Optimizing website analytics for EDOs

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A brief webinar detailing steps for using Google Analytics to derive data that will assist economic development organizations make good decisions about their marketing plan.

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  • Webinar:Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations: Presented by Derek Pillie for LEDO Suite by Cirrus ABS on March 10, 2011 http://twitter.com/LEDOsuite (twitter), http://www.facebook.com/LEDOsuite (facebook), http://youtube.com/user/CirrusABS, and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/companies/cirrus-abs
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations: Presented by Derek Pillie, for Cirrus ABS. You can find Derek: http://www.LEDOsuite.com (project page & news updates), http://twitter.com/dpillie (twitter), http://www.facebook.com/dpillie (facebook), and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/dpillieI have worked in the economic development field in northeastern Indiana for a number of years and have been through Indiana’s Economic Development Course. I just started with Cirrus ABS a few weeks ago as the Project Manager for the LEDO Suite because I have a passion for making economic development organizations more effective at attracting outside investment.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations: Why are you here?Let’s talk about why you were motivated to click on that link to sign up for this webinar! As governments and private resources become more scarce, you’re under increasing pressure to justify how you allocate your resources as an economic development organization. One of my friends in the political world is fond of saying “If it isn’t measurable, it’s not worth doing.” There are few activities you can channel your marketing resources that will give you better real-time information that website analytics.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations: What will you learn?I generally kick off our webinars with a brief description of what we’re going to cover over the next half hour or so.If you don’t feel like we’ve addressed these points by the time we’re done, I welcome you to call me out on it! I’ll try to address any of your questions at the end of this presentation.I owe a debt of thanks to Kevin Mullett and Bill Gardiner with our staff for their help preparing this webinar. Kevin is our general technology guru who does a number of these presentations. Bill is our sales director at Cirrus ABS.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations: About Cirrus ABSWe’re not going to dwell a great deal on this, but I want you to know we’re not a fly-by-night operation and we do know what we’re talking about when it comes to online technology and marketing. Cirrus ABS has been finding ways to help make organizations more effective since the Internet became relevant to many of us.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations: About Cirrus ABSWe build projects for large companies and small businesses… we do design work and we build the backbone that runs the website.A recent development has been an improvement of our content management system that has allowed the company to develop industry-specific solutions like the LEDO Suite for economic development organizations among other specialties.
  • Analytics // Realtiy Check!: Google Analytics is a very powerful tool, capable of so much more than we will cover today. Our company tracks 100’s of websites, work with 100’s of clients and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what Google Analytics can do. The big question is what can it do for you? The simplistic answer is give direction on matters of marketing effectiveness.This webinar, unlike our normal presentations, isn’t broken down into clearly defined actions. Instead we use many step by step examples along with some explanations on how to interpret the resulting data. This is designed to get you thinking critically about the uses and possibilities of Google Analytics. What we have time to cover today is a mere drop in the bucket to be sure. Of course some of you will be more familiar than others.
  • Analytics // Convincing stakeholders: Any economic development organization, from small to large, depends on the entire team executing together to produce results. Disrupting the natural order or pattern you have developed may not go over well. I want to empower you with high value examples that will allow you to become your companies expedition lead. You will be empowered with powerful data capable of bringing down the largest hippos and experts when opinion starts to creep in to a conversation.
  • Optimizing WebsiteAnalytics for Economic Development Organizations // What are they good for?: I mentioned we can turn opinion into data, well what are we doing with that data? We are measuring our marketing, promotion, and advertising effectiveness, both online and offline. We will stop allocating marketing budget to those areas that don’t provide ROI. Is that social media campaign bearing fruit? And we will know where visitors really come from so we can put more money into those programs. Are you being found for the right keywords? Does the email campaign generate traffic back to the sign up form and do they fi
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // What are they good for?: What keywords are bringing visitors to the site, what pages are valuable to visitors, is it time to freshen up your copy, are people following your calls to action, are there problem pages, who is your audience, how many people come to the site and take no further action, and much more.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // You have options, or do you?: There is no shortage of analytics packages on the market. To understand why we are focused on Google Analytics today we need to understand the different types of analytic solutions.Server level statistics actually run on the computer that is serving your website pages to the world. This means that the hosting company chooses which one they will use. Price is normally a factor.Content Management Systems, like the Cirrus ABS eBusiness suite, which drives LEDO Suite, often build in their own analytics.Then there are all the third party services which can included normal analytics, hit counters, multiple service aggregators, and Niche’ measurement services. Generally speaking, these all require some type of code to be put on your site so their remote servers can measure the various metrics as they happen. Google Analytics works this way.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // So Why Google Analytics?: Cirrus ABS didn’t immediately jump on the Google Analytics beta band wagon. Instead we watched what was going on, installed it on some personal sites, and evaluated what they were doing. It became apparent pretty quickly that the new Urchin solution, with the financial backing of Google was going somewhere fast. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to selfish reasoning as well. We needed a way to more effectively present measurable results to clients. We wanted a way to highlight how our methodology for building websites was actually tangibly better when compared to competitors. I know that sounds like a line, but consider this, people were still spending tens of thousands on Yellow Page ads with no measurable return. Agencies were still building flashy sites with no conversion plans or capabilities, and almost nothing was being said of search engine optimization. Google Analytics provided us a free, easy to deploy and use tool.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Customizing your dashboard: Let’s start with something simple. The Google Analytics dashboard is most useful when it presents the information you actually need and can act on. And if you are anything like me, sometimes you forgot exactly how you found that nugget of information that was helpful. Let’s take a moment to customize your dashboard to make it easy.Browse to the report you want to appear on the dashboard. Select the “Add to Dashboard” button, then select the “view dashboard” link. Now just repeat for other reports you would like to add to the dashboard.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Reports to share or to keep: Exporting one time reports is really quite simple. Navigate to the report you want to create, for example: “content” > “top content”. Then we select the “Export” drop down tab. Now we select the appropriate format we want to save it in. That could be PDF (vector output for quality visual reference, ease of sharing), XML (extensible markup language), CSV (comma separated value, Excel), TSV (tabbed separated value, Excel). And finally we need to save the report which will is just like saving other things from the web. It may be different per browser.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Scheduled attention: What if we want reports to show up on a regular basis? Let’s create an automated report. First navigate to the report you want to create as we did in our previous example. We will use “content”, “top content” again. Now click the “email” button and then select the “schedule” tab. Now we can input emails we want to send the report to, for example a supervisors, board members, the owner, or you could just check “send to me”. We continue by filling in the remaining fields then select the desired format. Now we choose the frequency of the report by selecting daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Optionally we can request a “date comparison” be included. This would allow you to always include the previous month for example. And finally we click “schedule” to save this scheduled report. If you have already created a scheduled report you can simply use “Add to Existing” to add another report.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Doomed to repeat the past?: One of the most common things people do in Google Analytics is check activity based on dates. Let’s do that, but why not also compare it to the past while we are at it. First we select the dates we want to review. Now let’s check the “compare to past option” and select a previous month. It may even be the same month from a previous year. That is if Google Analytics has been installed on your site that long. After clicking apply we are presented with a graph of the two months. We can hover over the dots to see more specific information. If you have made annotations we can see those as well. What are we looking at or for? We want to investigate these spikes and lulls. Why was there a spike? Was there an announcement? Did we kick off a marketing campaign? We are looking for cause and effect, because if it worked we should look into doing it again.We could have alternately used the “timeline” feature, rather than the “calendar”, to select or modify the range. Of course we can also turn off the “compare to past” feature if we want to concentrate on a given date range.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Annotating key events: Annotation is one of my favorite additions to Google Analytics. If you really want to get serious about understanding what drives traffic to your site and more importantly traffic that ends up in lead generation or client acquisition you need to start annotating events. Are social media campaigns really driving traffic to the site? Is email still an effective marketing outreach method for you? What happens if I send out the email blast before the social media blast? What happens if I send it out after? Does sending the same email out a second time still produce traffic? All of these and many more questions are answerable if you have the tool set up to work for you.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Compare metrics: Sometimes visits to the site doesn’t tell the whole story. Google Analytics has given us a way to compare other metrics. Annotations will help show that a low traffic day may still hold useful insight. We can see that on Feb 13th we had very low visits but very high average time on site. By looking at the top content report, for that specific day, we can see that this higher than average time on site is a result of people viewing the embedded SEO seminar slides. After checking that date I can see we posted on various social sites that the slides were available. We can now place an annotation on that date. We now know that posting follow up information doesn’t bring many visitors to the site, but those who do come are very engaged.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Bounce Rates: What is a bounce rate? Let’s say a visitor landed on and left from a given page (any page) on your site without visiting another page. That would be counted as a bounce. If they allowed their session to timeout, Google Analytics session timeout is 30 minutes, it would register as a bounce. For example if they went to lunch, upon returning a new session would start and the previous one would be counted as a bounce. If the visitor would lose their internet connection, it may count as a new session when restored. If the user hits the back button used to leave the site or if they typed a new address into the address bar to leave. Closing the browser window or tab would count as a bounce.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // exceptions to the bounce rule: There are some site types that will have a higher bounce rate. Blogs for example. A large percentage of blog traffic is coming for that one specific article that caught their attention. Sites that have key information, like event dates, right on the home page which require no further action.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Targeted keyword or not?: We could probably spend this entire time discussing how many ways Google Analytics can present keyword metrics to us. What is important to note is how keywords, landing pages, Search Engine Friendly url’s (SEFurl), snippets or descriptions, and page titles are work together to combat bounce. Get too cute and traffic will go up, but so will bounce. Get too specific and traffic and bounce will be very low.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Deeper keyword research: Let’s take a look at the search engines being used for given keywords. Maybe you will find that a particular search engine is sending more traffic for a given keyword, highlighting that paid search for that keyword term may be more fruitful in that search engine.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Monitoring on-site search: If you have a search box on your site, you can setup Google Analytics to track how it is used. It will track things such as: start page the search was performed on, search terms, categories, destination pages, and more.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Creating goals: The real goal would be to get to the confirmation page, but for simplicity I am showing contact us. An excellent use of goals is for tracking abandonment during checkout on ecommerce sites. Only five goals are allowed per profile and up to fifty profiles per site. Some goals include: landed on a page, bought something, downloaded something, followed an off site link.Additional goals will be set up from “Analytics Settings” » “Edit” » “+ Add goal” “Goals are limited to 5 per profile”
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Visualizing goals: To visually track the steps we can add a funnel to the goal. This is a very valuable way to see how people are interacting with your site. Where is the abandonment so we can correct it.“Goals are limited to 5 per profile”
  • Optimizing WebsiteAnalytics for Economic Development Organizations // Depth of visit: Other factors sometimes tell a more accurate story. Let’s look at how many pages our visitors look at. Why is this important? The difficult truth is it depends on the type of site and the pages they are landing on. If you have a specific landing page with a sign up form, then two pageviews, one for the signup and one for the confirmation would be accomplishing your goal. If however you have an ecommerce site you want a higher pageview count. Generally speaking.The checkout procedure on an ecommerce site could easily be 4 pageviewsby itself! Cart, shipping, account/payment, confirmation, thank you.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Brand awareness anyone?: Maybe a better indicator for your site would be new visitors vs returning visitors. Both visitor types are important of course, but if you just started a brand awareness campaign you would certainly expect to see an influx of visits from new visitors.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Tracking location awareness: What if we wanted to see how a radio, TV, or say direct mail campaign for awareness was working in a particular area? Let’s check the Map Overlay to see how that awareness promo we did in Indianapolis worked for us?
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Tracking location Awareness: Awareness campaign by visitor type: Now let’s select "Dimension: Visitor Type“ This directly shows us how many "New Visitors" our promo provided in this region.If we had an ongoing campaign we would be monitoring this through the duration of the campaign to show when you peak and start to hit diminishing returns. This could be added to your dashboard, exported to a report, or emailed through the duration of the campaign as well.Play with the “none: X” to see various other factors.
  • Tracking Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Tracking location awareness: Awareness campaign by source: Now let’s select "Dimensions: Source“ This shows direct traffic vs SE traffic was the promo effective for URL awareness. If a large percentage come from search engines then they had to look for you. If most come from "(direct)", meaning they typed the URL into the browser they remembered your domain name from the promo.Play with the “none: X” to see various other factors.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Referring the most traffic: In this view I can see, because I took the time to annotate it by the way, that this large spike came as a result of submitting a story to stumbleupon.com a social bookmarking/sharing service. Was this the best traffic though?You will also want to express the need for everyone in the company to be committed to monitoring contacts, calls, and lead sources for clues on what is working so you can do it again.
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Referring the best traffic: Here we can see that visits from Facebook looked at more pages per visit, spent more time on the site, and had a lower bounce rate.If showing MC The Vera Bradly Outlet sale April 29th- May 2nd .
  • Optimizing Website Analytics for Economic Development Organizations // Metrics for site improvement: Why are analytics worth a bit of time each week and how can we use analytics to improve our site, our marketing, and conversions? The first thing analytics does for us is to change opinion into to data. This is not very good news for people who like to be right. I include myself in that group by the way. Really though, more than a desire to be right, we want to do right. That requires evidence. We can also measure media and marketing effectiveness. Did that trade show really send traffic to the site? Did they contact you via the site? How about allocating budgets based on campaigns with high return and conversions. Which cities should we resend that direct mail piece out to? Of course the Holy Grail of analytics is testing, testing, and more testing. This is the basis of a NetCentered approach. We want a convergence of offline and online marketing efforts based on measurable return.
  • We’ll be doing these webinars every other week in the future, so mark your calendars. We’re tentatively scheduled to tackle the subject of analytics next time and social media at the end of December. If you have suggestions for a topic you’d like for us to cover, just let us know at dpillie@cirrusabs.com
  • We at Cirrus ABS appreciate you taking the time to learn how to improve your internet marketing efforts. Please let us know how we can help you and if you liked this seminar please remember to sign up for our next webinar!Please type in any questions you have and we’ll be glad to answer them!
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