Google Analytics Content Drilldown – More Useful Than It May Appear

For a lot of websites, the ‘Content Drilldown’ report does not appear to be particularly useful. In fact, compared to the ‘Top Content’ report, it often seems…completely redundant. For example, the only difference in the reports shown below is the name. (Aside from the difference in the number of pages – which we’ll get to later.) Furthermore, when you drill into an item on either report by clicking on it, you get to the same detail page. But, as I have (finally) come to realize, there is in fact more here than meets the eye, and for some sites the ‘Content Drilldown’ report may provide crucial, under-used perspective on site usage.

GA top content report

GA content drilldown report

(For many sites, there is no noticeable difference between the ‘Top Content’ and ‘Content Drilldown’ reports.)

The difference, as demonstrated in the screenshot below, is this: the Content Drilldown report (as its name admittedly implies), shows activity at the folder level, not just page level.  Depending on the structure of a given site, this can provide a very useful aggregation of data by folder that allows for easy comparison of performance between different sections of your site.

GA content drilldown report with folders

This example is for a site that is almost entirely structured in folders. Other than the home page (/index.asp) everything in the Content Drilldown report represents different sections of the site, organized by content.  ‘Index.asp’ shows up in the report because it is at the root level of the domain. So by rolling up all the pageviews in a given section, we can see in this example that while they are doing pretty well on the ‘shopping’ section of the site, in terms of exit rate, they are losing a lot of visitors in the ‘ideas’ section. Could be a good area to focus on for improvement!

And from here, when you click on one of the items in the report, you drill down into the next level of folders/pages. (Note that at each level, the number of ‘pages’ viewed refers to folders and/or pages at that level – hence the difference between the number of pages in the ‘top content’ and ‘content drilldown’ reports in the first example above.)

It’s also worth noting that if you are tracking different subdomains within your site and you have a filter in place to show full domain names in content reports, the Content Drilldown will start at the subdomain level.

With the advent of more flexible custom variables, site sections can also be tracked by applying these variables to pages. That approach has some advantages, but it involves changes to the GA tracking code. (And warrants a separate blog post!) Meantime, if you have your site architecture in order, the Content Drilldown can get you a long way right out of the box.

Mobile for B2B Sites: Are We There Yet?

iPhone-internetDespite strong growth in mobile use of internet, there is not enough critical mass for most B2B to focus attention and investment in this area – yet.

More and more of us are using mobile handsets to access the internet, and we frequently see headlines declaring  that ‘mobile internet will soon overtake fixed internet‘ or advising us to ‘forget desktop, its all about the mobile‘. And of course this time of year we get the usual predictions like ‘the one big trend is mobile‘ and ‘mobile will finally take off [in 2011]‘. There’s no doubt that significant momentum is building in terms of online activity by mobile users. And it’s not just anecdotal: there are reliable statistics backing up these claims.

But, as usual, it’s a good idea to take a deep breath and analyze the data a little closer to home in order to separate the general hype from your specificreality before making any rash business decisions. These are very broad trends the pundits are taking about. Often, the data is consumer-oriented. Is it time for B2B businesses to ramp up investment in mobile advertising, site functionality, and app development? Are we there yet?

In order to get a sense of where things stand, I took a quick look at the data for 10 B2B sites* to gauge the impact of mobile traffic. These sites are operated by companies of various sizes (mostly medium-sized businesses), covering a range of business sectors, with various levels of site traffic*. Really, about the only thing they have in common is that they are selling goods and services almost exclusively to other businesses.

Here are the results:

mobile internet total visits 10 b2b sites

Strong and steady growth in total mobile traffic to 10 B2B sites, although curious dip since Sep-10.

mobile visits as percent of total

Across the 10 B2B sites analyzed, percent of total traffic has grown strongly and steadily, except for recent declines. However, it remains well below 2% of total traffic from these 10 sites.

mobile traffic by site

Significant differences in the amount of mobile traffic to individual sites, varying from strongly positive trends to relatively flat, with some volatility.

mobile percent visits by site

Except for one outlier that has reached the 5-6% range, mobile traffic is still below 2% of total visits for these sites.

So we can see that the growing trend in mobile use is starting to have a measurable impact for B2B sites – but only starting.  It is also worth noting that the trends are not unwaveringly upward, as pundits may imply.

It should also be pointed out that this analysis only considers visits. To get a more informed look at the impact of mobile traffic on your site (and to investigate traffic fluctuations that may be present), it may be worthwhile to also look at engagement metrics and data on outcomes. Mobile traffic may be small, but may be delivering a disproportionate share of conversions. Or there may be a lack of engagement if your site is not mobile-friendly. Also, by looking at unique visitors, you can gauge the actual number of people that are accessing your site via mobile devices – could tell a different story than visits alone.

Your results may vary, but this may provide some additional context with regard to mobile usage for B2B sites. This may not be the time for action and investment in catering to those mobile users, but it is probably a good idea to check in with your web analytics data – and your qualitative voice of customer data – so that you are ready when the time does come.

What do you think? Am I being too conservative? Are you getting out ahead of the curve and experiencing success with mobile in a B2B environment? Interested to hear from you.

*Background: 10 U.S. and Canadian B2B sites in various industry sectors; average visits per month per site ranging from ~10,000 to ~150,000 visits; data source for all sites: Google Analytics.

New Ways to See AdWords Search Query Terms

AdWords Report CenterAs part of Google’s phasing out of the AdWords Report Center, the traditional ‘Search Query Performance’ report is no longer available. But there are new and better ways to get this critical data!

Using Google AdWords reports to track performance of the keywords you are bidding on is fundamental to search marketing success, and the ease with which this can be done is a source of delight for search marketers, especially when compared to measuring traditional forms of advertising.  If you are bidding on ‘industrial supplies’, for example, it is easy to get metrics like impressions, clicks, conversions, cost per conversion and then make decisions that will lead to better performance.

But most folks also realize the additional value of being able to look behind the scenes to see the actual search queries that users are typing in and using that information to refine campaigns.  Because if you are bidding on ‘industrial supplies’ on anything other than exact match, your ad will be showing up for a lot of terms beyond strictly ‘industrial supplies’. These could be: ‘cheap industrial supplies‘, ‘industrial supplies oregon‘, ‘industrial equipment and supplies‘, ‘industrial painting supplies‘ and thousands of other variations. The value of having this deeper insight into the terms triggering your ads is obvious.

Not so very long ago in the short history of search engine marketing, this was data was not as accessible as many would’ve liked, served up only in a special report, with large chunks of information missing. (The infamous ‘other unique queries’.)

Times change (quickly) and this industry evolves (rapidly) and now more complete search query data is available from a couple of sources. At the same time, the traditional Search Query Performance report has been phased out of the AdWords Report Center – along with just about every other kind of report. So let’s look at how we can get at AdWords search query data now:

1. Within AdWords Keyword data in UI: Recent enhancements to the AdWords user interface include the ability to generate an ‘on the fly’ report on search terms.  From the ‘Keywords’ tab, you can select the ‘See search terms’ button to go to a report on search terms.  This shows all the search terms used, with indications as to which ones are currently being bid on.  The nice thing here is that you can instantly add keywords or even add negative keywords directly from this report.  And you can also download the report in CSV format.

AdWords search query terms
3. Google Analytics AdWords data: With the new AdWords reporting enhancements to Google Analytics, it is easy to get a look at actual search terms being used. Simply go to ‘Traffic Sources’>’AdWords beta’>’Keywords’ and then use the second dimension box to select ‘Matched Search Query’. Here you get a nice side-by-side listing of keywords you are bidding on along with matched terms.  The additional advantage, of course, is that you get all that juicy post-click behavioural data, such as bounce rate, goal completions, and – if you have Ecommerce tracking set up – revenue.

GA search query

So there are 2 ways that I know of to investigate AdWords search query data and use it to improve performance of your keyword advertising. Both of these methods offer some advanced flexibility and power compared to the old AdWords Search Query Performance report.

Mediative: Performance Marketing through Network, People, Platform

Canada’s Yellow Pages Group has brought together the strengths of several online marketing players, including Enquiro Search Solutions, to form Mediative. The result promises to be a powerful combination of Network, People, and Platform that offers major benefits to advertisers.

Mediative logoI have been a search marketing strategist, specializing in web analytics, at Enquiro Search Solutions for almost 3 years. There have been a lot of changes over that time: people, office locations, services offered, revenue aspirations, operational procedures, and more, and all this on top of the constant changes in marketing practices, opportunities and technologies that are a fact of life in online business. Never a dull moment and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As of October 26, though, Enquiro experienced a whole new dimension of change: the company was brought under the umbrella of a new entity, Mediative, put together by the Yellow Pages Group, one of Canada’s most well-established advertising publishers. Enquiro was one of three major acquisitions that have been combined with existing Yellow Pages online properties and an expansion of Yellow Page’s existing interest in Acquisio (a leading provider of online marketing campaign management software) to form Mediative. This is a potent mix, with some opportunities for great synergies, based on interlocking components of a wide-reaching advertising Network, experienced People with proven expertise in online marketing, and a sophisticated advertising management Platform.

The way I see it, here’s how it all fits together:

The Network:

The Yellow Pages Group already reaches 17 million unique visitors monthly through websites that are specifically targeted at consumers in the process of researching or making a purchase, such as AutoTRADER and Red Flag Deals. Ad Splash Media, another of the acquisitions that comprise Mediative, brings to the table a network of leading online retail brand sites such as FutureShop and Walmart, to which it serves relevant, point of purchase brand advertising. As if that’s not enough, UPTREND media, another company brought under the Mediative umbrella, has access to a community of publisher sites that reaches 15 million unique visitors, plus email newsletters, and more. That’s a huge array of highly productive online advertising opportunities.

The People:

With a network as expansive as the one Mediative now has, it can be a bewildering landscape for advertisers looking to reach as many potential and existing customers as they can, while maintaining a high return on their advertising spend. This is where the Mediative people come in. Enquiro has built a reputation for delivering successful search engine marketing campaigns and related online marketing strategies for major brands across North America, as well as undertaking definitive research into online search and buying behavior. This expertise has the potential to dovetail nicely with the Mediative network opportunities available and the existing expertise at Ad Splash, UPTREND, and Acquisio.

Beyond that, though, Enquiro will still offer clients in the U.S. and Canada a full suite of search marketing opportunities. The difference now is not just additional channel opportunities, but also additional people resources that can be accessed to provide service to clients  wherever they are located and wherever their markets are.

The Platform:

The final piece that helps bring it all together is a platform for managing marketing campaigns across networks and achieving high performance through data-driven decisions. With Acquisio and other technologies, Mediative has a platform in place to measure, manage, and optimize marketing results. This is particularly exciting to me, as web analytics practitioner who is always looking for more and better ways to get insights into performance and to report those back to clients.

The Conclusion:

As always in situations when different businesses are merged, it can take a while to get all cylinders firing. And it doesn’t always work as well as expected (“Hello, AOL-Time Warner!”). But YPG appears to have taken a very considered approach and it seems to me there is some great potential here. One thing for sure…there are no dull moments in sight!

Opinions expressed of those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mediative. It’s basically just me thinking out loud. 🙂

Choosing Indicators: Separating KPIs from KRIs

Distinguishing between Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Result Indicators (KRIs) can improve clarity and help focus attention where it matters most.

One of the most important components of effective web analytics is identification of key performance indicators that can provide a focal point for site improvement amidst the multitude of data points that are available.  Important as it is, though, there are still lots of organizations who don’t have their KPIs fully worked out. This despite lots of attention being drawn to this area, through articles like Avinash’s “KPIs to Die For” and, of course, Eric Peterson’s “Big Book of Key Performance Indicators” (now available free!).

In his book ‘Key Performance Indicators: Developing, Implementing and Using Winning KPIs‘, David Parmeter makes the point right on page 1 that there is a difference between key result indicators and key performance indicators.  These two types of indicators are often confused, but it is important to understand this difference and to delineate it in reporting, because while results are what we ultimately want, performance is where the action is.

Key Result Indicators

These are the measures that tell you how well you’ve done in terms of your larger objectives and provide “a clear picture of whether you are traveling in the right direction”, as Mr Parmeter says.  You can view these as being at the strategic level, measuring how well the chosen strategy is working. For web analytics, they are connected to company objectives for your website, and so would be things like:

  • online revenue (ecommerce)
  • leads generated (lead gen)
  • visits (publishing).

These are obviously critical to track and report on, especially to those higher up the corporate ladder. They may be viewed relative to targets that have been set. But they do not tell you what to do to improve. This is where your key performance indicators come in.

Key Performance Indicators

The reason these are called ‘performance‘ indicators is that they are directly pointing at actions being performed.  The reason they are designated as ‘key‘ performance indicators is that they are critical to achieving our desired results. These are metrics at the tactical, operational level that may be far removed from key results, but nonetheless impact them. Because of their connection to operational activities, when one of our key performance indicators goes awry, we know what to do and it drives us into immediate action.

Parmeter gives the example of British Airways and plane delays.  In the 1980’s, BA apparently determined that of all the things that go into running a successful airline, delayed departure of planes created a cascading effect that undermined a ton of other activities and ultimately inhibited the company from achieving financial goals. Such was the focus on this KPI that if a plane was delayed beyond a certain threshold, a local manager would receive a call from a senior executive. Action taken (by the senior executive…and presumably by the local manager if he wanted to keep his job).

Identifying Key Performance Indicators

Identifying key performance indicators starts with clarifying your goals and the results that indicate your progress toward them, and then digging underneath those result indicators to uncover the performance aspects that have the biggest difference on the result indicators. The KPIs are not necessarily obvious, and the process of identifying and agreeing on them may require some extensive consultation with stakeholders.  Here is a basic framework with simplified example that hopefully gives a sense of the minimum requirements for developing effective KPIs:

  1. Start by clarifying your goals. (increase monthly revenue from search engine visitors by 20% within 6 months.)
  2. Define key result indicators that reflect your goals. (revenue from search engine visitors)
  3. Identify key aspects of performance that are critical to achieving the desired results. (number of search engine visitors, percentage of visitors that make a purchase, value of orders placed by visitors who make a purchase)
  4. Derive key performance indicators that reflect effectiveness or efficiency of these aspects of performance. (% increase in search engine visitors, conversion rate, average order value)

Once the KRIs and KPIs have been identified, it is then a matter of reporting on them, incorporating analysis of what is happening and what is being done to improve the situation. After all, there’s no point in identifying KPIs if you don’t have information-rich, easily distributable reports for monitoring trends and correlations and spurring decision-making.

Is that all there is?

None of this is to say that other data collected but not deemed to be key indicators should be ignored.  The point is to create some focal points for further analysis. Is conversion rate going down? Then let’s look at what search engines or keywords are responsible. Let’s check landing pages. Are products out of stock? Because we have key performance indicators to set the context, we can hunt down root causes and make recommendations that will flow through to improved results.

In addition, though, we still want to keep an eye on other metrics to spot changing trends that may either offer opportunities or portend troubles ahead.  There are lots of indicators that are not necessarily ‘key’ but could be relevant depending on the situation. But, in the absence of unlimited time for analysis, these take a backseat to thoes ‘key’ indicators that we should be monitoring religiously.

Final Word on KPIs

One more thing to consider is that in the constantly-changing world of online marketing, today’s KPI may be tomorrow’s irrelevant data point. And even the KPIs you choose today may not be as meaningful as originally thought: there may be others that get closer to the heart of what drives critical success factors.  So it’s a good idea to periodically review your KPIs for relevance, and even keep a couple alternatives in your back pocket in case they may prove to be more useful.

Moral of the story…there is no final word on KPIs.