MarketingSherpa Report:
isbn: 978-1-932353-95-2
Copyright © 2009 by MarketingSherpa Inc.

Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics

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MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics

Table of Contents
Table of Contents .........................................................................................................................................1 Introduction...................................................................................................................................................2
The Big Picture – What is the Function of Web Analytics? ............................................................................... 3 How is Analytics Being Used By Others? .............................................................................................................. 4 Chart: How would you rate your analytics setup at present? ...................................................................... 4 Chart: Incidence of Analytics Usage Among Search Marketers ................................................................... 5

Tracking .........................................................................................................................................................6
Metrics .......................................................................................................................................................................... 6 Table: Common Terms & Metrics for Web Analytics ..................................................................................... 6 Chart: What metrics are online video advertisers using? ............................................................................. 7 Picking an Analytics Program ................................................................................................................................. 9 Chart: Use of Analytics Programs Among Search Marketers........................................................................ 9 Chart: What Search Marketers Value Most in an Analytics Program........................................................ 11 Creating Trackable Marketing ............................................................................................................................... 11 Chart: When designing ads, does your organization do any of the following?...................................... 12 Tricky Tracking – Flash & Rich Media ................................................................................................................ 13 Defining Conversion – Creating Goals................................................................................................................ 13 Chart: Conversion—One Metric with Many Definitions ........................................................................... 13 Chart: Financial Metrics Tracked by SMB Email Marketers ....................................................................... 14

Analysis ........................................................................................................................................................15
Visitors: Who is coming to the site?..................................................................................................................... 15 Basic Segmentation & Filtering ...................................................................................................................... 15 Filtering .............................................................................................................................................................. 16 Sample-based Tracking & Analysis................................................................................................................ 16 Traffic: Where are they coming from? ................................................................................................................. 17 Chart: How do you currently attribute online ad exposures to site visitors? ......................................... 18 Chart: If you use cookies to track ad exposure among site visitors, how many days are the cookies set to last for on consumer browsers?.......................................................................................................................................... 20 Content: What are they doing on the site? .......................................................................................................... 20 Goals: Are site visitors doing what you want them to do to further your business goals?........................ 21

Dashboards, Automation & Testing .......................................................................................................21
Testing & Benchmarks ...................................................................................................................................... 22 Test Validity....................................................................................................................................................... 22 Testing Calendar................................................................................................................................................ 24

Conclusion ...................................................................................................................................................25 About MarketingSherpa............................................................................................................................26

1 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. For permissions, contact service@sherpastore.com. For more copies, go to http://www.SherpaStore.com

it’s easy to get under the hood of your site and add code where needed. Some successful tactics for choosing the right tests Web analytics can be quite complicated when complication is necessary. or in a marketing campaign as a whole.com. it’s possible to methodically walk through an orderly list of tasks—each of which add an additional layer of information and insight to the larger picture of what is happening on a website. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. this guide does not endorse any one analytical program. and if an advanced analytics solution is needed 3. For permissions. New analysts will have to have some understanding of html coding and statistical relevance. and is not meant to act as a how-to guide for using any one analytics program. For more copies. 2 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. While we do use Google Analytics for our examples. but we hope we can get you asking the right questions. New analysts need not be daunted by the infinite possibilities of most analytical programs.SherpaStore. Tim McAtee Senior Analyst MarketingSherpa. Inc. How to get a simple analytics program set up 2. Again. By following some fairly simple instructions. and is intended to help anyone getting started with web analytics to quickly and easily grasp: 1.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Introduction This guide was written as a companion piece to the Everyday Analytics webinar. What kind of analytics program will be the best fit. it simply attempts to demystify web analytics and get new analysts started down the most productive paths to gleaning actionable insights. Rather. go to http://www. contact service@sherpastore. What common problems web analysts will encounter 4.com . Nobody has all the answers. Which reports are the most useful and how to approach analysis 5. or apply some commonsense statistical math to find out whether the data you collect is actionable. but for most users. By focusing on specific strategic goals. it’s important to know that you need not be an expert in either of these fields to be a competent analyst. setup and reporting is fairly straight-forward and simple.

While determining causality or even correlation is not always possible. analytical models of an entire marketing universe can take advantage of data from many sources. then fill in the gaps with common sense and statistically-based inference where needed. why it’s happening. it’s a series of activities that when done in sequence can show what’s happening. A good analyst will make sure that every possible brand touch-point. yet must also make sense of all this data by finding the needle of causality in the haystack of monitored activity. which are: • • • Tracking—compiling large amounts of unanalyzed data. But. Everyone trying to implement a web analytics program should be focusing on turning their data into actionable insights. While web analytics focuses on internet behavior. and where improvements are needed. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. it should ideally integrate with offline data for a larger analysis of the entire marketing universe. Luckily. go to http://www. For permissions. web analytics is the best tool available to monitor the activity of everyone that comes in contact with your marketing. For more copies.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics The Big Picture – What is the Function of Web Analytics? Analytics is not a single activity. 3 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. Short of watching over the shoulder of everyone. not the journey.SherpaStore. contact service@sherpastore. but is far less interesting than knowing why it happened. everywhere. from TV ads to in-store visits. There is a big difference between the three main components of web analytics. While web analytics programs are ostensibly there to show you what’s happening on your website. it still takes a savvy analyst to tap into insights that aren’t so obvious. or to know a false conclusion when they see one.com . Analysts are tasked with somewhat contradictory tasks—they must gather as much data as possible about the actions of individuals in their marketing universe in order to not draw false conclusions due to missing data. good analytical programs make it easy to do both simultaneously. to mobile store-finder usage is somehow factored in to later actions that occur on a website. Knowing what happened is important. the website is simply the destination. and the journey is just as important. the foundation for analysis Analysis—looking at the data and making hypotheses about why it is the way it is Testing—controlled tests of analysis hypotheses to determine if a guess was correct Analytics uses many methods to track the actions of individuals out in the real world.com.

can be difficult. and every marketing campaign is different.com. email marketing. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. A good web analytics program should be able to holistically track multiple websites. While analytics software is constantly improving and evolving to do more and more of the work for you. This difference means that no two analytics programs will be the same. As you can see. as well as how many did. but this data is incomplete compared to the online tracking. For more copies. Triggers can be set up to indicate usage by offline-exposed individuals. Online tracking shows how many people did not take an action. 4 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. so analysts are going to have to personalize out-of-the-box reporting.SherpaStore. online PR and social media activity. since different media are often tracked by different sources. go to http://www. Chart: How would you rate your analytics setup at present? Cross-media reporting. Online tracking of offline exposure only shows how many people did take an action. using different methodologies. in particular. every website. the majority of analysts have a mix of software automation and hands-on work with the data. contact service@sherpastore. online display advertising. For permissions.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics How is Analytics Being Used By Others? We put the following question to all the online advertisers we surveyed who said they were currently engaged in some form of analytics.com . paid and natural search activity.

It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. This is why integration with offline data is important. Chart: Incidence of Analytics Usage Among Search Marketers Anyone that has a marketing web site should be engaged in some form of search marketing.com .MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Without the success rate of actions divided by inactions. Knowing what keywords are generating that traffic is even more helpful. how much of your traffic is coming from which search engine. On average. we asked a sample of marketers with active search engine marketing programs whether or not they were using any analytics programs. and every analytics program should be able to tell you.com. on and off-line exposure can’t be compared easily. For permissions. that report comes standard in the free edition of Google Analytics. but difficult. at minimum. 5 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc.SherpaStore. go to http://www. then broke out the responses by pay-perclick search ad monthly budget and consumer target type. As it happens. contact service@sherpastore. 90% are using some form of web analytics software. For more copies. In another survey.

contact service@sherpastore.com . but (KPI) Key Performance can be anything) Indicator (VTR) View-through Rate Visitors carrying a cookie from 6 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. and to agree on what the definition of those metrics is. Table: Common Terms & Metrics for Web Analytics Term Page View Visit/Session Visitors Unique Visitors Duration Referrer Definition Number of times a page is viewed All activity of an individual visitor within time allotted for a session—often 30 minutes Total Sessions Total Visits from Individuals—multiple sessions not counted Time spent by an individual during a session From original to last. Following is a partial list of the most common web analytics data terms and the equations that turn these terms into metrics.com. the string of pages a visitor visited to get to a final page Numerator Clicks Visitors that immediately leave a specific page Denominator Impressions All Visitors that only see a specific page All visitors offered the desired action Unique Impressions of Metric (Ratio) (CTR ) Click-through Rate Bounce Rate (CVR ) Conversion Rate or Desired action (often a sale. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. For more copies. so it’s important to know how common metrics are defined. For permissions.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Tracking Metrics Metrics are the currency of analytics. go to http://www.SherpaStore.

go to http://www. Websites with different objectives are judged with different yard sticks. It’s important to focus on metrics and reports that speak directly to your business objectives. For permissions. For more copies. we see what metrics video advertisers are using to learn about their video ad campaigns. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. These additional metrics and reports are not useless. many common analytical reports were designed for website administrators.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics an un-clicked referrer cookied referrer By figuring out what each metric term and ratio is.com. and can probably safely ignore. you should be able to easily answer: • • • How are people getting to my site? What are people doing when they get to my site? Are my business objectives being met by my website? There will be a lot of metrics offered by any decent analytics program that you’ll never need to use. not marketers.com .SherpaStore. Chart: What metrics are online video advertisers using? 7 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. and different media types will mean expanding the types of metrics that matter to make sense for that media type. In the following chart. contact service@sherpastore.

Cookied individuals may finally come to the site when they perform a search to learn more about the product.com. A normal web page will pull in an HTML file. Metrics such as “Engagement” and “Awareness Increase” could be applied to any medium. but when applied in smart ways. Similarly. a CSS file. because the individual clicks a link on the ad. and after viewing goes to the advertised website. KPIs or Key Performance Indicators can be applied to just about any measureable action on a website. it’s important to factor in both immediate and latent types of attribution metrics. but that visit can happen days or weeks after ad exposure. Visitors vs. A lack of standardization can cause a lot of confusion. the data produced by an array of conversion rates—each triggered at various stages of the purchase funnel—can be incredibly informative. and multiple jpeg or gif image files.SherpaStore. For this reason. A conversion event can be set to trigger when an individual buys a product on a website.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Notice that many of the basic metrics common to all online reporting are represented here. In both cases. but additional metrics have been layered on top of the basic reporting that enable the analyst to speak about video and the way it is used.or view-through is counted. With click-throughs. hits is a relatively worthless metric for marketers. One of the trickiest and least-understood issues in analytics is defining conversion.com . contact service@sherpastore. it’s important to be familiar with the difference between click-through and viewthrough. Much more informative for marketers are Visitors and Unique Visitors. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. In order to get the most accurate picture of what happened. These conversion events need to be weighted by the analyst for relative importance. For more copies. but speak specifically to a marketing strategy of increasing awareness of a brand or message. go to http://www. When setting up conversion events in your analytics program. and is usually only of interest to the IT workers responsible for the site. it’s normally possible to assign weights to the events that correspond to their importance. where the click. Media-appropriate metrics such as “% of Video Viewed” and “Replays” speak specifically to how consumers actually watch video. With view-throughs. and totally dependent on the analyst to create. View-through “Conversion” is in the eye of the beholder "Hits" refers to the number of files being called when an individual page loads. since they correspond to actual people and countable sessions. For permissions. Conversion rates are self-defined. or independently type in a company URL following exposure. that visit to the site is immediate. an individual is exposed to an ad. 8 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. which the web site can recognize later upon a visit. since each page is made up of multiple files. a cookie is dropped on a users browser when they see an ad. or when an individual has viewed a set number of pages. such as clicks. Unique Visitors Click-through vs. Some important distinctions among metrics that often trip up inexperienced analysts are: • • • Hits vs. A single visitor looking at a single page will incur many hits.

For more copies. The thing for software shoppers to keep in mind. go to http://www. however.SherpaStore. and that traffic is relatively low. is that functionality is more important than price. especially if the payment is structured on the amount of web traffic you have. For permissions. contact service@sherpastore. the cost of an “expensive” analytics program is generally pretty low. Ever since Google Analytics came on the scene with a basic analytics program that’s free to most (websites with 5 million+ page views per month must pay to use the service). other analytics vendors have been scrambling to innovate and offer more powerful tools for less money.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Picking an Analytics Program The past year has certainly been a buyers market for anyone shopping for web analytics software programs.com . It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. Even then. Chart: Use of Analytics Programs Among Search Marketers 9 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc.com.

com.SherpaStore. search marketers rank the importance of analytics software attributes differently depending on the size of their budgets. If you have a huge online advertising presence. 10 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. more data is better than less when it comes to tracking. Marketers with big search budgets rank ability to integrate with offline media and ability to handle complexity higher than do those with smaller budgets. There’s no penalty or problem with using multiple platforms to track your website. even to non-buyers of their media products. you’ll want to find an analytics vendor that caters to you.com . You’ll find. integrates very well with a Google PPC search campaign. The great thing about analytics programs is that it’s possible to increase the complexity of data collection and analytics as your marketing complexity and your analytical skills increase. that Google Analytics may not do as well at incorporating and tracking other external data sources. For more copies. however. or is otherwise unable to handle a large influx of tracking data to analyze. different analytics programs will be better or worse at integrating with your on and off-line marketing and media. If. or your site is likely to serve more than 5 million impressions per month. Nearly all of the cheap or free services are cheap of free for a reason. Google Analytics. complicated PPC search campaigns. your company is not currently employing a skilled analytics staff. you’ll probably have to pay for it. The fact that Google Analytics is designed to be most beneficial to users of Google’s media products should not be seen as a condemnation of the service at all. and grew to 53% by 2008. but once it’s set up and running properly. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. As you can see in the preceding chart. maintenance and reporting are relatively quick. usage of Google Analytics by SEM professionals was already at 41% in 2007. you may want to consider outsourcing analytics. however. If your marketing is hopelessly complex. start simple. Setting up an analytical program can be fairly time-consuming. for obvious reasons. and even with reporting on TV ads bought with Google’s TV media buying service. a complicated ecommerce site. Unless you’re sure that Google Analytics is under-powered. contact service@sherpastore. If you want an unbiased analytical platform. For permissions. and as long as you are prepared to handle the flood of data this will produce. is in itself to be lauded (unless you happen to work for a competitive analytics software company). The fact that Google offers such a good program for free. go to http://www.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics While all web analytics programs are pretty good at showing what’s happening on your website. As you can see in the following chart. we would recommend starting with Google Analytics and then adding on additional analytics programs as needed. or lots of rich media and online video.

11 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. from driving awareness to selling product. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. you can do your organization a huge favor by working with creative teams from the start to build ads that are designed to address specific goals. With that data. For permissions. it’s far easier to understand and properly attribute the traffic coming to your site. For more copies. your external marketing needs to be designed to work in concert with the metrics that are most appropriate for your marketing goals.SherpaStore. go to http://www.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Chart: What Search Marketers Value Most in an Analytics Program Creating Trackable Marketing Just as your website needs to be designed to move your KPIs. Too often. contact service@sherpastore. As an analyst.com . By creating trackable marketing. You can then make sure these goals are aligned with the website and that they are measured properly.com. marketers build ads before they figure out what the ads should do. you can create closed-loop marketing and help the creative teams better understand what works at each level of conversion. and what doesn’t.

com. Some examples are in-store pick-ups of online orders. or program an ad to drop a cookie on a viewers browser to signify exposure. For more copies. and banner ad clicks. and can dramatically speed up the process of analysis. magazine ad. even if they occur outside of the website. does your organization do any of the following? Online advertising is relatively easy to track and most analytical software packages are designed to easily fold in layers of online marketing data such as email click-throughs.SherpaStore. or matching cookie exposures to online warranty sign-ups. Some marketing can’t be so easily tracked. These digital trails are relatively easy to create with good software. you can simply create unique URL paths. PPC keyword clicks. Depending on the program and the reporting needed. TV ad.com . or any other hard to track source. When driving traffic from an online sponsorship. or even unique phone numbers. email coupon redemptions.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Chart: When designing ads. 12 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. For permissions. you may need to tag the ads the same way you tag the site. contact service@sherpastore. but low tech methods of traffic attribution are always possible. go to http://www. Whenever possible. you should try to find opportunities for closed-loop data matches.

more interactive programming languages such as Flash websites and applications. and not all conversion goals are equally important. but you still have to define your KPIs and create conversion goals yourself. When presenting conversion figures. you’ll need to decide for yourself what to consider a “page view” or how to track and value other non-standard actions. make sure you have the time and/or money to invest in more complicated analytics. If you end up comparing two conversion rate figures. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. In much the same way that you need to create your own definitions for conversion or KPIs. For permissions. you can cause major analytical errors by comparing conversion rates that have been calculated differently. there was a significant amount of disagreement between them about how “conversion” should be calculated. go to http://www.com. dynamic AJAX pages. contact service@sherpastore. If you are building large websites or complicated applications in flash. When we surveyed email marketers. Every site has different conversion goals. or rich media ads usually need custom coding to be tracked. such as a video rewind. make sure you explain to your audience how the conversion figure has been calculated. all of whom are doing the exact same thing.SherpaStore. You’ll want to create multiple goals. For more copies. assign dollar values to them. analytics programs do a lot of the work for you when it comes to tracking the elements in your site.com . then weight them. Defining Conversion – Creating Goals As we’ve said. or organize a progression of goals with a corresponding funnel visualization report. Chart: Conversion—One Metric with Many Definitions 13 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Tricky Tracking – Flash & Rich Media Newer.

they get the product A thank you page and ping the $5 conversion event counter. For more copies. Setting up proper conversion goals is the most important part of setting up an analytics program. you need a website structure that allows for accurate tracking. If the average customer that comes to your site takes a long time or multiple visits to convert.SherpaStore. For permissions. make sure you’re not limiting your definition of “conversion” to the activities of a single user’s web session. it’s really important to structure HTML websites with a different page for every possible conversion event trigger. As you can see in the chart below.com. Chart: Financial Metrics Tracked by SMB Email Marketers 14 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. so take the time to get it right. Omniture can capture data input by a user on that page. More robust analytics programs like Omniture’s can factor far more data into tracking than the free programs that rely on html tags. if a customer buys product A for $5.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics In order to track conversion events. vs. 23% of email marketers are tracking the customer lifetime value of their email list members. the 53% that track immediate sales. go to http://www. This way.com . Since analytics programs like Google Analytics can only record a page visit. In addition to showing that a user went to a page. contact service@sherpastore. while product B buyers that spend $100 get the product B thank you page and ping the $100 conversion event counter. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. A good rule of thumb for simple websites with simple reporting is to make sure your site has unique “thank you” pages at the conclusion of each conversion activity.

your conversion rates will be higher. contact service@sherpastore. For more copies. If bounce rates are high.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Strategically speaking. condensing the lifetime of marketing touches and individual sees into that single conversion metric can help in two ways. Analysis Initially. Breaking down what you need to know into simple. those who are interested in your product and might actually convert to a sale at some point—not just burn through your PPC budget without buying anything). If it takes 20 emails and 4 visits to the website. Basic Segmentation & Filtering Segmentation is the process of separating the aggregate data into discrete pieces for comparison. Ad-group B clickers New visitors vs. meaning people leave almost immediately after arriving on the site. you’ll need to dig further. tracking individuals over time with either cookie data. The first metric to check to find out if the right people are coming to the site are conversion and bounce rates. In order to understand if this is happening because your website needs work or your marketing is simply attracting the wrong kind of people. such as: • • • Converters vs. Non-Converters Ad-group A clickers vs. The huge range of reports that are available from even the simpler analytical programs can make it difficult to determine where to start first. and higher conversion rates are easier to test (more on this in the testing section). Start by answering these simple questions: • • • • Visitors: Who is coming to the site? Traffic: Where are they coming from? Content: What are they doing on the site? Goals: Are site visitors doing what you want them to do to further your business goals? Visitors: Who is coming to the site? You want to look at visitor type to see if the “right” people are coming to your site (i. analysis can be daunting. email address. methodical steps that address areas you can easily fix is the best way to start. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. or site registration may make more sense. painting a better and more realistic story for how effective your marketing is. Repeat visitors 15 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc.SherpaStore. there’s clearly a disconnect between why people are coming to your site and what your site has to offer. because it can give a better idea of how the marketing program works over time. For permissions.com. go to http://www.e.com .

it’s possible that there is something misleading about the copy of ad-group B. and artificially driving up the visitor count. It may be that your own employees are using the website. Regardless of the segmentation strategy you use. Another possibility is that your landing page could use some work. In cases like these. load the page. or companies that have a lot of remote workers. Sample-based Tracking & Analysis Panels 16 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. If you’re experiencing high bounce rates you’ll want to start by segmenting your data. For example. since the employees will open the browser. and one that is specifically for marketing purposes. The most common use for filtering is to remove your own employees. The easiest way to filter individuals is by IP address. if an ad says “click for a free sample” but upon clicking the individual finds that the free sample is dependent on a purchase. yet new visitors are. which means it’s up to the analyst to adjust their data. they are likely to bounce and not convert. This means your home page will show way more visits than any other page on your website. The easy fix is to change the ad text to say “free sample of X with purchase of Y”. If filtering out your own employees is the problem. what you’re trying to find out is this: if you isolate site visitors that convert vs.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Segmentation is generally going to be the first step in determining why something is happening. For permissions. contact service@sherpastore. it’s likely that visitors are giving up somewhere in the process. but clickers from ad-group B are not. For more copies. but then immediately leave the page to do whatever else they came online to do. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. external sales teams that access the site often. Filtering Filtering is the process of excluding certain visitors from the data entirely.com . or even from automated spider or bot traffic. but you may also want to filter traffic from other countries. However. rather than segment your analysis to separate out employees. That page may be the culprit. filtering out internal traffic can get very complicated very quickly. it may make more sense to filter them out of your data set altogether. If conversion rates are low across the board. Take a look at an exit page report to see which page visitors are abandoning the site from. for companies with large.com. the organization may want to maintain a completely separate website for them—create one site that caters just to your organization’s employees. The three groups above are the most common ways to segment when looking for easy comparisons.SherpaStore. and can these variables be fixed to get rid of the non-converters or turn them into converters? If clickers from ad-group A are converting. not every organization has these kinds of resources. If you have a lot of repeat visitors that are not converting. what variables exist that differentiate them. those that don’t. However. By blocking the IP addresses of all corporate offices. yet also show a very high bounce-rate. being counted as repeat visitors. It’s not uncommon for employees to use the company website as their browser home page. it’s possible to ensure that usage coming from these offices doesn’t show up in the data. go to http://www. ask yourself why.

again from a paid search ad. you can launch a survey to a small sample of your site visitors as they leave the site in order to find out who they are as individuals. Traffic: Where are they coming from? Finding out what external websites or referring links your traffic is coming to your website from is a fairly straightforward process.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Web analytics programs can tell you how many people use your website by counting each and every user of the site—this is known as census-level reporting. For information like demographics. What gets really complicated is attributing exposure to your various marketing tactics when they were exposed to multiple exposures of different ads on multiple media. for example. If. such as the language of your site visitors. and how they differ in by segment in aggregate or as individuals. Quantcast’s analytics program offers very simplistic analytics reports. contact service@sherpastore. you can get far more indepth insights into who is coming to your site. do you attribute a sale to an individual who first came to the website from a unique URL used in a TV ad. How. it’s necessary to rely on a sample. One of the more interesting reports is IP tracking for businesses. You can also specifically survey purchasers with a post-purchase email survey. Figuring out which of your online marketing tactics website visitors clicked to get to your site is also fairly straightforward. For permissions. what it is about your website or product they like or dislike. More difficult is factoring in an indirect visit by using a cookie. they can give you fairly in-depth demographic reporting.com. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. Some information about the visitors to a website can’t be gathered at the census level. then finally converted after clicking 17 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. the IP tracking visitor report will show that. or visits driven from offline marketing with unique paths to your website. someone accesses your website from within the office of a prospective customer. go to http://www. Using JavaScript. Surveys Another common tactic to find out more about your website users is the exit survey. and then project their information onto the larger total group. and even providing contact information for your sales force to follow up on if they choose to. For more copies. assuming you have already made sure all your email. By doing this. search and online advertising is trackable via direct click. or specifically survey those who immediately bounce from the site. Other paid services like Demandbase do a pretty amazing job of telling you exactly where your website visitors are coming from by matching the IP address of your website visitors to individual companies. but because they maintain a large panel of users for whom they collect lots of demographic information.SherpaStore. Quantcast offers a free version of this report with limited capabilities. for example. and is included standard in most analytical programs. A good habit to get into is to look at incoming links and note any that show dramatic change week over week.com . Google Analytics can give you some aggregate level demographics. Some analytics programs have rudimentary demographic reporting built in to their standard reports. A sample is when you take the information from a random fraction of the total visitors.

com. 18 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. and latent view-through exposures. go to http://www. 31% of the individuals they tracked for a month deleted the cookies on their browser at some point. Assumed exposures (i. Among the marketers we surveyed.com . there’s simply not much that marketers can do about this. The second most common length of time set for cookies was 90 days. it’s necessary to assign weights to the various ad exposures among converters. and even online exposures are difficult. Chart: How do you currently attribute online ad exposures to site visitors? Even when analysts go to great lengths to factor in all assumed exposures.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics an offer in an email newsletter? There is no easy answer to this question.SherpaStore.e. clicks. Unfortunately. At some point. For more copies. this can be frustrating. after which they expire and are automatically deleted from users’ browsers. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. untrackable TV ad exposures) just aren’t possible to track. analysts must simply accept a certain amount of uncertainty and smooth it over mathematically with statistical models that incorporate the hard data that does exist. while a few rather optimistic marketers kept cookies active for as long as 365 days. and just as analysts must assign weights to the various conversion goals on their website. For permissions. Judging by the following chart there is still quite a bit of confusion as to how to go about doing this. during which an individual may visit a site many times over a period of months before purchasing. For analysts trying to make sense of long purchase cycles. According to a study on cookie deletion by comScore. there will still be some error in the estimation. contact service@sherpastore. most cookies have a life of only 30 days.

This knowledge can be used to streamline your website or inform the copy of your ads in order to target each source with the most relevant information to them. you should probably make the lifespan slightly longer than your average purchase cycle. For more copies. you can see how interest in the content on your site varies by where the individuals arrived at your site from.SherpaStore. Websites with only a few pages will often have little variation between segmented click-paths. An interesting variant on this report is to segment by source. contact service@sherpastore. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. This report will show the average path taken through the various pages on your website from start to finish. Content: What are they doing on the site? The most common report for figuring out what people are doing on your website is to run a click-path analysis.com .com. then factor in an assumed rate of cookie deletion. since it serves as a more accurate indicator of the content that caught an individual’s attention. By doing so. A similar method is to look at time-spent. 20 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. A better metric in these cases is time-spent.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Chart: If you use cookies to track ad exposure among site visitors. go to http://www. how many days are the cookies set to last for on consumer browsers? When deciding on the lifespan of cookies for your own marketing campaigns. For permissions.

go to http://www. and external marketing is tracked in some fashion. Goals: Are site visitors doing what you want them to do to further your business goals? In the end. we have included a statistical relevance tester along with this document.com . while searchers using branded keywords are buying another? There are myriad applications for this type of report. and nearly infinite applications for the information gathered.SherpaStore. and equally important for impatient marketers not to rush the process. Be careful not to make decisions based on conversions until you’re absolutely sure that the data is meaningful. High traffic sites will have shorter waits. it’s important to remember that it’s probably going to take some time for enough data to build up to be useful.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Actions that trigger upper-funnel conversion events can be particularly interesting when compared vs. Most analytical programs will automatically indicate whether data has reached a level of statistical significance indicating that the data is actionable. Exit and post-sales surveys can easily multi-task as vehicles for learning more about what the intent of the user is when using your website. one of the most important functions of the web analyst is to have the common sense to get important data into the hands of those who can affect positive change. 21 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. obvious issues have been ironed out. Finally. it’s time to set up a dashboard to monitor vital stats. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. or combination of marketing materials result in the best conversion rates. You can use this data to adjust marketing spend in favor of high-conversion options. you want to start grading performance of every variable you can possibly control or affect—figure out which sources. Aside from keeping an eye on how everything on the website is working. All your other reports are simply building the case for whether or not the variables they measure are helping or hindering your business goals. Dashboards. Once all your other reports are in place. ask them. It’s important that analysts set expectations within the organization for how long it will take to get enough data. but just in case. since larger volumes of users and high conversion rates will result in statistically significant levels of data faster. Automation & Testing Once all tracking for the site is functioning properly. For permissions. contact service@sherpastore. That means that the analyst needs to understand who within the organization values what information.com. if you can’t figure out what your website users are or aren’t doing on your website. For more copies. source or segment. Are visitors accessing your website on an iPhone overwhelmingly winding up on the store locator page? Are clickers from copy stressing discounts buying one product. everything boils down to this. If you are just getting started with analytics. and create individualized reports for the appropriate parties within the organization.

These will generally be the variables that are the closest to the actual sale. the sales team may want to see an IP address report that shows the companies that are visiting the site. test the website content. the analyst will need to take the initiative to isolate problem areas first and try to fix them. When this happens it’s important to understand why. However.SherpaStore. Rather than act immediately.com. By customizing and automating the data that each team within the organization sees. you should begin establishing internal benchmarks of your own. Google Analytics offers some benchmarks comparing traffic data to other websites that it deems similar to your own. a print ad runs with a special offer URL. The CFO may want to see a report of sales by product. MarketingSherpa offers some industry specific benchmark rates for conversion as well. contact service@sherpastore. Testing & Benchmarks What to test depends on where your marketing needs work. For example. and if click rates are low. Automating weekly reporting via email frees up the analyst for the important work of controlled testing. The marketing team may notice that one TV ad seems to be performing better than another. the website will chug along with little drama. For permissions. all variables but the test variable should be identical—this rarely happens in 22 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. Tests that look at variables like browser resolution are helpful. who can control for external factors and run controlled tests to determine if the difference is real or not. By setting up an easily observable view of your most important metrics it’s possible to quickly dive deeper when strange movement occurs. but generally only result in small improvements to the user experience. but they do not have enough data to be sure. the marketing team and analyst must work together to 1. In a controlled test. for example. If. go to http://www.com. keeping an eye on the key indicators to watch for unexplainable changes is an important function of the dashboard. When deciding what to test. The possibilities are fairly endless. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. they should bring the hypothesis to the analyst. the marketing team may want to see a comparison of how many direct URL entries came in from one TV ad vs. it ensures that those with the most immediate knowledge of the drivers behind the data make the call as to whether action must be taken. Test Validity Controlled scientific tests are not the same as the best guess (hypothesis) of an informed analyst. In a small B2B organization. In a larger organization.com . which can be found at sherpastore. you can create weekly reports that get emailed automatically to everyone that needs to see the info throughout the organization. another. Hold off on tests that will only provide tiny incremental improvement and focus on the tests that are most likely to yield large increases in sales or conversion. and tiny improvements to the bottom line. As you grow your internal data-set. be aware that the ad is running and watch for traffic and 2. In the absence of external teams bringing hypotheses to an analyst to test. but otherwise it can usually be left alone Rather than check the dashboard all the time. For more copies. take action if traffic is unexpectedly low or high. such as landing page forms or copy. test the advertising. one helpful piece of information is to know what “normal” is by establishing benchmarks. if conversion rates are low.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Most of the time.

the greater the difference is likely to be. The same people should be doing the same thing at the same time. and the less time and data you will need to collect statistically significant. it could easily take years to achieve predictive results. and how long it will take to collect that data.SherpaStore. This is why time is such an important variable when testing. and group B wins 70 times. If the variable your test is isolating is incredibly subtle. The laws of statistics tell us that sample size (the number of instances in a test) and the difference delta (rate A minus rate B) are the two biggest factors in determining how predictive the results of a test will be. that would be predictive.com. A test with group A winning 3 times and group B winning 7 times will not be predictive of anything.com . predictive results. For permissions. If group A wins 3 times. assuming a very small difference. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. You’ll need to allow enough time to pass to ensure that you get enough data for statistical relevance. because the difference delta is large enough that we can be 99% sure that random variance is not to blame. to understand their meaning and manage the expectations of others within the organization. that test is rarely predictive of future success by the winner due to random variance—this is why statistical significance testing is so important. Many analytics programs have statistical testing built in to their interface. contact service@sherpastore. The more different the concepts tested are. The same test performed again would likely have completely different results because only 10 instances are observed. For this reason. 4%. so pains must be taken to control for any differentiating non-test variables. 23 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. it’s much more practical to test radically different concepts. Using the included stat tester tool you can plug in the differences you expect or are seeing early on in order to predict how much data. the analyst. in order to plan your testing schedule realistically. For more copies. When the “Winner” of a test wins by a small margin. go to http://www. but it’s up to you. with one difference in the experience left to influence behavior.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics real life. such as a conversion rate of 3% vs.

If clicks are low and conversions high.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Testing Calendar The more tests you run at once. go to http://www. For more copies. Isolate weak spots in the conversion funnel. Month 1 Allow time for data to collect. plan ad copy test. plan landing page test or exit survey. For permissions. but should adapt to the circumstances of your own site. but refine further Once marketing is doing a good job of getting people to the site. Set benchmarks. look for small ways to incrementally improve the user experience. it’s easier to stay productive and continue to adapt to changing market conditions. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. If clicks are high and conversion low. you can speed up the testing schedule. Repeat Month 3 testing strategy. you may need to take more time than we suggest or run fewer tests. contact service@sherpastore. the longer it will take for any of them to finish. per KPI event on the site (5 KPIs = 500 events) Make sure reporting is accurate and unambiguous. Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 24 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. You can use the schedule below as a rough guide.com. For websites with very little traffic. find out why and whether to incorporate variance or fix. wait for at least 100 unique KPI events. If different systems report different numbers. If you create a testing schedule and focus on one test at a time. If you have extremely high volume of site visitors. or partition your visitors into multiple simultaneous tests. Ideally.SherpaStore.com . and the site is doing a good job of converting them to sale.

As you figure out what to track. For permissions. But. It’s fine to start small and add layers of complexity over time. will always be most likely to yield the most profound results. It’s important to know what happened. it can be quite manageable. so no one person can know everything that goes on. and tests of elements closest to the point of sale. once you get into analysis. but it’s more important to know why it happened. contact service@sherpastore. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed. The website is used by everyone a little differently. Once the analytics framework is in place. Analytics should ensure that all parties are working towards non-conflicting goals. spread the net as wide as possible. and are paying attention to the right metrics. 25 © Copyright 2002-2009 MarketingSherpa Inc. Finally.com. It is forbidden to copy this report in any manner. don’t bite off more than you can chew. The same goes for testing and reporting. Where you should invest the most time and energy is ensuring that tracking is accurate and conversion goals are set up correctly to accurately reflect the consumer path to purchase. There’s nothing wrong with practicing on a free analytics program before graduating to the big leagues if and when it makes sense to upgrade. Everyone should start by breaking down analytic tasks into manageable chunks that are spread over a period of weeks or months. in an order that takes into account the relative importance of the test on the bottom line. always be looking for meaning. but by taking the time to organize all the tasks that go into it. For more copies. marketing supplies campaign dates and goals. break down reporting requirements into: • • • Traffic – where is it coming from and which traffic is best? Content – is it doing its job or can it be better? Conversion – are there broken links in the chain from awareness to sale? It’s very important to document analytics requirements and share them with all involved parties.SherpaStore. tracking everything that seems applicable. and sales supplies offline lead and sale data. It’s up to the analyst to act as a liaison between all the involved parties. For example: the tech department helps with coding and informs of changes to site. work with others in the organization to test discrete pieces of the overall marketing campaign. Simple tests and tightly focused reports are far more likely to provide useful information. go to http://www.com . quickly drill down to a few key metrics and focus on actionable reporting.MarketingSherpa’s Guide to Getting Started with Web Analytics Conclusion Web analytics has a lot of moving parts. Big tests. As an analyst.

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