a sidebar/footer widget at the best or an eyesore at the worst.

There is yet a diminishing population of website owners who still brag about this metric and hence go ahead to put this script on their HTML.

Why do I have against hitcounters?

I do not have any personal vendetta against any hitcounter script. However, think about it … you are adding a script to your page … this impacts your page loading speed. If this is scripted correctly, then hopefully it will not add to your web page loading speeds … if this some random script you have found on the internet, then it might as well be a backdoor for a malware.

A cumulative number is just one data point, instead if you tracked how this is growing, then you could eek out some insights from this number. What about tracking how a user is visiting your site across multiple visits? Naah … this functionality is simply not there in hitcounters! What about e-commerce tracking? Well … not there either. As I said before, it only counts pageviews and shows it in a styled manner. That’s it.

In short, at best it increases your web page loading times. Is that silly looking counter then really worth the cost you are incurring?

My answer is a resounding NO.

I have a hitcounter on my site!

Well there are two approaches you can take. The first is to discount what I have said in my post and go ahead on that dark road.

The Dark Road - Matrix

If you go down that road, forget you ever read this post and live happily in the land where everyone counts the hits on their websites.

The best part about a cumulative metric is that it will never dip!

The other road from here is the road towards enlightenment, towards data and correct measurements. Towards Google Analytics and other tools which will help you measure each and every aspect of your site’s visitors. Here’s what you need to do to take this path –

  1. Remove that hitcounter widget from your site
  2. Register for a Google Account and go to the Google Analytics site
  3. Register your site on GA
  4. Include this code in your site’s template
  5. Start measuring!

In this journey you will come across many hurdles and questions, however on this road you will find other travellers who will have mastered those hurdles and they will be more than happy to help. Have fun and enjoy developing a richer understanding of web analytics!

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The Sunday Dip

The Sunday Dip

If you are running a regularly update site over the past year or so (or like me for more than 5 years), then you would be taking a look at Google Analytics every now and then to see how is the traffic on your site doing. Here is a glimpse at the stats of one of the sites that I manage.

The Sunday Dip

Notice the periodic jagged pattern which runs throughout the year? Consistently as well! The general trend of the traffic we see is going upwards (Praise the lord for that!), however we see that every 7th day – yes, the more observant people among you would have noticed that we are running the default view of Google Analytics.

So on every 7th day, without fail the traffic dips. This my friends, I chose to christen as the Sunday Dip.

Why does it occur?

The Sunday Dip occurs when your target audience is out on a holiday and choosing to socialize in the real world than on the internet. It occurs, because like a normal sites target audience, these people are not visiting your site. Ask yourself this question –

On a Sunday, which is the first site you open? Is your machine even on?

For me, it’s Gmail, followed by Google Analytics, followed by my blog’s admin panel, Reddit, Facebook and so on. But I do not consider myself normal, I am the Big, Fat Geek :-)

Web browsing on an average is lesser on Sundays not only because major office goers are not in their offices, but also because the same people try and stay away from their machines on the weekend.

What should I do now?

Now that your audience is not even online … then what should you do?

Well, you could always step away from that desk of yours and spend some quality time with your family. The Sunday Dip is a natural phenomenon of how your users are behaving in their free time. It is to be embraced and not to be battled against, since you would be fighting human nature.

If you still want to fight human nature, then there are methods which will help you condition your audience to keep visiting your site on Sundays! Here’s a list of things you could try out –

  • Schedule your blog posts with military precision on Sundays, share them on Sundays as well. Over a period of time, your returning visitors will recognize this pattern and start frequenting the site on Sundays.
  • Give a big bonus incentive to visit your site on Sundays. It could be a free e-book or any other download you think that could be of value to your audience.

Now its your turn!

Personally speaking, I choose not to battle the Sunday Dip. I embrace it and do research for the post on Monday! What have you tried in the past to drive traffic on Sundays?

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