Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Web Analytics explained using Google Analytics

This article discuss about:
o Web Analytics in general
o Implementing Google Analytics in your website


Web Analytics

Idea:
It’s a measurement of the website usage by users. This measurement includes various parameters or units such as hit counts, downloads, errors, visitors area etc.

Background:
The web allows you to publish your business or content to a very large audience, very easily. But that does not change the need to make sure you understand your audience. By connecting with your visitors, you make them feel more comfortable. If your site “thinks” the way they do, it becomes natural and they will recommend it to friends. Web analytics can give you the power to know how your visitors use your site, to know how they react to your site (or changes on your site) and to improve the quality of the site. The better your visitors feel about using your site, the better your bottom line will be.

If your site is commerce-related and you have competition, you can be sure that your competitors are also using web analytics (or some related marketing techniques) to gain more customers. In particular, you can use web analytics to gain not just more customers, but more valuable customers.

In addition to design (or behavior) analysis, web analytics can be used to diagnose server or site problems, and measure the effectiveness of marketing and advertising campaigns.


Theory:

@The Benefits of Web Analytics
As a marketer, you realize the need to understand the results of the investments you make in order to achieve the goals you've established for your website - whether those goals are actual online purchases, or requests for information, downloads of product demos or white papers, etc. Within search engine marketing campaigns your "investment" can, and must, be broken down to an extremely granular level in order to measure - and more importantly - maximize, your results. You need to know what each keyword is generating for you in terms of both traffic and ROI - both from natural search engine optimization and pay-per- click programs. Only then can you and your The Web Marketing Guy campaign management team make the most informed decisions regarding changes to your targeted keyword list in order to maximize your ROI.

a. Measuring and maximizing ROI• Identify which referral sources (i.e. search engines, e-mail campaigns, newsletter sponsorships, print ads and affiliates) generate the most revenue, products, customers and orders for your business.
• Which sources have the highest browse-to-buy ratios and the highest overall revenue potential.
• Actionable information enables timely decisions, such as continuing a successful marketing strategy or stopping a campaign going nowhere.
• Measure-respond-measure scenario
• Online channel is keeping up with your overall business goals
• Visitor traffic and e-commerce sales numbers justifying the resources put into them
b. Better Target Your Marketing Efforts• Determine which visitor groups are most likely to convert into customers, members or subscribers
• Define visitor groups by the content they read, the actions they take, even the URL they come from.
c. Optimize Conversions
• Click-path tracking to maximize the rate at which your Web site visitors convert into customers, subscribers or members.
• Adjusting the content and navigation of your site in response to your reports
d. Pinpoint Online Revenue-Enhancing Opportunities
• e-commerce intelligence tying in click-stream behavior (the page-by-page paths visitors take through a site) with purchasing activity to unveil key shopping patterns and trends
• Identifying online revenue-enhancing opportunities, such as product cross-sells, the most profitable referring sources of traffic, and the ability to see which keywords, search engines or promotions drive the most sales.
• Determine upward and downward trends in a particular product, and which products would function best as loss leaders to attract new customers.
e. Save On Customer Support - improving the efficiency of your online support to dramatically reduce your offline costs.
f. Help Customers Help Themselves - path analysis indicates whether or not visitors are finding the information they need within.
• Early detection system for possible problems
• Real-time analysis of visitor interaction with your Web site can prompt changes to ensure that your products meet the needs of your customers, and uncover potentially larger support issues before they become headaches.

@The basics of Web Analytics measurement
Web analysis is not only the hits counted to your website. Mostly the hits counted are only for the home page and not all relative pages and various actions made by the users.

Hit counters just provide basic information. Web analytics includes several other units as a part of common measurement:

o Hits and impressions
o Page views
o Downloads
o Errors
o Bytes
o Users
o Unique hosts
o Visits or sessions
o Visit tracking with cookies

@Web Analytics Vendors
• Urchin
• WebTrends
• NetTracker
• DeepMetrix
• Core metrics Smart Tags
• Google Analytics


More about Google Analytics:

Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you're more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.

How Google Analytics helps you:
 Gives an idea on how people visits site, how they navigate and who becomes customers
 Let you know the important keywords for your site
 Page visits, click through rates, number of visits for a definite period, cost, count of visitors across the cities, conversion rates
 Summary of effectiveness of the campaigns from where the sites are getting hits
 Graphics reports and dashboards which helps analyzing data very quickly
 Customizable reports
 Sending reports via email or data export

Quick features of Google Analytics:
 Analytics Intelligence
 Advance segmentation
 Flexible customization
 Ecommerce tracking
 Track your business goals against threshold levels that you define
 Mobile tracking
 Data export API
 Advanced Analytics tools
 Benchmarking

Now, let us discuss how to install Google Analytics and customize an account to get the exact details which Business wants to analyze.

Signing up for Google Analytics

To create an Analytics account:
1. Visit http://www.google.com/analytics.
2. Enter your Google Account email and password and click Sign In. If you don't have a Google Account, click Sign up now to create one.
3. Click Sign Up.
4. Enter your Website's URL, making sure to select either http:// or https:// from the drop-down list. Enter a nickname for this account in the Account Name field, then click Continue.
5. Enter your contact information and click Continue.
Read the Google Analytics Terms of Service. If you agree to these terms, select the Yes checkbox and click Create New Account to continue.

Finding Google Analytics tracking code for the profile

To access your tracking code:

1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
2. From the Analytics Settings page, find the profile for which you would like to retrieve the tracking code. Please note that tracking code is profile-specific.
3. From that profile's Settings column, click Edit.
4. At the top right of the Main Website Profile Information box, click Check Status.
5. Your tracking code can be copied and pasted from the text box in the Instructions for adding tracking section.

Setting Goals and Funnels
If your website is designed to drive visitors to a particular page, such as a purchase or email signup page, you can track the number of successful conversions using goals and funnels in Google Analytics.

 A goal is a website page a visitor reaches once she or he has made a purchase or completed another desired action, such as a registration or download.
 A funnel represents the path that you expect visitors to take in order to reach the goal. Defining these pages allows you to see how frequently visitors abandon goals (and where they go instead) and the value of the goal.

Tagging Advertisement campaigns
Tagging your online ads is an important prerequisite to allowing Google Analytics to show you which marketing activities are really paying off. Tagging involves inserting and defining specific variables into the links that lead to your website.

Setting Filters
A filter is used to include, exclude, or change the representation of certain information in a report.

Enable Ecommerce Transaction tracking
With some simple additions to the receipt page of the website, Google Analytics can automatically detect and record transaction and product information. The required information is placed into a hidden form which is parsed for transaction and product information. Most template driven e-commerce systems can be modified to include this information in the receipt.

You'll also need to enable e-commerce reporting for your website's profile:

From the Analytics Settings page, click Edit next to the profile you would like to enable.
Click Edit from the Main Website Profile Information box
Change the E-commerce Website radio button from No to Yes.


Implementing Google Analytics for a website in general

Basic installation:

Copy and paste the code segment into the bottom of your content, immediately before the tag of each page you are planning to track. If you use a common include or template, you can enter it there.


For Data driven or page with Frames:

Database driven sites - Insert the tracking code on your index.php page or equivalent (eg. default.php, index.cfm).

Pages with frames - A web page containing frames will generate multiple pageviews: one for the framing page (containing either a FRAMESET or IFRAME tag within its HTML code), and one for each page shown in a frame. As a result, pageviews may be somewhat inflated. Even if a page on your site only appears as a frame for another page, we still recommend tagging it with the entire tracking code. If a visitor reaches the page through a search engine or a direct link from another site and the page doesn't contain the tracking code, the referral, keyword and/or campaign information from the source will be lost.

For Secure pages (https):

The Google Analytics tracking code is now the same for both secure and non-secure websites. The new tracking code detects the protocol of the page being tracked and matches the security of your web page automatically. Pages with URLs beginning with http:// will download the non-secure version at http://www.google-analytics.com/ga.js and pages with URLs beginning with https:// will load the secure version at https://ssl.google-analytics.com/ga.js. No modification of the tracking code on secure pages is required.

Although the previous version of the tracking code (urchin.js) required you to copy/paste special tracking code into your secure pages, this is no longer necessary if you are tracking your site with ga.js. You can use the same tracking code on both secure (https://) and non-secure (http://) pages.

References:
Basics of Web Analytics and terminologies:
http://www.thewebmarketingguy.com/web-analytics/index.html



Glossary:
Web Metrics
Several units or measurements which are commonly referred to when doing web analysis
Hits
Number of hits to the website

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