Sarah Hodges

Archive for the ‘Web Analytics’ Category

A, B, Cs of 1, 2, 3s: Marketing Analytics Resources

In Analytics, Campaign Anaytics, Web Analytics on August 2, 2011 at 2:17 am

Forget dipping a toe in the water–when it comes to learning marketing analytics, you’ve gotta hit the diving board and break out your best cannon ball. Start measuring something!

1. Read, write, practice, analyze and optimize. Then, start over.

2. Start a blog and write on topic you’re passionate about.

3. Create a Google Analytics account and install GA on your blog.

4. Consider incorporating other free analytics tools: Crazy Egg (heat map); 4Q (task completion survey); Clicktale. GA is a fantastic starting point, but you may want to cast a wider net to build up a broader portfolio of knowledge and complement insight from GA.

5. Start following the #measure tag on Twitter; some serious analytics superstars show up in this stream, and you’ll learn tons just by from reading/interacting.

6. Read anything and everything Avinash Kaushik has ever written. Word.

7. Check out these blogs from awesome practitioners:

8. Sign up to be a student on the Analysis Exchange; work on a project for an organization in need alongside an expert mentor.

9. Finally, if you’re interested in a career that may also require to build out your knowledge of paid platforms, start by reading their blogs. Though context is always helpful, you can learn a lot from pros before ever shelling over $ to implement the tools.

10. Just do it.

This is my attempt to put lipstick on a response to this Quora analytics question.


Facebook Insights: Badass Ninja Knives for Page Data

In Analytics, Campaign Anaytics, Web Analytics on March 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that your company has a Facebook page.

I mean, your mom has a Facebook page. Your dog has a Facebook page. Everybody has a Facebook page. You’re churning out content like a champ and working your Facebook page like a pageant queen to engage your users…but how do you know your hard work is paying off?

When was the last time you showed your Facebook analytics a li’l love?

You’ve seen the AsSeenOnTV infomercials for those knives that are so kickass they can cut right through aluminum? Facebook Insights is the equivalent of those badass knives for your Facebook Page data. Do you have two minutes and the ability to toss a meta tag up on your site? Boom! Instant insight.

It’s time to start measuring your Facebook page like a ninja!

Christopher O’Donnell, from Performable, heard your cry and whipped up a video to walk you through the basics of Facebook Analytics. Check it out!

Often people ask “How can I measure my Facebook Page?” or “How do I install analytics on my Facebook Page?” What many people don’t know is that Facebook has built its own analytics product that comes baked-in for free. And while there are compelling use cases around measuring user behavior across channels, from mobile app to website, to Facebook and beyond (something that Performable‘s Lifecycle Analytics excels at), Facebook’s Insights analytics product will help you take a deep look at adoption and engagement across all the facets of your Facebook Page.

In order to get valuable insights from this new product, it’s important to understand the key performance indicators and paths of optimizations for Facebook publishers. I’ve made a little video that tours through the Facebook Insights tool itself, and discusses how to interpret the data and drive performance improvement for your social community.

The video is about 8 minutes long … does it help if I call it a “micro-webinar?” Enjoy, and please leave your feedback in the comments!

Campaign Tagging: Part 2 – Strategy

In Analytics, Campaign Anaytics, Web Analytics on March 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm


You rolled up your sleeves and started tagging your campaigns…now what?

I’m sure you jumped right into the basics of campaign tagging video I posted last week, and now you’re tracking your marketing efforts like an animal. But all your good intentions can quickly snowball into a world of pain, if you don’t employ a consistent strategy across your organization.

Combat the chaos.

Campaigns, and sources and mediums, oh, my! You’re a sophisticated marketer with a robust portfolio of campaigns, but all those values can start to get confusing without an organized approach to tracking.

I heart Google docs!

Whether you’re an Excel geek or a Google Docs. evangelist, throw your utm parameters into columns and start tracking the values you’re using. Not only does this instantly create a simple guide that others in your organization can follow when tagging new campaigns, but it also gives you a clear reference point when your data starts to roll in.

Check out your report card and make a plan for next semester.

Revisit, refine and revise your approach to optimize for insight!

Lose your Omniture training wheels!

In Analytics, Web Analytics on February 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm

What are the best resources to learn Omniture SiteCatalyst?

Questions like this one pop up on Quora from Omniture newbies all the time. Kick off your training wheels and check out my response below for a few tips-

I painfully sat through every single Omniture training course offered. And you know what? I didn’t really learn that much…

Amy Chua was onto something by making her kids do 2,000 math problems each night.

She might be a little off her rocker and generally missing the big picture, but her kids sure as hell have mad arithmetic skillz. Practice makes perfect! Want to learn how to use SiteCatalyst, Discover or one of the other Omniture tools? The only way you’ll truly learn is by jumping in and exploring:

Cozy up to the engineers on your team. Get a basic understanding for the way information is captured and passed into Omniture.

Identify the questions you want to answer. Dig into the reports, see what you can uncover and get over the initial intimidation of learning a new UI.

Fill in gaps with a li’l help from the pros. You don’t have to look too far to find experts who are throwing down the Omniture knowledge day in and day out for free! Soak it up!

Dig into Adam Greco’s Blog for a wealth of information about SiteCatalyst, from the fundamentals to implementation tricks that will boost the insight you generate from the tool.

Take a look at Omniture’s Blog; it’s a fantastic resource for learning more about their entire suite of products. You’ll find posts from top notch account managers, analysts, product leads and engineers.

Follow other practitioners! I learned so much about Site Catalyst just by interacting with other analysts and developers who work with the tool everyday. A few top minds in this space include-

Check out Web Analytics TV. Jason Thompson recently planted the seed for what’s sure to become a huge contribution to the web analytics community by launching this killer site. Check out analytics video tutorials from Omniture vets in an easy-to-consume format. After you become an Omniture champ, make sure to go back and submit your own!

Follow the #measure tag on twitter, attend analytics conferences and reach out to other people who are working with the platform for creative solutions to the measurement challenges you’re trying to address.

I haven’t been thrilled with the Omniture training courses. I’ve taken every Omniture training course out there, including the SC courses, Discover and Test &Target. While you can definitely pick up a few helpful nuggets during the classes, I’ve found the pace slow and some of the topics too rudimentary to merit the time investment. Hang onto your $, and instead, invest some time in coming up to speed by doing, reading, watching and learning.

Objects in the analytics dashboard may appear closer than they are…

In Web Analytics on February 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

A new analytics platform crops up every day, each one more slick than the next. Don’t get me wrong- I’m thrilled to see attention paid to great UX design, but…

Beware of shiny reports!

Bait and Switch

When I first started using Omniture’s Site Catalyst product a few years ago, I stumbled on the Events Funnel report.

Holler! Just what I was looking for…or so I thought.

I was working in a subscription model business with a four-step trial signup flow, and we were driving traffic into the funnel from various campaigns; the first step/landing page varied by channel, but all users passed through the same subsequent steps (steps 2-4). I set up my event report, selecting our homepage as ‘step one’. I ran the report, already envisioning revealing the funnel visual to my boss, beaming as I’d paint the picture of how easy it would be for us to track fallout between signup steps for our campaigns.

But then, something didn’t add up. Where I’d expected to see fallout between the first and second steps of the signup full, the number of users who completed step two greatly exceeded the number that had completed step one. How could this be?! Here’s the thing about Ominiture’s Event Funnel Report- the steps in the report don’t have to occur in sequential order. This logic is missing entirely from the report. Step 2 was capturing traffic from all of our marketing campaigns, not just traffic that had entered through the homepage. What at first seemed like a brilliantly simple way to track signup funnel fallout was actually totally worthless to us.

One-trick Pony

Then, last month, I hit the jackpot; I found the funnel report I’ve been whining didn’t exist the last few years. KISSmetrics really excels in tracking funnel fallout. Simply set up the steps in your funnel, and bam!, you’ve got a funnel fallout report.

The problem with this? Unless you’ve identified the steps in the funnel you want to track, you’re taking a stab in the dark. For fixed funnels like the trial signup flow I was tracking in my old gig, this report is hotsauce. Want to track cart abandonment? KISSmetrics rocks at this. That said, it can’t bubble up the steps you’re users are taking or content they’re consuming prior to signing up that’s triggering conversion (Performable is crushing this, btw). Instead, it’s up to you to build a bunch of funnels based on your own hypotheses about the flows users are engaging in, and test them out in the tool. Question is, what might you be missing?

Superhot, but Not Very Bright

Then, there are the reports that look really cool and insightful, but aren’t at all actionable. During a demo, have you ever heard a sales guy say, “Your exec team will really love this report”? Bing, bing, bing! Red flag! This is sales lingo for, “This report looks totally sexy, but it doesn’t actually put out.”

Take the time to figure out what you’re looking for before you take the plunge. You might be okay with the report you get when you see what’s under the paint. Likewise, sometimes a one-trick pony will get you what you’re looking for. What’s usually guaranteed though, is that while ‘superhot but not bright’ might be fun for a few days, you’re probably not going to want to put a ring on it…

Which analytics tool is the ‘best’?

In Vendor Selection, Web Analytics on November 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm


This question makes me cringe. You want me to tell you what you need in your analytics toolbox? Do you want me to tell you which flavor of ice cream you should like too?

Roll up your sleeves and put on your work boots- it’s time to do some heavy lifting. No single tool is a magic fit for all organizations. Every solid vendor selection process starts with digging deep to evaluate your business needs, establish your KPIs and determine your reporting requirements.

Less is more. It’s easy to feel like a kid in an ice cream shop when you first start out. So many choices! So many features!

But remember your ice cream sundae game plan when you were a tyke? Bubble gum ice cream with peanut butter chips, gummy bears, butterscotch sauce, whipped cream nuts and a cherry; pile up add-ons until you make yourself sick. When it comes to analytics tools, sometimes all you need is a solid vanilla bean with some homemade chocolate fudge.

Start with what you want to measure. Get all your key stakeholders in a room and map out the metrics you’d like to track. No harm in brainstorming! The sky’s the limit, and you’re building the ultimate wish list.

Then, ask yourself why. It’s time to narrow your list down to a critical few. Why do you want to measure it? What will you do if you have this information? How is it actionable? Every metric you’re tracking should be tied to insight that will provide a health check for your business and enable you to identify meaningful optimization opportunities.

Now, figure out how you’ll measure it. Now you’re ready to take a good hard look at the tools on the market to figure out how they stack up against your requirements. You’ve got a concrete list to take to vendors to determine whether the tool can meet your reporting needs and how easy it will be to get at the data. Sure, it’s fun to indulge in the bells & whistles, but don’t let yourself get distracted from the critical stuff you’ve just worked so hard to tease out.

Don’t forget about segments! You’ve built a solid foundation for analysis; now it’s time to bubble up some juicy data through segmentation. Start simple- make sure the tool you choose will enable you to segment visitors by basic lifecycle type (prospect, trial user, customer, etc.). How important is it for you to be able to be able to drill down by product type? Usage? Behavioral characteristics? The answers will determine whether you need a tool that enables a sophisticated integration with your CRM, or whether you can get by with enhancing a basic implementation with a few small custom tweaks.

Which analytics platform is the best? You tell me!

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