Archive for the ‘Analytics’ Category

How Important Is Twitter To Your Online Business?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

It all depends on you really…

A recent survey in the US, found that currently, 8% of online Americans use Twitter. The report produced by the Pew Internet & American Life Project is the latest in a line of interesting stats coming out of Twitter this year. This survey of 2,257 US adults carried out in September 2010 highlights (despite the relatively small sample size) the 8% that use it, but more importantly highlights the large amount of people that use it, but only very occasionally.

For a payment service provider such as Lancore, respect in the market is vital and as such social media interaction can allow us to develop alongside potential users of our money transfer services. This same basic model can be extremely useful for the vast majority of online businesses (big and small) in creating the kind of interaction that promotes them in this multi-million user marketplace.

While the US may be seeing a relatively lower than expected usage statistic, but no less impressive, the fact is that the rest of the world makes up the majority of new users. With overall user numbers skyrocketing up to 105million+ since 2006, you can take your finger off the ‘delete twitter account’ button for now. Stats released by Twitter at their developer’s conference back in April should convince you that Twitter is a valuable place to post your information:

  • 300, 000 users added per day
  • 180 million unique visitors daily
  • 3 billion requests a day – meaning a lot of tweets are read
  • 55 million Tweets posted daily
  • 600 million queries on its search engine daily

These stats should give you an idea of just how popular Twitter is. Now the question was: How important is Twitter to you online business? The answer, as I said, depends on you. Basically if you are able to post regularly, provide good unique content or at least link to or re-tweet relevant content for you business, you will eventually grow you followers. With enough followers you business will have a handy platform from which to speak to your customers through a popular and easy to use medium.

Twitter Analytics is a new dashboard coming around the end of 2010. This will give you access to valuable information on your users that can help you track: who has re-tweeted your posts, how often they have re-tweeted and any mentions, follows and un-follows. You can also track the success of an individual tweet which would come in very handy so you can work out what kinds of information your business is putting out there, is being gobbled up by your users.

Twitter is a steadily growing social medium. Online businesses might sit and look at the stats here and there and question whether or not to start a Twitter account or to delete the one they have due to lack of inquiries from that source. The fact is that you may just be ‘tweeting’ the wrong sort of thing. Using Twitter Analytics can help your business optimise your tweets so that you can tap into the billions of tweets being read every day around the world.

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How Can Google Help You Advertise Your Business Online?

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Google AdvertisingGoogle is one of the biggest companies in the world and has a near monopoly over the billions of searches made through search engines every day. This gives them rather a lot of power over the internet. Luckily for us, Google is quite nice and has the philosophy “Don’t Be Evil” which means that they have your best interests at heart.

Search Results

Google is a search engine first and foremost: the most popular one in the world. Or rather more accurately, Google is a database or index which they have built up by constantly combing the web for changes to current sites and entirely new sites which it then uses its search engine to trawl through in order to quickly pick out the best results based on your search query. By meeting a long list of criteria for a relevant and authoritative website you can get your website to the top of Google search results, which is a very good way to advertise yourself especially if you can do this for a keyphrase which people use often.

AdWords

Alternatively they have provided AdWords which is an advertising service which allows people and businesses to get their adverts in front of millions of pairs of eyes every day for specific search terms without having to go down the organic search engine optimisation (SEO) route. After you have signed up and decided on your budget and your key phrases, you just have to write a catchy advert and outbid your competition for a place at the top of the page.

Google Places

If your business has a shop or an office or a hub location or in fact, even just a vague geographical area you can advertise yourself using Google Places. This service highlights you on a map in Google search results and gives searchers a link to your location and your website. This can be a very quick and effective way to catch some customer’s attention.

Display Advertising

Recently Google have been in New York to discuss display advertising with the Mad Men of Madison Avenue. At Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual MIXX conference, Google presented their pitch about display advertising explaining that it is the future of dynamic online advertising. Especially as new HTML 5 technology will make getting video to every web surfer a slick and easy process allowing display advertising to be more exciting.

So next time you look at your advertising budget and think what you’re going to use it for…save a thought for Google. With the right understanding of Google’s platform you can turn traffic into profit and make your payment service provider really earn their keep. Just ensure that your money transfer services can handle it.

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How Useful Is Event Tracking to You?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Event tracking is not the most common aspect of Google Analytics and can often be overlooked by users. However it can be very useful for many different kinds of site in providing an alternative way to gather data on user trends. What Event Tracking provides is information on when and how users are interacting with various website elements such as file downloads and a variety of page gadgets. Basically, a more advanced profile of user interaction with the more dynamic aspects of your site (i.e. those that don’t take you to another page).

By using this you will be able to get a fuller insight into how accessible and useable these various additions to your site are. This includes Flash-driven elements and video players, embedded AJAX, gadgets, file downloads and loading time for data.

Of course tracking some of these elements will be more useful to some websites than others. Take a software company for instance. If they have free software patch downloads available or PDF files on using their product then they will very likely gain from using event tracking. Through this they will be able to determine the levels of downloads from specific pages and determine the time it is taking for users to achieve these downloads. This could provide further insight into page view trends and time spent on pages. It’s also useful to note that by monitoring the time spent on downloads the webmaster can determine whether download speeds are being limited by the server in some way.

In another example, a site might have a great deal of videos embedded on one page. Without event tracking it would be difficult to gauge why a user is spending a great deal of time on that page. With event tracking you will be well aware of how often users are watching these videos. If you provide a large number of videos on your page you will be able to determine which are less popular than others.

In order to apply event tracking you will have to put in some forethought as there is no specific model for using it.

  • Firstly you will have to determine which events you want to track. You may have a wide variety of dynamic elements on your site, but even starting with just one will provide a useful starting point.
  • Secondly you should correlate your event tracking with your previous analytics reports. This way you can determine which elements and on which pages your event tracking would be best applied to.
  • Finally, ensure that you use a consistent and clear standard for naming for event categories, actions and labels. Doing so will ensure that your information will be easier to understand and will be better organised.

The Author of this piece, Martin Able is an expert in online credit card processing and has set up money transfer services for an array of businesses.

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Using Google Analytics Or Urchin

Friday, February 12th, 2010

As we’ve often discussed on this blog, Google Analytics has an abundance of features to offer any web company, allowing them to effectively monitor the traffic to their site. This in turn allows them to best tailor their site to the needs of their users. However, one thing which we have never yet draw attention to but really should have is Urchin. Urchin was a software company which Google acquired in 2006 and went on to become Google Analytics. However in the process there was also another variation of the web analysis software created which became known as Urchin. While both offer in-depth web analysis there are obviously many differences between the two services, so how do you know which is right for your business?

The most notable difference between Analytics and Urchin is that while Analytics as we know is accessed via the web from a Google server, Urchin is downloaded to and run from your own server. By installing the Urchin software you are allowing it to create and store all of your websites traffic information remotely as opposed to having it hosted by Google. This minor change can make a variety of major differences.

One thing to note is that Urchin is a licensed product and as such is purchased by the user – Analytics is of course free. However by purchasing Urchin you assume complete control of your data and are not dependant on Google to provide it for you. In doing so you create a variety of differences that can have both a positive and negative result.  First and foremost, the IT overheads are obviously far greater for those using urchin meaning more maintenance and costs.  You also must consider the space that you will need to set aside for the storage of data, log files, etc. You are also responsible for any upgrades that the software may require as well as the security of the data that you gather from users.

Analytics seems far easier as it allows you access to the data without the issues that come from maintenance and storage. This is the prime advantage of Analytics, its ease of use. However, if there weren’t advantages to using Urchin there would be no point in it. Fortunately there are several reasons why Urchin is useful.

The fact is that there are several very good reasons for storing your web traffic information yourself. The data you can read from Analytics is finite in that they can only store so much backlogged data for a user. With your own storage you can potentially store data for years and build a far more comprehensive overview of your sites traffic over time. You can also reprocess data and run a more sophisticated array of your own queries through Urchin as the data is readily available and you have full access to all of it. Furthermore for some businesses Urchin is essential. For those that require the participation of a third party in their data (such as an auditor) Analytics is simply not an option. Another reason to opt into Urchin is if you want to gather data on an intranet. Urchin can be positioned behind your firewall making it ideal if you want to restrict internet data from your logs.

Fortunately both of these services provide in-depth analysis making them both good choices for the data you will receive. This put’s your choice down to your company’s personal requirements. Ideally, running both of the services together would give a business the best of both worlds and prove the most comprehensive web data available.

“Martin Able, the Author of this article ensures that money transfer services are controlled with the strictest security measures at Lancore in order to ensure safe online credit card processing.”

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Educating Yourself in Google Analytics

Friday, February 5th, 2010

When it comes it familiarising yourself with the Google Analytics system there are a lot of areas that require looking into to give you a reasonably concise overview. Among the most important areas to familiarise yourself with are the monitoring of visitor data and creating and tracking goals within your sites account. This requires quite a bit of time to be put aside in order to really get a feel for the system. However, once you have this under your belt you can make the next vital step in analysing and utilising the data that analytics gathers for your site in order to really begin optimising your site for success.

On this blog we provide a variety of articles which hopefully have assisted in making you more aware of the benefits which can be reaped from an in-depth understanding of how to utilise Google Analytics effectively. Anyone who has looked into our other posts will be well aware of how essential Analytics can be to improve your site, and in the case of ecommerce how it can assist you in improving your traffic and sales.

Usefully, aside from the articles we provide, Google Analytics is equally devoted to assisting users in the understanding and use of their web traffic analysis tool. There are several ways in which Analytics sets out to provide users with best practice methods and techniques to allow web based businesses to make analytics work for them.

Analytics API

As discusses in a previous articles the Analytics Data Export API allows users to make Analytics work for them. Through this extremely useful interface businesses can tailor Analytics to work exactly how they want. While the online setup provides a comprehensive overview, the ability to create your own modified version offline has the capacity to be specifically useful to your business making it incomparable in its usefulness.

Furthermore there are no limitations to how you can analyse and compare the data as the methods are entirely within your own hands. However, this does require a reasonable level of programming knowledge and understanding of analytics, so is not ideal for everyone. However for the advanced Analytics user it provides the stepping stone for a more personalised and prioritised setup.

Analytics Seminars, Videos and Blogs

For those trying to get a foothold in Analytics there are a variety of resources available from the Analytics team themselves. The analytics blog provides insight into a variety of areas within and related-to Google Analytics. In addition there are videos available which are created by Analytics employees to boost your understanding of key areas in an easier to follow format. The videos cover topics ranging from novice to advanced user practices and encompass not only using Analytics but also other applications that coincide with optimising your site such as AdWords and Website Optimiser. If your business is in the United States and is keen to get the best understanding of Analytics possible then Google regularly run advanced and introductory seminars across the country which you can register for.

Analytics Qualifications

Finally, for those who already have a good grasp of Analytics there are Google Analytics Qualifications which can be attained online through their Analytics IQ course and Test. This will not only offer further insight into advanced use of Analytics but will provide a qualification which is very useful to have in the industry.

The main element of Analytics that makes it so accessible stems from Google’s maxim for assisting good web development and ecommerce practices. It’s in Google’s interest to assist in the development of websites and best practices in web design and SEO. As a result you will find that there are numerous avenues available to you through which you can get detailed assistance in making Analytics an indispensible part of your websites upkeep and advancement.

“This article was provided by Martin Able a Lancore employee focused on providing customers with the best money transfer services for ensuring secure online credit card processing.”

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Applying the Analytics Annotation Feature

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The team at Google Analytics offers a variety of features and usefully are regularly updating them and introducing new ones. Analytics users are constantly asking Google to provide certain features that would be of use and there are a few suggestions which crop up more often than others. Fortunately, Google do listen and the users get their hands on something that can really enhance their use of analytics and benefit their business.

In December last year users where provided with just that in the form of Analytics Annotations. A simple addition to the application, it can be an extremely effective aid in monitoring your websites traffic.

For some time users of Analytics have been suggesting that a useful feature would be to be able to set notes that indicate the start of changes or additions to their site. This way they could monitor whether there are traffic changes that result from a change made on the site or to the business at a specific point in time. For example, if an annotation was set to record the date at which the business started an advertising campaign or made a change to the site, then the web administrator could determine how the traffic has changed since this date.

Web traffic always has a tendency to fluctuate making it difficult to determine what is affecting it the most. Furthermore, web based businesses are regularly making updates and additions to their sites and promotions in order to attain greater traffic volumes and most importantly – conversions. As a result, having a simple tool available to make note of when transitions were made allows the business to more precisely evaluate the success of a specific change.

Prior to its release many Analytics users had requested such a service, so it has definitely been eagerly anticipated. Google Analytics latched onto the idea when more and more users where turning to a note taking plug-in for Firefox due to a lack of a viable alternative. Unfortunately the Firefox plug-in could not generate notation beyond the machine in use. Analytics Annotation allows notes to be attached directly to the dashboard in Analytics so that users can view them from anywhere.

To set up an Annotation within Analytics simply access your Analytics Account and proceed to the dashboard view. From there select the tab directly under the main graph and then opt to ‘create new annotation’. From here you can now enter the date on which you want the annotation to be applied, name the annotation and determine whether you want it to be private or shared. You then simply save the annotation.

It’s an extremely simple feature but was very much needed in Analytics. The provision of this simple tool will be of great use to Analytics users allowing them to more easily document changes in their business and track how traffic varies as a result.

“Martin Able the author of this article works as part of the Lancore team to monitor money transfer services for clients and ensure the best standards for online credit card processing.”

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The Google Analytics Data Export API

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

As we are all very well aware, Google Analytics can provide unrivalled insight into the inner workings of your website. Several of our previous articles have discussed how it can be used to optimise site content and ecommerce systems to improve sales as well as using the visitor features to tailor your site for your user-base. These articles have shown the usefulness of Analytics and how the data can be displayed in varying formats to assist in its analysis. Without these features the analytics data is a complex array of almost indiscernible data. This is where the Google Analytics Data Export API comes in.

An API or Application Programming Interface is like a gateway implemented by a software program to allow interaction with other software. What the Google Analytics Data Export (GADE) API does is allow users of Google analytics to request data from their Google Analytics accounts on a platform separate from Google Analytics web interface. As a result, the API allows the user to utilise the data and create outputs and data displays that they have created or modified themselves that are not available within Analytics itself.

Of course with such a complex system Google Analytics wouldn’t simply serve it up and leave you to it. The API includes a few features to get you started and allows you to start developing your own applications for requesting data. The Data Feed Query Explorer is a simple interface that comes part-and-parcel with the API and allows simple exploration of your data with a variety of popular queries . There is also a selection of JavaScript examples which can give some insight into how to get started with writing your own. Finally their JavaScript guide provides the tutorials that will get even beginner programmers off and running.

In order to get the API up and running you must of course first have access to an Analytics account and profile to track your websites use. Furthermore, it is beneficial if the account has been gathering data for some time to give you a greater scope for the information you gather through the API. If you don’t have an account then one can be set up by registering a Google account and using that ID to create an Analytics account. Once you have done so follow the instructions to set up the websites tracking code.

However the Data Export API is currently still in private Beta and access has to be applied through the Truster Tester Program.

The usefulness of this feature is in the ability for users to use their own code to tailor the results in exactly the way they want them. This will take away many of the boundaries that Analytics has at the moment. Hopefully the Data Export API will make the transition into becoming a publicly available beta in the near future.

“The Author of this article Martin Able has worked as part of the Lancore team on developing better methods of online credit card processing as well as money transfer services.”

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Managing and Optimising your Site Content through Analytics

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

As any website guru will tell you, ‘content is king’. This applies as much to an ecommerce site as to any other. It is vital that the site provides something invaluable to potential customers. Of course no website will be perfect for everyone but it is vital that even in a niche market you are providing a very high standard. For an ecommerce site, content refers to products and services.

As a result, it is important to know how popular the products, pages and features of your site are with your current and new clients. Analytics provides a variety of tools about success of site content and how it can be optimised.

Top Content

This feature allows you to gauge the popularity of each individual page of your site. You can determine the most popular pages, their number of page views, the average time on page and the bounce and exit rates. Through this you can determine which of your pages are working for and against your overall productivity.

To add additional depth of understanding to this feature it can be viewed through a variety of different methods such as by percentage, performance and comparison. Furthermore there are a variety of advanced filters to assist with evaluation of pages.

If for example you find that a particular page has a high bounce or exit rate then it might be prudent to re-evaluate the page to determine what is affecting its views. It may be the case that the page has poor navigation or simply offers something that your range of clients isn’t interested in.

In this case it is always prudent to be running website optimizer on several of the pages, this allows you to check your content order to make changes and improve your site. Otherwise you may want to rethink the usefulness and relevance of that particular page. It is important not to get clients sidetracked from the key aims of the site.

Top Landing Pages

This feature works very well in conjunction with the Top Content analysis. What the top landing page tool provides is insight into how people are accessing your site. While you would expect the majority of your traffic to initially reach your index or intro page it is important to consider that people will find their way into a variety of landing pages.

This can most likely occur as a result of a popular product or potentially your own SEO campaign. If you find that a certain page or product is receiving more attention then you may want to check up further on this product’s sales and act to capitalise on it. You could further endorse this product via advertising campaigns or special offers.

Alternatively, if this popularity can be tied to an SEO or marketing campaign then you may want to create similar campaigns for other products in order to reap the benefits across your site.

Top Exit Pages

Conversely, the Top Exit Pages feature allows you to look at where people are leaving your site. If this happens to be your order confirmed page then it is probably not such a problem. However, if cart or order confirmation pages are seeing high exit rates then you may want to look into the reasons for this. High exit rates in these cases are often the result of poorly organised forms or a lack of information. It is in the checkout page that users become most sceptical of a site and are more likely to leave. If they see something they don’t like such as extra charges announced on the last page or a poorly made address details page then you can count on a large exit rate.

In this instance creating goal funnels can be a very useful endeavour. This can provide in-depth information about the exit and success rates of the pages funnelling into the goal page (usually the confirmation or ‘thanks for ordering’ page). For more information on using and setting up goal funnels check out our previous article.

Site Overlay

This is an extremely useful tool as it provides an overview of link popularity across your entire site. When using it you are provided with an overview of how you would usually view your site but with a percentage tag beside each link on the page. This allows you to look at your site from a client point of view and to see how your traffic flows from page to page. This feature provides a very useful insight into how your site is being browsed.

Using these features of Google Analytics, as well as a few others can provide extremely useful information. What is important is that you analyse and use this information correctly to optimise and prioritise products and pages on your site.

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Optimising your Site for Clientele using Google Analytics

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Your Target Customer

The most important thing for any ecommerce site is making sales, and in order to do this the site must accumulate a strong client base. Customers are websites very lifeblood; as such it is imperative that you can evaluate what your target audience is and how they interact with your site. Google Analytics can provide a concise array of details about your users, allowing you to modify your site to keep returning customers and acquire new ones. Here we will look into how using a variety of visitor details acquired by Google Analytics can assist in developing your site to maximise goal conversions.

Visitor Trending

Visitor trending provides a variety of insights into how users interact with your site, whether it be the number of total visits a day, average page views per month or time spent on your site. Through this you can determine what your sites strengths and weaknesses are. If, for example, you are receiving a high number of visits but also have an inordinately high bounce rate then there could be issue with your main landing page. High bounce rates usually indicate that your entrance pages aren’t relevant to many of your visitors. You should work to make your landing page as compelling as possible and also ensure that the pages are appropriately tailored to the keywords and ads that you are using.

Visitor Loyalty

In a nutshell, this shows how loyal your clientele are. It looks at the number of repeat visits, how recent they are and length and depth of visits. These can help to determine whether you are maintaining customers (i.e. they are returning). If customers are not returning to your site then there could be a few issues, but at least you know what needs to be done. If you also cross reference this with length and depth of visits you can see how far users are getting on your site and how long they remain on it. Through these you can determine whether your site is confusing to navigate or perhaps has a frustrating checkout system.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking allows comparisons to be made with other industry verticals. You can make comparisons of visits, page views, etc. in order determine where you are behind or ahead in the market. Through this you can determine in which areas your site is going wrong and possibly pick up useful ideas from other sites.

Map Overlay & Languages

We will discuss these two sections together, not because they have direct similarities but because of the areas in which they can assist your site. Map Overlay provides you with a very powerful tool to view globally where your site is receiving visitors from. Languages basically does what it says on the tin, by providing you with a breakdown of the various languages of the visitors to your site. These are useful together as by combining them you can gain an insight into your users, both geographically and linguistically. This allows you the option to tailor your site and keywords for more specific geographical intent (E.g. ‘car rental London’), as well as providing additional language options if you have a large client base in India for example.

Browser Capabilities

This provides details of how users are accessing your site, whether it is the browser, the operating system, screen resolution, flash versions and java that their system supports. This is extremely useful as once you have an overview of this you will know how to tune your site to suit your users. If, for example, you have a large number of users with older versions of flash and no Java support then it may be prudent to reduce these elements. Furthermore, you can modify your site to work for the browsers that the majority of your clients are using. Of course it would be best to accommodate all browsers, but in the mean time this gives you a priority list.

Once you know the problem it can usually be easily fixed. Google Analytics will provide the analysis but it is up to you to make the changes your site needs. Knowledge can be a major asset when optimising your site for success.

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How Goal Funnelling in Google Analytics can improve your Websites ROI

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

How Goal Funnelling in Google Analytics can improve your Websites ROI

A funnel is the series of pages a user must go through in order to reach the goal conversion. The goal in most cases is the sale confirmation page. A goal funnel created in Google Analytics allows the user to create something like a tree structure view of the process and determine when and where users are leaving the site.

If you think of the site like a tree, the goal page is represented by the trunk of the tree, the pages that lead to this page are the branches and those leading to these pages are the twigs. Potential clients are like drops of rain falling on the twigs. They are liable to fall off at any time between the twig and the trunk. Those that do make the trunk have reached the goal and have therefore made a purchase. Goal funnels allow the analytics user to determine where the raindrops are falling off.

In a website there is always a chain of pages leading to the end result which is usually a sale confirmation page. Users must go through items pages, shopping basket, checkout, terms and conditions and payment confirmation before they reach the end result. It goes without saying that many potential sales drop out along the way. A goal funnel allows the sites administrator to determine the weak link in the chain of pages where most people drop out and amend it appropriately.

It is an extremely useful tool as it allows the sites optimiser to determine exactly where the major problem is on the site. If for example users are working their way through the purchasing process and the vast majority of dropouts are leaving on the sites payment details page, then there are most likely issues with this page in particular. As a result the optimiser can look into what it is about this specific page that is causing the issues. This could prompt changes to the page such as altering the way the form is laid out or perhaps make changes to the wording. Whatever changes are made the intention is always to increase the traffic making it all the way down to the goal conversion.

A very useful tool to use in conjunction with this is Website Optimiser (also from Google). It allows you to test variants of one page against each other in order to determine what version is more popular. It does this by alternating the pages between users and returning the number of conversions versus the number of visitors. This allows the site to be in a constant state of tweaking in order to reach an optimum state of form and function.

Setting up a goal funnel is a simple process. It involves accessing your analytics account and finding the client or site you wish to setup the funnel for and selecting to edit their account. Due to recent changes made by Analytics, up to 20 conversion goals can be set for each profile. Goals can be applied by opting to edit ‘registered user sales’ or ‘new user sales’ dependent on the goal you wish to create. The goal funnel can then be tailored by name, position and type. By setting the type to URL destination you will receive feedback on what numbers are reaching the ultimate page and where they are leaving. Goals can also be set based on time on site and pages visited. The Goal URL should then be set to the goal page (e.g. ‘confirmed.php’). The funnel is finally created by inputting the steps (or pages) leading down to the goal.

This will provide invaluable insight into the sites traffic and the site can be improved dramatically based on the results returned. Goal funnels are an extremely useful tool as they take away the need for guess work in optimising a sites design.

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