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Web Analytics TV #23 - The Holiday Episode

Friday, 23 December 2011

Welcome to the holiday episode of Web Analytics TV! Web Analytics TV, as you well know by now, is powered by your amazing questions. In this merry episode we had questions from France, Australia, Sweden, India, Germany, The Netherlands and the US.

If you’re new to this show, our process is simple.

Step 1: You ask, or vote on, your favorite web analytics questions. Vote on next week’s questions using this Web Analytics TV Google Moderator site.

Step 2: From a secret undisclosed location at the Googleplex Avinash Kaushik & Nick Mihailovski answer them. :-)

In this episode we award the “Ninja of the Episode” and award it to Maggie in Bulgaria, for a great question about the difference between the days and visits to transaction report and the time lag reports in multi channel funnels. Maggie, just email us and we’ll send you a signed copy of Web analytics 2.0.

OK. Here is the list of last episodes questions.

In this action packed episode we discuss:
  • (0:35) Working with changes in various country’s cookie policies
  • (1:56) Recommendation for tracking bounces on content sites
  • (4:32) Tracking exit links from your website
  • (7:00) Tracking and reporting customer lifetime value
  • (9:47) Days to purchase vs time lag reports in multi-channel funnels
  • (11:48) Cross domain and sub-domain tracking using a GACP
  • (13:01) Funnel visualization via the API
  • (16:03) Interaction hits and impact on quota
  • (16:41) Tracking internal referrals / campaings / house ads
  • (17:51) Why visits and entrances are the same for page level custom vars
  • (19:54) Comparing mondays, week over week
  • (20:42) Time between setting profiles filers and seeing data in reports

Here are the links to the topics we discuss:As always, if you need help setting up Google Analytics or leveraging the advanced configuration options, we recommend hiring a Google Analytics Certified Partner.

If you found this post or video helpful, we'd love to hear your comments. Please share them via the comment form below.

This series would not be possible without your awesome questions. Please submit them on our public Google Moderator site, and while you’re there don’t forget to vote for your favorite questions.  Avinash and I will answer them in a couple of weeks with yet another entertaining video.

Posted by Nick Mihailovski, Google Analytics Team

Advanced Segments for Holiday campaigns

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

With only a week before the holiday gift season is over, it’s time to shut down your online ads and turn off the lights at your e-store, right? Not so fast, not if you want to ride the final shopping wave!

Holiday shoppers are still out in full force, and “dollars per buyer” are up 12% this year, so you’re likely to get even more bang for your advertising buck. Since Christmas is on a Sunday this year, that means last-minute gift-givers could be shopping up until Thursday the 22nd if you offer 2-day shipping. However, you also have visitors looking for physical stores where they can buy your product, and (if you offer it) those willing to “pick up in store”.

With Advanced Segments, you can find these visitors and help them get their gift on time!

The first thing to research is who were these last-minute shoppers last year? If you had goals or e-commerce tracking installed back then, shrink your date range from December 18th, 2010 to December 24th, 2010. Next, select the “Visits with Transactions” default advanced segment:

(if you don’t have e-commerce tracking, you may want to create a custom advanced segment like this one:

where the goal# that you select is your most valuable goal).

Then, go to the organic keywords report by navigating to Traffic Sources > Search > Organic.

What keywords were these buyers searching on? Were there any good generic terms like “last minute gifts” or “gifts before christmas”? Were there any long-tail terms that are still relevant this year? If so, make sure you’re bidding on these terms in your paid search accounts so you get maximum coverage on keywords that brought in revenue last season. Also be sure to check out the paid search report to see if there were any converting paid keywords from last year that you have been missing this time around.

(Also try repeating this process for December 26th 2010 through January 1st 2011 to find trends during the post-Christmas week).

Next, find out if there is any crossover between your online store and physical store. If you have a store locator for your physical stores (or that lists stores who sell your products), then create the following advanced segment:

With this segment applied, shrink your date range to the past seven days and go to the Pages report (under Content > Site Content) to cross-list those products against any that are out of stock (one reason why they could be checking for stores). Then, call around to make sure the physical locations have the items that these visitors are searching for.

If you only sell products online, then create similar advanced segments to the one above for people who visit your most popular holiday promotional pages. Then, go to the Pages report to see what other products those visitors are viewing (and the transactions report to see what people are buying) and feature that content on the landing page to make it easy to find!

One more advanced segment tip for you: It’s estimated that half of online shoppers will use their mobile phone while shopping this year. This could be to locate stores, find better deals, or find coupons. This connection to shopping in the physical world will be critical for these final seven days, when shipping costs are high.

Check your AdWords report, and make sure you try out the new “non-mobile”, “high-end mobile” and “tablet” default segments.

You might be surprised at how your paid traffic behaves differently, so be sure to consider the device when running analysis and set up goals that make sense for them!

Happy analyzing and happy holidays!

Sankey Diagrams and Flow: Over A Hundred Years of Innovation

From our initial limited release of Flow Visualization in October to our recent release to all customers, we have received a lot of positive feedback from our customers. The idea of using Sankey diagrams and applying them to traffic through a website seems to resonate with you. Thank you! We’ve heard all your suggestions and we’re busy cooking up great stuff in our labs for you. Stay tuned....

But, this post is about the other fellow innovators in graph visualization and the different ways that Sankey diagrams have influenced their research. Since Google has a deep and treasured relationship as part of the research community, we wanted to recognize their work to make it easy to understand vast quantities of data.

Many of us draw our inspiration from Charles Minnard’s 1869 work, epitomized by his diagram of Napolean’s March to Russia. Edward Tufte, who is well-known for his popular visualization books, calls Minnard’s work as “... probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn.”

It is truly amazing that this one visualization can show so many insights. Some of our colleagues even wrote in to tell us about their research:
(Over 170 other examples of Sankey Diagram applications can be found here: http://www.sankey-diagrams.com/)

If you haven’t seen the Flow Visualization reports yet, please login to your GA account and check out the Visitors Flow and Goal Flow reports. We hope you find them elegantly powerful.

Our hats are off to fellow visualizers - let’s make visualizing data easy!

Updating the Analytics IQ Course and Exam

Friday, 16 December 2011

Today, we updated the Google Analytics IQ course, available at google.com/analytics/iq, to reflect the new version of Google Analytics. An updated exam will appear during the first week of January. If you’re already in the middle of studying and plan to take the exam in December, you may wish to continue using the old version of the course, which will remain available at ConversionUniversity.com for one more week. After that, ConversionUniversity.com will host the new course.

So, what’s been updated? If you’ve been practicing with the old version of Google Analytics, you’ll find that most of the knowledge you’ve acquired will be valid and useful for the new exam. But, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the new version and start using it.

Specifically, you should

  • understand accounts, web properties, and profiles in the new Google Analytics,
  • know the goal types and when to use each type,
  • understand the concepts of “metric” and “dimension”,
  • be aware of new Google Analytics capabilities and reports. (Try reviewing recent posts on this blog to make sure you’re up to speed.)

We hope you enjoy the updated online course and best of luck on the exam!

Posted by Alden DeSoto, Google Analytics Team

The power of visualization with the Google Analytics API and Google Earth

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Does your organization have several websites, each serving a particular geographic region? If so you know how challenging it is to analyze the data across these regions in a meaningful way.

Visualizations can help, but they can be difficult to design. Newland communities, a developer of residential and urban home communities, manages numerous web properties for each community and is no stranger to these challenges. To address them, Newland used the query tool from ShufflePoint. The tool enabled the combination of data from Google Analytics and Google Earth, allowing Newland to visualize the data in new ways.

ShufflePoint implemented a pilot project after discussing the idea with Chief Ingredient and their client Newland Communities. Their goal: deal with some of the problems associated with clarifying large amounts of data in a visually appealing manner. The outcome of the project was an integration of Google Analytics data with Google Earth.

Using the Google Analytics API, the ShufflePoint query tool extracts metrics by location from Google Analytics for multiple Newland Communities web properties and creates static and time-animated geographic representations (using KML) viewable in Google Earth. The mashup provides advanced visual reporting on location based campaigns, showing their effect on pageviews, and highlighting any anomalies requiring further investigation. Additionally, the visualization is a great fit for promotional videos, or digital signage needs.

“ShufflePoint uses almost every feature and capability of the Google Analytics API. The API has all of the characteristics that a developer could hope for, including great performance, correct semantics, OAuth for authentication, and good community support. The Google Earth based application has given ShufflePoint recognition for doing innovative and challenging things with Google Analytics. This has been beneficial for promoting ShufflePoint’s offerings.” Chris Harrington, CTO

The ShufflePoint application can be found through the Google Analytics App Gallery and from the ShufflePoint website.

If you’re interested in developing solutions for the Google Analytics platform, visit Google Analytics Developer Program.

Posted by Pete Frisella, Google Analytics API Team

Greater insights from the Site Speed report - Technical section

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Speed is an important part of the users experience of your website and is a key way to understand and improve your site performance. So we’re happy to extend the Site Speed report with more metrics in Google Analytics to help site owners improve performance.

So what’s new?
In the Site Speed report we’re exposing a new set of metrics available in the “Technical” section that can be found in each one of the Site Speed tabs (Explorer, Performance, and Map Overlay).

   Where to access the Site Speed Technical section 

   Site Speed with Technical section metrics overlayed

What are the new metrics and what you can do with them?
The Technical section of the Explorer and Map Overlay tabs provides details on the network and server metrics. Similarly, the additional sections of the Performance tab shows summaries for each of these metrics. These network and server metrics are one component of Avg. Page Load Time; the other component is browser time, i.e., the browser overhead for parsing and executing the JavaScript, rendering the page and other overheads such as fetching additional resources (scripts/stylesheets/images).

In addition to Avg. Page Load Time, the Site Speed report displays the following network and server metrics in the Technical sections:
  • Avg. Redirection Time - the time spent in redirection before fetching this page. If there are no redirects, the value for this metric is expected to be 0.
  • Avg. Domain Lookup Time - the average amount of time spent in DNS lookup for this page.
  • Avg. Server Connection Time - the time needed for the user to connect to your server.
  • Avg. Server Response Time - the time for your server to respond to a user request, including the network time from the user’s location to your server.
  • Avg. Page Download Time - the time to download your page.
If you notice that some of the metrics are higher than expected, review your site operations and test if changes lead to improvements. For example, if you notice that Avg. Domain Lookup Time is high, you might want to change your DNS provider. A high Server Connection Time, on the other hand, is a metric that you might not be able to reduce. 

To most significantly increase your website’s speed, evaluate your Site Speed report for metrics that have the largest values and target those for improvement. Below is a list of actions that you can take to help solve issues with each of these metrics: 
  • High Avg. Redirection Time - analyze whether the redirects are necessary. Also check sources to see if a specific referrer is causing high redirect latency.
  • High Avg. Domain Lookup Time - consider changing DNS provider that provides consistent and lower response times.
  • High Avg. Server Response Time - reduce backend processing time or place a server closer to users.
  • High Avg. Page Download Time - reduce your initial data size.
Looking for additional ways to improve your site speed? Be sure to view your site’s performance by browser type and Geo location. Your pages may need to be optimized to display faster on a specific browser or for a specific country. Visit the Map Overlay tab to gain insights by region and add “browser” as a secondary dimension to see the impact by browser. 

We hope you’ll gain insights into how your site performs for your users from this newly updated report and be able to use it to optimize your pages.

The Google Analytics Site Speed team

Google Analytics Enhancements for Mobile Apps

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

November was a busy time in Google Analytics. In particular, the Mobile App Tracking Team has a few things to announce.

  • EasyTracking Library - automatic session management, better integration with Google Analytics SDK
  • Updated Google Analytics SDK - More reliable method for sending hits, Android Market referral issue fixed, available via the Android SDK manager
  • More samples - new open source application aimed to help reduce the ramp up time for new developers who want to track their apps

EasyTracker Library
We’ve created EasyTracker libraries for both iOS and Android.  The EasyTracker library will enable tracking of your application down to the Activity (or UIViewController for iOS) level with almost no coding required on your part.  See the ReadMe file and source code for details. These Libraries are intended for use with the standard Google Analytics SDKs and should make it very easy to add standard tracking to your applications.

Another advantage to using the EasyTracker library is session management.  As many developers know, it’s not always easy to determine whether your application is active and when to start a new session.  The EasyTracker library handles this for you.  It will determine when your application has been put into the background and will start a new session automatically.

The Android version of the Library not only provides for easy tracking, but also ensures that all calls to GoogleAnalyticsTracker are done off the main UI Thread.  Using this library should address responsiveness issues some Android developers have seen using the Google Analytics SDK.

We’ve adapted the Android Notepad sample application to use the EasyTracker library, just to show you how easy it can be.

You can find the libraries and sample applications at
http://code.google.com/p/analytics-api-samples/.  Check the downloads section for the libraries.  The source for the libraries is available in subversion as well.  Drill down into trunk/src/tracking/mobile/android/EasyTracker for Android and trunk/src/tracking/mobile/ios/EasyTracker for iOS.  The Notepad sample application is there as well.  We’ve released them as open source and contributions to making them better are welcome.

Check the ReadMe files in the libraries themselves for more information on how to use them.

New Versions of Google Analytics SDK for Android and iOS
We’ve released version 1.4 for iOS and version 1.4.2 for Android.  The iOS version of the SDK has one new feature.  Both versions contain several bug fixes as well.  Read on for details.

We’ve added a new method, dispatchSynchronously, that blocks while it dispatches hits.  It won’t return until the hits sent have either been acknowledged by the Google Analytics servers or the specified timeout period has elapsed.  This provides a more reliable method for sending hits before your application terminates or goes into the background.

We’ve also addressed several memory leaks and crashes reported against the SDK.

More details on the new version of the SDK can be found at http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/mobile/ios.html.

The Android SDK will now handle referrals from the Android Market properly.  This applies to autotagging as well.

We’ve fixed several other bugs in the Android SDK.  Check out the details at http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/mobile/android.html.

Google Analytics SDK now available via the Android SDK Manager
We’ve added the Google Analytics SDK to the Android SDK Manager.  You can download the latest versions using the Android SDK Manager instead of checking the website for updates.

Of course, this only applies to the Android version of the SDK.

We’ve released an open source application for both iOS and Android that exercises all the APIs for Google Analytics that are available to Mobile Application developers.  You can find them at trunk/src/tracking/mobile.

New Home for the Mobile Tracking Documentation
The Mobile Tracking documentation has moved.  It now resides with the rest of the Google Analytics tracking documentation.  Check it out at http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/mobile/overview.html.

Reporting Problems and Feature Requests
We really value your feedback. If you are having problems with the SDKs, let us know by posting them on the Google Analytics issues website at http://code.google.com/p/analytics-issues/issues/list.  Use the component MobileTracking when entering an issue or looking through the list for issues already reported against the Mobile App SDKs.

Please stay tuned for more exciting news regarding Mobile Application Tracking with Google Analytics.

Jim Cotugno, Mobile Application Tracking Rockstar

PrivacyStar scales Android business with AdMob & Google Analytics

With the rapid smartphone growth, it’s no surprise that consumers are downloading a huge number of apps--10 billion on Android alone, as of last week. Many app developers are recognizing the opportunity to develop on Android, including PrivacyStar, a small privacy services company offering smartphone users the ability to block unwanted calls from telemarketers via their mobile app. To help grow their business on Android, PrivacyStar looked to AdMob to drive quality downloads of their app.

PrivacyStar had used a variety of marketing channels to promote their app, including desktop display and television advertising. While successful, this initial acquisition strategy resulted in relatively high cost-per-acquisition (CPA), with downloads costing upwards of $5. Seeing the need to reach their audience while on specific smartphone devices and slash CPA, the PrivacyStar team decided to try in-app advertising across a number of mobile ad networks to drive users to download their app directly to their devices.

AdMob was able to deliver and quickly become their most effective channel of advertising. Other mobile ad networks struggled to maintain a low CPA as they grew on Android inventory. The team then began optimizing their advertising within other mobile apps on the AdMob network—informed by data from Google Analytics. App placements were limited to particular app categories to focus their audience and placements that didn’t meet the aggressive CPM targets were excluded. Within a month of these optimizations, cost per acquisition fell to less than $2, a fraction of their initial acquisition cost. Additionally, the quality of downloads that AdMob drove were far superior, with more users upgrading to a monthly subscription.

The success that PrivacyStar has achieved with AdMob and Google Analytics has them poised for continued growth on Android. For more details on PrivacyStar’s approach, check out the full case study.

- Eduardo Fenili, AdMob Sales Executive

Introducing the Google Analytics Core Reporting API

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Today we are announcing the new Google Analytics Core Reporting API as a replacement for the Data Export API. This is the second phase in a larger project we started a couple months back to upgrade our APIs to new infrastructure.

The Core Reporting API has two versions.

Version 3.0 is a brand new API, with a 10x reduction in output size and support for many new client libraries, like PHP, Ruby, Python, JavaScript and Java. All new features will only be added to this version.

Version 2.4 is backward compatible with the legacy Data Export Version 2.3.

If you are building a new application or maintaining an existing one, we highly recommend migrating to version 3.0.

One of the biggest changes in switching to the Core Reporting API is that you now need to register your applications via the Google APIs Console and use a project ID to access the API.

With this change, we are also announcing the deprecation of the Data Export API version 2.3. This API will continue to work for 6 months, after which all v2.3 XML requests will return a v2.4 response. Also, we plan to terminate the Data Export API Account Feed. All configuration data should be retrieved through the Google Analytics Management API.

See our Data Export API changelog for all the details of the change and read our developer documentation for more details about each API.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out in our Data Export API Google group.

Jeetendra Soneja and Nick Mihailovski, Google Analytics API Team

Reaching Your Goals with Analytics: Webinar follow-up

At last Thursday’s webinar on Goals, we we explored one of the most fundamental analytics topics: how to translate your business objectives into measurable actions on your website. You sent in your questions, and we heard from many users that you want more guidance on turning all that data into insights.

Please read on for answers to your top questions, and watch the recording of the webinar here:

How do I do data analysis?
Performing data analysis requires understanding what your company defines as success before you can even start to figure out which reports and metrics to use. The best place to begin is to think about why you have a website, what you’re trying to achieve (lead generation, site engagement, sales, et cetera), and how those objectives map to specific metrics in Google Analytics. For example, if you  have an ecommerce website, you might want to track which types of users purchased and which types of users didn’t purchase. If you have a site with lots of content, you might want to understand where users came from before watching a video (e.g., were they referred by a blog post, or did they click on a paid search ad?), or you might be interested in how users moved through your site before getting to a certain page.

Once you’ve figured out your business objectives and defined your questions it’s all about finding those metrics in the reports. We have a lot of great 60-second YouTube videos that walk through different reporting and analysis techniques.

Why should I use Goals if I don’t have a product to sell?
You created your website with the hope that users would come and visit. Even if you aren’t selling anything, you can use Goals to help you dive deeper into your site performance and learn where your users might be having trouble. For example, you might want to ensure that visitors to your site are able to find directions to your physical location, or you might want to be sure that they view a particular piece of content on your site. You could set up a Goal for that page, and then use Goal Flow in the Flow Visualization tool to see how users get there. You might then determine that it's too hard for users to find the information that they need. The specific metrics that you should use will depend on the purpose and goals for your site.

Which types of Goals should I use?
There are four different Goal types to choose from in Google Analytics: URL destination, Time on Site, Pages per Visit, and Event. URL destination goals are best for goals based on a visit to a key page of your site, such as a “thank you” page after a purchase. Time-on-Site or Pages-per-Visit goals are best if you’re more interested in determining site engagement. Event goals should be used if you want to track specific actions such as watching a video, listening to an audio clip, or downloading a PDF. Note that the first three types of goals can be set up with no changes to your tracking code, but if you want to use Event goals, you’ll need to set up Event tracking. And don’t forget that if you’re an online retailer, or if your conversion process pulls in dynamic monetary values, Ecommerce in Google Analytics allows you to track transactions and the order value of every purchase made on your site.

What are good trends to measure for websites without a shopping cart?
A "conversion" isn't just a sale -- it's about all of the reasons why your site exists; it’s any action you want your visitors to take based on your business objectives. Analytics users often want to compare themselves to industry trends or best practices -- but the truth is that in many cases the best benchmark is your own website performance. You should define your own business goals, then develop some key performance indicators, or KPIs, and track them from month to month or quarter to quarter. It may also be helpful to set up simple surveys that ask your visitors if they’ve succeeded in finding the information that they were looking for on your site.

How do I set up Google Analytics for my site?
For some websites, all you need to do is copy and paste the standard JavaScript code to every page of your site -- Google Analytics will automatically generate this standard code for you, so it’s very easy to implement. Read more about this in our Help Center. Other sites, such as those that span multiple domains or subdomains, require additional lines of code. If you have this type of site, you should check out our documentation on all the different implementation scenarios. Use these guidelines with your webmaster to get the code implemented properly. If you need additional help, you should consider contacting one of our certified partners for advice and assistance with all aspects of Google Analytics.

What are Goal match types/settings?
There are three match types for URL destination goals: head match, exact match, and regular expression match. Exact match is used when you have a static URL (a page that does not change based on user actions) -- you can just enter the URL as it appears on your site and Google Analytics will track the goal. Head match is used if you have a URL that has dynamic values at the end, such as session IDs. Head match will record goals for whatever URL you enter into the interface -- plus anything that comes after that. Finally, regular expression match is used for completely dynamic URLs or to capture multiple URLs in one goal. Check out our Help Center article on setting up Goals to get more information about which match type is right for you.

How do we determine what goal value to set?
Goal value is what each action is worth to you. Ask yourself how much it’s worth to have someone sign up for your email newsletters, knowing they'll now get consistent messaging from your business. You may want to start with a larger objective that has a monetary value, like landing a big client, then map out the smaller steps leading up to that sale. For example, it may take an average of 25 lead forms filled out on your site to drive one sale. The value of a filled-out lead form would then be equal to an average sale divided by 25.  It may take some time to determine these attribution amounts, and you shouldn’t be afraid to adjust your Goals and Goal values periodically!

How do we test alternate landing pages?
Once you’ve set up Goals, you may discover that certain pieces of your funnel are losing lots of visitors. Small improvements to those pages could have a dramatic impact on your conversion rates. Fortunately, we have a great tool called Google Website Optimizer that allows you to test different variations of the same page so you can improve the effectiveness of your website and your return on investment.

What are the top 5 metrics to share with the CEO?
There aren’t really 5 golden metrics that will work for every single company and every single CEO. You’ll need to do some brainstorming and discovery to understand which metrics in Google Analytics map to your business objectives. Think about your business strategy -- for example, are you looking to reach customers who are on-the-go? Then it’s probably helpful to track the percentage of visits and conversions coming from mobile, so you can tell the CEO about the success of your mobile strategy. Do you want to make sure that you’re getting a good return on your marketing investments? Then you should consider tracking the percentage of conversions coming from advertising vs. other sources (this is a good place to use Multi-Channel Funnels!).

Although it may take some work to determine the relevant metrics, it’s worth the effort to ensure that you are presenting information that tells the right story about your business. Once you’ve defined your metrics, you can use Google Analytics dashboards to pull everything together in an easy-to-read format. So dive into the Google Analytics reports and find your story!

Please also check our help center for further details on all of your questions.

An invitation to social sites to integrate with Google Analytics

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Every day, millions of people share and engage with content online. But most sharing doesn’t happen on the site where it was published, it happens throughout the social web. Marketers and publishers are looking for a comprehensive view of all interactions with their content - on and off their site - and so we’re working hard to make this happen.

To enable our customers to discover who’s sharing, voting and bookmarking their content on the social web, cross-network measurement needs to become easier. So today we’re inviting social networks and platforms to integrate their activity streams with Google Analytics. Through these integrations, marketers and publishers will be able to discover off-site engagement, optimize their engagement within each social community, and measure the impact of each social channel and its associated digital investment.

Any network can integrate their streams - like +1, votes, and comments - into the Google Analytics social reports, which will be fully available next year to the many marketers, publishers, and websites that are using Google Analytics for free.

To make integration easy for social networks and platforms we’ve created a social data hub - it’s based on widely deployed, open web standards such as ActivityStreams and PubsubHubbub. A number of partners are already working with us to improve measurement of social actions - including Delicious, Digg, Diigo, Gigya, LiveFyre, ReadItLater, Reddit, TypePad, Vkontakte, and of course, Google+, Blogger and Google Groups.

We’ll have more to share next year, so keep reading the blog or follow us on twitter @googleanalytics for updates. If you’re a social network or platform interested to learn about integrating with Google Analytics you can visit our developer site where you’ll find more information.

Phil Mui, Group Product Manager & Ilya Grigorik, Engineering Manager, Google Analytics

3 last-minute Analytics tips for the holiday season

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

If you're a marketing professional, you've probably spent months preparing your holiday campaigns. But have you focused so much on great creative that you've neglected your measurement plan? Don’t despair: there’s still time to make the most of your holiday marketing and measurement. Here’s some food for thought to help you make sure your Analytics is adding value this season and setting you up for success next year.

1. Stuffing your stockings: all the best treats for your marketing funnel

Online shoppers are increasingly taking a considered, comparative approach to making purchases. Consumers are now consulting an average of 10.7 sources when making a buying decision - double the rate of 2010. That means that all steps of the marketing funnel are more important than ever. So make sure to take all the steps to conversion into account when measuring your campaigns this season.

With Multi-Channel Funnels reports in the new version of Google Analytics, you can see not just the last click prior to conversion, but also how earlier interactions influenced the purchase decision. For instance, your customer may have clicked on an organic search link immediately prior to purchasing, but in the weeks before to the purchase, he clicked on a display ad, followed links from a post on a social network, and later visited your site directly. With Multi-Channel Funnels, you can see these earlier assists and take this influence into account when optimizing campaigns throughout the holiday season. You’ll also have a rich set of data to plan next year’s campaigns, as you can plan around those channels that drive awareness and consideration earlier in the purchase process.

2. Jingle bells, mobile’s ringing

It’s hard to overstate the enormity of the mobile opportunity this holiday season as consumers turn to smartphones and tablets for both product research and purchases. Mobile searches have grown dramatically in the last two years, and it’s predicted that 44% of searches for last-minute gifts and store locator terms will be from mobile devices.

Providing a great mobile experience is now expected, or you will lose customers. With mobile reporting in Google Analytics, you can see how users are able (or not able) to make purchase decisions. You can segment visitors based on criteria like device types and operating systems. For instance, you can compare if there are different conversion rate for iOS and Android, and make adjustments accordingly. Google offers resources to help you make your site mobile-ready, so you can take action if you find roadblocks. Finally, when measuring your marketing channels, make sure to take mobile ads into account. You can get deeper insights by segmenting out mobile advertising using the recently updated AdWords reports in Google Analytics.

3. Follow Santa’s sleigh in real time

You may have time-sensitive marketing events planned this quarter - whether it’s a daily deal marketing program, viral content that suddenly takes off, or even press coverage. Data that arrives days or even hours later is too late to make decisions during the fast-paced holiday season. With Real-Time reporting in Google Analytics, you can see the impact of these events within seconds. This can be particularly useful for social media efforts. If you post a tweet linking to your site, for example, you can see the immediate visits resulting from the post, and engage in the conversation with your customers. You can also use Real-Time to monitor the immediate impact of email offers and other campaigns that offer customers deals to purchase quickly.

So, grab those reindeer reins and have a great holiday season with Google Analytics. Best wishes for very merry marketing measurement!


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