Dear Avinash: Your Digital Marketing + Analytics Challenges Answered

CircularEvery once in a while I take a pause and answer your questions, your burning questions (!), about digital marketing and analytics.

I'd requested you to submit questions on my Facebook or Google+ pages and am always delighted at the wide range of challenges you share.

For some answers, What is Avinash's typical day like? Hour-by-hour report please. :)?, you'll have to wait for my biography (thanks for asking Simo Ahava!). I'll answer a selection of other questions in this post.

We will cover questions in four areas: business/strategy challenges, analytics/technical challenges, career/self-development questions and rampant speculation.

Many of these questions have multiple possible answers, I invite you to participate in the discussion by adding your own answers via comments.

Let's do this!

^ Business/Strategy Challenges

Glenn Walker

Hi, I have recently started working with more enterprise clients, its been fun but there are a lot of new challenges. I am having issues prioritizing 1) recommending fixing on site issues affecting real traffic levels versus 2) correcting significant configuration issues in Analytics measuring current site traffic. Both are large scale issues requiring buy in from execs and multiple departments.

I need to pick my spots and decide where to assign resources first. Grow traffic first, with even with bad measurement I can find positive ROI areas for growth or invest time getting Analytics in order first for more objective decision making? How do you think about making reconsiderations for a scenario like this??

Strategy one…

Prioritize by where you will make money for your client quickly. Even the worst analytics configuration in the world will most likely allow you to measure cart and checkout abandonment rate. If you can fix that, more revenue will immediately flow into your client's bottom-line. They will show affection towards you. Bank it. Next, it should be easy to measure bounce rates for landing pages (you would have to have zero code on the site not to be able to do this). Find campaigns where they are spending most money, lower the bounce rate and reduce acquisition cost. Earn more affection.

When you feel you have enough, use it to buy time/money to go fix the configuration problems.

The mistake we make is that we obsess about every big, small and insignificant analytics implementation challenge and try to fix it because we want 99.95% comfort with data quality. Six years go by. Nothing changes for the business. We wonder why data people are not loved. :)

Don't make that silly mistake.

Strategy two…

Book two hours with the senior most company leaders who will talk to you, and create the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model .

digital marketing measurement model step five[1]

If you have the DMMM, you have your priorities clearly laid out.

If there is anything you can measure, even with your broken analytics implementation, do that first. Add value to the business. Then prioritize fixes to the analytics implementation based on what your DMMM indicates is important to measure.

Strategy three…

Leverage the Digital Analytics Ladder for Magnificent Success to help you prioritize where to focus next.

digital analytics ladder of magnificient success[1]

Identify where your company is currently, what the next optimal step is in the ladder and give it all your attention in terms of data analysis or analytics code fixes.

Three different strategies to help you figure out what you should do next, even with a horrible analytics implementation. What they have in common is they encourage you to extract whatever value from the data you can first, prove your worth to the business, and then focus on analytics code fixing.

Stephen Cornelius

How do you come up with compelling analytics KPIs if there isn't a simple relationship between online activity and profit, for example when you sell online content via a traditional offline annual subscription sales process??

I'm afraid there isn't enough context in your question to answer it specifically. There can be so many different answers based on your specific scenario.

But if you would like a quick collection of tips: Multichannel Analytics- Tracking Online Impact Of Offline Campaigns The enabler of tying offline activity to online is ensuring you have a weak or strong primary key. The post provides more detail.

I believe these two posts with a collection of some of my favorite metrics will inspire you: 1.Best Metrics For Digital Marketing: Rock Your Own And Rent Strategies 2.Best Web Metrics / KPIs for a Small, Medium or Large Sized Business.

Joseph Boisseaux

Why is it so incredibly difficult to make people understand that last click attribution model is just idiot? That seems so trivial common sense that I am wondering if France is not in a parallel dimension.

This does drive me bananas! In this day and age using last-click attribution to measure digital success is spectacularly dumb. Genuinely awful.

Who is to blame?

First, I blame the analytics vendors. Vast majority of Adobe Analytics / Google Analytics remain last-click based. (Yes, yes, yes, with GA you can dive into Multi-Channel Funnels reports to move beyond last-click.) Many other tools remain 100% last-click based. If they won't take this seriously, how will they users ever see the light?

Second, I blame you and myself and all other analysts. Even when we have free solutions like MCF in GA with free attribution modeling tools, we don't really use them. Yes it does take a small mental shift, but if, the smart ones (!!), won't make the shift how can we blame anyone else? Are all your reports and presentations beyond last click?

Finally, and only lastly, I blame the management teams. They still tend to think of digital as a fulfillment channel. They have still not embraced the strategy for optimizing for marketing portfolios and still obsess about optimizing silos (they learned this from their TV, Print etc. strategies). They are actively losing money and actively creating upset customers. But they don't realize the cost. I blame their entrenched thinking.

Oh, and nothing is weird about France. Pretty much every company here is using last-click (at least until I visit them :)).

If you would like to move beyond the stupidity, sorry, of last-click:

Justin Dux

Tag Management. What you need to know before you choose third party tool.

First, if you are going to touch the code on your site make sure you get a tag management tool right now. Analytics implementations are getting numerous (tools) and more complicated with every passing data. Get a tag management tool. It will speed up code changes, it will improve the quality of your tagging, angels will sing songs in your praise.

How should you choose one? I'll share the same advice with you I'd shared about choosing a web analytics tool in Sept 2006… Get the nicest free tag management tool you can find. The Google Tag Manager is a good one, you don't need to use Google Analytics to use it. Deploy it. Enjoy it. Revel in its glory. At some point you'll bump into a small issue. Note down the limitation. If it is not a deal-breaker, keep using the tool, keep benefiting from it. Then you'll find something else. Make a note of that one.

At some point, three years from now, because you'll evolve your sophistication, you'll have five limitations and now it has reached a big problem point for your company. You now have your "what do you need to know before your choose a third party tool" list. You will make the smartest possible decision for your company because your selection will be based on your experience with a free tool that you actually used rather than reading competitive FUD literature, and you found actual problems you could not live without.

You're welcome.

^ Technical Analytics Challenges

Mehdi Oudjida

What would be the future of Adwords marketers with not provided searched query ?

– Their reflex would be to expand the number of bought keywords as work around (manual long train work) to try to understand the performance using directly bought keywords?
– It would drive a part of ads to cheaper bids (for the beginning) of long train keywords ?
– Adwords min bulk quotas to be displayed need to be reduced by Google to follow this responsive behavior ??

There might be some confusion here.

What has actually happened is that Google team has announced that they are removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks by users who use secure (SSL) search on So analytics packages et. al. won't have access to this data.

But you as the advertiser will still see the data in the Search Terms report inside your Adwords account. You will be able to measure performance of your bids just as you did in the past.

For automated reporting you can also use the AdWords API Search Query Performance Report or the AdWords Scripts Report service.

There is a small bummer here for sure. I like to analyze my AdWords keyword performance using custom reports , especially using dimensions like Matched Search Query, inside Google Analytics and in context of other campaigns I'm running.

adwords keyword performance with organic

I can't do this anymore and I'm sad about that. But, I'm adapting to the new reality and playing with available options.

Isak Easa

What is a way to analyze Not provided data in GA, its increasing day by, can you suggest how to analyze brand vs non brand out of it?

You are in luck!

Ok, only partially. But, here's an extremely detailed posts that looks at five different data sources to help you make the best of keyword data that is available in other places to optimize your SEO (or even PPC) strategies: Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future.

The post covers what is still there in your analytics tools, competitive intelligence tools, Google Webmaster tools, AdWords Keyword tool, and SEO tools.

google trends car insurance1[1]

And you can definitely do brand vs non-brand analysis using these options. It is not perfect, but it is also very far from insufficient.

Alexander Velinov

My question may be a trivial, but… Do I need campaign tagging with utm parameters for Google Analytics in order to receive more valuable information in multi channel funnel reporting and what exactly valuable information may I achieve ? Let use the question in general way.

I know that it depends of business, goals, measurement plan, resources and so on… But i talk in general. Btw our business is lead generation website and we have a lot of campaigns in different channels. Till now (I am in company from month) we use internal link tracking system which works only in user session, and do not use cookies so i think that we don't have exact information for real business decisions. Thanks in advice.

Let's unpack what is going on here.

Most of the time the way Google Analytics (or WebTrends or whomever) knows where someone came from is by parsing the information in the URL. If someone comes from a link, that information gets provided to Analytics, you can see where the visitor came from. If there is nothing in the referring string, that visit is marked as Direct.

If you are deliberately sending traffic, say via a campaign or an activity you are undertaking, it is best to pass that in the referral string. That way Analytics knows it was your handiwork to send that traffic. It will put that data in Campaigns section of the Acquisition report.

Here's an example. I post on twitter,, the link brings you back to my website, and you'll see this url:

The URL parameters help GA put the data in the right place and classify it as a campaign. Like so…

ga campaign report

I can now see the value of my social media campaigns clearly, and segment them by Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and then lastly Facebook (Oh, I love you Twitter, I love you so much!).

So a very long way of saying that if you do anything to generate traffic, always use campaign tracking parameters. Always. Typically this will apply to Paid Search, Affiliates, Email Marketing, Social Media, and Display campaigns.

If you have a lot of them, aggregate them up. In my case above I can see individual campaigns or just create and advanced segment for social-media.

Fruition Internet Marketing

Do you have any metrics to measure the effectiveness of offline campaigns (Print/TV/Radio)??

You have three options at your disposal, depending on how hard you want to work / how accurate of an answer you want (and remember, you don't always need the most accurate answer – it is very smart to do, even back of the napkin, cost benefit analysis).

I'd outlined the simplest possible option in a post on how I measured the impact of one of our radio campaigns on our digital existence and profits. Here it is: Excellent Analytics Tip #12: Unsuspected Correlations Are Sweet!


The graph above is the end result, fascinating results. Please read the blog post for all the details.

Your second option is to ensure that you invest in various techniques that allow you to create a primary key to tie your offline campaign data with online behavior and outcomes. More details are in my post on tracking online impact of offline campaigns .

Finally, the hardest option, and the one that is most rewarding and perhaps even the most accurate, is to measure effectiveness of offline campaigns by leveraging controlled experiments .

marketing profitability analysis no email no catalog[1]

My example in the post is about measuring the value of catalog and email campaigns, but the technique you would follow would be the same. For additional inspiration seek our media-mix modeling techniques.

Measuring multi-channel campaigns and outcomes takes some effort, but if you are willing you can totally do it.

Martin Penner

Why is Google Analytics telling me that the average time-on-page for my homepage is 16 minutes? It can't possibly be true?

Two things to remember.

All web analytics tools by default don't measure time on page for a bounced visit. So if many people come to your site and leave instantly from your home page then their time in the system is N/A (not available). Of the sessions where time is measured (because a click was made on a link that goes into your site), it is entirely possible that for a good percentage of people they land on your site, go do something else, for whatever reason, later see the tab open and make a click and go deeper into your site causing a higher time period to be recorded for your site. They can't leave the tab/page open for a lot time, after 29 minutes of inactivity the visitor session is terminated. There could be other such reasons causing your high home page time on page.

Check if you have a high bounce rate, if so you don't need a lot of people to exhibit weird behavior for your time on page metric to get messed up.

Bonus reading: Standard Metrics Revisited: #4 : Time on Page & Time on Site

Denis Pinsky

In recent years an increasing percentage of traffic is being labeled as 'Direct', for the most part I know why this is happening, but is analytics industry working on something that will provide more accurate 'Channel' attribution??

Here is a comprehensive guide to look over: Excellent Analytics Tip #18: Make Love To Your Direct Traffic The post shares six reasons why traffic is imprecisely classified as Direct.

I do think the analytics industry is all it can to classify your traffic as cleanly as possible. There are other shadier ways to solve this problem, they will break privacy laws and breach user trust and so I'm glad no legitimate analytics solution is doing anything like that.

Recently the single biggest reason for a spike in Direct traffic is the massive increase in use of mobile applications by all of us. A huge chunk of social media consumption is via dedicated mobile apps. And I don't think you need me to share with you the number of mobile apps, and numbers on mobile app adoption. Mobile apps don't pass a referrer, the visitor gets classified as Direct.

So, for every single campaign you execute, very link you share via social media, and every single action you might undertake on mobile, make sure you are using campaign tracking parameters .

campaign tracking google analytics

All the traffic you generate will now be classified correctly. The ones others generate might not be, but there is not much you can do about it.

If you want to go one more step further and really ensure all things at your end of the responsibility spectrum are covered, check that you have your analytics code implemented completely and correctly.

Bernardo Contopoulos

My current challenge: I want to measure how much the increase in usage of my subscription-based online content is caused by an increase in new subscriptions, and how much is caused by efforts we make to stimulate older subscribers to use more our content (ongoing training, phone calls…)?

As far as I’m concerned, I’m dead on the unique visitors metric (or news vs. returning), as it seems more and more people/companies clean or block third-party cookies.

Short version: how can I measure the results of our efforts in client acquisition and retention distinctively, if I cannot totally rely on unique/new vs. returning visitor data?

You are right, you cannot rely on new and returning visitors/users.

This is a little bit of a complex problem, so you are indeed better off working with an authorized consultant who can evaluate your unique circumstances are help you implement the right solution very quickly. Here's a list: You can also try to "figure out out" :), but I'm afraid if you don't have the technical chops (and that is ok) it will simply take you too long.

All that said there are two solutions that might work.

You can use custom variables, with scope set to Visitor or User, to anonymously identify people who have received your new subscriptions and measure increased content consumption by those people. You can also of course use this strategy to differentiate between new and old subscriptions. Oh, and if you want to analyze behavior of new subscribers from a specific time period, say everyone in Jan 2016, you can use the spiffy cohort analysis option in advanced segmentation . Truly sexy stuff.

Another more advanced strategy might be to leverage the User ID option with the new Universal Analytics roll-out by the team at Google. This will allow you to do some pretty spiffy things related to tracking people and do so across devices (which my above recommendation will not do).

Bonus: User ID implementation guide .

Dan Chow

What is the best way to avoid sample data in segments and views in GA? (without upgrading to GA premium :))

Use standard reports. They are not sampled (unless you apply filters of some kind or advanced segmentation on top of the report and other such things).

Sampling kicks in most frequently when you are looking at the data across a very large time period and use my favorite Google Analytics features like Custom Reporting and Advanced Segmentation.

Also please remember that while the default sampling is applied at 250k, you can change this (look at the top right of any given report) to anywhere from 1k to 500k.

For a more detailed and specific answer: How sampling works in Google Analytics

smart sampling

With sampling what GA is trying to do is not have you wait for five hours to get a perfect answer, or have your query time out, both of which happen commonly in other tools for large datasets. It is very quickly trying to five you a good enough answer. It uses very advanced strategies to ensure it is a good enough answer.

Sometimes that is simply not sufficient. Either our peers don't know how to use sampled data, or have a psychological barrier to overcome. In those cases, please use the techniques outlined above or pay for the Premium version.

Bonus: Web Analytics Data Sampling 411

^ Career / Self-Development Questions.

Kaja Sousek

How to not get frustrated if you are responsible in corporation for digital marketing, but you are the almost only one there, because digital dept. is nonexistent and you get to your Hippo two times per year to discuss digital things?

On the surface it may looks like that everything is running smoothly as you care about website, run campaigns, do reports & analyses, but you know all the time that your company did not buy "big picture" yet.

It does not seem like your company takes digital marketing seriously. If they did, you would see the HiPPO more than twice a year. Even if you were not the most important person on the digital side of your business.

So with that as a background, what do you do?

If you have enough influence (and you can have that even without a big title), then try to take charge of as much of the digital effort as you can and prove to them that by being serious you can win big. Pick the area with the most amount of revenue or cost, use data and digital savvy to improve revenue even more or reduce cost a lot. That will attract attention.

If you have very little influence, try to pick a small area. Say, email marketing. Rock it. Prove how well it can work. Perhaps the right light will shine on your effort and your management team will take you seriously, and then the digital business.

If you have no influence, keep doing the best you can but get your resume ready and find another job. This is not always an option, you might be in a geographic location where this in not an option at all. But if it is an option, in this type of a scenario without any influence for the sake of your personal passion and ambition you are better off some place else where you can add value and achieve professional success.

success one direction


Webbing Yourway

Do you believe that a person who focused on the technical in and out of the analytical tools, had a job that did nothing but implementation and training users how to use the tool, is at a disadvantage to those those that only use the tools to drive insight / reporting but cannot tell you how the tools work?

If yes, why do you think this is the case and do you think it is fair??

It is one of those cases were we have to define what disadvantage really means.

If you consider disadvantage to be having a limit on how high your salary can be and how high your influence on the business side can be then yes, I do believe that having a job that is only focused on implementation is a disadvantage.

But if you are at your happiest doing a job that is technically challenging and allows you to solve difficult data collection and data processing challenges, then it is not a disadvantage. You are doing what makes you happy. Is there anything more important?

As to why I consider it to be a disadvantage (with the above mentioned definition)… Analysis is an incredibly difficult challenge not because it is hard to use the tools, it is hard because you have to be comfortable with ambiguity, you have to deeply understand business strategy, you can't just stop at data puking rather you have to identify actions to take (which means big network of people relationships and business savvy) and compute impact and then recommend things that will work (or you are out of a job). These jobs also mean, for better and for worse, more interfacing with senior management and influencing them (in your technical job you won't as much, even as your job is important), and that does matter a lot.

So, those jobs will pay more, will allow you to drive more change than a job that is simply implementation and tools training.

For more on this, and salary structures and job promotion options, please see this post: Analytics Career Advice: Job Titles, Salaries, Technical & Business Roles.

Kara Martens

What is the best way to start really learning Google Analytics, beyond the basics? Certification? Specific reading materials? or just old-fashioned hands-on training??

If you simply want to learn how to use Google Analytics, your very first stop is the Google Analytics Academy, learn all the material in the Digital Analytics Fundamentals course and proceed to take your Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) test.

I do believe that tools training can take your career forward, but less far than you might desire. You want to actually get good at analytics. The business of analysis. Transforming data into insights. And all that good stuff.

In that case seek books, blog posts, certifications that teach you how to think about analysis. This blog is a good start, :), but there are others. I link to some in the right navigation. You are welcome to consider my book Web Analytics 2.0 (which is not tool centric).

web analytics certification course

In terms of certification, I'm biased but I do recommend the Web Analytics Master Certification program at Market Motive (my start-up) that focuses on the art and science of analysis (and not reporting or a particular tool).

This blog post shares other practical tips, books and certification options: Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps!

Josh Thomas

Thanks for everything you're doing for the community. As a B2B marketer looking to get more heavily involved in web analytics, I'm looking for a place to start – specifically your books.

As a beginner, should I plan to start with the slightly older An Hour a Day, or is that information already in or updated within your second book Web Analytics 2.0? ?

Hello Josh. I recommend skipping Web Analytics: An Hour A Day and just jumping to Web Analytics 2.0 (chapter 5 specifically provides advice on B2B and non-ecommerce websites).

Please also see the post above titled Zero to Hero, I believe you'll find it to be of value. And please see the Unmissable Articles listed on the bottom right of this post.

^ Rampant Speculation

Suzanne van Tienen

To what extent do you personally believe unique user (cross-device) and persona based analytics will succeed – and stick??

Let's get this out of the way: The world already lives in a multi-device, multi-channel world. It is silly, even today, to pretend otherwise. Your current, today, right this very moment, digital analysis should be based on person-based analysis.

Not people-based, a euphemism I use to refer to small groups of "persons" where you can't identify any one person. Person-based, where you can track a person and their behavior across devices and channels. Digital first. Digital and real-world in the near future.

How likely is this?

See my reply above to Joseph Boisseaux where he, rightly, complains about all of still being stuck with last-click attribution. And switching away from that is actually really easy, and businesses still refuse.

So person-based analysis will take a long time. Initially it will just be technical challenges (it is really hard to implement a unique user_id tied to one person, no matter easy analytics tools say it is). Then there will be challenges related to privacy and government rules (unclear at the moment, and if they become clear what their impact might be).

Does this mean you should not try?

No. You are making wrong decisions already by not focusing on person-based analysis. Every little step you take away from visit-based analysis makes you less wrong every day. And that is totally worth shooting for!

Let's end on that note of optimism.

As I'd mentioned at the start of this post, each question above could have a slightly different answer. I would love to have you jump in and help the folks who asked the above questions benefit from your experience and wisdom. Please share your insights via comments below.

Thank you. Merci. Arigato.


  1. 1
    Chris Russell says

    Fantastic collection of questions Avinash.

    I'd missed the post on controlled experiments so appreciated the link. We have been struggling to figure out how to measure the value of our offline catalogs and our digital efforts. I now know what our next steps should be.

    Thank you!

  2. 2

    Hello Avinash.

    I'm first time on your blog and I have to say – I'm impressed.

    This post has bigger value than a lot of eBooks.. Amazing collection..

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. 3

    Thanks for sharing Avinash,

    I would love to see more questions like the 1st question here.

    This question comes from the field and presents a real case and not just something technical (and it is related to email I sent to you few days ago, that I/we would love to see more real case studies rather than just theories)

  4. 4

    Amazing (as always) post Avinash. Lots of quesions and tips I am sure I will refer to in the near future!

    With regards to the question about "Direct Traffic" (Technical Challenges- Denis Pinsky), I have recently had a similar problem with traffic coming from a mobile app. Here is the scenario and how I dealt with it.

    A client (e-commerce website) developed its own mobile app where you can navigate through product pages, etc. until you reach the "Purchase" page. Here you click the "Purchase" button, and you are redirected to the website, so that you finish the purchase process in the website, not in the app. The challenge was how to track this traffic and measure its performance (as Avinash explained, this probably came under Direct traffic, though I was not completely sure).

    The solution we came up with, has been to tag the last page of the mobile app (the one where users were redirected to the website). Apparently we could do it, as mobile app pages had URLs too. It seems to work well, and we can now separate mobile app traffic from other mobile (not app) traffic or desktop. By implementing a filter (at a view level) on this mobile app tagged traffic, we can also perform more in depth analysis on it, like funnel optimization, etc.

    Hope you might find it useful. Cheers!

    • 5

      Marco: Thank you for adding the use case of mobile applications. In addition to the case you've described, lots of direct traffic for socially active businesses can also be from social media referrals because so much of social consumption is on mobile.

      Using tracking parameters will at least ensure that links you share via social that are consumed on mobile apps will come through with the original source and not be direct.


      • 6

        Thank you Avinash.

        If I only think about users accessing Facebook/Twitter etc. via mobile apps, the traffic volume attributed to direct channel can become quite significant.


  5. 7

    Food for thought as always, Avinash, thank you.

    Your answer to Mehdi's question about Adwords matched search query being (not provided) in the referrer url confused me

    I can't yet see an impact on my GA data – and as the matched search queries come from the Adwords link (using the gclid parameter) rather than the referrer url, I don't see why GA would be impacted by this change.

    Have I misunderstood something? Or is Google planning to block the matched search query data from the adwords link too?

    • 8

      Michael: I should have linked to the official post that outlines the changes. Here it is:

      ~ Security enhancements for search users.

      The change removes the search query from the referral string, if you are using a direct link with AdWords you should see the data just as in the past. There are other implications, please see the post above

      I hope this helps clarify.


  6. 9

    Strategic advice: Multi-Channel Attribution: Definitions, Models and a Reality Check
    Sir Link Not Working

  7. 10

    Hi Sir,
    i have a little problem with my analytic tool, Can you please pay a little bit attention to"How to Solve it"


    we are advertising on Different Sites with url parameter "Reff=Referral Site"(i Couldn't append UTM Paramaters as i don't have acccess)

    Then How to separate Source based On "Reff" Parameter ?

    i have used "Custom Channel Grouping" to solve this problem, is there any other way to separate each source by "Reff" parameter in Google Analytic?

    Second Problem:
    We have payment gateway on different site, Some time we get Source as that payment gateway,
    Then how to retain Original Source?

    • 11

      Shiv: The best option for complex GA requests is to hire a GAAC to go through the requirements and validate and recommend the right path. You'll find a list here:

      For the first they will either guide you to use the Page dimension and parse is to get each referring site out (play with custom reporting and filters), or they will use the free GA API to create a custom output for you. For the second it is likely they will work with the limitations of your payment gateway to implement cross-domain tracking (if t is possible). They might also have other ideas once they understand your unique circumstances better.


  8. 12

    Much appreciated, Avinash.

    It's refreshing to get common sense, straightforward, results-based info on the minutiae of this stuff!

  9. 13

    What does keyword deepness mean?

    I'm confused.

  10. 14

    I've been reading your blog for over five years now, Avinash. I've seen people ask the, "What if my company doesn't value this information?" question a bunch of times by now and your answer is always the same.

    Just think of how many people you've helped either find better roles or better companies. I know I continue to be pleasantly surprised by how much change can be accomplished with some compelling data paired with sincere smile. Great post!

  11. 15
    Ankit Aggarwal says

    Hi Avinash,
    Great article. I liked the way you answered doubts, so would like to ask one of my own.
    Recently Responsive Web Design is on a rise. So now if we consider an e-commerce site, which was designed for desktop and could be opened on mobiles and tablets too, how do we compare it with the same site which now has undergone a design change, and has become responsive, and customers can use it on smaller view-ports better? What are the metrics to be used for such an analysis?

    I first thought that there should be an increase in number of people visiting from mobiles and tablets, but that did not happen. Then I thought I could look into avg. time spent on site on mobiles and tablets, but that can be inconclusive since, I can counter the argument both ways: if avg time increases, then it might be because users are not able to use the site properly, and there is a problem in design, and if it decreases, I can say people don't like the site and leave it fast. I thought of using Conversion Rate too, but I don't think that should work.

    So could you help me in this. What is the main reason sites go responsive, and how can we measure it.


    • 16

      Ankit: You have to focus on a metric that gives us an insight related to the desired outcome from the website in context of the mobile environment. There will never be a standard metric for all sites.

      So for the New York Times a metric we could care about for Mobile is increased Frequency and Recency. If the site does not stink, people will come more number of times with a shorter gap between visits. If you stink, no one will want to come again. These two metrics could work for other content websites.

      For an ecommerce website, it is a bit more tricky. A small number of people will want to buy from your mobile presence (if the checkout process is not painful). So before and after creating a true mobile friendly experience, check the uptick in the conversion rate. But mobile platforms are more See and Think and less Do. (See-Think-Do Marketing Framework) So I would keep an eye on the micro-outcomes (email signups, add to carts, shares, saves, videos watched and on and on and on). Identify which ones are the most relevant in the mobile context, use those as measures of success.

      Use the above outlined thought process on your own website.

      Two closing thoughts.

      1. If you know how to measure Primary Purpose and Task Completion Rate for your mobile site (even via usability testing) you are then using the most powerful metric in the world to measure success.

      2. If you have a non-mobile friendly website, a responsive design website will certainly suck less. But that's it. Suck less. If you truly want to create an incredible mobile experience that will lead to customer delight and you making a lot of money, see this wonderful collection of tips: Principles of Mobile Site Design.

      Good luck!


  12. 17

    Hi, Avinash.

    I have a huge issue. I just started a few months ago as an analyst, and the new company has SERIOUS data issues. They have had internal reporting that is mostly reliable, but the vendors providing web analytics tracking have worked diligently to make a mess out of the reporting suites. There have been multiple integrations, multiple profiles created to test new variables, and too many different changes to track. We are using Google Analytics in tandem with our other vendor, and do not have any transactional data before Jan 1, 2014. Our business is extremely seasonal as well.

    …and this makes my job very, very difficult. I cannot do any year-over-year trending or comparison, cannot pull any channel data, and traffic data is spotty at best. The only "usable" data is from January '14 to present (from GA), and AdWords/Bing PPC data. We are in the process of fixing this, but it is by bringing in a new vendor for our web analytics and fixing everything from the ground up. This will be completed by the end of Q3 I suppose, but will only be moving forward.

    My question is this: how do I make myself useful as an analyst when I only have 6 months of decent data to work with? I cannot use any of my previous templates, resources, or normal thinking to bring insights into the room, and I feel like I may be quite useless until the re-implementation.

    Any suggestions, direction, or insight would be greatly appreciated!


    • 18

      Dan: Here is free advice you did not ask for… pick one tool and stick with it. Don't have three (internal, other vendor, GA). It is hard enough to make sense of one, making sense of three will mean you will constantly chase your tail and never catch it. Also, get a new consultant because they can likely fix all this, and help you pick one, much faster.

      Ok, on to your actual question. Once you pick your one tool, there is a lot of tactical analysis you can do with even a couple months of data, you actually have six! Focus on improving your current Paid and Owned media. Focus on reducing the cart and checkout abandonment rate. Focus on segmenting your large pools of customers and understand their sources and behavior. And such things. Even with some inaccuracy, you can make progress.

      The things you won't be able to do cleanly are some of the longer term strategic type analysis, like multi-channel attribution modeling, or even things like frequency and recency analysis. But that is ok. It will come with time.

      Good luck!


  13. 19
    Mohini says

    Hi Avinash,

    Could I please get your advice/recommendations on social analytics tool that is capable for both publishing and analytics (listening etc.).

    I am unable to find a tool that has all the capabilities for publishing (i.e. monitoring, management, and better UI etc) and robust analytics features (listening, pull all the data from facebook API, and Omniture integration).

    I appreciate in advance for your guidance. Thanks.

    • 20

      Monini: You might be looking for Yeti. It will take a long time, likely be expensive and you might not even have much to show for it. :)

      So let's settle on a Polar Bear and a Horse!

      I really like the single integrated point of view that you get from True Social Metrics. All social networks, segmentation, competitive analysis etc. It integrates with analytics tools.

      I'm also quite fond of Viralheat. Lots of publishing and analytics, monitoring and management and nice UI. I use it for my own publishing on FB and TW. Also has some integration with analytics tools.

      The challenging part of the Yeti quest is that it will leave Social in a silo, and I massively recommend having Social in your broad marketing/acquisition portfolio. Hence your overall strategy should be to also ensure all the right campaign tagging is in place so that your Social data can be analyzed in context of your Search, Email, Display, Affiliate and all the other data. That means, Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Webtrekk and more.

      Let Social prove its worth in context of everything else you do.


  14. 21

    Hi everyone,

    I have got a question, which one of you might know the answer to:) Does anybody know, how to make a report in which I can specify exactly what pages should appear in the report? I am trying to make a report on info pages and therefore I want to be able to see only those info pages in the report… Please help, if you know how to do it!

    Thank you in advance.

    Kind regards,

    • 22
      David Gatdula says

      Alina –

      It depends on your reporting tool, and how you are reporting it. Adobe Analytics will let you do it through advanced segments, Google Analytics might work better with a simple filter matching the criteria in the URLS, and WebTrends uses a simple filter as well. Adobe's Reportbuilder works amazing for things like this, and WebTrends has a REST tool that allows for easy import/refreshing as well – both for Excel.

      It might be easier to answer if you had told us what analysis tool you would be using, but essentially they all work the same when it comes down to it. If you have something unique in the URLS that would label them as "info pages" then you could use that bit to filter down to only those specific pages. Hope this helps!


    • 23

      David: Many, many, many thanks! Wonderful recommendations.

      Alina: You can use filters when you create custom reports, they will allow you to specify what pages show up. Here is a post on how to create custom reports:

      ~ Analysis Ninjas: Leverage Custom Reports For Better Insights!

      If you are a bit more advanced, you can also use the free Google Analytics API to control exactly what shows up in your report. You can also use some of the free apps:

      Please see the Reporting Tools and the Business Intelligence sections.

      If you need more help, please hire a local GACP. They are extremely affordable and will get you to the destination much faster. Here's a list:


  15. 24

    Nice one…

    Thanks for sharing this…

  16. 25
    George Phillip says

    Do you have a course you recommend for learning GTM ?


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