Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Learning About Web Analytics: Part I

If you're a true marketer or a hard-core blogger (or both) you have to be into web analytics. Ok, you don't but you should and I have found some good resources.

Bloggers for the most part write because they want to be heard and your analytics justify the time that you sit at your keyboard (for the most part although my wife still needs convincing and web stats, well they just don't do it).

You may like to monitor your site traffic to see which keywords and referrers are bringing traffic to your blog or who is on your blog right now (hey - I see that you're reading this and I thank you from the bottom of my keyboard). It's also cool to see which countries are reading your blog. I wrote a post about free feed icons and I was receiving traffic from all over the world and was featured on many Asian sites - it was quite interesting but I couldn't understand the comments on those blogs. I also had a pleasant surprise last week when I found out that Brian Carrol over at Start With a Lead was linking to my blog. This caused a bit of a traffic spike and I thought my blog was broken. In this way, my blog is similar to the thinking process that an e-marketer goes through on a daily basis (or should be going through!!) : "What actions that I take will drive traffic to my site and increase conversions." Examining and understanding web analytics is key to this.

As a blogger, one of my goals is help others in marketing (specifically B2B marketing) better understand the e-marketing landscape. A very good newsletter that I subscribe to is the ROI Revolution News that is created by Google to promote its services - specifically Google Analytics. The format of this e-newsletter is interesting as instead of pushing people from an email to a regular web page, it takes people to the ROI Revolution blog. I think you will be seeing more and more of this type of format as blogs maximize the SEO effectiveness of your content (I wrote about this previously). And here's a saying that you should adhere to: If Google is doing it, it's worth trying.

I'm new to Web Analytics, Where do I start?

There are many different places to begin. With web analytics (just like SEO), it's not enough to understand the terminology. You need to jump in with two feet. If you just want to get your feet wet though , you may want to start by subscribing to ROI Revolution News. What I like are some of "Analytics Basics" articles that provide overviews to some of the key areas of web analytics that you need to understand.

For example, some marketers may be worried that their web stats are skewed because of a recent Jupiter report article that says that 58% of their users delete their cookies. This can affect historical data that you may be tracking on a certain person. The article explains the difference between first party and third party cookies as it's mostly third party and not first party cookies that users are deleting. The article of course plugs Google Analytics as it uses only first party cookies.

Google also offers free tutorials on how to use Google Analytics. What I recommend you do is to start up a blog perhaps through blogger and sign up for the tutorial. In this way, you can test out what you learn from the tutorial. One of the keys that you will learn as you get into web analytics is testing is crucial. What offers, content and/or keywords are driving content to your site? Google Analytics is also free so it's definitely worth having a look at. In the real world analytics testing is like testing out different methods to prevent your new puppy from messing up your new carpet. Eventually you will hit pay dirt but things may get a bit messy on the way there.

At the moment, I'm in the process of moving so you may not hear from me for a little while but I plan to write "Learning About Web Analytics: Part II" in which I want to focus on some key metrics that you should be keeping track of on your site. I've just finished reading a book called "3G Marketing" and found some interesting information that I'll share.

In the meantime, please let me know other resources on web analytics that you have found helpful. I've heard that
Web Analytics Demystified: A Marketer's Guide to Understanding How Your Web Site Affects Your Business is also a good start.

Until next time,

Chad H.

PS - For web analytics, one of the most important concepts is to understand that a point in time is irrelevant (i.e. number of pages on a particular day). What is crucial are the trends. Are your site visitors going up over time or going down? Why is that? Is it becuase your packing up all of your stuff and moving and don't have time to write? :)


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Does Your Business do Podcasts? It Should

I'll admit that I don't regularly download podcasts via an RSS feed but I do listen to them the odd time. It looks like I'm not the only one. eMarketer.com reports that in August of 2006, 17 million people had listened to a podcast which is 70% more then the number of people who downloaded a podcast from April 2006. Holy crap batman, it's time to get your recording devices out! But, before you do that you need a podcasting strategy.

Podcast Strategy: It's Time to get one

One of my favourite podcasting sites is by Brian Caroll on the topic of B2B Lead Generation. Yes, his topics focus around his book and his consulting services but he provides amazing content using engaging interviews as part of his podcast. It really works and I come away from the podcast with some better insight into the sales and marketing process. If you have plans to start using podcasts, have a goal in mind as to what you want to achieve. Here are some ideas:
  • Create useful content to reinforce image as industry expert. This is sometimes referred to as thought leadership.
  • Drive website traffic. Like blogs, podcasts can help you in the search rankings if the content provided contains relevant keywords.
  • Educate potential buyers in the sales pipeline or existing customers on new offerings
  • Generate new leads via a co-registration process. In this case, the podcast could involve interviews from multiple people representing different companies

There are many other high level goals that you may use podcasts for. Let me know if I've missed any.

"I Need Podcasts Like I Need a Hole in my Head"

I hear the Mr. Busy Marketer saying "OK, we already have those goals and we are achieving them through our existing initiatives. We already have a significant amount of content on our site. What more do we need?" This is typically coming from someone in marketing who has just enough time to complete their existing marketing initiatives let alone this new podcast schmodcast stuff. "What's the point?" is a typical response.

Well if you're into online marketing and you're down with web 2.0. you know that producing new content that is engaging and entertaining is critical to generating increased web traffic and conversions. Podcasts allow you to provide content that is easier to digest for a busy executive who doesn't have time to read a full case study, in a creative format that allows you to generate a more personal experience and all at a relatively low cost.

Think of it as starting a conversation with your customers or prospects. If you allow comments (which you bloody well should) then your listeners can respond and continue the conversation you started. In addition, you don't need a fancy-pants flash developer to engage your audience - you can create the podcast yourself. Take some Tylenol, grab a cup of something that is highly caffeinated and get your marketing team in a room to start brainstorming about what type of content you will be 'casting about.

What do we Podcast About?

If you're team can't come up with any ideas, here are a few to get them thinking:

  • Interview a few of your customers regarding a specific challenge that they faced and how your service/product helped them overcome this. Let your customers do the product plug. What you're creating is a living and breathing case study that is much more enjoyable then reading marketing-speak. For your next case study, consider doing both a written and oral format. If you can't do an interview, consider just having someone record an oral version of it. Have you heard of books on tape? Do a case study on tape! Why not do this for a white paper as well. This was suggested recently by MarketingSherpa.
  • Interview a few people in your company regarding a new product that was developed. Besides the obvious announcement and description of a new feature , this type of podcast serves a couple of purposes. Because this podcast gets published on a live website, you're giving one of your team members some recognition for helping to develop a new product. If you're a developer, you typically get zero recognition outside of your department. This type of podcast can create some pride and well needed moral. Who better then to evangelize a new product then someone who actually helped build it (well, this can depend on their communication skills but you know what I mean). Prospects and clients also get some insight into the quality and expertise of the people that are working at your company. It may give them further incentive to work with you. If you didn't realize it, this podcast idea was like a press release but one that makes your company come alive in the minds of your customers and prospects.
  • Create testimonial podcasts. If you go to a typical business website, you have a client testimonial section. Instead of having written quotes, why not record sound bites and create a podcast. Nothing sells a message like an actual voice rather then just a written quote. You could also do a conversation type of a format where you're asking your clients questions.
  • Transform your existing webcasts. Here's a potentially easy one. If you have done some webcasts already that don't require that the person have access to the power point slides, turn this into a podcast. Why would you do this? If you're doing a real podcast in which you have an RSS feed, new content increases your web traffic. Some companies post an audio file on their site and call it a Podcast. Remember, it's nota true podcast unless it's accessible via RSS.

The first thing you may want to do is ask your team which podcasts they like and why. This gives you an ideas to who is doing their homework on the latest marketing and/or industry trends. You can then ask them to forward on their favourite feed or podcast to the group so that everyone can have a listen. There's also plenty of experts out there who can provide you with podcasts they like (for example, have a look at Pete Lerma's article on ClickZ).

Here's the bottom line: Get you're thinking caps on and think of ways that you can exploit this new format before your competitors do.

Before you go, let me know if there are any podcast feeds that you recommend and why. In addition, are there other ways that you have used podcasts effectively?

Chad H.

PS - Yes, I myself have yet to create a podcast but who knows what will happen in 2007.





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