Cut Through the Fog: How to Act on Your       Institutions Website Data                    11/27/2012                    B...
What web analytics is often about                                    2
Web analytics is often about:            “So What?”                                Getty Images                           ...
What do you mean, “So what”?• The typical proxy for website success is quantity of stuff.   – Aggregated “big numbers”   –...
What web analytics is really about:   Furthering Program Goals                           Reuters: Toru Hanai              ...
Articulating your goals is the hard part Sometimes your institutional goals:   Aren‟t precisely articulated.   Aren‟t a...
Your goal: storyteller Use data to tell a story. Management loves stories. The “So what?” factor melts away  because it...
A systematic, step-by-step process   Articulate your program‟s goals.   Decide strategies to achieve those goals.   Dec...
Start by articulating specific goals Not too many! Express what your institution is trying to accomplish. Distill high-...
Determine strategies & tactics Strategies – the plans you make to achieve the goals.    Marketing, social media are stra...
Decide how to measure your tactics Choose a few measurements. Trend them over time. Per the example:   Measure: segmen...
You can‟t set targets w/o benchmarks Set targets and timeframes based on benchmarks. You need at least six months of dat...
Keep it simple Don‟t do too much. Once you‟ve selected your strategies  and tactics, minimize the number of  measurement...
Connecting all that to Google Analytics You‟ve made progress:    Your goals/strategies/tactics are set.    Your measure...
GADG Custom Dashboard „Engagement‟ oriented metrics      Visit Frequency      Visit Length      Visit Depth      New ...
Dashboard pages are designed:          1) To help orient you toward action          2) To communicate with management     ...
GA Data Grabber (GADG) Extracts data from the  Google Analytics API.    Easy-to-use and customize.    Exceptional chart...
Case Studies: Interpreting the Dashboard                                           18
All Visits data tells a nice story...                                                                                     ...
…But applying segmentation tells a different story                                                                        ...
Smithsonian Archives (SIA)High Depth visits of all content average is 1.21%
Smithsonian Archives (SIA) - High Depth visits of historycontent average is 2.35% - 94% higher!
Additional Information in theDownloadable Presentation:    Additional Case Studies  How to Use GA Data Grabber   More Abou...
Thanks!          Brian Alpert          Smithsonian Institution          alpertb@si.edu          202-633-3955              ...
Additional Case Studies                          25
Wikipedia Case Study   One Smithsonian unit worked closely with Wikipedia, incorporating a    range of their content with...
Visit Frequency, All Visits (2012)
Visit Frequency from Wikipedia (2012)
Is the trend statistically significant?                                      Four of thirteen datapoints                  ...
Conversion Rate (Ask Us) fromWikipedia
Hands-On Practice with Custom GADG                                     31
Customized GA Data Grabber Ten custom reports that  work with the Dashboard Do not rename  GADataGrabber.xlsm ! „Querys...
Getting Started                                                           Click here to synch The two files that work    ...
Run your dashboards!   Login to GA.   Open and login to GaDataGrabber.xlsx   Make sure macros are enabled.   Customize...
Detail: customizing profile numbers                          Altering the cell formatting in                          „que...
Working with GADG Clicking the big,  green RUN THE  REPORT button  adds new  worksheet-reports to  your copy of GADG. Th...
Working with GADG On the customized  GADG, the all-important  „querystorage‟ tab is  already showing. If you‟re working ...
Working with GADG   Editing reports in querystorage:      Advanced segments (rows 19,20)          Custom segment #‟s ar...
Working with GADG To “save” a snapshot of  your work and continue  experimenting, rename  your GADG files and  Dashboard ...
Troubleshooting   Never double-click the files from an email, always „Save-as.‟ Opening from an email    breaks the sprea...
GA Best Practices / Tips and Tricks                                  41
No-filters (raw) profile Create a profile that has no filtering of any kind, a so-  called “raw” profile Leave this prof...
Filter-out internal-traffic If you want to exclude visitors surfing from within the SI network Admin >> Profiles >> Filt...
Measure only traffic taking place on your site   Scraping and re-publishing website content is a common practice.   Thos...
Use annotations Super easy – a great way to know at-a-glance what  happened on your site, launches, promos, etc. You thi...
Custom segment: social media visitors                                                                                    T...
Custom segment: engaged visits                                 These visits:                                    Were     ...
Custom segment: highly-engaged visits                              These visits:                                  Were de...
GA‟s (relatively new) “Social” reports Make data-driven decisions for social media  programs:     Identify the value of ...
Social conversions “Social performance at a glance and its impact on conversions.” “Which goals are being impacted by so...
Social sources “Find out how visitors from different sources behave.” This is similar to the custom advanced segment.   ...
Dashboard Details                    52
Frequency of Visits (“Loyalty”)   Useful engagement metric for    content sites.   Provides insight into how    compelli...
Length of Visits   Useful engagement metric for    content sites.   Measures quality based on the    amount of time spen...
Depth of Visits   Useful engagement metric    for content sites.   Number of pages per visit.   Helps understand conten...
Segmented Bounce Rate   Number of times a person    visits one site page and leaves    without clicking, divided by the  ...
Goal Conversions – Primary and Secondary   Any high-value behavior that    supports the sites goals.         PDF downloa...
Resources GA Data Grabber    http://www.gadatagrabbertool.com/ Automate Analytics Google Group    http://groups.google...
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Brian Alpert: Smithsonian - Web Analytics

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  • One Smithsonian unit worked closely with Wikipedia, incorporating a range of their content within the online encyclopedia. The purpose was to make their content more accessible for younger students, those less sophisticated than the academics and professional researchers who comprise one of the site’s core audience segments. The hypothesis was that by doing so, this group would have their needs met more quickly and easily, without having to navigate the Smithsonian website’s more advanced, research-oriented structure. The data shows that the needs of the group referred from Wikipedia – a likely starting point for younger students – were largely being met by the content posted on Wikipedia. They were increasingly less likely to need to visit the Smithsonian site many times. This is in contrast to the relatively stable trend of the overall population of visitors shown on the previous slide.
  • Four of thirteen datapoints are outside of the upper and lower control limit ranges, 30% of the data. Is that enough to say yes, that’s a statistically significant trend? The answer is subjective, but arguably so.
  • An additional datapoint to support the previously stated hypothesis. The group referred by Wikipedia was increasingly less likely to need to ask the Smithsonian staff for help via the site’s contact form. In addition to indicating that the Wikipedia-referred audience was finding the content it needed on Wikipedia, the project resulted in a reduced burden on the Smithsonian staffers who attend to these requests. The same datapoint for two other referral segments are shown, returning visitors, and visitors from search engines, showing marked contrast with the Wikipedia segment.
  • Brian Alpert: Smithsonian - Web Analytics

    1. 1. Cut Through the Fog: How to Act on Your Institutions Website Data 11/27/2012 Brian Alpert Web Analytics and SEM Analyst Smithsonian Institution
    2. 2. What web analytics is often about 2
    3. 3. Web analytics is often about: “So What?” Getty Images 3
    4. 4. What do you mean, “So what”?• The typical proxy for website success is quantity of stuff. – Aggregated “big numbers” – Pageviews / visits / visitors• Aggregated data doesn‟t indicate success. – It doesnt reflect a website‟s efficiency or quality. – It doesnt reflect a website user‟s experience. – It doesnt help us understand how to improve the website.• We can‟t act on this data.• “All data in aggregate is crap.” – Google “Analytics Evangelist” Avinash Kaushik 4
    5. 5. What web analytics is really about: Furthering Program Goals Reuters: Toru Hanai 5
    6. 6. Articulating your goals is the hard part Sometimes your institutional goals:  Aren‟t precisely articulated.  Aren‟t articulated at all (!)  Are too broad to meaningfully measure. “An institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." -- James Smithson Source: Smithsonian Institution Archives 6
    7. 7. Your goal: storyteller Use data to tell a story. Management loves stories. The “So what?” factor melts away because it makes sense:  What was happening.  What it meant.  What you did.  What‟s happening now. Source: http://www.squidoo.com 7
    8. 8. A systematic, step-by-step process Articulate your program‟s goals. Decide strategies to achieve those goals. Decide tactics to pursue the strategies. Decide what and how to measure: Benchmark to get a sense of what‟s normal. The process isn‟t “one size fits all”!  Interpretation and consensus-building are important . 8
    9. 9. Start by articulating specific goals Not too many! Express what your institution is trying to accomplish. Distill high-level goals into more specific sub-goals:  “Increase influence” >> “Become the definitive source on Smithsonian history.”  Making the broad goal specific makes it easier to identify strategies and tactics. By being specific, strategies can emerge. Articulate goals & next steps on your own.  What do you think they are? Work with management to redefine and finalize. 9
    10. 10. Determine strategies & tactics Strategies – the plans you make to achieve the goals.  Marketing, social media are strategic pursuits. Tactics – the things you do to advance the strategy.  Advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) are tactics. Per the example:  Goal: “Become the definitive source on Smithsonian history.”  Strategy: search engine performance.  Rationale: search engines have sophisticated algorithms that determine which websites are highly relevant, or, "authoritative.“  Tactic: SEO.  Search metrics become proxies for authority. 10
    11. 11. Decide how to measure your tactics Choose a few measurements. Trend them over time. Per the example:  Measure: segment history-specific content in GA  Directories (site.edu/history)  Dedicated content (site.edu/historyblog)  Google Analytics custom variables.  Apply SEO metrics to that content:  Number of keywords referred per month.  Number of history pages drawing visits from search engines. 11
    12. 12. You can‟t set targets w/o benchmarks Set targets and timeframes based on benchmarks. You need at least six months of data.  Data fluctuates; is often seasonal.  Six months is just an opinion.  It also depends on how much traffic your site gets.  Peer data is valuable, but hard to come by. Balance your targets with factors beyond your control:  Are the improvements you‟re seeking known to be difficult to achieve?  What is the current status of your program (i.e., brand new, mature)?  How much resources will you have to devote to implementing tactics? 12
    13. 13. Keep it simple Don‟t do too much. Once you‟ve selected your strategies and tactics, minimize the number of measurements. If they turn-out to be inconclusive, refine or change them! It‟s an ongoing process. Source: Matt Groening 13
    14. 14. Connecting all that to Google Analytics You‟ve made progress:  Your goals/strategies/tactics are set.  Your measurements are chosen. You want to use GA data to understand:  What‟s happening.  How it impacts your program.  What you can do. Google Analytics Custom Dashboard  Enables segmentation and trending.  Datapoints mostly relate to „engagement.‟ GA Data Grabber  Flexible, Excel-based GA automation tool.  Enables you to see trends better than in the GA U-I. 14
    15. 15. GADG Custom Dashboard „Engagement‟ oriented metrics  Visit Frequency  Visit Length  Visit Depth  New vs. Returning Visits  Bounce Rate  Conversion Rate  Search Engines A foundation to make data actionable  “Key Trends and Insights”  “Impact on Site/Museum”  “Steps Being Taken” The easily updated, trended data is what makes the dashboard powerful. 15
    16. 16. Dashboard pages are designed: 1) To help orient you toward action 2) To communicate with management Red/Yellow/GreenSummary defines status markerand puts the shows at-a-glancemetric in context each metric‟s status.Chart shows „Action‟ section answerssegmented data the question “So what?”tracked and • Key Trends and Insightstrended over time. • Impact on Website / Unit • Steps Being Taken Profile data pulls automatically from GADG; shows metrics at-a-glance.Suggestions for GADGPossible Instructions; showAdditional how to create theSegments. reports from scratch. 16
    17. 17. GA Data Grabber (GADG) Extracts data from the Google Analytics API.  Easy-to-use and customize.  Exceptional charting capabilities.  14 days free.  $300 per year.  Limited documentation and support.  Excel for Windows 2003/2007/2010/2011. http://gadatagrabbertool.com  Excel 2011 for Mac (slow!) 17
    18. 18. Case Studies: Interpreting the Dashboard 18
    19. 19. All Visits data tells a nice story... Key Trends and Insights Minimal loyalty group (purple) downward trend indicates improving content engagement High loyalty group (blue) upward trend indicates sameThis Impact of this Data on the Site or Program• This good-looking chart may indicate high content engagement and/or perceived value• This data may correlate to increasing conversion behaviorsActing on this Data• Identify moderate and high loyalty pages as a means of duplicating, or improving others• Examining conversion behaviors of these segments may yield addl insights• Correlating high bounce rate pages to one-time visits may yield addl insights• Test different content types in an attempt to move minimal visitors into moderate group 19
    20. 20. …But applying segmentation tells a different story Key Trends and Insights Minimal frequency group upward trend indicates organic listings are not appropriately targeted Moderate frequency group downward trend indicates same High frequency group trending slightly downward, inThis Impact of this Data on the Site or Program contrast to• Organic search listings are driving poorly-targeted traffic previous chart‟s upward slope• Will result in decreased organic search performance over timeActing on this Data• Refocus title tags, meta-description tags and page content for important pages• Perform link analysis to see where other SEO improvements can be made 20
    21. 21. Smithsonian Archives (SIA)High Depth visits of all content average is 1.21%
    22. 22. Smithsonian Archives (SIA) - High Depth visits of historycontent average is 2.35% - 94% higher!
    23. 23. Additional Information in theDownloadable Presentation: Additional Case Studies How to Use GA Data Grabber More About the Dashboard Useful GA Practices Useful Links 23
    24. 24. Thanks! Brian Alpert Smithsonian Institution alpertb@si.edu 202-633-3955 24
    25. 25. Additional Case Studies 25
    26. 26. Wikipedia Case Study One Smithsonian unit worked closely with Wikipedia, incorporating a range of their content within the online encyclopedia. The purpose was to make their content more accessible for younger students, those less sophisticated than the academics and professional researchers who comprise one of the site‟s core audience segments. The hypothesis was that by doing so, this group would have their needs met more quickly and easily, without having to navigate the Smithsonian website‟s more advanced, research-oriented structure. The data (shown on the following slides) shows that the needs of the group referred from Wikipedia – a likely starting point for younger students – were largely being met by the content posted on Wikipedia. They were increasingly less likely to need to visit the Smithsonian site many times. This is in contrast to the relatively stable trend of the overall population of visitors shown on the next slide. 26
    27. 27. Visit Frequency, All Visits (2012)
    28. 28. Visit Frequency from Wikipedia (2012)
    29. 29. Is the trend statistically significant? Four of thirteen datapoints are outside of the upper and lower control limit ranges, 30% of the data. Is that enough to say yes, that‟s a statistically significant trend? The answer is subjective, but arguably so. • Control Limits Definition • Avinash‟s blog post • „Instant Cognition‟ (Clint Ivy) blog post
    30. 30. Conversion Rate (Ask Us) fromWikipedia
    31. 31. Hands-On Practice with Custom GADG 31
    32. 32. Customized GA Data Grabber Ten custom reports that work with the Dashboard Do not rename GADataGrabber.xlsm ! „Querystorage‟ is unhidden  Change date ranges  Change profile #s  Change advanced segments  Make changes by hand  Do not change cell formatting. The „querystorage‟ tab is the key to editing the dashboard‟s GADG reports. 32
    33. 33. Getting Started Click here to synch The two files that work with GA. together are:  GaDataGrabber.xlsx (don‟t Clicking „RUN THE The „REFRESH ALL REPORT‟ does not REPORTS‟ button rename this one) refresh the runs the custom  GADG_Custom_Dashboard_ dashboard – it adds dashboard reports. template.xlsx new reports to GADG. Save the files  Don‟t open from an email  From Dropbox, use Save As Store both spreadsheets in the same directory. Find and select your Your GA Profiles. profile. New GADG Reports are programmed Note the Profile ID number here. on the right. Profile ID Numbers. 33
    34. 34. Run your dashboards! Login to GA. Open and login to GaDataGrabber.xlsx Make sure macros are enabled. Customize „querystorage‟ with your profile number – row 67. Refresh all reports. Open GADG_Custom_Dashboard_template.xlsx Data should be updated in the dashboard. Let‟s look at some examples. Select the first profile ID cell (C67), then click at the top of the spreadsheet. Edit-in your profile ID by hand. Don‟t risk altering the cell formatting by selecting the cell and doing copy/paste. Filling to the right is OK. 34
    35. 35. Detail: customizing profile numbers Altering the cell formatting in „querystorage‟ breaks the macros. 1) Select cell C67. 2) Click at the top of the spreadsheet to hand edit your profile ID number. 3) Filling the rest of the row to the right is OK. 35
    36. 36. Working with GADG Clicking the big, green RUN THE REPORT button adds new worksheet-reports to your copy of GADG. They are named “report1”, “report2”, etc. They are easily removed by clicking the red “Remove sheet” button on the worksheet. 36
    37. 37. Working with GADG On the customized GADG, the all-important „querystorage‟ tab is already showing. If you‟re working from a clean copy of GADG, unhide this tab by right- clicking on the tabs at the bottom Select „Unhide‟ and then „querystorage.‟ 37
    38. 38. Working with GADG Editing reports in querystorage:  Advanced segments (rows 19,20)  Custom segment #‟s are obtained by creating a one-off report using that segment, and finding it in querystorage  Dates (rows 26,27,28)  Profile ID numbers (row 67)  ############ is normal You can run reports from the „Analytics‟ page OR querystorage Keep track of important querystorage elements  Profile ID numbers  Segment names and numbers 38
    39. 39. Working with GADG To “save” a snapshot of your work and continue experimenting, rename your GADG files and Dashboard files. To ensure the renamed Dashboard doesn‟t automatically update, follow these steps:  Save as  Data  Edit Links  Select the dashboard you want to save  Execute “Break Links” 39
    40. 40. Troubleshooting Never double-click the files from an email, always „Save-as.‟ Opening from an email breaks the spreadsheet relationships. Be sure you‟re logged into GA as yourself. In querystorage, always edit by clicking at the top of the spreadsheet, and either editing by hand, or selecting and copying, then selecting and pasting in another cell. Never select the cell itself and copy/paste. Filling to the right is OK. Do not change the cell formatting in querystorage; that will break the macros. Peculiarities can sometimes be attributed to Google‟s API, and not GADG. Data labeled “(other | other)” sometimes appears – occasionally data has to be hand- manipulated to get it properly into the Dashboard charts. Occasionally a blank worksheet remains after refreshing (“report1”) – it can be deleted. If you change profiles and re-run a report, GADG occasionally leaves the previous profile name in the worksheet chart. I removed profile names from the charts, but they sometimes reappear. I‟m happy to answer questions, but the real expert is GADG creator Mikael Thuneberg. Post questions to his Google Group – automateanalytics. He‟s pretty responsive. 40
    41. 41. GA Best Practices / Tips and Tricks 41
    42. 42. No-filters (raw) profile Create a profile that has no filtering of any kind, a so- called “raw” profile Leave this profile alone – it serves as a backup Protection against unintended consequence Possible names:  Unit/profile name (backup)  Unit/profile name (unfiltered data) 42
    43. 43. Filter-out internal-traffic If you want to exclude visitors surfing from within the SI network Admin >> Profiles >> Filters >> +New Filter >> External Traffic Only 43
    44. 44. Measure only traffic taking place on your site Scraping and re-publishing website content is a common practice. Those sites exist to serve Google Adsense ads and make money. Unfortunately they also scrape your GA “UA” account number. Their traffic goes into GA as your traffic! Include all domains, if you use others than si.edu. Filter pattern:  si.edu  si.edu|example.com 44
    45. 45. Use annotations Super easy – a great way to know at-a-glance what happened on your site, launches, promos, etc. You think you‟re gonna remember – you‟re not! 45
    46. 46. Custom segment: social media visitors The Regex can also be edited to include smaller groups, or types of social sites, i.e., facebook and twitter. Keeping it up to date is up to you! Regular expression: bit.ly|bitly|blogfaves.com|blogger|bloglines|blogspot|delicious|digg|facebook|feedburner|flickr|f oursquare|goo.gl|groups.google|groups.yahoo.com|hootsuite|instagram|linkedin|m.facebook. com|newsgator|ow.ly|pinterest|plus.google|plus.url.google.com|reddit|stumbleupon|t.co|techn orati|tweetdeck|twitter|typepad|tumblr|wordpress|youtube 46
    47. 47. Custom segment: engaged visits These visits:  Were deeper than three pages.  Were longer than three minutes. 47
    48. 48. Custom segment: highly-engaged visits These visits:  Were deeper than four pages.  Were in frequency more than two times in the measured period.  Were longer than two minutes. These values can be tweaked for your site, of course! A nice blog post on this topic is here. 48
    49. 49. GA‟s (relatively new) “Social” reports Make data-driven decisions for social media programs:  Identify the value of traffic coming from social sites.  Measure how they lead to direct or “assisted” conversions.  Understand social activities happening on and off site. Some of the reports require programming goals and assigning values Understanding „likes‟ and „shares‟ involves tagging with the _trackSocial tag  Google‟s „social analytics‟ guide  Google‟s „social reports‟ launch blog post 49
    50. 50. Social conversions “Social performance at a glance and its impact on conversions.” “Which goals are being impacted by social media.” Requires adding chunks of code to all your pages. 50
    51. 51. Social sources “Find out how visitors from different sources behave.” This is similar to the custom advanced segment. Other reports: • Social Plugins data • "Activity Stream" (lacks facebook & twitter) 51
    52. 52. Dashboard Details 52
    53. 53. Frequency of Visits (“Loyalty”) Useful engagement metric for content sites. Provides insight into how compelling and/or valuable content is perceived to be. Frequent visitors are:  More likely to be loyal visitors  Exhibit higher levels of engagement than infrequent, and especially one- time visitors 53
    54. 54. Length of Visits Useful engagement metric for content sites. Measures quality based on the amount of time spent consuming content. Segmentation is critical.  Segments of time  Types of content consumed, or activities pursued. For example, spending lots of time searching may indicate a poor website search experience. 54
    55. 55. Depth of Visits Useful engagement metric for content sites. Number of pages per visit. Helps understand content consumption patterns, which can help paint the picture of the longer term relationships visitors have with the website. 55
    56. 56. Segmented Bounce Rate Number of times a person visits one site page and leaves without clicking, divided by the total number of visits. Easily misinterpreted as always negative. Sometimes a high bounce rate is desirable or expected.  Visits to single-use informational pages (location/hours)  Blog visits 56
    57. 57. Goal Conversions – Primary and Secondary Any high-value behavior that supports the sites goals.  PDF downloads  Videos watched  Donations  Completed orders Conversions indicate higher engagement, deeper commitment than viewing pages. "Conversion Rate" is the number of conversions divided by visitors. 57
    58. 58. Resources GA Data Grabber  http://www.gadatagrabbertool.com/ Automate Analytics Google Group  http://groups.google.com/group/automateanalytics/topics Avinash Kaushik‟s “Occam‟s Razor”  http://kaushik.net/avinash Lunametrics blog  http://www.lunametrics.com/blog Google Analytics Blog  http://analytics.blogspot.com/ Slides and future dashboards will be made available.  Send me email (alpertb@si.edu)  Questions welcome! 58
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