Thursday, 12 September 2013

Publishing practicalities: Google Analytics and the cloud

David Smith from the IET chaired an insightful publishing practicalities session on day two of the ALPSP International Conference where Jason Hoyt from PeerJ expounded the benefits of being in the cloud and Alan Hyndman from Digital Science outlined how you have to use Google Analytics to improve your marketing.

Why love Google Analytcis?
It’s free. It’s comprehensive. It's the most commonly used analytics tool. As a result, there is an expert online community (blogs, training forums, etc). Google being Google they constantly upgrade it so it is constantly evolving. It is easy to use - you don’t need SQL or excel skills to use the data - and easy to implement.

Key elements of Google Analytics include the audience overview. This provides overarching information and indicates whether your traffic is going up or down and why, are the visitors staying, and helps assess whether you get quality traffic?

Location provides breakdown of geographical spread of visitors. The technology section includes browsers – essential if you are developing a site which tells you what to test on and how to build best structured site for optimal performance. Traffic sources will tell you where people find you and therefore which part of marketing channel is most successful.

Within the content and conversions function, a common mistake that people make is that they don’t set up goals. When defining conversion you can look at macro conversions (sign up for an account, buy a product, buy a subscription) and micro conversions (stay for more than 5 minutes, view different pages,  share with social media, etc). You don’t get data retrospectively so set up goals at the start. You will then be able to drill down into (e.g. conversions or sales and find out how/where people found your site) and focus marketing on the most effective ones.

Goal funnels show drop off points that you can use to spot and solve problems. Another key thing is to do is campaign tracking. Don't forget about multi channel attribution. If you look at the end then you might attribute something to Facebook, but actually people don’t use the web in that way. They might sign up via Google for a newsletter, receive email communications. You need to take a step back and consider all channels and how they influence customer behaviour.

Recognise you can outsource to specialists
Jason Hoyt from PeerJ explained the benefits of moving to the cloud. He suggested that you need to go through a period of introspection and throw out (outsource) anything that is not core or where you aren’t experts.

Identify your customer and their top needs. Throw out anything that your customers don’t care about. The modern organization is SaaS-supprted (software as a service). PeerJ started out with SCALR cloud management solution (open source solution). There are a variety of pricing models (monthly, pay per use, etc). They have back-up with Amazon whose servers are global and regional so there are multiple back-ups. The (Amazon) cloud is for organisations both big and small (e.g. Netflix and Dropbox).

Using the cloud has a psychological bonus – of being on the cutting edge of technology. There are exceptions to these rules, but for the most part you’d be served well to follow these tips.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Alan for using my online shop for this talk :-D I was thrilled!