Web Analytics

Responsive Web Design and Web Analytics

Over the last year or so Respon­sive Web Design (RWD) has gained siz­able atten­tion within the web world. With the ris­ing tide of smart­phones and tablets and the vast vari­ety of screen sizes these devices rep­re­sent, com­pa­nies are look­ing for eas­ier and more effec­tive ways of pro­vid­ing their con­tent across mul­ti­ple screens. Although RWD does have its imple­men­ta­tion chal­lenges, by in large it is seen as the panacea to the multi-screen headache. Inter­est­ingly enough, when list­ing out the prac­ti­cal chal­lenges of insti­tut­ing RWD on a large scale, very few have men­tioned the impact of RWD on web ana­lyt­ics. In this post I will dis­cuss this prob­lem and some best prac­tices in imple­ment­ing ana­lyt­ics on web sites using RWD.

The Basics — RWD Lay­outs

Before div­ing into the ana­lytic chal­lenges of RWD sites, lets take a step back and get a bet­ter fla­vor for the dif­fer­ent types of RWD lay­outs and how they differ.

In gen­eral, there are three types: Basic Fluid Lay­out, Adap­tive Lay­out, Respon­sive Lay­out. If you’re on a desk­top or lap­top com­puter, look at the web site exam­ples below and adjust the win­dow screen-size width and see the sub­se­quent impact on dis­played content.

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Web Analytics, Anyone?

As Abbott & Costello demonstrate in this classic video, if you don’t ask the right question, you can end up going around in circles without ever answering the pertinent questions. As anyone who has worked with web analytics knows, there is a dizzying amount of information available to measure user behavior on your web site. For instance, is a 45% bounce rate good or bad? How many times do visitors need to visit our site before they complete a desired action?

Last week, Ann Oleson and I attended the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education – #AMAHighered – in New Orleans. We delivered a presentation on Web Analytics to a room full of engaged attendees.

Wikipedia defines web analytics as “the study of online behavior in order to improve it”. That’s pretty simple, right? But, how do you know what numbers really matter? In our experience working with colleges and universities around the country, many people end up looking for answers in the wrong places. How do you avoid this trap? First, keep in mind that web analytics is a process, not simply a tool. The process of utilizing web analytics is dependent upon clear definition of your key business objectives. Once your goals and objectives have been clearly defined, you need to set up analytics goals to capture data that reflects your goals and objectives. Then, you must constantly measure, analyze, and modify your web marketing practices based upon the constant influx of data.

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Web Analytics: How to Handle Direct Traffic, Not Provided, Dark Social and Do Not Track

For marketers, measurement is no longer an option, but a requirement. The C-Suite (which many marketers have now proudly joined) is looking for more than warm fuzzies, and is instead looking for reporting, results, and ROI. A number of developments over the past couple of years—not surprisingly, led by Google—have shaped the way we measure, analyze and optimize digital marketing tactics. This is a good thing, as long as we understand what we can track—and what we can’t.

Take organic search keywords as an example. Despite it being just over a year since Google encrypted keywords and implemented secure search for anyone logged into any Google product when searching, many people still don’t understand the impact of this (not provided) result on their analytics. Search Engine Land explained the (not provided) issue well when released, but essentially what it means is that if people are logged into a Google product (think Gmail, YouTube, Google+, etc.)

and conduct a search using Google, the referring keyword data is not passed through to your site. This is also commonly misunderstood as an issue with Google Analytics; in fact it doesn’t matter which analytics program you are using because Google search is holding the data and never passing it through to your website, regardless of whether you are using Google Analytics, Omniture, or any other application. For a significant number of the clients that I work with, (not provided) has become one of the top 3 keyword sources in organic keyword reports. This means that a significant amount of keyword data isn’t being captured; it’s just gone.

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The Importance of Marketing Analytics

Analytics is one of those words: it gets used correctly for the most part, but often gets used as a catchall. As marketers, we understand the importance of having web analytics set up, of having an analyst on staff, and of constantly working with the data as a part of our daily practice. We spend a significant amount of time focused on site metrics and web analytics reports. We have a great sense of how our sites are performing technically, and how that backs out to money made.

Marketing analytics is the measurement and optimization of your marketing activities. Rather than focusing only on your site’s performance like you do with web analytics, you focus on how your marketing efforts are performing, and adjust them accordingly. Marketing analytics goes beyond on-site indicators and leans on other tools, offsite metrics, and even offline efforts. It takes a whole-picture approach to the measurement of your marketing.

The concept seems simple — and somewhat assumed — but many marketers spend hours in web analytics tools like Google Analytics and Omniture, looking at the outcome of their efforts as it relates to site performance, but don’t go any further than that.

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5 Reasons You Should Use Web Analytics

According to a recent survey of 300 small to mid-size businesses conducted by BIA/Kelsey, 40% of SMBs are planning on increasing their digital spending budgets within the year. They’re doing so because SMB’s realize that their customers are online. By creating a place for you business on the web, you are able to communicate with your consumer in a more direct way – whether it be with Facebook, email, or Google Places.

If you’re and owner of a small to mid-size business, you’re most likely putting a lot of money, time, and effort into making your consumer’s web experience a successful one, but how do you know it’s working? Analytics provide direct insight into how your site is doing and what your customers are saying about your product or your business. The data equips you with the ability to decide what’s working and where you can make improvements.

You may be under the impression that just because you’re a small business owner, you’re closer to the customer and understand the words and phrases that are driving people to your site. In truth, analytics gives you proof through the data. Analytics provides insight into which words are the big drivers to your site. It also not only shows you how many people searched the term, but also if they are new or returning visitors and how long they stayed.

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Module Two: Web analytics – Collecting the data

So now that we’ve introduced web analytics, and Google analytics in particular, and how to choose meaningful metrics for your open education website, it’s time for us to turn our attention to collecting the data. In this module you will be guided, step by step, through how to collect data for a collection of basic analytic metrics. You will also be provided on uidance on how to analyse and interpret the data that you gather.

How this Session Works:

Familiarise yourself with the overview of online teaching provided in the Preparatory section that accompanies this session.

Familiarise yourself with the information and resources in the Communication section, which provides an overview of the aspects of effective communication for online courses.

Familiarise yourself with the information and resources in the Netiquette section, which provides an overview of the aspects of acceptable and unaccptable online behaviour.

Familiarise yourself with the information and resources in the Communication section, which provides an overview of the aspects of effective communication for online courses.

You can browse through some carefully selected Resources.

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5 SEO Focussed Web Analytics Tools

Most people at small to mid-size companies don’t think too much about analytics and are happy to let Google Analytics do all their day to day reporting. We think Google Analytics is a great product but it shouldn’t be the only tool you use. Below are some innovative web analytics tools built with SEO, conversion rate optimisation & social media in mind for you to try.

BLVD is somewhat of a revolution because not only does it offer real time conversion reports for social bookmarking buttons & sales, traffic data and configurable alerts for traffic spikes via social sites such as Digg but it’s Keyword Vitals feature shows show live web traffic data side-by-side with live & average keyword rankings. What we wouldn’t give for that in Google Analytics!

The plugin allows you to visualise your site’s traffic trends and see how blog posts and email campaigns affect overall traffic. You can also isolate traffic coming directly to your site from email campaigns with the “campaign traffic” tab and chart the growth of your mailing list over time.

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Learning Web Analytics from the LITA 2012 National Forum Pre-conference

In advance of the conference, Tabby and Nina reached out to the participants ahead of time with a survey on what we the participants were interested in learning and solicited questions to be answered in the class. Twenty-one participants responded and of them seventeen were already using Google Analytics (GA). About half those using GA check their reports 1-2 times per month and the rest less often. The conference opened with introductions and a brief description of what we were doing with analytics on our website and what we hoped to learn.

We learned that beyond the tool we use measure our analytics, we need to identify what we want our website to do. We do this by using pre-existing documentation our institutions have on their mission and purpose as well as the mission and purpose of the website and who it is to serve. Additionally, we need a privacy statement so our patrons understand that we will be tracking their movements on the site and what we will be collecting. We learned that there are challenges when using only IP addresses (versus cookies) for tracking purposes. For example, does our institution’s network architecture allow for you to identify patrons versus staff using IP address or are cookies a necessity?

To start things off, we discussed the types of web analytics tools that are available and which we were using. Many of the participants were already using Google Analytics (GA) and thus most of the activities were demonstrated in GA as we could log into our own accounts. We were reminded that though it is free, GA keeps our data and does not allow us to delete it. GA has us place a bit of Javascript code on the pages we want tracked. It is easier to set up GA within a content management system but it may not work as well for mobile devices. Piwik is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics that uses a similar Javascript tagging method. Additionally we were reminded that if we use any Javascript tagging method, we should review our code snippets least every two years as they do change.

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Where is Twitter’s Web Analytics tool?

Twitter’s recent API overhaul has attracted a lot of criticism, and has highlighted the burning need for the company to create and grow revenues. But strangely, there is one potential revenue stream that Twitter seems to have forgone, despite announcing its release of on its official blog a year ago.

Twitter Web Analytics was destined to be “a tool that helps website owners understand how much traffic they receive from Twitter and the effectiveness of Twitter integrations on their sites.” A proposition with that would offer no small amount of value to publishers, a core component of content creation on the platform.

The tool was announced on the blog by Christopher Golda, who founded the company Backtype, which Twitter acquired for the basis of the product in July 2011. The well-funded service and API were designed to bridge the gap between the then blossoming social media network and traditional venues of content across the web. It also featured more robust search than Twitter.com could often muster at that time.

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Understanding Web Analytics

Web analytics is the collecting, analysis, and reporting of user activity on a web site. Just as the people running television networks want to know who is watching what, web site owners want to know how many people are visiting their site, how long they’re staying for, and who those people are.

An understanding of basic web analytics terms and technologies is vital to anyone with a web site today. Web analytics is like many technology topics and has its own unique vocabulary. In order to learn what you need to know about your own site and its performance, you need to cut through the web analytics jargon.

A web site receives a “hit” whenever the web server driving it receives a request for a file. The file might be a web page, an image, or a style sheet–any type of file at all which the server makes available. In the early days of the world wide web, hits were used almost exclusively to measure a site’s popularity. In web analytics today, it has been largely replaced by other statistics.

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