This is part three of a series of posts on Search Engine Marketing for marketers. This part discusses the benefits of web analytics with some basics and introduces a few free but good web analytics tools. (Part 1, Part 2)
Beneftis of Web Analytics
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.
I’m sure you remember this classic advertising quote by John Wanamaker. What John said was true; not for digital marketing today, not when web analytics is employed. I always urge my client to have tracking properly implemented and tested before launching any online campaigns; who’d like to expect a battle in the blind? Nobody.
Generally, you can have a good understanding about your website content, your visitors, and the website traffic with web analytics software.
Visitors. From your search engine reports, you can tell how many clicks are generated, which roughly equals to the number of visits. Not really true! If your competitor clicks on your ad aggressively, the purpose is probably to incur more cost to you; the page may not be fully loaded when the browser window is closed.
You want to know which countries your visitors are from, what kind of web browsers they use, and how many of them are repeating visitors.
Bounced visits. Normal visitors landed on your site after clicking on your PPC listing; but he was not interested after a glance of your site, and he simply exit. This (bounce rate) is something you can get from most web analytics report. Bounce rate is one way to tell the quality of your traffic.
Content. Is your site design ok? If you run an online store, you want to find out on which step of the checking out process do most exits occur. Can people find what you expect them to? Which are the top visited pages? Which pages have the highest bounce rates or exit rates? You need to understand your site content very well for optimization.
Traffic. Where are your visitors from? Search engine? Email campaign? Direct access? Or, referred by some other websites? For search engine traffic, you need to identify which are organic search trafficand, which are paid search campaign traffic, and what queries people use to find your site.
That’s a bit over-simplified introduction about web analytics; but there’s really A LOT you can learn in this topic. I can use one hour just to explain what visitor means (visitor, new visitor, unique visiotr, absolute unique visitor, …) to you. But as a marketer, don’t get too obsessed in this. Get your web analytics guy to worry about the operation details (the “how” part). You need to know what can be done and what need to be done with web analytics.
Web Analytics for SEM Campaigns
You should always have your web analytics software in place before you launch the SEM campaign because it helps you to map your goals (registration, sales, download, and etc.) to different levels of your SEM campaign (campaign, ad group, ad text, keywords, or URL level). Before I get you confused, I’m going to just cover two important things you can do with web analytics for SEM campaigns:
- Conversions. Conversion is your goal of online marketing campaigns; different business may have different goals, but most goals can be tracked with web analytics. Make sure you can tell which SEM campaign drives most conversions or sales and the top converting keywords. The least thing you can do is to track CPA value (cost per conversion or cost per acquisition).
- Search queries. Search queries are different from PPC keywords. They are the exact terms people use in search engines to search. Keywords are what you use in SEM campaigns along with different matching options to target your potential customers. Google has very useful search queries report from which you MAY get search queries. “MAY” means not all queries; and, you need web analytics to “catch” all queries from SEM campaigns so that you can update your SEM with more keywords. In addition, the search queries are helpful to your search engine optimizations.
If there are online sales generated, it’s recommended you track on keyword levels their ROAS value to better optimize the campaigns.
FREE Web Analytics Tools
The following 4 tools are free web analytics I found quite good:
- Google Analytics
- Woopra (real time web tracking)
- Statcounter (the first web analytics I used, see demo here)
- Piwik (open source web analytics)
Hope this part can get you started in web analytics. The next part is to help you understand how to do SEM budgeting.