Tag Archives: Web analytics


Making sense of data is really hard, and making sense of data from multiple sources which report in different ways is damn near impossible. Once again, we in the world of marketing are our own worst enemies, I guess. We could learn from our friends in finance.

Pick up any financial report and you’ll see the same statistics, generally reported in the same manner. That manner is GAAP – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. While CFO’s and analysts have a little leeway within those principles, usually when you look at a piece of data for one company, something labeled the same way for another company means the same thing.

Not so in marketing. I mean, we do try. CPM has always been a measure of efficiency in media. The problem is that there are lots of ways to get to that number, especially in digital. Number of banners displayed? Number of viewable banners displayed? Should it just default to the impressions for which I’m being billed or do I want to factor in things such as actions taken (clicks, etc.)?

I think we need something like a Cost Per Touch metric. This would something standardized and would factor in the number of touch points across all media. An engagement on social media is counted just as is a video watched (you can decide the relative values of each). Actually, I don’t care what we call it but we need something akin to GAAP in the world of marketing data – something that can align web analytics, SEM numbers, social touch points, customer service, etc. Something that can help us to make sense of all of those disparate sources of big data.  Once we’ve standardized all of these things, all the other activities which depend on them become more efficient and productive.  Of course, it also means that there isn’t anyplace to hide since we can’t manipulate the numbers past a certain point.

Your thoughts?

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Running Full Speed In The Dark

If your business does anything in the digital space you probably have some sort of system in place to measure that digital activity.

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Having run an online commerce site I can tell you that those analytics are second only to actual sales figures in importance.  Having run and consulted on sites where content is king (as opposed to commerce!), the data helps you to understand user preferences, content gaps, and how best to engage the reader.

That’s why something I saw the other day was so disturbing to me.  The folks at DBD Media recently conducted research on Google Analytics implementation across 50 e-commerce websites and found that 80% of retailers don’t know how to use Google Analytics:

  • Only 50% of e-commerce businesses track main conversion
  • 73% of businesses are inflating traffic in their analytics reports,through self referral issues.
  • 60% of GA accounts were not correctly synced with Google AdWords, meaning Pay Per Click data is not being passed-on and is hampering accurate ROI measurements for paid search.
  • 67% of websites haven’t integrated social media tracking
  • 30% of websites have incorrect e-commerce tracking implementation.

There are more findings but for a commerce site these are the most critical ones.  I suspect that if we were to survey content sites we’d find similar issues.  Why does this happen?  According to the folks at eConsultancy:

Our recent Online Measurement and Strategy report finds that the most commonly cited barrier for company respondents was a lack of budget and resources, with 50% of respondents listing this as an issue. Following this was a lack of strategy (31%) and siloed organisation / lack of co-ordination (26%).

For supply-side respondents the most commonly cited barrier was a lack of understanding / don’t know what to measure (47% compared to only 24% for company respondents), followed by a lack of budget and resources (42%) and a lack of strategy (37%).

The first item is particularly galling.  I suspect that has to do less with an actual lack of funds that a failure to reallocate the funding from some legacy activity into analytics support.  What could be more important, especially if your entire business is online?

When you’re doing your next budget, think about what activities add revenue and profit   Maybe those need to be your top priorities as you’re allocating funds? “We did it this way last year” isn’t a system – it’s an impediment.  You with me?

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Political Polls And Your Business

It’s election season and there are multiple new polls released every day.

Description=Opinion polling by state for the U...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a lot of data and the media jump on each tidbit to proclaim the outcome of an event that’s still many weeks away.  Each new glimpse of the situation is treated as if today was Election Day until the next piece of information surfaces and the cycle begins again.  Sound like your business?

It’s a very instructive situation and points to something I tell my clients all the time.  A data point isn’t really important in and of itself.  What IS important is the trend of that data and what it reflects about your business.  Continuing the political example, Romney’s poll numbers over time have been declining while Obama‘s have been trending up.  Many polls are still within the statistical margin of error about which candidate is winning (a fact often overlooked since these are results based on samples).  Still, the data points to a sense of things, especially when you get past the top-line numbers and dig into segments and qualitative questions such as readiness for job, feelings about the person, etc.

If these were your web analytics, you’d want to do the same sort of thing.  Get past the top line stuff – visits, page views – and dig into segments.  Are visits from organic search up or down?  Are we seeing new and relevant search terms creating visits or is everything limited to searches on your company name indicating a narrow audience?  What are the different usage trends among new and repeat visitors?  How is social impacting your audience?  Are entrances coming to many pages or just one?

Don’t worry about any one day, worry about trends and you’ll be on a much more actionable track.  Rolling averages and trends don’t cause daily fire-drills to fix something that might be a blip.  Panic over a one-time occurrence usually does way more harm than good, whether it’s a poll, an analytics report, or a financial statement.

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