Analytics with Annie Cushing
Guest: @AnnieCushing from @BlueGlass. @anniecushing is the Director of Analytics for @blueglass. She is an avid blogger for @blueglass and blogs on her personal blog http://bit.ly/hJlJpL.
Q: Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows.
Let’s see … I have a Spanish prince in my lineage. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of his coloring though. #irish
What are some common things people tend to overlook when it comes to analytics?
- Monitoring. Google Analytics offers you the ability to set alerts, as do other platforms. I wrote a blog post on how to use GA’s alerts to your advantage: http://ow.ly/3XZOE. Every site should have alerts that at least let them know if key traffic segments have dropped. Even better: Have both Google News AND GA alerts set up. Examples: Organic traffic, email, PPC, campaign(s), etc. I usually pick 10%. I also set alerts for spikes.
Companies lose untold thousands for not having alerts in place. I’ve seen the carnage firsthand.
@matt_storms: You can set up an alert to see if you are getting people to your site from a location. Major traffic spike and such.
- Dashboards. Have seen this from SMBs to Fortune 100 companies. Dashboards allow you to see the KPIs (key performance indicators) most important to you at a glance. One service I like for GA is @nextanalytics. It’s an Excel plugin (PC only). http://ow.ly/3XZU2. Great selection of dashboards. They’ll even create custom dashboards upon request at no charge.
- Goal tracking. Even big brands fall woefully short in this category. Every package gives you the ability to track goals. It’s your cash cow. Milk it. I wrote a post on how to set up goal tracking in GA: http://ow.ly/3Y06L. If sites have goal tracking set up, they’re usually not tracking enough or creating goal funnels.
@dan_patterson: She may mention this later, but everyone should read @anniecushing’s post on Regex in GA: http://bit.ly/hZ3eLj.
- Link tagging for campaigns (social media, email, banners, affiliates, etc.). This point cannot be overstated. If you use social media/email and aren’t tagging links, you don’t know what that traffic is doing. I love the URL builder. http://ow.ly/3YHE0.
If there was one thing you could change about Google Analytics, what would it be?
I would give my eye teeth for .xls files with embedded charts like you get from SiteCatalyst. So sexy. GA gives you a .csv raw data dump, w/ a lot of extraneous data I’ve never used. The first I have to do is get all the junk out of the trunk, then build the visualization in Excel. I would also love to have cooler customization options into GA’s dashboards. And add more color. They’re sooo drab. But that’s probably just my x chromosome talking. And a pony. I want a pony.
@matt_storms: I wish I could change the colors to something else than orange on Google Analytics.
@AdvertisingGeek: I wish that GA could track Bing paid vs. organic better w/out custom URLs anyone have a better way?
@dan_patterson: I use both SiteCatalyst and GA at my job, and I prefer the GA export a lot more
@AnnieCushing: @dan_patterson Well, @nextanalytics dashboards blow away SiteCatalysts reports but still. The plugin is PC only. So I cant’ use it at home. I’m a Mac girl.
@WissamDandan: I use prosper202 for paid analytics(self hosted)
@kmullett: You can use SEO Site Tools extension for chrome to give you some simple social info in GA. http://bit.ly/hk1arm.
@AnnieCushing: @kmullett If you use campaign tracking, the insights you can get from GA are awesome. Especially with segmentation.
@lyena: What insights can SEOs learn from Analytics?
@kmullett: I rather like setting up custom segments for one, two, three, and four word KW searches.
@lyena: I like PostRank. Great for Social. Integrates in GA.
@dan_patterson: Recent things I’ve used GA for: Time of day when an error occurred, % of foreign traffic to each category page, etc. Lately it feels like it’s something new to find every week in GA
What are the most important reports and how often should you look at them?
Depends. If the site’s main objective is engagement, you should monitor engagement metrics. Exampless of engagement metrics: time on site, bounce rate, logins, interaction with multimedia, etc. And you should look at them as often as the metric requires. Automate your alerts and reports. Then you can set custom frequencies for each. You get a flag, address it, and go digging. Again, this is where dashboards make your data scannable and easier to interpret. The key is to build your dashboards with the metrics that are most important to your business. Don’t settle for GA (or WebTrends, SiteCatalyst, etc.) out of the box. You won’t garner the insights you need.
@dan_patterson: I think Event Tracking is way underutilized as well. You can learn a ton about engagement with Event Tracking.
@AnnieCushing: Yes, it definitely is. Event tracking is the answer to AJAX. Again, so few sites take advantage of them.
What are the best resources for beginners to web analytics?
- @avinash’s books: Web Analytics: An Hour a Day & Web Analytics 2.0: http://ow.ly/3YGof.
- Analytics blogs. Here are the ones I subscribe to: http://ow.ly/3Y27j Just click Subscribe. I keep up w/ all the trends by monitoring the analytics blogs.
- For ninja training, @marketmotive’s analytics certification: http://ow.ly/3YyNJ. You get personalized training from @avinash and John Marshall. I could sell it door to door. It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant and will pull you through the keyhole backwards but great training. I thought I understood analytics, but Avinash and John proved me wrong.
- And for free, Google’s Conversion University offers video overviews of GA: http://ow.ly/3YuQ9.
- I also follow the #ganalytics hashtag for GA tweets.
- For more practical application, lynda.com has a new course for GA: http://ow.ly/3Y2Bg $25/mo. I just take the classes I want for a few months, then cancel. Rinse and repeat.
I wrote this post that showed 8 practical ex’s of regex in GA: http://ow.ly/3YIeQ.
@matt_storms: The GA study guides and the exam helped me a ton.
@scottcowley: I don’t recommend GA courses/exam to noobs. There’s too much you won’t apply right away – then you forget.
@matt_storms: I disagree, I say do it and then refresh yourself ever 3-4 months.
@AnnieCushing: @matt_storms Now I just keep a monthly membership to lynda.com. So much great training.
@aknecht: Don’t forget to follow the #measure hash tag. Lot’s great blog posts go out with it. Follow the various tools hash tags. Not everything tweeted that way is product specific ie #omniture #webtrends #coremetrics.
@lyena: Feb. 24, @9:30am PST – Analytics workshop on @marketmotive: 4 Examples of Great Web Analytics Segments
@jeypandian: Tim Ash is also a solid bet for landing page optimization. Teaches how to calc Customer Lifetime Value (GOLD)
@aknecht: Always lots to pick up the eMetric’s Marketing Optimization Summits as well. Love those events.
@gnosisarts: Here’s a question I’ve had for a while. Why can’t u use a tagged URL as Step 1 in Goal Funnel? Or, am I doing something wrong?
@jeypandian: @gnosisarts you can – just don’t put the stuff after the ? in there
@AnnieCushing: @gnosisarts If you use head match, you don’t need to specify tagging. Gums up the works. But goal tracking fields are sensitive to regex. You can always use regex (regular expressions).
What are the top 5 metrics in analytics for ecommerce sites?
- Bounce rate is the golden egg. Look at BR for non-branded keywords and top landing pages. Find out why people are bouncing. Then use A/B testing to make landing pages stickier. And for organic, use SEO to make sure your landing pages are optimized for the right keywords. Or just look at the JCP site and do the opposite.
- Revenue segmented out the wazoo: by keyword, landing page, medium, campaign, mobile, etc. To quote @avinash: Analyzing data in aggregate is a crime against humanity. #justsayno
- Shopping cart abandonment rates. Find out why they’re jumping ship. One client noticed huge abandonment rates in step 3. Turns out state drop-down only had 1 state. It was the result of an error in a redesign. Pre-launch testing is soo overrated. But b/c they didn’t have alerts, they lost 2 weeks of revenue before problem was pinpointed.
- Site search metrics. What are visitors looking for and did they find it? Goldmine in that data.
- Cost/acquisition vs. customer lifetime value. How much can you spend to acquire a new customer? (Someone touched on that earlier. There’s some serious science behind that metric.) This doesn’t just apply to paid traffic. Same for organic, social media, email, etc.
I made one company $30K in 6 weeks by one discovery in the site search. Now they get monthly report.
@jeypandian: crazyegg is a good way to see where people are clicking on the site – it even shows clicks on nonclickable elements.
@AnnieCushing: Yeah, we use crazyegg and @kissmetrics. Great tools.
@jeypandian: I segment out my traffic in GA with a profile for each segment – are these part of best practices?
@AnnieCushing: @jeypandian Great question. No, they’re not. You end up with silos. Segmentation is much more flexible.
If you have any questions you can email me at acushing(at)blueglass.com.
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