Archive for Marketing

Sep
17

Web Analytics 101: Think Different

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As much as some people may think that web analytics has some sort of mystical or voodoo powers and that by using them you will be filled with a wealth of insight and knowledge that you will immediately see working its wonders on your site’s traffic, think again. All web analytic software does is give you a bunch of dumb data. You (or who ever is in charge of the analytics) play the pivotal role of what information you need and how to use it.

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Categories : The Art of War
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To start with, no one package will have everything you need to truly unlock your site’s potential. However there are a number of free and purchased sites and software that can give you a look at the bigger picture.

The Top Ten things to look for in analytical software is as follows:

  1. Referring Links
  2. Referring Keywords and Search Engines
  3. Keywords You are Missing
  4. Bounce Rate, Bounce Pages
  5. Unlimited Lists
  6. Categorized Error Reports
  7. Navigation Paths/Funnels
  8. Customized Reports
  9. Vendor Support
  10. Report Generation

Referring Links and Keywords is a basic component to all analytical software. However, your software package should included and unlimited/user defined amount. Top ten refers just won’t do. The top ten will rarely change over the course of your site, but the refers below that will. This will give you an opportunity to network with those referrers who are lower on the list and give you more traffic. Another cool feature to look for would be referrer trends. Did that article you post increase the amount of traffic from a key term? Did that advertising program increase the amount of traffic over the course of 3 months? 6 months? When you combine trends and user defined lists, you can get a lot more quality information.

Keywords you are missing is rarely found in a complete analytics software package. This also includes negative key terms that are impacting your PPC campaigns. If you use Google Adwords you can solve this problem. The reports can give you keyword variations you may not have thought of as well as giving you a complete list of people who clicked on your add from something like hotel host/hostess services.

Bounce rate and the pages people people leave your site from is a very telling statistic. In another blog I will talk about how this needs to be researched properly to get the full benefit, but for now your software should be giving you a complete account on where visitors leave from. It might be a good location, ie leaving from a banner click or it good be a bad location, leaving from the product features page. Either way it will help you fine tune the content of your site and find ways of tailoring poor pages to become super pages.

Unlimited listings is a KEY feature. Your software MUST have this. User defined limits is of course preferred. By getting the full information you can see long tail searches, all the search terms people use to navigate your site, the popularity of every page and the list goes on. In short, this is a necessity and if the package you are considering doesn’t have it then reconsider your considering.

Categorized error reports or reports on errors by their error code is a useful tool when dealing with bottlenecks and other problems on a site. With unlimited listings you can see which pages stopped working and what caused the error. In some cases, bad code is to blame in other areas you might find that you need a better hosting package to handle the load on your site. A useful addendum to this would be having error pages categorized by date and time. That way you can see if the problem stems from overloading your server’s resources. These error pages can also tell you if someone is trying to implant a XSS or SQL Injection attack (by giving you the URL). This too is a necessity.

At the base you need navigation paths. At the highest navigation funnels have proven to be more useful. Your reliance on one or the other greatly depends on how many pages you have that channel traffic to certain sales or exit pages, the amount of traffic, and the diversity of traffic. Funnels give you a broad sense of traffic that you might not have thought of when creating navigation paths. If you package doesn’t have funnels, see if an upgrade does or if the customized reports allow you to build a funnel of sections to the pages you want traffic to follow. Having trends for this segment is an added bonus, but if you can generate reports than you can do it by hand if your software does not allow trends.

Customized report can greatly increase the depth of your analytics. Say you wanted to track your RSS feeds or wish to generate data for one key term in your site’s search bar; customized reports will help you do it. If your software doesn’t have side by side comparisons of which paths are working the best, you can create one yourself. Customized reports is not a necessity when you are getting your feet wet. They take time and patience to create and at the outset you might be too busy tackling all this data to even begin thinking about areas of improvement. However, as you become more of an expert on your site, customized reports give you a major tool in digging into the deep data some software just doesn’t cover.

Never underestimate the power of customer support. Quality customer support will aid you in building customized reports, understanding information you have garnered and will keep you appraised of newer versions and even helpful mods (if the software supports modding).

Report generation allows you to generate a report on those things most important to you. In the end, its all about automation. By building daily, weekly, and monthly reports that sent to you via email or placed in a convenient location in your analytic’s control panel you are able to build one stop summaries of your traffic without having to dig around every area of your control panel. This is not a necessity, but the larger your site gets the more work this takes off of your shoulders.

Unfortunately this is an inaccurate list. I was going to name it 11 things, but I wanted to reward those who read the entire length of this blog. The number 1 absolutely critical feature that you need in your analytical software is a user interface YOU are comfortable with. The software could be the greatest package on the face of the planet, but if you can’t find the reports how can you use the software to its fullest?

I am Dave Dunlap and I approve of this message. Until the next time, happy hosting!

Categories : Commentary
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Like many buzzwords in the marketing arena, social marketing has been both over and under estimated. It has been hyped up beyond all belief as well as being sidelined as not a worth while investment of time and money.

I could spend this article praising social marketing or I could spent it demonizing social marketing. However, if you did a quick Google search I am sure you can find thousands of articles doing either written by authors who are far more passionate about either side than I am.

No for this column of The Art of War, I will discuss the number one enemy when it comes to failed social marketing campaigns.

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Categories : The Art of War
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Aug
03

10 Lessons from HostingCon 2008

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Although there were actually quite a few lessons to be learned from this years HostingCon, I have managed to boil them down into the 10 most important ones or the 10 most important lessons for myself.

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Categories : Conferences
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