2006 Web Analytics in Review

Google Analytics, News, Urchin 5 3 Comments »

2006 was a busy time for the web analytics industry in terms of mergers and acquisitions – see vendor timeline (pdf). Probably the most significant event was the announcement by Microsoft in May that it had acquired Deepmetrix – a Canadian based web analytics tool. The similarities with Google’s purchase of Urchin a year before (April 2005) are striking – both in terms of strategy of the parent company and the features of the product they acquired…

Both companies (Microsoft and Google) are major Search Engine players and both have Pay-Per-Click advertising networks. This is a clear signal that online marketing and measurement/accountability are now going to be mainstream. Only a year or so ago, web analytics was considered an optional extra for online marketing campaigns. Now the two will become synonymous. Much of this has already happened with Google Analytics, but it is significant that Microsoft has come to the same conclusion.

Microsoft in October said publicly that they will start to role out their version of Deepmetrix in late Spring 2007. What will be interesting is whether it will be free – as is the case for Google Analytics. I would say almost certainly so, but may only be to adCentre advertisers in the initial phase, as opposed to all users – as was the case for Google Analytics. That would enable them to scale more efficiently than Google did when they had to introduce their throttled invitation system one week after launch (it lasted 9 months!).

Similarities of Urchin v Deepmetrix*

  • Both companies were of a similar size around 30-40 staff.
  • Both companies had a similar sized and loyal customer base.
  • Both companies have a hosted (ASP) service and software solution.
  • Both companies targeted the market at similar price points (mid and high tier clients).
  • Both companies use essentially the same page tagging technology (javascript) to collect data for their hosted service.
  • Both companies have a very close feature set – site overlay, geo-overlay, campaign breakdown, x-segmentation etc.

*Since the launch of Google Analytics its feature set has moved on significantly. Also ,since the notice of the Microsoft acquisition, Deepmetrix is no longer available to trial. So it will be interesting to see what additional features Microsoft have added in the past 12 months – or maybe that time is required for the integration with MS’s adCenter…

Our web analytics market predictions for 2007…

  • MS releases “DeepSoft” or whatever they rename Deepmetrix to. Likely to be free.
  • 100% advertiser adoption – continued rapid growth in adoption of web analytics tools to the point where whenever you setup an online advertising campaign, analytics will be a part of it by default.
  • The number of mergers and acquisitions will continue to increase. With both “DeepSoft” and Google Analytics, are there opportunities for other tools other than large well established vendors that provide heavy customisation i.e. WebSideStory, Omniture, Webtrends. Other tools, excellent though some are (e.g. Indextools, Moniforce, Nedstat, Xiti, Instadia, Redeye) I feel will have to merge or partner to survive – either with other vendors or with agencies that build their marketing services around such products (similar to Webtraffiq and Clicktracks in 2006).
  • As has already started to happen in 2006, web analytics terminology will simplify and become more business orientated and less technical. Expect to see buzz words such as “accessibility” and “discoverability” in the near future. At some point even web analytics as an industry term may disappear as the technique merges with business intelligence (that’s probably 2 years away, but it will happen!).

Happy new year to our subscribers!

What are KPI’s and Why Do I Need Them?

Google Analytics, Urchin 5 No Comments »

Google Analytics has opened up the world of web analytics to a host of new users, so we thought it might be worth running over some of the basics of why people use web analytics. After all, there’s not a lot of use in slaving over a hot keyboard for weeks to configure your analytics only to sit back, look at your perfectly formed data and suddenly realise you don’t know what to do with it now that you have it.

So welcome to the concept of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – basically measurements designed to assess performance. You might be familiar with these from other areas of business management and the principle is the same, but we can see their role in web analytics using the traditional mantra:

“Measure. Analyse. Act”
KPI’s are the middle stage, but they’re defined by the first and they should drive the third.

What KPI’s should I use?
Your choice of KPI’s depends on your business goals as well as who is going to be reading and acting on the data. There are some obvious Key Performance Indicators, but remember that KPI’s are best established as percentages or ratios. Raw numbers mean nothing unless they are put in context. Similarly, KPI’s should be measured over time. Web analytics is not (yet) a perfect science and no WA system can track all your users with 100% accuracy, therefore good analysts must look at trends and changes over time. Some common KPI’s:

  • Conversion Rates (Analysed by conversion, visitor type and visitor source (e.g. PPC))
  • Cost per Conversion/ROI/ROAS
  • Visitor Numbers & ‘Stickiness’
  • Visitor Type/Quality
  • SEO/SEM Effectiveness
  • Internal Search/Exit Rates/Length & Depth of Visits (Measures of how good your site is at providing relevant information)

If you have already set up goals and conversion tracking in Google Analytics then you’ve already got a starting point for your KPI’s. If not, you really need to do this. Every website must have goals, or why have a site?

How do I measure KPI’s?
Get the data into your application of choice (we recommend a good spreadsheet program) then keep plugging the data into your formulas, week after week, month after month. Good analysis is an ongoing process, so set targets and assess whether any changes you make are improving your KPI’s or not. However, don’t get carried away – once you start looking there are hundreds of possible KPI’s. As Eric Peterson says in his highly recommended “Big Book of KPI’s” (see below):

No KPI Report should have more than a handful of metrics, two handfuls at most

Google Analytics & Your KPI’s
There is a strong relationship between Key Performance Indicator’s and website goals, so the first thing to do is check that your goals are configured correctly, whether they are conversion goals or ecommerce transactions. Once this is done you can look at some of the dashboards GA provides, which show data trends – Conversion Summary, Marketing Summary & Content Summary:

Then you need to get your data out of GA and into a spreadsheet. Use GA’s export options for this:

KPI’s are a vital element of the whole web analytics process. If you need help establishing, measuring and interpreting yours, GA Experts provides professional services for Google Analytics and our consultants can help you establish which KPI’s are crucial for your business.

Other resources:
Eric Peterson’s “Big Book of Key Performance Indicators”
Yahoo! web analytics forum (KPI’s are a common topic of conversation for web analytics aficionados).

New AdWords Analysis Report

Google Analytics, Urchin 5 3 Comments »

Google have added a new report to the Search Engine Marketing section in Google Analytics. The new AdWords Analysis Report means you can break down your AdWords PPC data by Campaign, Ad Group and Keyword. This is a great resource for assessing the ROI of your campaign at a glance. Find it here: