July 23, 2013
In Internet marketing, as with any other type of marketing, continuous A/B testing of new ideas against your control marketing campaign ensures that you are always getting the best conversion rates possible. In classical marketing, a small percentage of each campaign audience receives the new campaign, while the bulk of the campaign audience receives the time-tested standard campaign, and at the end of the campaign the conversion rates are compared. If the new campaign has a higher conversion rate, it becomes the new standard. While this method works well for slower media such as direct mail campaigns, it is inefficient for use on the Internet.
Faster tests make money sooner
Rather than running an entire series of test campaigns and calculating conversion rates at the end of the series, using Google Analytics to conduct your A/B test allows the conversions to be calculated after just one day. If one of the choices is clearly outperforming the other, the percentage of people who are shown the different options can be automatically adjusted to favour the best performing option. This allows you to be getting more conversions and making more money much earlier in the testing process. The tests are also generally shorter, since they can be ended as soon as a clear winner is identified.
Test more options at once
Split tests are normally referred to as A/B tests, because you are comparing two options. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to two choices when using Google Analytics to conduct the test. Their model is known as a multi-armed bandit model, referring to a bank of slot machines or “one-armed bandits” that a gambler can play in rapid succession. Instead of simply changing the wording on your headline and testing both versions, you can simultaneously change the wording, the font, and the colour, or try multiple variations on the wording against each other.
Test a variety of elements
Google Analytics has taken the idea of split testing far beyond simple ad copy or marketing text. You can test a variety of graphical elements to determine which pictures sell better. You can test different versions of navigation to see which creates higher user engagement. You can test your search protocols and determine which algorithms return results that encourage conversions. You can test your formatting to see if different layouts produce better conversions. Best of all, unlike hand-coded A/B tests that require you to create separate pages on your website for each possibility to which the visitors are then randomly directed, all of these tests can be located on the same page with the Content Experiments API dynamically loading and tracking the appropriate option.
The Internet Marketing Academy
May 23, 2013
Bounces are bad. Bounces indicate that someone visited your website, felt that it did not meet their expectation of what they were looking for, and immediately left your website without taking any other action. Or do they indicate something else? Do they indicate that your finely-tailored web page answered your visitors’ questions so precisely that there was no need for them to look elsewhere for their answers? How can you tell what is really being measured by your Google Analytics bounce rate? More importantly, if you are paying for Google ads, a higher bounce rate will cause you to have to pay more for each click.
Type of website matters
Whether or not you need to be concerned with the bounce rate statistics for your website depends greatly upon what type of website you have. If you are directing people to a landing page, the bounce rate will accurately depict the number of people who leave your landing page without taking action on your offer. For these types of websites, the bounce rate matters, and a lower bounce rate is preferable. If people enter your website as a result of organic searches, and may arrive at your home page, a landing page, an interior page describing your products or business, or a posting on your blog, the bounce rate as calculated may not matter. In those situations, it is more important to know if the person is engaging with your content, taking time to read it over before leaving the website. The simple bounce rate is not a meaningful measurement in this case, since it does not tell you the difference between someone who leaves your page immediately and someone who spends 5 minutes perusing everything you wrote about a subject. That second visitor, even if they have no other interaction with your website, will recognise your name as a subject matter expert, and have more trust in you when they encounter you again.
Using a different bounce rate calculation
In order to incorporate information about how long someone stays on your website before leaving, even if they do not interact in any other way with your website, you need Google to consider only those visitors who leave within a certain timeframe as true bounces. This can be done by adding some customised code to the Google Analytics script. The customised code uses the Google Analytics API to create events, or something that Google interprets as a website visitor interacting with your website. As a result, they are no longer considered bounces. An added side benefit of this is that the Google Analytics measurement of the average time each visitor spends on your website will also increase to more accurately reflect real visit lengths. Using this new calculation for bounce rates, you will be able to differentiate between true bounces and people who engaged with your content without taking additional action on your website.
Before I sign off, here are some more useful articles on using Google Analytics to your advantage:
The Internet Marketing Academy
April 30, 2013
Google has recently released a significant upgrade to its analytics capabilities with Google Universal Analytics. You can take advantage of the new capabilities by upgrading your existing standard analytics to universal analytics.
Create a new web property
In order to take advantage of the new capabilities, you will need to create a new web property. You can create a new web property from the Admin tab of your Google Analytics account by selecting the account name from the list and clicking on New Property. Fill in the information about the web site that you want analysed, and select universal analytics. This will allow you to use the Google Tag Manager to manage all of the tags for your web property with the enhanced information gathering abilities of universal analytics. Your existing analytics will continue running as well, so you can compare the new information you are receiving with your previous information.
Track what is important to your business
Google Analytics has always allowed you to track both page views and events that occur on that page. Universal analytics takes that to an even greater level of granularity, however. Now, you are able to track anything about that page interaction with customised tags. For example, you can track which affiliate referred someone to your page, and all of the actions people took after being referred, not just whether or not they purchased a particular item. That can help you identify affiliate relationships which you want to nurture. If you display multiple versions of your content for A/B testing, you can track which version was displayed for better analysis of customer behaviours. The easiest way to tag A/B testing at the moment is to include a specific graphic element for each variety of content, even a 1-pixel invisible graphic, and tag the graphic element.
Customise experience by platform
One of the foundational realities reflected in the new tracking capabilities of universal analytics is that people who are accessing your site on different platforms have different needs and expectations. The mobile user who is looking at your website on the go has different behaviours and desires than the person who is browsing your website at leisure from the comfort of their desktop computer. Therefore, while it may make sense to track the overall length of time someone spends on your website when they are coming from a desktop computer as a sign of how engaged they are with your business, that might not be the right measurement for a mobile user. For a mobile user, it might be more important to track how quickly they can get to the part of your website they need to access, take care of their business, and go. Universal analytics helps you to determine what works best for different customer segments.
The Internet Marketing Academy
(Image: Stock Xchange)
March 28, 2013
Google Analytics can provide a wealth of information about the health of your website and the activities of your site visitors. However, you need to take specific actions to unlock the more powerful features. If you’re ready to step beyond a simple count of how many site visits you receive, use the following functions to get more out of your analysis.
Track progress toward goals
Which goals you care about will depend upon your overall website strategy. Someone who is interested in building community or raising brand awareness may care how long a visitor stayed on a site. An online magazine may want to know how many total pages a visitor viewed. If you are selling something or collecting user information in exchange for downloads of free PDF reports, you may want to know when someone reaches a specific URL such as a thank-you or download page, or takes a specific action such as clicking on a Buy Now or Download button.
Turn on goal tracking by selecting Conversions from the Google Analytics dashboard, then creating a goal. If you create multiple goals, such as clicking Add to Cart, clicking Checkout, and reaching the thank-you page, you’ll know exactly how many people you lose at each step of your sales process, and can fine tune your process to keep as many as possible moving through the process.
Measure by traffic segment
The default analytics lump all website visitors together. By setting up specific traffic segments, you can determine if your organic search results produce more sales than your pay per click traffic, or how visitors that see your Google ads differ from visitors that see your Facebook ads. This helps you to determine your most profitable places for spending your online marketing budget. To create traffic segments, click on Advanced Segments from the Standard Reporting dashboard. You can use the pre-created segments provided by Google, or create your own. Segments can be discrete, such as assigning each social media source to a different segment, as well as overlapping, such as also aggregating all social media sources into a single Social Media segment. Once the traffic segments are created, go back to Conversions and apply the traffic segments to your goals.
Watch for spikes
Rather than viewing data by month, which is the default, you should also view the data by day. This allows you to notice immediate impacts of new content on your site, as well as discover which sources are sending you an unusual level of traffic. You can investigate the referring blog or website to determine if it is a fluke or if this is someone or something you should respond to. If it is a fluke, you can remove the referred data from future consideration in your analysis by selecting Advanced, Exclude, Dimensions, Source/Medium, and then specifying the referral source.
The Internet Marketing Academy
March 27, 2012
Every small business owner should know the value of analytics. Whether you’re using Google Analytics, or one of the more advanced programs that we’ll look at later today, it’s essential to track what your readers are doing on your site, what pages they’re looking at, and how long they’re spending.
The first step to properly analysing customer behavior is thinking analytically. Every page, every button, ever link, represents a step into or out of s ales funnel. If you’re not looking at your site this way already, you need to start doing so.
A supermarket provides a great analogy. Every aspect of the store has been generated in order to drive the customer to buy more items. Item placement is tested, and if it makes a particular item start selling better, the new position will be retained. Supermarkets even test whether the temperature of the air in the store makes you buy more items. They’ve found that colder air drives higher sales, and have lowered thermostats accordingly. That is analytical thinking.
Taking analytical action then requires looking at where you customers are dropping out of your sales funnel. For testing purposes, you should design your site so that each page represents one step of the sales funnel. You don’t want to present people with five or six options on each page, because if they leave the page after seeing those options, you won’t know which choice drove them out of the funnel.
Instead, keep it simple and testable. Have your products on one page, and your prices on the next. That way you determine separately whether the item has sufficient draw and if the price is appropriate.
Which brings me back to the top – Analytics programs. Google Analytics will provide you the basics – how many visitors are coming to your site, which subdomains they’re visiting, how long they’re spending on the site, etc, etc, etc. However, what you really want are more detailed metrics. I counsel marketers to take a look at programs like Kiss Metrics and Mixpanel in order to get the kind of metrics and analytics that really drive companies forward.
But whichever program you go with, remember to test and analyse everything that you do.
Internet Marketing Academy
December 15, 2011
Ever wish that you could know the precise effect of given piece of advertising or a marketing campaign? Now you can, by using Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a suite of website traffic analysis tools from Google. Quite frankly, if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing a huge opportunity for increased marketing effectiveness. By some reports, as many as 50% of the top sites use it, including Twitter and MySpace.
Google Analytics tracks visitors to your site, and provides you with detailed information about which pages they looked at, how long they lingered on each page, and what they were looking for on your site.
Getting started with Google Analytics is incredibly simple. Start by heading over to their website, and setting up an analytics account. It’s free, you just need to register.
Then you’ll be provided with a snippet of code and instructions on how to input it into your site.
Analyzing Online Marketing Effectiveness
The first, and most obvious, use of Google Analytics is simply to track general campaign effectiveness. So after you make an advertising push, you can track its effectiveness by logging into Google Analytics and checking the change in your page visits. It will also track the changes over time, so you can evaluate the stickiness of your advertising.
Most importantly, all the data is recorded in an easy-to-use, visual format, so that you can quantify all your results.
The second use of Google Analytics is for much more detailed tracking. For instance, say you make a major advertising push, and you site hits are way up, but you don’t see much of a difference to your sales numbers.
You can use Analytics to go in and see what went wrong. So perhaps hits were way up on your landing page, your product information page, and your pricing page, but you didn’t have many more conversions. You can also glean valuable information from the time that your users spent on each page. For example, if they stayed on your product information page for 0:05, then you know they probably weren’t very interested. On the other hand, if they sat on your pricing page for a long time before deciding not to buy, then perhaps the price is just slightly too high, and a temporary sale could drive up sales numbers.
In this case, you can tell that your marketing campaign was successful in attracting attention, and that your customers are interested in your product, but that the price point is too high.
You can also glean valuable information from the time that your users spent on each page. For example, if they stayed on your product information page for 0:05, then you know they probably weren’t very interested. On the other hand, if they sat on your pricing page for a long time before deciding not to buy, then perhaps the price is just slightly too high, and a temporary sale could drive up sales numbers.
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool, and will work wonders to help you track and quantify the effects of your marketing campaigns. No top website should be without it.
Internet Marketing Academy
(Image from TopOnlineSchools)
October 13, 2010
One thing most marketers do not do very often is test their headlines. Most do not know how to do it or are too busy trying to create their product that they don’t think about it.
It is no secret that the headline is the most important piece of copy on your website. And just changing a single word in your headline could raise or lower response.
And I’m not talking about just 1 percent or so. I’m talking about upwards of a 300 percent increase in sales.
Just by changing the headline!
The thing is you’re not going to be able to choose the winning headline from a list of 10 headlines you might have written. The best marketers in the world cannot predict what headline is going to pull better.
That’s why you need to test at least 2 headlines in a simple split-test, or 3-4 or more in a multivariate test.
So how do you go about this?
Thankfully Google Analytics mades this extremely easy. They have a tool called Google Website Optimizer that allows you to run simple split tests or more complicated multivariate testing.
And the best part: It’s Free!
So what you need to do is write at least 25 headlines and choose 3-4 headlines you want to test.
Why write 25 headlines? Because after 4-5 headlines you’ll start to “warm up” and you’ll start to write better and better headlines. Until you write a couple that are really good.
If you’re going to get a nominal amount of traffic, just split test 2 headlines. But if you’re getting a LOT of traffic, you can do a multivariate test where you’re testing 3 or more headlines.
This is necessary as you need enough conversions to declare a winner, and the more variables you have, the more conversions you need to get statistically significant results.
You can go here to access Google’s Website Optimizer: http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer. This extra small amount of effort could lead to better conversions and more money in your pocket.
Internet Marketing Academy
August 19, 2010
I have a quick question for you: when’s the last time you checked your Google Analytics stats?
If it’s been awhile, you’ll need to log in and take a look. And if you don’t have an Analytics account yet, you need to get with the program and sign up! It’s for free here at www.google.com/analytics and it’s the best tool you could ever come across.
You see, you Google Analytics stats can tell you a lot of valuable stats about your business. Like where your customers are coming from, what browsers they’re using, and what keyword they’re typing into Google when they come across your site.
Very frequently as marketers, we get caught up in the everyday marketing and other activities that bring money to our business. But we fail to step back and get a “30,000 foot view” of our business through our Google Analytics stats.
One tool you absolutely have to use is the Funnel Visualization tool. You go into Analytics, create a sales funnel from landing page to thank-you page, and you can track to see how your entire sales funnel is converting.
You’ll be able to determine what part of your sales process is holding you up. For example, if people are clicking from your sales page to your order page but you’re not getting a lot of sales, it could be that your order page is killing your conversions.
That’s the time to start testing several variations of your order page to determine if you can boost conversions higher. You can easily do this with Google’s Web Optimizer tool you have access to as part of Analytics.
Without this stat you would just be pushing traffic to your page and settling for the conversion rate you’re currently getting. But thanks to the data Analytics gives you, you can pinpoint exactly where the bottleneck is in your sales funnel.
And that’s just one thing you can determine thanks to Google Analytics.
So when’s the last time you signed into your Analytics account? You could be missing a critical metric that could lead to a huge profit windfall for your and your business.
Internet Marketing Academy