Google Week, Day 4b: continuously improving your results with Google’s analytical tools

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chartThis is a continuation of my five-day series on Google. Previously I’ve looked at Google’s #1 position in search and search advertisingdisplay advertisingmobile search and advertising, and video ads, YouTube, and its rising presence in social media (YouTube is both a video and a social media site). Tomorrow I’ll conclude with a post about Google’s corporate culture

The scope of Google search is astonishing. It is the ultimate BIG data. Google indexes 20 billion URLs and responds to over three billion search requests in 146 languages every day. Those are billions. Every day. Google has never even seen 15% of each day’s searches before and yet it responds intelligently to your search in half a second, and just as swiftly serves up targeted ads on the search results page.

So if anyone knows about analytics, it’s Google. And the ability to view and analyse real-time and near real-time data, and immediately optimize your campaigns, is perhaps the greatest advantage of online marketing. You can track and continuously improve virtually every aspect of your search, display, mobile and other campaigns, and move your spend to the ads and sites that are working and phase out the ones that aren’t.

And don’t assume that an immediate sale is necessarily the ultimate metric. Some leading online retailers, for example, have found that the greatest lifetime customer value comes from using direct response to capture emails and then use that in-house email list to drive sales. Measure what’s important for you.

Google helps you with a wealth of mostly-free analytics options. After all, this is a win-win situation: if your ads aren’t producing results for you, you’ll phase them out and Google won’t make money either. They need you to succeed.

Google offers its well-regarded Analytics program in both free and Premium versions. Google Analytics offers users real-time and historical data about their website including traffic, source, demographics, interests, geography, new vs. returning visitors, and much more. When linked with AdWords, Google Analytics can show you how the people who came to your site through AdWords clicks behaved when they got there, including how many converted into a lead or a sale (Psst: that’s information that many bosses really value, much more than things like click through rate or cost per click). With this linkage the data can be broken down by AdWords campaign, ad group, keyword and ad. And when AdWords and Google Analytics are linked, Google Analytics can report the conversion and other data back to AdWords, so you have richer reports there, too. With this information, you can optimize your online marketing for what’s really important for your company.

AdWords itself provides a tremendous amount of information about your campaigns. In the basic interface you get impressions, clicks, click through rate, cost per click, cost, average position and other data broken down by campaign, ad group, keyword, ad, audience and other factors. You can use this information to constantly optimize your campaigns.

Other useful tools include:

Multi-Channel Funnel reports in Google Analytics go beyond the last-click model to show which channels customers interacted with before converting. Data can be included from, and importance attributed to, Paid Search (all search engines), Organic Search (all search engines), Referral, Affiliate, Social Network, Email, Display, as well as custom-defined channels, such as TV or direct mail with custom URLs.

Search Funnel reports in AdWords show the search path (only) leading up to a conversion, including search ad clicks and impressions. These reports can give you insights into how your search campaigns are working before the last click, and help you optimize top-of-funnel search.

Estimated Top Impressions report gives you insight into how changes to your AdWords program are affecting your ads appearing at the top above the organic search results, and suggests changes to increase displays of your ads in that valuable spot.

AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) helps you test and measure alternate versions of keywords, bids, ads, and other campaign elements. By running alternate versions simultaneously, it can provide an accurate report on which is performing better.

Active GRP brings the offline media’s traditional gross rating point measure online, so you can compare and combine offline and online performance. This can be invaluable for real-time optimization of campaigns.

When you’re paying for impressions (CPM), rather than for clicks or acquisitions, you want to be sure that your ad is actually being seen. The industry Making Measurement Make Sense initiative defines a view as when at least half of the ad is visible for at least a second. Active View reports on this and AdWords bidding lets you select that for campaigns on the Google Display Network.

Global Market Finder reports on potential new markets, including competitiveness, and suggests keywords, budgets and other campaign elements.

And Analytics Intelligence is an alerts tool that lets you know when a significant change or event has happened with your account.

Marketing today has to be measurable and accountable. While some marketers see that as making their job harder, in fact it makes them far more valuable. These tools from Google can not only help you optimize campaign elements but prove to the C-suite just how valuable your work really is.

Did you find this post useful? You’ll find dozens of actionable strategies and tactics in my interviews with 10 sales and marketing leaders.

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