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May 2010 Posts

5/4/2010 12:07:46 PM

Google Analytics Training Health Check

As part of our comprehensive approach to our web development, we offer a range of training. The training team is involved at the beginning of projects to conduct focus groups, prior to roll out with content management system user training and then during the life of the website, to train staff members in website maintenance and optimisation.

For the past couple of years we have been incorporating Google Analytics into our web developments. However, what we don’t see is every client taking up Google Analytics training, and I have been asking myself why?

Good use of website analytics is hard work, and requires an advanced skill set. Statistical analysis is a complex field, requiring a good level of numeracy. Additionally, you need to have a good grasp of web technologies and know how your analytics solution records and presents data. It is not just a case of turning analytics on, looking at a few numbers and then sending off a report by email (well you can, but your email will end up in Deleted Items).

I’ve become more puzzled by this the more I deliver Google Analytics training courses, as I’m constantly surprised by what delegates do not know. I think organisations do not buy analytics training because they think they are getting the best from their analytics (and their analyst!), when they are not. You don’t know, what you don’t know.

Therefore, I have come up with a checklist to help you understand if you are using your analytics well, or whether you would benefit from training. Try the simple health check questionnaire below (which focuses on Google Analytics, but should help with others), and see how you score:

Question Mark out of 10
1. Do you understand how your analytics tool collects the data for your website?  
2. Do you understand what can affect the quality of the data?  
3. Do you know if you are collecting data correctly on your website?  
4. Do your analytics reports filter out extraneous data?  
5. Have you identified the key foundational reports created in your analytics tool?  
6. Have you identified the key reports for your website that align to your business objectives?  
7. Do your reports effectively communicate your findings to business users?  
8. Is your analytics tool correctly recording campaign, event and search traffic?  
9. Should your website have goals, and are they set up in your analytics tool?  
10. Are you using segmentation in your reports to understand your audiences better?  
11. Are you using benchmarking to gauge your performance against that of your industry?  
12. Have you customised your analytics tool to use it efficiently?  

Clearly this is not scientific (nor sometimes is Website Analytics!), but it should give you an insight into how you could improve your use of website analytics. If you have found that you are significantly ‘out of shape’, then maybe a training course (opens new window) is the shot in the arm you need.

Authored by Ian Cockayne

5/18/2010 10:29:14 AM

Bin the Guesswork with Google Website Optimiser

I can’t make my mind up how to start this post. Do you think more people will read it if I start with:

How many hours have you spent in meetings debating which graphic will make your web site make more money?

Maybe I should start with:

Google Website Optimiser takes the guesswork out of making decisions about your website.

Should I use web site or website? Someone just suggested swapping opinion for guesswork as it sounds better in the second sentence? Maybe I should say text instead of graphic in the first sentence? Should I use a two-column design for the page instead of three, or split the text into two columns? Maybe I should change the page round completely. So many choices…

The problem is that choices like these usually come down to guesswork, personal preference or long-held opinion. Sometimes we make the wrong choice for all sorts of reasons. Having lived with a web page for a while, it can feel jaded and stale. There is a natural urge to change it. To a new visitor to the page, the existing page may actually be better than the new page put in its place.

Marketing professionals use a variety of techniques to reduce the guesswork. Google Website Optimiser puts two powerful techniques to test variations of web pages to see which variation performs best, into the hands of all website owners. To do that you need to have a specific goal in mind for the page, such as sign ups to a newsletter, adding a product into a shopping cart or visiting a specific page. The page that you’re testing also needs to have enough visitors for you to see which version works best.

There are two types of testing you can do with Google Web Optimiser:

  • A/B Split Testing
  • Multivariate Testing

A/B Split Testing

A/B Testing is the simpler kind of test. In an A/B test you see how the original, “A”, page performs compared to variant, “B”, pages. There can be more than one B page. A/B testing can be used if the page is fairly low traffic (less than a thousand page views each week). A/B testing allows the testing of pages in which one simple change to the page is made, the overall look of the page changes or parts of the page are moved around.

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate Testing tests different versions of a single page. You can try out several different versions of the parts of the page's text and graphics, to see which results in the most visitors going to your goal. You can vary different parts of the page separately and Google Web Optimiser will work out which combination is the best. To use a multivariate test in a reasonable amount of time, the page needs to have high traffic (over a thousand page views each week).

Both kinds of test can be set up by someone with a bit of technical knowledge by following the step by step process on the Google Web Optimiser website (opens new window). After there have been enough visitors to the page, the tool can tell you which version performs best. It will even knock out underperforming variations so the testing won’t hurt you as it goes on.

This isn’t just a toy for techies though. It offers real business benefits. It allows you to increase your conversion rates, avoid changes that decrease conversions, and do away with those meetings debating which version of a page is best.