December 2007

31 Dec 2007 12:08 am

1 2 3 4 51 A total of 73 posts so far in 2007. Tens of thousands of words in posts. Hundreds of comments. As the year closes a dilemma: how does one summarize the year?

Then a picture arrives in the mail. Solves the problem.

Why the dilemma?

Because it has been the a year of change and transformation: eight months of being an independent consultant, six months of being a published author, five months of being MarketMotive's co-founder, and along the way being a Speaker and Online Marketing consultant and general running around the US and Canada.

The picture though brought all that into perspective and crystallized the wonderful theme of the year: meeting all of you. It is the last picture on this page, and you'll what I mean – a perfectly beautiful picture for this time of the year, and there's the book! :)

Through the book, the blog and through all my speaking engagements . Lots of chances and opportunities to meet the people of web analytics .

Many of you, on my request, have shared your wonderful and creative pictures with my book Web Analytics: An Hour A Day . It is a kind gesture from all of you and I have a lot of fun seeing where the book has traveled and hearing your stories.

This post showcases some of your pictures (and please send me your picture, I love 'em!) because more than anything this has been a year of the blog empowering me to launch the book which has been successful beyond my wildest expectations.

The book has 43 reviews on Amazon, my goal was 75 (if you have read the book please consider writing a review for it on We are well on my way to meeting the goal! Thanks to all of you!!

the little engine that could1 The other goal was a donation goal. 100% of my proceeds from the book (author proceeds as well as amazon affiliate sales) are donated to charity. The book was launched in June and my goal was to donate $10,000 by the end of 2007 (six months of sales).

Two weeks ago I wrote a chq for $18,000 from my first payment from Wiley (covering a period of June – Oct). The Smile Train and Doctors Without Borders each got $9,000. All that from a little first time effort in a niche area of web analytics.

I am both proud and humbled.

Proud to help the to charities in a tiny way. Humbled at what you all have helped me achieve, your support means so much. Thank you.

Now here are the pictures of the people of web analytics with Web Analytics: An Hour A Day…..

david hughes gwynedd wales1
David Hughes in Gwynedd, Wales, and yes that is a RAF Hawk in the background. This wonderful picture was taken by David's son Ben at Tal Y Llyn, very impressive!! David is actually in Web Analytics: An Hour A Day. I quote his wonderful idea of Non-Line Marketing.

simon aus1
In between breaks at Omniture University our good friend Simon Chen catches up on Web Analytics: An Hour A Day!!

emma beth
Beth's not quite at University level yet, but is still getting a head start in Web Analytics! A bright future awaits no doubt. :)

Another tough day of working at home in Seattle ends with a gorgeous sunset. Time to close the book and the laptop and get on with other more important matters.

david hol
While for David from Holland the journey on EuroRail means work time. He kindly includes his notes in the picture, I am very impressed. Did you notice the Trinity? :)

stephane maia
Stephane and Maia help the Wicker Emporium in Canada thrive, the book does its tiny small part. Notice the nice Jaguar in the reflection?

shane alexander rick book on head jim chris
Alexander (second from the left) wrote very kind words about the stress on Qualitative analysis and sent this nice picture with rest of his crew at That's Shane, Alexander, Rick (book on head), Jim and Chris, thanks guys!

fernando beatriz
Fernando and Beatriz strike a pose in Spain. You saw Fernando's website showcased in my last post: Web Analytics Demystified. If you have noticed my own humble attempts at macro photography you'll know why I am a huge fan of Fotonatura.

Shirley owns and runs American Bridal, she posed for this picture are SES SJC at the MarketMotive booth. The thing that impressed me the most was all the post-its that were stuck to various pages of the book, it is true delight for a author to know his work is more than a paper weight! Thanks Shirley!!

All work and no play makes Ben a…. very smart guy! In fact smart enough to be a Conversion Rate Expert!! Ben's enjoying the book in jolly old England.

Finally the picture that inspired this post! "On Christmas morning in the year 2007 I got started on my life journey in the hottest career on the planet: Web Analytics!!" I hope there were other presents under the tree as well!!!

I hope you have enjoyed the pictures.

If you want to see some older pictures you'll find them in these two posts:

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to share the pictures, I really appreciate that very much. It is never too late to send me your picture! I would love to have it.

Here's to a great 2008 for us all. Happy Analytics.

PS: Hello from lovely and historical Macau.

18 Dec 2007 01:23 am

dsc00260 New to web analytics? Confused about web Analytics? Think it is too hard? Scared of tools and consultants?

This post is for you, its goal: Web Analytics Demystified!


Web Analytics is complex. That is what it is. Complex.

Get the nuance? Complex. Mysterious. Inviting. Come in. Sit down. See what's there. No free rides. You'll do your part, your efforts will have a rich payback.

Complex holds the promise that you'll get it. Nay, you can get it. Come in, welcome.

Start with this post. [It builds on my post from last week: Web Metrics Demystified.]

Five simple things you can do with absolutely no knowledge of Web Analytics (or Web Metrics as Europeans tend to say!). No matter what your site does you can use the ideas below to instantly benefit from your website data.

On a scale of zero to a hundred (with a hundred being the highest analytical awesomeness peak) this post will move you from zero to thirty five.

That's it.

You are new to data. I hope to move you to forward part of the way. And I promise it won't hurt your brain and the rewards will be many.

[If have have achieved the peak of awesomeness then congratulations! The post below collects some online marketing nuggets from my experience that you might find interesting.]

Set aside a couple of hours to do the work, 20 mins to read this post, 1 min to print it.

Demystifying Web Analytics Summary:

#1 Get the Primitive Basics Out of the Way.

#2 Understand Traffic Sources.

#3 Fix Stuff / Save Money!

#4 Two Words: Site Overlay!

#5 Focus on Outcomes (To get rich is glorious! – Deng Xiaoping).

Details, Details, Details:

Get ready to swim in numbers, and survive and thrive (!)……

[Important : What Do You Do Next in each section is bonus material, it will make you super smart but not required for this Web Analytics Primer.]

#1 Get the Primitive Basics Out of the Way.

I am sure as soon as you logged into your web analytics tool you saw something like this:

google analytics site overview 1

It is ok to look at this, though even in your humble evolution you are going to get very far beyond these basic metrics.

What is it?

Visits represents the number of sessions on your website, number of times someone interacted with your site. Bounce is the number of those who left instantly!

The Page Views number is how many pages were requested in those visits. Oh and how many in each visit, Pages / Visit.

Avg Time on Site, how long did people stay on your site.

% New Visits shows how many sessions, interactions, were from people (yes people!) who visited your site for the first time.

[Note: Blogs are unique "I'll only read the latest post and be on my way" animals. In as much both Bounce Rate and Time on Site are poor metrics to judge quality.]

What is it telling you?

First bask in the glory of how good you are (or be sad at how low your traffic is!), for this first look.

statcounter unique visitors 121107Then here is how I analyze the numbers you see above…

For a non-profit (above data) that is a huge number of visits in a month. But I'll probably want to trend it over time, as much data as you have, to see if it is going up or down.

Next I am deeply impressed at the combo of Pages/Visit and Avg. Time on Site. Most websites will have two or three or five (at most) Pages / Visit. 12 is magnificent, as is almost 7 minutes on the site.

The bounce rate at 35% is very good in context of the number of visits and page views. It is hard to get so many qualified visitors.

I will now do a small dance on the table.

What do you do next?

Look at trends.

See how things are over the last few months.

See how things compare between this month (above) and last month.

No matter what web analytics tool you use this will require pressing two or three buttons at most.

The Bottomline for Web Analytics Demystification #1 :

With a tiny amount of effort (15 mins or so) you have learned your core metrics and you know how you are doing on the surface. That wasn't hard right?

This was 5 out of the 35 points of progress. Feels good?

#2 Understand Traffic Sources.

I know people are on my site. Now I am most curious where are people coming from?

google analytics traffic sources

There is so much exciting here! In this humble little graph.

What is it?

Direct traffic are all those people showing up to your website by typing in the URL of your website or from a bookmark. Some people also call this "default traffic" or "ambient traffic".

Sometimes you'll see "non direct" traffic in the direct bucket. From badly coded redirects (remember to make all redirects Permanent) or vanity urls, or even improperly coded campaigns. Now you know why that is important.

Referring URL's are other websites sending traffic to you. These could be as a result of your banner ad's or campaigns. These could be all those blogs or affiliates who link to you (after you send the blog authors uninvited and usually irritating presumptuous spam!!).

Search engines, well that's you know who. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, others. This bucket will include both your Organic as well as you Paid (PPC / SEM) traffic, so be aware of that.

Finally there is Other. These include campaigns you have run (and then have configured your tool correctly). Email, direct marketing, etc.

What is it telling you?

I look at the Direct Traffic first because I want to know how much traffic are you getting from people who know you deep enough to know your url or have you bookmarked.

I also like lots of direct traffic because it is "free" traffic, and traffic who knows you so will usually put up with some of your crap.

Finally on ecommerce websites these are "non campaign" traffic which means that they measure map 120707 121307don't have promotions and discounts etc, so they can be a bit more profitable (though be nice and give 'em something off!!).

I am going to look at referring url's to identify sources that I don't know who are sending me traffic. I might visit the referring pages and see why. For some solid ones I might want to establish a marketing relationship with them.

I'll also look for traffic sources that should be sending me traffic and if they really are doing that. The referring url world also shares a hint of customer intent, why might they be there. Small gold.

Search of course is God, atleast temporarily. It is how we look for stuff, it is how we find relevant content.

The number, 29.33% tells me how well I am doing. 80% of the web starts surfing at a search engine. I want a lot of that! Look at the search traffic and the keywords to understand which engine is working for you and why.

What do you do next?

    I am going to look for trends and see where my growth is coming from in the last six months.

    Is the growth from free traffic? Paid traffic? Have my efforts to get people through other channels panned out?

google analytics paid traffic analysis

    I also recommend drilling down to specific websites that send you traffic, and of course keywords and key phrases that are sending you traffic. Both of those help you understand that critical customer intent. That rocks!!

    Oh in both cases, look for surprises.

Bottomline for Web Analytics Demystification #2 :

You probably spent 30 mins looking at the above picture and drilling down to the next level report. You know where people come from and their intent. You are now 10 points into your 35 points of progress! Hurray!!!

#3 Fix Stuff / Save Money!

Enough reporting already, let's see how web analytics can help you save money (after all you have been at it for 45 mins already!!!). :)

We'll do two things here, we'll look at a report in your web analytics tool that shows the Bounce Rate for the Top Entry Pages.

google analytics entry page landing pages 1

The second report from IndexTools shows Bounce Rate for the search key words sending traffic to your site..

indextools keywords bounce rate

What is it?

As you perhaps already realize you have lost control of what the home page of your website is. Search engines decide what the home page of your website is. People search for you (or click through from a link on another site) and go directly deep into your site.

The top entry pages report, first one up there, shows you how many people are entering on each page of your website, and hence they show the top "home pages" of your website. Super!

By adding the bounce rate (in case you don't know what it is please read: Standard Metrics Revisited: Bounce Rate) you have a indicator of how engaging :) each of your "home pages" are.

Ditto for the keyword report. Search is where all the traffic is, for now. I did a quick custom report in IndexTools and it shows Visits and Bounce Rate.

What is it telling you?

Simple: Stinkiness. Your site's.

You are looking, first, for pages with the highest bounce rate. Remember bounce rate measures this from a costumer's perspective: I came, I puked, I left . Or technically speaking: single page view sessions.

stinkbugPages with a high bounce rate are not delivering on the promise that is driving customers to your site. The ones in the top ten Entry Pages report need your attention.

You fix 'em and you are increasing the likelihood that people will go deeper into your site, and maybe convert.

The keywords report is even more interesting. Here you have Intent. The customer is telling you why they might be coming and keywords with high bounce rates are where you are not meeting that intent.

It could be that you are ranked for the wrong keywords. It could be that the pages these folks are landing on don't have the right calls to action. Fix it.

[I have mentioned this before: Blogs are a unique beast, people come mostly only to read your latest post, your bounce rates will be high because of how that metric is defined, it is ok. On any site that exists to have any customer interaction - for profit, non-profit - it is still a awesome metric.]

What do you do next?

No matter how sophisticated you are you can use the Google Website Optimizer to do A/B or Multivariate tests. It take six minutes to set up a GWO A/B test. And the tool is free. Pick pages you want to fix, create a couple versions of the pages, put them into a test. You'll improve the pages based on customer feedback.

a b testing 1

I look at landing pages of the top keywords (one click report in most web analytics tools) and see how I can improve the copy / content / images / calls to action.

I'll take time to segment the paid and organic traffic for all the search engines and stop spending money on the paid keywords where I have high bounce rate, until I figure out why the bounce rate is so high (maybe wrong keywords, maybe you are driving traffic to generic pages and need custom landing pages etc).

Bottomline for Web Analytics Demystification #3 :

It takes you about two minutes to get to each report and another minute to look at the numbers and press a few buttons. At the end of the half hour you have created for yourself a specific list of focus areas. You know exactly where you need to start when it comes to fixing pages on your site and potentially improving your paid campaigns.

You are up to 20 of the 35 points. And you know what you are doing!! Congratulations!!!

#4 Two Words: Site Overlay!

I love this report. There I said it. I love it.

You have improved the top entry pages and key traffic driving campaigns (key phrases). Now figure out why pages that you want to win on your site are not winning, why pages with key calls to action are not delivering, obvious things you are doing wrong….

google analytics site overlay

There are a couple of reasons for the fondness I have for this report:

1) For many people numbers and metrics and spreadsheets are still overwhelming. Site Overly demystifies all that. You see the data visually represented.

2) Even seasoned analysts are not as good at analysis as they should be because they rarely actually use the website they are analyzing. A critical flaw. Using the site overlay report is a great way to walk in the shoes of the customers.

You need to do that as well. And it is so easy with any analytics tool!

What is it?

Click density. The report, in almost every tool, shows the number of clicks on each link that you have on the page.

Each tool will show it slightly differently. Google Analytics, above, shows "colored bars" and if you hover the mouse over the link it also shows goal conversion metrics. ClickTracks shows the clicks as a % (very helpful). Others show a "heat map" and others still draw boxes around elements on the page.

Perhaps my favorite of them all is ClickTracks because it also shows context, key metrics, about the page right in the site overlay report. Sooooo helpful…..

clicktracks site overlay sm

[Click on the above image for a higher resolution version.]

It is showing % Page Views, Time on Page, Time to the Page (why does everyone not have this awesome metric?), % Exits and Keywords that brought people to the page. Nice.

What is it telling you?

You are looking for clusters of heavy clicks. I look for the top two or three most clicked links and I'll try to reconcile that against links that I want visitors to click on. I'll see what people are clicking on below "the fold", any surprises there?

I also look at links that ultimately drive high conversions (you can have conversions on a ecommerce website, or as in the GA screenshot above, a non-ecommerce website).

crazyegg confetti 2 I am looking for things that connect with people. Do more people convert on my site if they click on Product Comparison on the home page or go directly to a Product Page?

I'll try to follow the couple heavy clicks and see what people do next. Walk in their shoes. Experience my own website.

Check out referrers to each page, that could explain bounce and exit rates.

What do you do next?

Identify improvements to your pages.

Consider merchandizing and cross sell and up sell opportunities now that you know what people like (for example no one is clicking on your blinking promotion in the middle of the page because it looks like an ad).

If your tool allows you the ability to do this, segment the clicks. Where do people who convert click vs everyone else, or vs everyone who comes from a search engine or Canada or on a DM / Email campaign? Segmentation rocks !

Bottomline for Web Analytics Demystification #4 :

You can take up as much time you have available on this. Initially you'll probably spend 30 to 60 mins exploring your top pages. At the end of that you'll be up to 25 out of 35!

This is a very visual easy to understand way you know exactly how people browse your website, what is working and what it not. No tables, not numbers, no graphs, even your HiPPO will get this!

If you segment your data, you can do that later when you are a bit sophisticated, you not only understand data in aggregate, all visitors, but now you are starting to understand different types of people on your site. And now you can treat them differently!

#5 Focus on Outcomes (To get rich is glorious ! – Deng Xiaoping).

Most web analytics efforts fail to catch on. Few companies are truly data driven.

One reason.

We all focus on the 14,285 reports that come out of our web analytics tool. We go crazy about visits and visitors and parameters and every sub-nuance of everything. Except outcomes.

When you start, don't do that. Don't not focus on Outcomes . :)

Answer the question why your website exists. Hard core answer. Then go through the four Web Metrics Demystified principles to identify the two or three key metrics that help measure those outcomes.

For a blog….

google analytics blog conversion rate

Or a non-profit website……

google analytics non profit conversion rate


Or a e-commerce website…..

google analytics ecommerce tracking

You'll have your own sweet things you want to track. It is a crime against humanity for you not to know what you are solving for (yes, yes I am being a melodramatic "13 year old teenage girl" about this!).

What is it?

For the blog it is the number of people who visit the speaking engagements page, and go attend one of the engagements, and since all my engagements are now paid – hopefully attend the event generating revenue for the organizer.

For a non-profit it is also looking at number of people using the core search functionality (to look for stuff like jobs) and for the few who pay comparing number of people who pay that small amount.

For a ecommerce website it is the bottomline numbers. Revenue, conversions, average order value, products sold etc etc.

What is it telling you?

Visitors are coming to the website, but is it having any impact on you.

If there is a impact on your bottom line. Are you converting enough? Not as much?

What's selling and what is not? Why is it selling? How much of it?

All web analytics tools have a capability to help you understand outcomes. Omniture, WebTrends, CoreMetrics, VisualSciences, Google Analytics or whatever else you have. Get the above stuff.

If you don't got it, you ain't going anywhere.

What do you do next?

Consider understanding of these beauties: Days To Purchase and Visits To Purchase (More here: Excellent Analytics Tip#6: Measure Days & Visits to Purchase)…..

google analytics visits to purchase 2

They help you understand user behavior on your website, and in turn tell you what kinds of actions you should be taking.

I have mentioned how segmentation rocks, do that. Segment your site traffic (paid vs organic, campaign vs direct, new vs returning, from different Geo's and so on and so forth).

If you have a non-ecommerce website do this: I Got No Ecommerce. How Do I Measure Success?

Bottomline for Web Analytics Demystification #5:

You probably spent 30 mins looking through your initial set of reports and since this last module was worth 10 and you are now up to 35 points!

Congratulations you have graduated this delightful Web Analytics Primer!!

Give yourself a pat on the back, or have someone do it for you. :)

Doing the first set of effort outlined above will be approximately three hours. You needed to bring absolutely no knowledge of web analytics to the table (hopefully this post fills that gap). And look how much you have accomplished. 35/100 points!! Not bad for three hours of work. [Ok, ok, ok and an hour to read this post!]

You are not God's gift to Web Analytics, yet. You'll get there soon enough.

For now you understand your customers, you understand what action to take on your website, you are in line for a bonus! I am happy.

Ok now its your turn.

Please share your own lessons, perspectives, critique, bouquets and brickbats via comments. What works for you? What does not? Add your voice. Thank you.

[Like this post? For more posts like this please click here, if it might be of interest please check out my book: Web Analytics: An Hour A Day.]

Next Page »