Navigating the analytics minefield in 2010

by Bernie Johnson
01 Apr 2010
7 min read
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Navigating the analytics minefield in 2010

Never before has it been more important to know exactly how to measure Return on Investment for your digital media spend.

OK - so Australia has managed pretty well over the past 18 months while the US and Europe have both been in a state of economic paralysis. One of the biggest realities of the GFC is that there’s been a significant shift in spend from traditional media to digital media. Why? Because it’s all measureable. Marketing departments are being held accountable for every dollar they spend – and the beauty of digital is that every online interaction can be tracked.

The beauty of digital is that every online interaction can be tracked.

Last year PWC released some forecasts in the US for North American Ad Spend for next 4 years.

Surprise, surprise - with exception of video games, every media channel is going backwards. That is apart from Online. Expectations are that in 4 years online advertising spend will be second in the US only to TV.

Looking at Australia and Europe the predictions are even more bullish for digital.

The problem at the moment is that with so much data and analytics out there, it’s pretty confusing knowing where to start measuring the ROI for your digital media spend.

So, here is a quick analytics Q&A guide to get you on your way to stronger ROI in 2010.

Q) What are the main tools for measuring your website data?

Google Analytics.

It’s free, feature-rich and now ubiquitous. For the hard-core GA fans you can even enroll in Google’s Conversion University.

Omniture SiteCatalyst

If you have budget to invest in enterprise-level analytics, this is the product for you. SiteCatalyst gives you actionable, real-time intelligence about online strategies and marketing initiatives, at a much more granular level than Google Analytics.

Q) What metrics should you use to measure ROI?

With so much data out there, the secret is that you need to be a Hunter and not a Gatherer. You need to start the process of analysing data by first knowing what you’re looking for.

Business Metrics:

  • Revenue
  • Transactions
  • Profit
  • Gross Margin
  • Customer Lifetime Value (only through Omniture)

Site Metrics

  • Conversion Rate (keep in mind a "Conversion" on your site doesn’t necessarily have to be a sale. It could be a successful completion of an enquiry form or a brochure download)
  • A/B Testing (you can use either your Website Management System or Google Website Optimizer for A/B testing)
  • Time on Site (although this one needs to be measured in context – a higher average Time on Site might mean users are having difficulty getting to the information they want quickly).
  • Average Order Value
  • Average Cost per Conversion
  • Revenue per Visit

Q) What metrics should you ignore?

  • Time on Site (see above for rationale)
  • Hits (means nothing unless the year is 1997)

Q) What’s better – Search Engine Optimisation or Search Engine Marketing?

The optimal strategy is a combination of both SEO and SEM.

A SEO strategy will focus on improved organic rankings for your site. Achieving a higher organic ranking is always preferable as you don’t have to pay for each click. SEM is essential for products and brands in heavily-competed industries. It’s also the fastest way to get qualified leads.

Overall however a blended approach will get you more complete coverage than just relying on a single strategy. Keep in mind that around 55-65% of users will click on organic search listings and 35-45% will click on the paid search results.

Q) How do I improve my SEO?

Here are some short-term steps you can take to improve SEO on your site.

  • Maximize inbound links from external sites. Whatever you do however, don’t use link farms – as Google will drop your site in the blink of an eye. Use customer, suppliers and industry body sites as link partners.
  • Ensure extensive use of CSS & W3C standards in the build of your site
  • Get the most important page content to appear as close to the tag as possible
  • Use <H1>, <H2>, <H3> through to <H6> tags for dynamically promoting key content & product information
  • Don't use images for headings, keep all headings text based
  • Include extensive footer links (essentially replicate your site map in the footer with primary keywords linking to main pages)
  • Ensure your Page Title is dynamic according to the page / product content. The format should be <title>{PRIMARY KEYWORD} - {SECONDARY KEYWORD} - {GENERIC KEYWORDS}</title>
  • Use Human-Friendly URLs
  • Include Twitter Feeds and RSS on your site
  • Make sure all your video content is optimized with keyword-rich, concise and accurate metadata to assist in indexing video on Google

Q) How do I improve my SEM?

For those using SEM or paid search:

  • Make sure your landing page matches your ad
  • Ensure the navigation on your site is optimized and intuitive. Make sure you focus on widening the bottom of your digital media funnel.
  • Ensure your keywords and ad text are relevant to the landing page content

Q) How do I measure Social Media ROI?

There are some excellent tools currently available which aggregate data around the number of conversations people are having about your product or brand.

Ripple 6 & Nielsen Buzzmetrics

These commercial tools give you both qualitative and quantitative statistics to analyse your social media efforts.

TweetBeep & TweetDeck

Both free tools and simple to use as a single interface to manage social media from your desktop.

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