Analytics - 6/6 - Digital Marketing Agency

Introduction to Web Analytics Basics

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How often do you check your web analytics account? Daily? Weekly? Despite the benefits of tracking and measuring activity on your website, it will all be of no use if you implement the tracking code and then never look into what is going on.

Businesses often implement web analytics code on their site, in the same way many people might buy a household appliance. You see the ads, you think it looks useful, you can imagine all the things you can do with it. Once you get it, you set it up, you use it once – and then unless you have stellar results the first few times, it is possible that you will relegate it to the back of a cupboard or out in the garage, because it is just a bit more difficult than you originally thought.

Web analytics has a lot of widely touted benefits – broadly that it describes your customers interactions with your site, information which you can utilise to improve the customer experience. However, to be able to do this, you need to not only put the code on your site, you also have to do a raft of other things, which sometimes intimidates people into not wanting to do this at all.

  • Set up extras – like filters, segments, goals, download tags and E-commerce
  • Monitor it regularly (even if it isn’t part of your normal daily job)
  • Report on the data in a meaningful way (i.e. distill it so that you get actual useful data)
  • Identify what you should do as a result of what it is telling you

Over the next few posts, I will use a case study of our own website to show you the easiest and most basic ways to utilise web analytics for your website. I will be using Google Analytics in my case study because I think any small business should start their web analytics experience using Google Analytics.

  1. It is free, and so it lets you dip your toes in without a big commitment
  2. It is super easy to implement, you don’t need to be a programmer, and
  3. It is very comprehensive – it provides a lot of the features of the paid packages, but free!

So if you want to set up analytics on your site, or figure out how you can improve utilisation of your analytics, read this series…

Behavioural Advertising

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Behavioural advertising uses cookies to target ads at internet users based on previous pages they have viewed or personal details handed over when registering for something, somewhere, on the web.

This is one step beyond search marketings ‘behavioural’ advertising – which is similar because of the fact that ads/brands/products are promoted depending on the search term you have typed or the content on a page you are visiting.

This new behavioural advertising records and remembers your previous online behaviour.

The benefits of behavioural targetting for advertisers is obvious – targetting your ads at the most likely respondents increases your chances of a conversion. There are some advantages for consumers as well – perhaps it will increase your awareness of providers, thereby improving competition for products or services in which you are interested.

However, the negatives for consumers are also as obvious – internet privacy. Concern is being raised by privacy activists regarding the recording and ‘monitoring’ of internet users behaviour.

While it is easy enough to disable cookies, the worry is that most people are unaware of this – a benefit of which advertisers are probably fully aware. Perhaps as well as fighting the use of cookies by those sites which issue or use them, privacy activists should also be raising general awareness of cookie-use so that internet users can decide for themselves.

In the UK, a company called Phorm has caused a storm of controversy when it was discovered that they had conducted a trial which monitored the online behaviour of thousands of British Telecom users for behavioural targetting purposes.

The system Phorm invented, Webwise,  is basically an advertising system which categorises users so that advertisers can better target the ads they serve. The EU has accused the UK of inadequate protections for UK internet users following complaints regarding the use of Webwise, and has announced that they will commence legal action over it.

Amazon UK is the first large website owner in the UK to announce that it will bar the use of Webwise on its sites.

Measuring Visits from iPhones

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I have been a bit behind the ball here. At least twice in the last month I have blogged about mobile search, but neither time did I mention the iphone tracking now available in Google Analytics – purely because I hadn’t noticed it had gone up.

So, now you can track users who viewed your site from the iPhone, simply by using this new advanced segment.


While this doesn’t track all mobile users, you can still try and use screen resolution stats to try and figure that out (listed under the visits stats).


(I don’t have any particularly mobile-oriented sites at the moment, this is the best screen shot I can do sorry).

Web Analysts – Don't Let Your Boss Hijack Your Work

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Recently I have been harping on about the ups and downs I have experienced in my blogging due to reactionary posts I have written r.e. news articles.  I feel particularly ashamed of this behaviour because of the general fury I get, both at previous jobs when managers took my analysis and ran away with it creating a completely differend context, and when I discover the media is trying to swizzle me with their beat ups.

People try to do this to news/data for their own reasons, be it to make themselves look good, scare people into a certain action or to just create some buzz. But having had the title ‘analyst’ in nearly every job I have had since leaving university, it annoys me greatly, as it negates a lot of the work we analysts do.

To stop people doing this to YOUR data in the future, I have put together my little list of Data Contexts – how to try and ensure people don’t misinterpret your data.

If you provide this information alongside your data, you can try and minimise the ways people can misinterpret it. Just remember, if you put too many words/graphs/tables around your base results, you run the risk of people not reading, which encourages misinterpretation. So keep it minimal, but try to get the most important bits across to your audience (where possible):

1. Compare to the previous month/week/quarter/year. Put it in temporal context – is it normal or abnormal?
2. Seasonality effects – if it is abnormal, is it due to changing seasons? Holidays?
3. Compare to the industry/sector, town/country market – is it abnormal now? Or are you following the rest of the market? Compare using competitive intelligence tools like Hitwise or Google Trends
4. Segment your data – can you isolate where the changes are? Are your increases in sales due solely to one product? One segment of customers? One area? Do the sales translate to profits? Drill down into your data.
5. Compare with offline data. E.g your offline marketing campaigns; your server functionality;  have changes to your website resulted in code being dropped?;has someone just nay sayed your brand online?;has your competitor just gone bust?; has the Government just sanctioned/outlawed your product? Try and think of possible reasons, but remember to temper these with common sense, as they are pure headline fodder.

Ok, maybe that is enough for now- like I said, too much context and people lose interest. But seriously, don’t just be handing over a number in a “What is the meaning of life?” kind of exchange. You know a lot more about that number you are handing over, so let people know about it. Don’t give people an easy headline, it will only bring you headaches later when they then ask you to support their crazy assumptions. (“Ok Tracy, I just need the data to back up what I told them about our clients living longer than competitors”).

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