February 2011

22 Feb 2011 02:11 am

New Beautiful Just when you thought you were finally getting more comfortable with website analytics and the metrics you report, here comes the massive explosion of mobile data!

At one level it is the normal impressions and clicks data, but on another level we are getting new data and metrics we normally don't use. We are going to have fun doing cool stuff, learning new things.

I have been spending some time with the Mobile Ads team at Google to try and understand what is innovative about mobile (oh my god so much!) and what implications are on measurement (loads!).

In this blog post I want to talk about just one specific ad unit, the Search / Display click-to-call ad, and how it is cool, useful, and immensely measureable in sexy ways.

Couple of quick caveats:

    1. Click-to-Call ads are available in 223 countries, but Call Metrics (more on this below) is still in limited release, in the US only, so some of you might not have access to it. This will change over time.

    2. Some of the screens and setup stuff might change as the product evolves, from what you see below. It should only get better.

    3. My blog has a very finite width. so in many places I've cropped the reports to make them more clear for you. Please don't worry if when you use the tool you don't see exactly what you see below. On any tab in AdWords just click on the button called Columns and then click on Customize Columns. You can now add and remove metrics and prettify things!

Getting back to our narrative. . . here is how a Click-to-Call ad looks like on your mobile phone (or my Nexus S):

click to call mobile ad

See the phone number? How cool is that! I can press a button and boom (!) reservation.

Actually, sidebar here, just look at how incredible that ad is. There is a little "Places Marker" telling me exactly how far the location is from me (2.2 miles). There is a phone number, and if I click on the name of the location (Palo Alto) I get this. . .

mobile ad map budget car rental

I can actually see exactly where the location is, I can see exactly where I am (the blue dot on the Googleplex) and I can decide if I want to rent from that location. Oh, and I can click on that map and it gives me driving directions to the location!

All this usefulness from an ad! I know!

Ending sidebar here, but this is why I think mobile advertising is so cool. No more crappy irrelevant distracting ads, rather, ads as useful info snacks served based on the signals available from your mobile device by advertisers who are clever enough to use all options in the advertising platform.

Okay back to our story.

From a measurement perspective we have four things we can analyze.

We can measure the number of clicks on the headline (Budget Car Rental) which leads the user to Budget's website (which does not have mobile friendly landing pages, boo!).

We can also measure the number of clicks on site links, if there are any in the ad.

We can measure the number of clicks on the phone number, which takes the user on their iPhone / BlackBerry / Android phone into the phone's dialer. Like so. . .

click to call phone dialer android

We can also measure the number of phone calls that were placed to Budget, using, in this case, the Google Call Metrics feature.

In order to collect the data, we have to follow a simple step during the ad creation process for our mobile Click-to-Call ad.

It is pretty easy to to create new mobile (search or display) ads in your AdWords account. It is easier still to create these ads for your existing campaigns.

Simply go into your account, choose the campaign, click on the Ad Extensions tab, then in the View menu click on the Phone Extensions (Okay okay that does not sound easy. Trust me it is not too bad). You'll get to this screen. . .

settingup click to call ads

Here are the simple steps:

    1. Type in the phone number where you want the call to go (your company/IVR number).

    2. You can choose to only make the advertisement be a click to call ad, in which case the headline (in our case Budget Car Rental) won't be clickable.

    3. Check on the Call Metrics radio button. Google will automatically create a Google Voice number that will be displayed on the ad. The awesome part is that we get the sweet, sweet nectar of call tracking data for our calls! : )

    4. You also have an option to have the Google Voice number be a toll-free number or a specific area code. Choose as appropriate.

You can stop now, or go and tweak a few key things.

You can go into the normal AdWords options and choose where to run your ads. Google Search (and Search Partners, or not), the Display Network (across all pages or just relevant pages and managed audiences) etc. And of course your budget, position etc.

You can also choose the targeting options for your ads, some of which look like this:

mobileads device carrier settings

All mobile devices, or just certain ones. All carriers or just some.

In my case I also choose for the mobile ads not to be shown in states where I don't have a business presence by availing myself of the options under the Settings tab:

mobileads settings general

Hit "Save" and you are on your way to a great mobile ad strategy (don't forget my booing of any advertiser that does not have mobile specific landing pages. Do this or watch your bounce rates soar like an Eagle!).

Ads are out, now it's time to let the beautiful Ms. Accountability do her thing. Measure!

There are three levels of data you can get about your mobile campaigns.

1. You Do Nothing: No tags of sites + No encoding URLs with campaigns parameters.

All you do is follow the steps above, allocate budget and you go on your merry way. You'll still get some data about the performance of your campaigns.

The best place to start is to go to the Campaigns tab in AdWords and in the drop down for Segment choose Click Type. This is what you'll see:

mobile ad campaigns adwords report

Here is a brief explanation of the main metrics you are looking at. . .

    1. This column will list all the campaigns you are running at the moment.

    2. The Clicks column shows you all the clicks on your ad (30). It breaks them down by clicks on the Headline (23) and on the Phone Call link (7). If you have Site Links in your ads, clicks on those links would be shown in a separate row (helping you understand their value – almost always super awesome btw) .

    3. The Impressions column shows the number of times your ads in that campaign were shown.

    Notice that the total impressions was 1,623 but for the row with Phone Calls the number is only 1,354. This means that your mobile ad was shown on platforms that did not have a capability to make calls, like the iPod Touch, iPad, Xoom and other such devices. In those cases AdWords will automatically not show the phone number.

    4. Finally the number you really want to know: CPC. Cost Per Click. $10.88 for the headline click and $8.33 for Phone Call. Don't feel bad for this advertiser; every conversion for them has an economic value of over $3,000.

With this report, and not additional tagging etc., you still get enough information to understand if the Mobile Ads are performing well for you. Right within AdWords you can compare them to your other campaigns and understand key metrics like CTR (click-through rate) and CPC. That allows you to get some sense for performance.

But you can drill down a bit more. Here's the keyword report for a mobile ads campaign:

mobile ads keyword phone call report

We are looking at the same metrics as we did above, but now we have granular detail related to Impressions, Clicks / Phone Calls, Avg. CPC. Having this detail by keyword is obviously a boon. We can dump the losers and feed the winners.

But if you are me, you are loving the analysis so far, but still wondering, where is the mobile part of mobile?

To get to that — sweet automatically provided call data — you need to go through one more step and turn on those metrics. Click on the button called Columns and then click on Customize Columns. You'll see:

select call tracking metrics

Just choose the Call Metrics radio button and, for your mobile ads campaigns where in the very first step you choose to use Google Voice for tracking, you'll get these new metrics:

Calls, Missed Calls, Received Calls, Call Duration, Average Call duration. . .

call tracking metrics mobile ads

How amazing is this!

We are used to analyzing clicks and bounces and conversions. Now we get to analyze something we never could easily (phone call data), and we can use metrics like Call Duration and Received Calls etc.

[You'll notice I am not showing Total Call Duration metric in the report. I have not yet figured out why this is not a useless metric. I am open to having my mind changed.]

In this specific case I am selling health insurance policies. I know from my call center data analytics that if people stay on the phone for more than 3 minutes then there is a very high chance of conversion. Using that as context, I can place preliminary judgment on how well or badly my mobile campaigns are doing.

When people search on mobile phones their proximity to transaction is really high, hence it is not unusual for the Average Call Duration to be positively inclined as above.

Additionally analyze the efficiency of your campaigns by using metrics like Clicks and Impressions and Cost Per Click and all that delicious stuff.

Having fun?

And remember you got all this without any additional tagging or IT gal/guy begging or other such additional torture!

If that is what you can accomplish by just buying some Mobile Ads and starting to experiment if they work for you. . . are you willing to do just a tiny amount of extra work to rock even harder?

I am glad you said yes! Here's what you can expect . . .

2. You Do Something: Tag the conversion page + Auto-tag campaigns URLs.

You've purchased Mobile Ads for smart phones (yes, yes I know there are non-smart phones but honestly all the valuable. . . okay discussion for another time), and you are ready to get deeper insights into the ROI of your campaigns.

Implement AdWords Conversion Tracking.

All you would need to do is to place a few lines of JavaScript code on your conversion page. This can be a "thank you" page after an ecommerce transaction or a lead submission. It can be a "download successful" page, it can be "watched a video" page. Anything really, that you've decided adds value to your business.

You get to choose how much data and of what type the tag collects. Please see the Setup Guide in the above link.

Once you have conversion tracking implemented (remember you just tag one page) then you'll be able to create this type of report in AdWords:

mobile campaigns tracking conversions 

Here are some interesting things to look for. . .

    1. Status is always nice to look at. : ) It is prudent to investigate what you might be leaving on the table if the limitation is budget.

    2. The segment I've applied on this report is Device. Earlier we had used Click Type. You can see key metrics (Impressions, CTR, CPC) for your campaigns that are being served both on the Desktop and Mobile phones. Analyze this carefully.

    3. With conversion tracking the sweetness you get is the last part. Conversions, Cost Per Conversion and Conversion Rate. Now you are more optimally placed to judge if your mobile campaigns are delivering not just traffic but also business outcomes.

    4. You see zeros for the Mobile Devices, in this case, as there were either no conversions using the Mobile ad links or the conversions happened on the phone. Remember AdWords still would not know about that.

    You should work with your call center IVR (Interactive Voice Response) team to ensure these mobile ads campaigns are being tracked separately and accurately.

You can obviously look at this report by using the Segment Click Type and see conversion data for Desktop clicks AND Mobile headline clicks that lead to your mobile site (with the assumption that you've implemented conversion tracking there).

Let me share a unique example of where this conversion data can be very useful.

In this report we are analyzing the actual ad copy and its performance.

In a mobile context, notice the ad is exactly the same except for the third line. In the first ad the line is "Call Now For A Free Quote!" and in the second ad the line is "All Covered! Apply Now."

ad creative testing tracking conversions mobile

You can see that my second call to action did not get any mobile phone calls, though it did pretty well getting headline clicks.

In this unique case it might give me a clue that for my mobile ads I should be using a more direct call to action and order people to click on the phone number!

A simple A/B test if you will, with success measured by clicks and conversions. When you run your campaigns, this might be a great way to try different ad copy to see which works best. [For the true Analysis Ninjas amongst you, there is always AdWords Campaign Experiments!]

Okay click data analysis of mobile ads? Check. Call data analysis? Check. Conversion data analysis to ensure we are not wasting money? Check.

Let's really get dirty, and really start having some fun. Some pain, lots and lots of gain!

3. You Do Everything: Tag the website pages + Auto-tag campaigns URLs.

For you to truly commit to holding your mobile advertising campaigns, and your website, accountable you'll have to tag your entire website and ensure that your campaign clicks are trackable.

You can do this with Omniture or WebTrends or CoreMetrics or Yahoo! Web Analytics.

If you advertise using Google AdWords and use Google Analytics this becomes a bit easier because it's the hugest pain in the rear to ensure clean and consistent tagging of your search campaigns. When you link GA account with your AdWords account, your campaigns are auto-tagged, and data accuracy et. al. improves enormously. You also get a few magical things like Search Funnels to truly understand upper funnel behavior.

Weigh the pros and cons and decide what works for you. What I want to emphasize is that you should want, passionately, to do this type of deeper analysis.

If you have implemented web analytics JavaScript tags on your website, then just log into your Advanced Segmentation module, create a segment for your Mobile Ads or AdWords clicks via Mobile Devices, and you are in business!

Here's my segment and the key data I looked at:

google analytics mobile campaigns report

Let's walk through the highlights. . . .

    1. The most important thing you'll do is use the on the fly segmentation capability to isolate your mobile campaigns. The Ninjas will instantly recognize that I am applying the segment to a custom report I've created. (Standard reports booo!)

    2. I am okay with Clicks but I like Visits better. Yes, they are not the same thing.

    3. The magnificent thing about going through the tagging effort is that you can now track behavioral metrics for your mobile ad visitors. How many had been on the site before? What is the bounce rate of your campaigns? How deep was the engagement?

    4. The truly, really pretty, most magnificent thing is that you can move beyond the slavery of macro conversions! Not everyone who visits via a mobile campaign has to buy a pony. I can now easily measure micro conversions.

    In my case, this translates to how many people truly "engaged" with the content and how many of them became "loyalists."

    In your case, you could track the macro "the one thing I care about" conversion AND you could also track other goals people accomplish on your websites. Watch your videos, download the university application form, open a new account, comment on your site, send you referrals, etc.

Love it?

I am sure you do. Who said mobile ads had to be faith based initiatives?

Oh most definitely do the boring part of your job, the part that our HiPPOs love the most. . . report on the mobile ads conversion rate in context of the site conversion rate (yea! look how well you are doing!) and. . .

conversion rates revenue mobile ads google analytics

Report what matters the most; revenue and economic value. Again the above graph looks great. Make sure the Management team knows how hard the Mobile Search Ads team has been doing so they can get credit for their performance.

Before I completely run out of excitement I do want to share one last final word of advice: Pull all the performance data together into one place.

With Mobile Click-to-Call ads conversion are happening online and offline. Go to your IVR team or your corporate data warehouse team or the best person, and get the data for the revenue and conversions for the phone calls.

Then crack open our much beloved Microsoft Excel (or your favorite replacement) and create this little starting point by merging together data from Google AdWords, Google Analytics and your Call Center system:

advertising return on investment mobile

Here is one single cohesive view of your performance, regardless of whether the conversion happened onsite or offsite. We live in a non-line world; make sure your analysis reflects that.

As the note above indicates, Ninjas don't stop at "lame" metrics like ROI. They compute Gross Profit by accounting for Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). And the few, the brave, the awesomest will compute Net Profit!

: )

I've had fun writing this post. I think that mobile presents a unique opportunity. After all what other ad medium is there in the world where you can literally "own the entire shelf" instantly. . .

geico click to call mobile ad

. . . I just typed car and I wanted car insurance and all I see is Geico. How delightful is that for them! And not so for their competitors.  : )

I also had fun because of how smart and sophisticated we can be about measurement and ensuring value for our customers and our business. Accountability is the new black!

Ok, its your turn now.

Have you tried Mobile Click to Call ads? Have you done any mobile advertising? How are you measuring success of your campaigns? Do you have a favorite metric for this medium? What do you wish you could measure on mobile that you can't?

Please share your feedback, tips, best practices, critique via comments.


07 Feb 2011 02:41 am

Complex After 416,350 words in posts and 845,128 words in comments on this blog, thus far, there is always more to explore, illuminate and share. Hence every once in a while I flip the tables and ask you for challenges you are facing.

It is a great way to stay connected to what's most important to you (and keep the blog and its content relevant!). This past Monday I asked for your questions and you were kind enough to share some awesome questions. Thank you.

I'm going to try and answer all of them here. But since the questions alone made up more than 1,000 words, I am going to try and keep the answers as pithy as I can while trying to give you an answer to chew on.

To keep things a bit organized the questions are organized into four buckets. They are: the tactical "How do I?",  the strategic "How can we?", the abstract "How come it's not that way?" and finally, the surprising "How can I possibly answer that?"

It is going to be fun. Let's go!

Nose to the grind "How do I" questions:

David Walizer: How do you sell the value of web analytics to a skeptical client in 30 seconds or less?

By saying this:

"Web Analytics will help add $2 million worth of additional Economic Value by recommending specific ways to delight our customers and improve the way we sell"

You can say that in 10 seconds.

The challenge is that you should have done enough work upfront to know what's important to the business, got a rough sense for things you can fix right away and their value, and then done some back of the napkin calculations about the Economic Value your fixes will add. That takes a few days of pain. But there is no alternative.

If you are in a company this is easier to get done as you have access to people and at least some data (even if the site is not tagged). If you are a consultant then identifying opportunities is a smidgen harder, but you can use your experience with other clients to quantify value.

We all look for shortcuts, in this case some magical words from an enchanted fairy who lives in the mythical city of Oz.

Sadly David, nothing like that exists. I know you know that. :)

For help with identifying opportunities and how to do business analysis please see this post: The Beginner's Guide to Advanced Web Data Analysis

Nilaye Thakrar: What is the best way to attribute an offline sale to an online assist?

By doing multichannel analytics!

Your problem is the primary key. So use unique phone numbers (specific to campaigns if you want granular details)… leverage unique coupon / campaign / offer codes… get good at geographic targeting… become a God of controlled experiments.

More detail on those techniques, and three more, are in this blog post: Multichannel Analytics: Tracking Offline Conversions. 7 Best Practices, Bonus Tips

With 89% of all shoppers using the web to research information, it is ever more critical to quantify the impact of your online existence to your offline outcomes.

Did I say achieving greatness takes effort & desire? I think I did. :)

Joram Dees:

Why do I see keywords from Google with 0 visits in Google Analytics? A bug?

It is hard for you to share a lot of detail in a tweet so let me just make up one example and answer your question. I open GA's keyword report. I see this:

KW: "Avinash is a awesome"  Visits: 2
KW: "Avinash is not awesome" Visits: 0

There are two reasons this could happen.

Paid Search. For AdWords accounts that are linked to Google Analytics in very rare cases it happens that "click" data is available from AdWords for certain keywords but there is no Visit data available in Google Analytics. Perhaps because the tracking code did not fire off or, more likely, there was no tracking code on the landing page. Then you'll see some zeros in the visits column. One way to verify is to click on Traffic Sources > Campaigns > Clicks tab to see the non-zero impressions from AdWords.

Organic Search. Let's use this example.. You come to the blog on the search phrase "Avinash is awesome," you land on a irrelevant page on this blog, you hit the back button and go back to Bing, you try a different search phrase "Avinash is not awesome," you land on the right page, you love it, you read lots of post, you leave. So how does GA decide which keyword to assign that visit to? Should each keyword show one Visit? That would not be right. Should it be the first search phrase you came on? The second one? 

GA will show you both, but put a zero for the second. Essentially it is assigning "credit" (attributing) the visit to the first keyword ("Avinash is awesome"), and a zero in Visit for the second keyword ("Avinash is not awesome").  But each keyword gets "credit" for other metrics. So if you had seen three pages on the keyword "Avinash is awesome" then it will show one visit but it will show three page views. And if you came back again, in less than 29 mins on the keyword "Avinash is not awesome" and saw ten pages and converted then that kw will show zero visit, 10 pages and one conversion.

IMPORTANT: This type of behavior is rare so you should not see 0 visits often.

[ Update: Technical explanation via Cristina Chetroi: What happens is that when you access the site for the second keyword, the __utmz cookie gets updated with the new keyword, but, as the visit had already started when you accessed the website via the first keyword – the 1 visits gets attributed to that initial one - the first one. This way GA will show you both keywords while the aggregate for visits will not be skewed – as technically it is just one session.]

Landin Gee: Besides compete.com, where else can I access free competitive intelligence (excluding social media tools)?

For website visits, traffic sources, countries, keywords, and other sites visited, you can use Google Trends for Websites.

For organic search keyword analysis (share of shelf, unaided brand recall, competitive indexing, industry analysis) use Insights for Search.

For paid search keyword reporting (volumes, competitive performance, CPS's etc.) use the AdWords Keyword Tool.

For demographic and psychographic analysis (age, gender, income, education etc.) use the DoubleClick AdPlanner.

There are many, many paid tools in the market (like HitWise and Compete and Netsuus). Above are just the free ones whose datasets are is large enough to provide good data. They are all Google tools

Benjamin Rodde: I'd like to predict our Daily/Weekly/Monthly churn using the #GooglePredictionsAPI with unique visitors from #GoogleAnalytics.

The best option is to hire a statistician with experience in data modeling and forecasting. In case she/he does not have programming experience, hook them up with a technical person who has modest technical skills.

Two other quick things…

Churn is a term most closely associated with customers you have acquired (and then failed to retain) and not so much to "fly by night" Visitors on your site. The latter, except in rare cases, is hard to do predictive analytics on unless you are a stagnant business.

If you want to do churn analysis, as defined above, then you don't want GA as much as you want your back-end ERP / "Orders" database that has your customer history, and just a couple of acquisition signals (campaign and source come to mind). You can and should do that now (along with customer lifetime value type valuable computations).

Brian Krick: Best way to measure and communicate "available demand" from available channels (social, search, display) for forecast modeling

Please see the advice above.

Additionally, it is exceptionally difficult to measure available demand because 1. the web is so insanely fluid, 2. there are so many variables that drive demand (not just online but also offline and events etc.), and finally 3. because the data is so very not available.

(These are also reasons why click attribution to multiple campaign prior to conversion is such a thankless exercise. Implicit in that is the assumption of infinite demand, among other problems.)

I have personally had a lot of success using Controlled Experimentation techniques, such as, say, Media Mix Modeling, to understand both current available demand and also segment conversion effectiveness. And this has to be a continuous approach and not discreet. If you have Web Analytics 2.0 please refer to the controlled experimentation section, page 205, in the book for more.

Peter – IJsbeer: How to gain insights to improve competitive keywords rankings of websites? And to visualize it in a report..

Use tools like Insights for Search, Compete (Search Analytics reports), HitWise, SEOmoz Tools etc to understand your performance in context of your competitors.

Without knowing what you want to show it is hard to make a recommendation as to how to visualize. There is no upper limit to effective ways to visualize data.

But if it helps I love Tag Clouds, Keyword Trees, and Motion Charts. Also while it not so much a visualization, I love how effectively you can go from thousands of rows to just the few that matter using Weighted Sorts.

Find more inspiration at David McCandless's blog Information is Beautiful. [Thx Liz!]

Stephan Belanger:  Analytics gives quantitative data; surveys: qualitative. What's the best way to aggregate to understand clearly how to improve?

If there was a pat answer to for this we would all be Analysis Ninjas!

My advice would be this:

Over time you'll find that it will get easier and easier to answer your question above. I wish there was an easier path, if there is one I've yet to find it. : )

Parleo_ Q: what is most superficially tempting metric that is almost never worth worrying about?

There are many I could nominate for this honor… so it is hard to just pick one… I want to go with the completely useless % Exit metric… but I think I'll go with Pageviews.

Total page views generated or even average page views per visit is just so useless almost all of the time.

I might let you slide if you show segmented depth of visit expressed in pages consumed, but only if you can show a clear line of sight between that and your company's net income.

Dan Rice: How can competitive intelligence be used to estimate competitors' conversions?

I am sorry but this is almost always a complete and utter waste of time.

See #1 in this post from 2006: Competitive Intelligence Analysis: Metrics, Tips & Best Practices

If you want to index against your competitors there are a ton of other valuable analyses you can do. They have been extensively covered here and in both my books.

Again my apologies, I wish I did not have such a depressing answer for you.

Dan Richardson: How to balance conversion as a factor / ratio of increase (or decrease) of traffic. i.e. Con +2%, T +10%. Con overall is lower?

Do regression analysis that factors in all the available variables (and be really thorough here) to isolate the relationship, as Wikipedia says, "between a dependent variable and one or more independent variable."

Chris Rinaldi: What's the most accurate way to discern a competitor's web traffic (at least 'visits')?

The highest boost in accuracy will come from educating yourself on precisely how data is collected by competitive intelligence tools. You can then understand how to choose the right tool – depending on the location of the competitors (U.S. or non-U.S.), the rough size of the traffic they might get (panel based systems suck at any analysis of sites that might get less than one million unique visitors a month), and line this up with your ability to pay (you go from free to really expensive, for example, as you move from Trends for Websites to Compete to HitWise).

Start here: The Definitive Guide To Eight Competitive Intelligence Data Sources!

Alex Cohen: How to optimize with sparse data!

Such a short question from my friend Alex, and so hard to answer.

You have to be able to recognize when there simply is not enough data, and in our WA context, this happens a lot. There are things like conditional logistic regressions that you can apply to tease out some insights. It is hard.

I have personally learned to switch to "What else can I do?" So for example, if the site has a very small sample, I could switch to a simple one question on-exit survey to get some VOC to get more hints as to what's up. Or maybe just dump the whole data from visitors and switch to expert analysis (conceptfeedback.com type analysis). Or maybe simple usability research. Or, worst of all when the gun is to my head, "best practices."

None of these are perfect but I like multiplicity because it lets my experience triangulate various sources and I can fill in some of the gaps in the sparse data from which I can't find insights with enough confidence.


Strategic "how can we" questions:

Simon: How to "sell" GWO testing (+Analytics) to Managers, very limited time/budget/staffing (btw, we already use Analytics and Adwords, but GWO is proving harder to get prioritised and understood, maybe worry of complexity).

If there is not budget or time or staffing then you might be hitting your head against a brick wall and sometimes recognizing that this is a waste of time and waking away is the most optimal thing to do.

But if there is an opening, then there is one sure way to convince almost anyone (to use analytics or testing or WebTrends or surveys or whatever): Compute the economic value of following your recommendation.

For that you have to know the goals, some goal values, and have some sense for how much improvement you can drive.

Present this:

Today: Visits 30k. Conversion Rate 2.13%. Economic value: $2 mil.
Post Testing: Visits 30k. Conversion Rate 2.4%. Economic value: $2.2 mil.

That always works. Of course it is not easy to compute, but that is why you and I and the Ninjas are paid big bucks (to do the hard work!).

[Start here: Excellent Analytics Tips #19: Identify Website Goal Values & Win]

Jon Whitehead: Why does the public service have such a massive aversion to measurement? Silos, budgets, internal comms all influence.

There is no tradition of accountability in almost every country when it comes to public service (there are some exceptions like Singapore).

No accountability = very little desire to measure.

There has to be fundamental massive change to a bureaucratic, siloed, politicized institution populated by non-relevant people at the top environment. Else you and I, Jon, will slog in vain, or at best, move in minor increments along a local maxima.

Chaudhry Javed Iqbal: In a non profit organisation, how to convince business managers that their is more to analytics than just unique visitors?

#1: See above. : )

#2: Create a crystal clear Web Analytics Measurement Model well before you ever talk about the data or tool.

With a WAMM in place I promise you that they will care and want good metrics because they would have contributed to the top part of the WAMM which gets them to put skin in the game.

Webbingyourway: If you had one wish that would force all analysts to do one thing perfectly all the time when analyzing, what would it be and why?

Get really good at measuring Primary Purpose & Task Completion Rate, and then segment that data and analyze.

It is exceedingly rare that we understand all the reasons people come to our site. It is common for our leaders to have a non customer-centric view of the world. Both of these flaws result in our analysis being significantly more narrowly focused than it should be.

Use 4Q, use KissInsights, use something else you like. Get into measuring this regularly. Bring customer-centricity to your analysis, take your understanding of that data and now identify all the Macro and Micro Conversions in your web analytics, measure holistic success and celebrate the massive acceleration of your salary!

Reason enough to do this? : )

Suzy Sandberg: Easily understanding the incrementality of all marketing channels without having to compare order IDs.

I LOVE doing this.

Simple answer: Media Mix Modeling or Marginal Attribution analysis.

Both require patience and love, the former a bit more than that latter.

More details in Chapter 12, pages 366 – 368, in Web Analytics 2.0.

Zyxo: Do you know 1 company that mixed web data and customer data for marketing purposes ? Results ? Thx.

I personally don't know any company that has done this: "Let us build a massive data warehouse of multiple years of clickstream data with all our customer data and look, we have orgasmic insights." 100% of those efforts have lead to failures.

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT: This could just be a blind spot for me. There very well could be hundreds of companies that have done this and are thriving.

I have seen quite a few companies that have taken a selective subset (typically a handful of values related to acquisition dimensions) and put that into their corporate data store and used that to do remarketing, or computing customer lifetime value, or other marketing purposes. The centrality was not web data, it was the corporate multi-channel customer data. The web data happened to be one small part, but an important one.

Diogenes Passos: I got problems on communicate under performing micro conversions [content based websites]. Would love to hear practical advices.

Diogenes I am afraid I don't understand the question.

But if getting people to take action on your recommendations is a challenge then I encourage you to look at the two spreadsheet examples in this post, Barriers To An Effective Web Measurement Strategy, and use that type of a framework, especially the last column with red font which quantifies the impact of non-action.

It always works as a swift, but lovingly-delivered, kick to the rear end.

Sarah E. Bowser: Does web analytics help the internet field overall or hurt the user and privacy rights? Where's the line?

Analysis of data of their website by owners of that site unquestionably helps them and the internet field and the users.

With regards to user privacy. . . I was recently asked about it and our (analyst) behavior and analytics tools. Here's my answer:

As a consumer you should know what the privacy settings are in your browser and use them. For example, I don't allow third party cookies to be set in my browser. If you visit certain sites frequently then glance at their privacy policies and if you think they are untrustworthy use them in a browser where you have JavaScript and cookies and flash etc turned off (one of my browsers is preset to this mode, IE!). Ultimately you are responsible for your own privacy.

As a website owner you should have a very very clear privacy policy that says in as simple terms as possible what you track and instructions on how to opt out. Here's my humble attempt: Occam's Razor Privacy Policy. An informed customer that trusts your website is always better. Oh, and don't be one of the jackhammers who snoops your customer's browser history and does other sub-optimal stuff. It is just not worth it, no matter how cool you think it is.

As a web analytics vendor you should provide choice to the businesses that use your tools. Don't be one of those lame vendors that use third party cookies to "opt out of tracking." Have the courage to develop better opt out options like plugins. If a business's website visitors have choice they are more likely to trust the website they are on, which is great for everyone.

As a web analyst, don't be the aforementioned jackhammer. It is simply not worth it.  Even if you can't track 30% of your website traffic, know that you have 50x more data than is available via any other Marketing channel. Collect anonymous data. If you need PII data for analysis (and only 1 in 1,000,000,000,000 do), then your first choice should be to store it outside cloud based analytics tools. And if you store it in cloud based tools, then for the love of all that is beautiful in this universe please disclose it clearly in your website's privacy policy.

Consumers should worry about privacy. They should always have a choice. We (consumers, site owners, vendors & analysts) should ensure that choice exists, and we should work hard to earn the trust of website users.

Hope this helps.

Analytics Ninja: The best way to create a multiple touch attribution model for conversions.

I wish I could give you a pithy answer.

Perhaps you already have a copy of my second book, just jump to Chapter 12.

Christopher Hart: Why linear trending alone, without data correlation to triangulate causation/answer are deadly mistakes waiting to happen?

If you plot the number of doctors in the city and the number of murders in the city you'll notice that the correlation might seem pretty tight. So you, or I, could declare "Reduce murders, eliminate doctors!"


We do that in web analytics every day. Our only salvation is to consistently seek to establish causation.

Tara Dunn: My one question would be, where do you draw the line between using data for answers vs. using your own logic? It seems like I often run into scenarios where the analysis will only take me so far but it still doesn't tell me WHY. So then I have to switch roles, from analyst to scientist, and build hypothesis and test them. I would be interested to hear when you switch from analyst to scientist, and if you think there are other "roles" necessary.

I answered this in a recent comment where Erica asked me: Do you get insight from data or find data from your insight?

Here's my answer:

The answer of course is: Both. This is why *analysis* is so important, and reporting is just something we have to do to survive in this world.

When you are doing analysis sometimes you are in an exploratory mindset, you know the goals of the company and you are exploring trends and patterns in data to find insights. At other times you'll have a hunch or a gut feeling about something or (my favorite) a hypothesis about something, and then you'll don your analyst hat again and you'll analyze data to validate your hunch / gut feel / hypothesis.

So insight from data or data from insight depending on your starting point.

To summarize Tara, the answer to your question is: No line. :)



Abstract "how come it's not that way" questions:

Dorota Umeno: How do you feel about predictive analytics these days? You blogged that it wasn't it's time… yet in 2007: http://goo.gl/mFwxk 

I requested Dorota to define what she means by predictive analytics. She kindly defined it: As using past visitor data (web analytics) to generate actionable insights about future visitor behavior, whether through modeling, etc.

When I wrote that post (Predictive Analytics On Web Data Works? Nyet!) I defined it as such in my mind, but in hindsight, I did a poor job of making that explicit in that post. I should have and I regret that oversight.

To answer Dorota's question…

In context of that definition… I am afraid that I don't think we are there yet. We have not solved the problems outlined in the 2007 blog post. Wait. That's not right. Our technology is still the same, the data we collect is the same (with the same fragility), the holes that existed still exist, the environment we have to do PA is not any better (and it does not matter if you have a massively complex data warehouse).


It is important to realize that there is one "predictive analytics" you can and should do if you are a largish ecommerce (outcomes) type website. The behavior of those who actually buy. You have loads of info about them (including PII), you can tie it to their other purchases / contacts (offline), you can try to "predict" repeat purchase rates, attach rates, likelihood of this or that centered on outcomes.  This will cover 2% of the traffic, but of course it is all your revenue.

What people will share publicly is changing fast. A certain social media company whose name starts with F and ends with ook :) is pushing boundaries of what data is captured and then shared with partners and how it is used. This is very different from the data we capture today in the web analytics world. In the near future this will, I think, change what analytics vendors consider data. We are entering a world in which we can tie a visit to a person with supreme confidence, a person who is not just a cookie but we know likes to listen to the Jonas Brothers, wears pink underwear, has three iPads and has just bitched about Delta airlines. Just think of what you can do with that.

The challenge is not that we don't have algorithms, the challenge is not that we are not bright… the challenge is the number of and cleanliness of known and unknown variables we can input into the data-set we have. This will change with time.

Justin Cutroni: How long until we start to get absorbed by BI?

I hope never. It would be horrible to be "absorbed" by BI as it is today.

My experience in the world of Business Intelligence still surpasses my experience in the world of Web Analytics. I have not only lived there, but done the down and dirty, and have the bruises and some trophies from my time in BI.

BI is massively IT-centric, slow moving, controlled by a centralized team of report writers who fulfill requests based on a painfully prioritized processes on a monthly schedule from data sources that are have the agility of a turtle carrying a thousand ton weight, powering big decisions infrequently.

WA is, for the most part, owned by business teams with data stores in clouds with little corporate IT involvement, the coolness of capturing more fascinating data faster and, and, and ability to analyze the data with the agility of a turtle with no weight, powering small and medium decisions every week.

WA moving into the above-described IT-centric environment would be the kiss of death.

BI does have the benefit of corporate buy in (how else would you pay sixteen million dollars to Oracle each year for your "backend" and five million a year to SAS for the "frontend?"). They have the golden data (Ohh PII I love you so!). They have an established history of proven algorithms and models and mathematical techniques and all those approaches Jim Novo and Kevin Hillstorm keep talking about!

WA's got none of that. Okay okay so we are just a 4-year-old child and BI a 65-year-old.

The old "offline world is dying," its way of doing business is dying. The web is current, digital and its demands of how business should be done are the future. I hope that a new field emerges, let's say called Cutroni Analtyics, that absorbs the discipline and the analytical methods and rigor (and money) of BI and adopts the agility, cloud based non-kill-me-now-rather-than-wait-for-9-years-for-IT-to-implement-something-death-grip way of doing business-centric analysis.

My friend Matthew Tod called it Customer Analytics. That's a nice name.

In the end, I personally don't care what its called. I pray to Jesus and Allah and Krishna that it is a hybrid that contains the best of both worlds. That's what we need.

Joe Teixeira:  What will it take to finally (FINALLY) "make it" to the big time as an industry?

It will ultimately take becoming central to every company's existence. Perhaps it takes the hybrid I have described in reply to Justin's question above.

But I don't see that happening anytime soon, the worlds of traditional business intelligence and web analytics are populated by people and mental models as different as. well to borrow a popular metaphor. Mars and Venus.

I do not believe we (taking a web centric view for just a moment) are that far off from big time. If every single Analyst throws off the yoke of being a Reporting Squirrel and focuses her/his work on tying every single analysis they do to Net Income then I think we will become BFFs of Sr. Leaders very quickly.

At the very minimum that will give us a really solid shot at being relevant.perplexed 

Surprising "how can I possibly answer that" questions:

Ben Hofstetter: What If Google Analytics had custom domain URL shortening and a URL builder as1 http://goo.gl/ & http://goo.gl/crrY9#utm_that


Google Analytics (and WebTrends and CoreMetrics and everyone) already support easy tracking of shortened URLs. All you need to do is make sure that you are adding well thought out campaign parameters.

See how that works in the Social Media Segmentation part of this blog post: 3 Advanced Web Analytics Visitor Segments: Non-Flirts, Social, Long Tail

Naqaash Pirani: What best practices in web analytics can be applied to social media? Are there any similarities between the two mediums?


They are same and they are different. They are same in that an obsession, an absolute obsession, with outcomes is mandatory. They are different in that the desirable outcomes have to be rethought (from a website analytics context).

Start with specific ideas here: Social Media Analytics: Twitter: Quantitative & Qualitative Metrics

Geruza: What is the best tool for a web analyst?


Any. No that's not right. All. No that's not right. Omniture! No that's not right either.

: )

The tool that is right for you is the best tool for you.

Figure out which tool is right for you by asking these three important questions: Web Analytics Tool Selection: Three Questions to ask Yourself

Then ask the vendor you're going to choose these questions to ensure you are choosing the right one: Web Analytics Tool Selection: 10 Questions to ask Vendors

Dominic Parker: What do you think is the best web analytics package out of Google Analytics or Site Catalyst?


It is foolish for anyone to state that one package is better than another one for everyone. If someone from Google Analytics is saying that, they are exhibiting a lack of critical thinking brain neurons. Ditto if someone from Adobe or IBM says that.

We are blessed with a diverse set of tools in the marketplace. Spend some time trying to figure out which one is right for your current needs not what you might need 96 years from now. (See the 3 Questions link immediately above.)

To base your decision on what I think, or an "industry analyst" or your lover is really. what's the word I am looking for. hmmm. let's just say not good.

Timur Khamitov: What is the MAIN value driver of over-all conversions: rankings, rich content, UI, IA etc? Guess what I mean is, in your experience: what is the 1 thing that delivers results above all else.


The one thing that consistently delivers results is delivering customer delight.

That could mean doing all the things you mention in your question well, or delivering some of them really well and not totally sucking at the rest.

At the very minimum, ensure there is a high degree of overlap between Customer Intent & Website purpose. See the first part of this post: Six Tips For Improving High Bounce / Low Conversion Web Pages

Sanchit Somani: How to define the perfect dashboard?

Hmmm… here's something tweet sized…

Perfect dashboard: No data pukes, just insights with actions to be taken based on a critical few (3) business KPIs.

Here's one idea to get you started: The "Action Dashboard" (An Alternative To Crappy Dashboards)apileofquestions

33 questions is a lot is it not? : )

If you are interested in equally complicated questions (and hopefully equally delightful answers) then please see these two posts where I've also answered user questions:

If you are interested in a video version of a Q&A series then check out Web Analytics TV, it focuses only on Google Analytics:

So much stuff for you to read, learn and become awesome. The ball truly is in your hands.

Before we go… I want to thank you for being engaged and for asking such wonderful questions. You force me to think harder, you keep me connected to reality, you help me become a better Practitioner of the art of business analysis. Gracias. Arigato. Merci.

Okak its your turn now.

Which question did you find most astonishing? Which answer did you find surprising? Which answer do you think is completely off the mark? How would you have answered Alex's sparse data question? How about Justin's BI question? Do you agree with my perspective and tough love to Analysts on privacy?

Please add your wisdom, critique, feedback via comments.