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Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Tips: Analytics and Performance

Posted on Feb 21, 2013 in Digital Marketing, More Visitors: SEO & SEM, Technology & Analytics | 0 comments

John Wanamaker (1838-1922), considered by some at the father of modern advertising, is often quoted in marketing circles:  “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” A hundred years later, we no longer have that problem. In the age of digital marketing, with exceptional tracking systems (that stretch the very definitions of privacy), it’s no longer a matter of not knowing, but of investing the effort to find out. Today, savvy online marketers are saying “no campaigns without metrics.” SEM is a perfect example of this principle in action—a principle that can also be applied to email and social marketing. When you drive traffic to a web or mobile site using SEM, the basics of managing pay-per-click include an analysis of the costs for each keyword, deciding what to bid on, and then monitoring click-through reports to check performance and to see if you get out-bid on your keywords (in which case you may need to increase your bid or lose that keyword). But the basic reports in Google and Bing are about how much traffic you receive for what you spent. They don’t tell you how individual keywords are performing in terms of your business and organizational goals. What you don’t want to do is simply point to high SEM traffic and say you were successful. What if your top performing keywords are just draining your budget and delivering no value? You need to monitor what your visitors are doing, based on which keyword they came in on. A good analytics program will tell you not just which keywords get the most clicks (and thus cost you the most), but you’ll also gain insights into whether visitors are coming through but then immediately leaving (SEM cost with no value), or which pages they visit, in which order, and do they return to your site later (SEM cost with high value). About 10 years ago I developed a system for tracking campaign and keyword performance from Google AdWords and Overture (Overture was bought in 2003 by Yahoo, and Yahoo SEM is now merged with Bing). The idea was simple: if...

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Site Analytics: Intelligence Gathering for News Sites

Posted on Feb 21, 2012 in Technology & Analytics | 0 comments

Analytics Overview Late last summer the good folks at MSN invited me to give a talk on “Conducting Effective Market Landscape Assessments and Intelligence Gathering” where I discussed techniques for gathering competitive intelligence for MSN.com. One of the important topics I covered was how analytics–research based on observational data gathering–is critical to understanding visitor and market behavior. There are actually a few types of analytics. Web Server Log Reports (site statistics) are the oldest form of analytics, typified by products like WebTrends and a host of Open Source products like AWStats. These systems report on the data collected in log files maintained by your webserver, logs that track the time and date stamp of every web page and every image served up by the webserver.  Site stats deliver reports such as most popular pages on your site, top entry pages, top exit pages, overall pages served, and overall number of “hits” (the number of resources served by the webserver, now considered an almost meaningless metric, since these days a single web page with 4 javascript calls and 12 images represents 17 hits). Path Analysis is used to track every individual who comes to a site, and every page they visit. This type of analysis, performed by products like Adobe/Omniture SiteCatalyst and iMedia Analytics, collects a lot of data and delivers a lot of intelligence, including: heat maps, reports that tell you which links on any given page are getting the most clicks, page-dotting, the tracking of every variable in the visitor’s web site session, which can tell you things like which items they abandoned in their shopping cart, click-path analysis, or the most common paths that users are taking through your site, providing insights into things like user interface strengths and deficiencies, and real-time story trending, the ability to see almost instantly which of your stories is “going viral” and which are languishing. Another category is what I call Broad-spectrum External Analytics, which collect a certain amount of page data (generally less than the other methods, but still enough to deliver powerful reports), by adding a bit of code to your web page that sends data to an external, third...

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