Volume 18, July 2009
A Quiver Full Of Arrows - Target Your Online Campaign Better With Good Analytics

 

In this edition of ‘Click to Conquer’ we zoom in for a close ‘dekko’ at the data points you should be looking at while also listing some of the tools available to measure the success of your online media strategy.

In a market when budgets are tight, marketers are being asked to look at more cost effective online media. But unlike traditional media where calculation of return is based on standard frameworks, in the case of online media, the onus is on the buyer to know which tools to use to extract the best possible metrics. Although this calls for more preparation on the part of the buyer, the rewards can be substantive and take the form of metrics that you can act on for tangible business gain.


Key Metrics to look atkey

To start with, here is an overview of what to look at. In this section we will look at the parameters that matter, while explaining why you should be looking at them.

Hits, Visits and Page Views

i-ballThese constitute the base data for any analysis, since they tell you exactly how much traction your site has. The most overrated parameter is “hits”, since this only indicates the load experienced by the web server for any kind of information request, such as requests for text, images or files. Even hacker requests are counted, as do spam harvesting programs and requests from web-based tools carrying out non threatening tasks (for ex: meta search, indexing programs or even web crawlers patrolling sites for copyright infringements).

On the other hand, a count of visits and even better unique visits will give you a more appropriate idea of how popular your site is. A page view counter also gives an idea of how many times a page is being viewed and dividing this by the number of visits will tell you the average number of pages per visit. Page view data also provide some insights into which sections of a website are the most popular.

   
   
Unlike traditional media where calculation of return is based on standard frameworks, in the case of online media, the onus is on the buyer to know which tools to use to extract the best possible metrics.
 


Top Entry and Exit Pages, Click Paths


From page view data, click paths represent a natural progression as they map the visitor’s journey through your site. In the same vein, top entry and exit pages will tell you how a visitor landed or exited the site. This is particularly useful for tracking which of your referrers (pages that link to your site) bring in the bulk of your traffic.

In both cases, this data is useful for getting through preconceived notions on where visitors typically land – it may not be the home page for instance – and what they do on the site.

Click paths are also particularly useful for testing the effectiveness of contextual navigation that you may be attempting on the site.

Keywords (that drive traffic)

Search Keyword functionality on website analytics packages tell you what people typed into search engines like Google in order to get to your site. Keyword analysis is important as it tells you the most popular search strings that are bringing traffic into your site. This data is useful, not just to learn how visitors perceive your company and what they associate it with, but also to pump into an existing Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign to optimize it.

   
   
A page view counter also gives an idea of how many times a page is being viewed and dividing this by the number of visits will tell you the average number of pages per visit.
 


Data Segmentation

Segmentation is one metric that can yield some of the richest dividends in the web analytics game. What is segmentation? It analyzes site visitor data and behavior and pigeon-holes these into meaningful categories that will eventually help you create meaningful content/ information for your chosen target audience. It is also extremely useful for carving out some insightful analysis from “average” data (i.e., average page views, average time on site etc) since the last does not provide any actionable takeaways.

To start with, take incoming traffic data (from the web server log that shows where your traffic came from) and segment it source-wise into traffic from -
  • Search engines
  • SEM campaigns/adverts
  • Association websites
  • Social media
This is useful to measure how your cross linking program is performing or even to fine-tune SEM campaigns if they still account for a very low percentage of your overall incoming traffic.

Another example would be to cross-reference this data in the context of time spent by visitors on a page or even by the pages visited. That would provide some useful insight into what kind of visitors you are getting and what exactly they want from your site. Knowing this makes it easier to actually give them what they want (provided you want to) so that they come back, (hopefully) wanting more!

The good news is that tools including free ware such as Google analytics do provide segmentation toolkits that will enable you to configure such reports or customize standard reports.

Conversions

Now, finally, conversions. Contrary to the general perception that we are talking only about sales leads and conversions of those into actual sales, site-related conversions could be about many more things. For instance, other meaningful data points that you could track are - the number of people who jumped from the site to your blog, the number of people who downloaded a resource, the number of times a demo was viewed or even the number of people that signed up for a newsletter.

Most conversions can be tracked by configuring the analytics tool of choice; these can also be done manually.

   
   
Data segmentation breaks down site visitor data and behavior and pigeonholes these into meaningful categories that will eventually help you create meaningful content/ information for your chosen target audience.
 


Analytics tools to use

There are several tools in the marketplace and many are free. Put together below is a comparison of three such tools.

confluence