Tuesday, 14 February 2012

moving to a new blogspot


To move on in my own ambitions, I am going to move this blogspot to:


Please update any settings you may have to do this

Speaking a different Language

Recently, I went on a long awaited holiday to a foreign country where English was not the predominate language. Majority of the time, I do not have that much of a problem because most of the people I dealt with were able to speak English, making my stay enjoyable. That was until I was alone with a person that did not understand English.

This man was trying to communicate with me but I said back that I did not speak Japanese. That is when we had to resort to the oldest language known to mankind; signing! I would like to mention, I am VERY horrible at any games like this, and this was no exception.

The man took his hand up and was twisting his hand in a counter clockwise motion. I made the "I understand" expression with the thumbs up and proceed to turn off the lights. He then proceeds to take his fingers and make a walking sign very low and took his thumb and went across his neck. Needless to say, I was scared at this moment. I hold up my hand and then held up one finger as I went to get my friend.

Now, I hope everyone thought the same thing I did.... this man was going to kill me. I later found out from my friend was he was telling me he was putting poison out to kill some rats. The signs were so clear after I knew what he was trying to tell me. But this got me to thinking; how do we bridge the language between the Analytics, Technology and the Business.

In a way, without thinking about it, we have created a language barrier between those that are in Web Analytics and those that are not. So much so, we have now create a Glossary of Web Analytics Terms. This is great for starting to standardize the industry since each tool has created its own definition (how is a visitor defined?). At times, these definitions are so confusing, we even question our own selves on what we are saying (now how is a pageview and instance different?)

We have no one to blame for this but ourselves. The business and Web Analytics feel the same way I did with the man on my holiday; lets draw a pretty picture and hope they understand what we mean. But who should change; should the business understand Web Analytics or should Web Analytics understand the business?

The bottom line is, the business does not care this page has a high bounce rate or we had an increase of 75% in visits to a particular site. This information is better for the developers, content team, and site specific owners. The business cares about conversion rate and the story of what is happening on the site; what can be done to make the KPI's go up. You can read more about this on another post: Avinash Kaushik tells a story

This means we as the analyst needs to learn to speak like the business. We should not use terms like "bounce rate", "click throughs", "page views" or "exit rate". Do not go and give them numbers and make them think with their left part of the brain. You do this, you have already lost them. Ensure they are always using their right side of the brain where the emotions are. The right side of their brain handles sensations, left side of the brain handles details.

I was at a conference, and a speaker asked which one of these are more effective:

  • 65% of the visitors were unable to complete an order due to an issue on the site.
  • My brother in law was trying to place an order on the site and could not complete the order due to an issue on the site.

If you are like me, the later is more powerful because you are referencing a specific person who was trying to place an order and failed. That was a lost sale due to technology on the company side. The former is just figures, you are not personalizing it. The business will remember the story, not what percentage of orders that could have been lost.

I normally deal with this language difference by presenting the business and developers two separate documents. When I deal with the business, I am allot more elaborate and fill the documents with stories. Now when I deal with the developers, they want the figures and nothing else. A simple excel sheet with the numbers is all that is needed.

Know your audience!!! Once you know what they want and how they want, ensure you deliver. The data is useless if the audience does not understand what you are trying to say

Now how do you handle the language barrier in your own company? Do you deliver different insight to the different groups? Do you have a single language when communicating, and if so, which language (business or analytics)?

Till next time. - John Andrews

Oh, and I still cannot speak Japanese.

image above came from undermuchgrace blogsopt.

Friday, 10 February 2012

My Blog, My Way

In the past, I have tried to mimic other well known Web Analytics / business blogs(Avinash Kaushik, Adam Greco, Seth Godin). I tried to follow their own pattern of writing, even follow the same format that they did. I have come to realize that while this works for these bloggers, it does not work for my own style.

I have always moved to the beat of a different drum than other people, and writing a blog is no different. While these people are successful, if I want to keep my blog updated, I need to follow my own style.

When I started this blog, I had two things in mind:

  • I wanted a source where people could see the A -> C process of Web Analytics
    1. The Issue
    2. The Solution
    3. Why it is the Solution
  • I wanted a community that communicates about the topic and requests topics to be written about

Essentially, I want this blog to be ruled by the audience that reads it. You have a question, and I show you my solution to your question. Will my solution always be the optimized solution; no. The beauty of Web Analytics is that there are multiple routes to the solution and none are the right or wrong way.

Now do not get me wrong, I follow these three blogs all the time. When there are new posts, I read them immediately. I highly recommend that if you are not following these people; start. Read their older posts, gather their greatness. What I feel is that these blogs are not the way I want to run this blog.

Avinash is great at telling you how to run a report in his own opinion. I do feel though that he is not telling you the reason why running a report in a different fashion has an issue or what the issue at hand is (not telling the whole story).

Adam is great at telling you the issue and partially telling you the solution. The reason I say it is partially is because he does not actually tell you how to get to the solution. He expects that you can communicate to the developers what you want and how you want it, but not technically how it is done.

Seth is a great business man and gives great words of wisdom. At times, I consider him a fortune cookie; every time you open up his blog, you do not know what he is going to write about. But I believe he is going for quantity, not quality. I feel at times that you need to wade through the nonsense posts to find that one gem (and when the gem comes, it is worth sharing).

Like I mentioned, these three blogs are worth reading and worth keeping up to date with. If you have an RSS feed, add them now. You will not be sorry.

Myself, I work on the more technical side of Web Analytics. I work directly with the business and technology to implement the solutions to answer the questions the business has. With this background, I have great experience using the tool to gain insight about the site. With this, I am in a unique place as not only can I explain the insight that was gained, I can explain how it was done.

Every day at work, someone from the insight team will come to me and ask how is it possible that "X" can be captured in "Y". With my own experience in the technical workings of how Web Analytics is implemented and how the Web Analytics tool works, I am able to explain this to them. This is what I want to do, I want to explain each process to give a full understanding of (A) the Issue (B) The solution (C) Why it is the solution.

Now is the part which I need your help. I have several topics that I want to cover on the blog, but I want this blog to be run by you. What do you expect to see on here? How often do you want a post? What topic would you like to see next? I have ran sessions in the past where the viewers would like me to cover a particular topic and this was a complete success. Now, I am trying the same format but as a blog.

Next post will cover communications: how do we bridge the language difference?

Sunday, 28 August 2011


Recently, I had to visit the US Embassy in my local country to take care of a few businesses. While I was there, I noticed a couple picking up their baby push chair to carry it up the stairs of the embassy. That is when I realized, the accessibility of this building was very limited to those that were physically fit enough to walk up the stairs. Not only that, the person needs to be fit enough to carry those that are unable to carry themself up the stairs.

I thought to myself, how could America, a country that prides itself to be leading the world on handicap rights, not have a wheel chair ramp? I understand that my country is not known to be wheel chair friendly in the slightest, but the US embassy is considered to be American soil, which you follow by American Law, not the country it sits within. That got me thinking, how would this sit back with the Politicians in America. I had to look up the law and realized, all American public buildings must be handicap accessible; ALL! Please see wikipedia Disability Rights in America

After this, I began to realize, how does Web Analytics handles this accessible issue. Yes, we could give everyone within the company access to the tool and data, but does this truly give them access to the data? Just because a building has a wheel chair ramp does not mean it is not wheel chair friendly. Giving access is just the first part.

As a member of the Web Analytics community, we not only have to give access to our stakeholders to the data, but we need to ensure that they can truly be self-serve. Self-serve to the point where they can freely access their own data and perform basic reporting analysis, ensuring the stakeholder does not have to wait for a simple report. This ensures the insight team is freed to do what their job requires; delivering insight that will benefit the company.

I want everyone to promise that they will do everything to ensure that they do everything possible to make Web Analytics accessible to their stakeholders. Do not just build a wheelchair ramp, but make their entire building is accessible. A self-serving stakeholder will ultimately be a happier stakeholder.

I would like to know, how accessible is your company? What are you doing to ensure that the web analytics data is accessible?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Favor for anyone that may know

Does anyone know how I can use mail 2 blogger to include full HTML. I want to add <center> and <a> tags. I need this for name and title attributes. Thank you in advance


John Andrews

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Dual Analytics

In the last year, we have seen leaps and bounds forward in the industry we profess to be in. Omniture now allows live segmentation within its basic tool and is now introducing Social Analytics. Google Analytics is altering how the visit metric is calculated and continually add functionality to its free tool. But this is the key word, FREE. Google Analytics is able to give analytical data to companies that could not afford to track their data. For this one reason, I thank Google for offering this service. For this one reason, I also hate Google for allowing this to be a free tool. If I remember correctly, there was an article that mentioned that nearly half of the companies that have an analytical tool actually has two; a paid version and Google Analytics! Marketers only see that this is a free tool which they can utilize to verify the accuracy of the data being collected. Or as a certain marketer I know, use this to put on a site if they waited too long to get the analytical team involved to put it on the new site. Web Analysts see this as a hindrance since we are spending more time trying to explain why these two tools are reporting different data than actually delving insight for the company.

Now do not get me wrong, I am using Google Analytics on my own blog due to the fact that it is free. In fact, if I had to pay for this service, even $5 a month, I would pass on this information as I do not have enough traffic at this time to justify the cost. I do believe that there are several good reasons to leave it free, but only to certain organisations. If you are a for profit organisation, than you should not have the option to use Google Analytics; at least do not allow this to be a free service for them. By doing this, we, as a business could eliminate the headache of trying to explain why there is a difference.

With that said, why should anyone have more than one Analytical tool attached to their site? The logic behind doing this is like having two CEO’s of a single company; why would you do this? If you do this, which of the two CEO’s is right? The simple logic is, no one can tell you definitely which tool or CEO is correct (or at least more accurately). Each has their benefits and depending on the traffic to your site, the answer could change. The bottom line is choose one tool and use it; do not give your analyst more work to do.

Finally, there is one true fact about web analytical tools; they show accurately the trends of your site which is the most important aspect of the tool. Are you driving more traffic to your site? Is this traffic converting? Who is driving the most traffic to your site? Is your site performing how it should? Google Analytics, Omniture, Webtrends, etc. can all tell you about these trends. The business only cares about if we are driving more traffic or conversion, not the actual figures.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Custom Segments in Google Analytics

For starters, I want to thank you, my fellow bloggers, for coming to my blog.  Without you, I would not be able to start using the blog for it’s main purpose; showing how Google Analytics can be used to it’s full potential to gain insight.

Why do I say it is thanks to you that I can start this, well, when I started, I had zero data.  Without you coming to the blog, I would still have no data; and without data, I could not show examples using Google Analytics. 

Custom Segments - the ability to create rules to divide your traffic into groups to give a more insightful view of your customer’s behavior.  This is a powerful tool Google Analytics gives you absolutely free, which the majority of high end tools charges extra to have.  Many web analysts will tell you that this is the most powerful tool, which I have a hard time to say.  In my opinion, this is an overstatement.  This is a powerful tool and is an absolute essential tool to drive insight, but is it more powerful than custom variables, custom events, or even the basic Google Analytics code; I cannot say that.  I believe that you will need each of these to drive incredible insight.  Without one, the others values would be drastically decreased. 

Regardless, Google Analytics gives this tool to use at our disposal and it would be a crying shame to let this powerful ability to go to waste.  Straight from the box, Google Analytics gives you several segments possible; All Visits (default), New Visitors, Returning Visitors, Paid Search Traffic, Non Paid Search Traffic, Search Traffic, Direct Traffic, Referral Traffic, Visits with Conversion, Mobile Traffic, and Non-Bounce Traffic. 

But what does this actually mean, how can these segments give me any more insight than what I am already seeing?  Let’s give an example, your boss comes to you and asks “How many new visitors does the site get and what are they doing?”  How would you get this information?  GA does tell you how many new / returning visitors come, but how about what are they doing?  The only way of answering this question is to segment the visitors from new and returning. 

Custom Segments ensures that you are only look at the data that meets the rules you set for it.  Think of all the data for your site as a huge circle, this is the pure data.  Then think that a portion of this circle is your new visitors and the rest are returning.  By segmenting the visitors to show only new visitors, we are looking at just this portion of the data, (everything but the yellow part). 
So how can we create a custom report just for your site; on the left hand nav, click the advanced segments link.

On this page, you can manage your custom links or create a new custom segment.  For now, let’s look at creating a new custom segment.

On this page, you will notice several sections, each made as simple as possible by Google Analytics to allow the non techies to understand.  To create the custom segment you will need to:

2 – 4 is your way of finding the dimension (the name value [green]) or Metric (number value [blue])
  1. Give the segment a name.  You cannot add the segment or even test it until a name is given.  I believe you should give the segment a name first; just get it done at out of the way.
  2. Or you can search the dimensions by category
  3. You could type in the dimension / metric name in and Google Analytics will find what you are looking for. 
  4. Or you can search the metric by category.
  5. Which either way you find your particular dimension / metric, you will drag and drop the box just left of the condition (step 8) where you will create the segment.
  6. Step 8, the condition.  Instead of using Regex (remember, I said Google Analytics made this so easy, a non-techie could easily do this), you choose the written equivalent (matches exactly, contains, does not contain, etc.) 
  7. Step 9 is the value that is combined with the dimension / metric and the condition.  For example, you could have “Medium” matches exactly “yahoo”.  What this will do, for my blog, is look at all visits that came from the campaign medium of yahoo (or all visits from the yahoo group web analytics).
  8. Before finalizing, click on test your segment.  If you get 0 visits, you may have written the segment wrong and should retry again.
  9. The last step before creating the segment is selecting which other profiles you would like to add this segment to besides the current profile you are in. 

PRESTO, you have created a custom segment. What insights can you now get?  But wait, now you have to enable the segments.  When you click on segments (top right corner), you have two options, default segments and custom segments.  Google Analytics defaults to All visits. Click on the segments you would like to look at (if you click on more than two segments that are not all visits, all visits automatically gets added).

 Lets have a look at what you can get from custom variables.  In the following example, I have three segments selected:

The segments I added are all visits, visits that came from yahoo web analytics group and those that came from my twitter account.  As you can tell, visits from the yahoo web analytics group came to the site in greater numbers than twitter, and visitors from yahoo spent more time on the site than the visitors from twitter.  But twitter visitors consumed more pages per visit and had a much lower bounce rate.  So looking at the high level, which one won… well, you really cannot tell from this.  I would say that having a low bounce rate means nothing for a blog, and people can read at all different speeds.  For my blog, what I need to look at is custom events; which group was more engaged with the blog.

Now we are getting somewhere for my blog.  The most engaged visitors came from yahoo web analytics group while twitter was more engaged when involving other websites (but only by one click).  Actually, twitter only engaged with other websites, nothing else.  This shows that visitors coming from yahoo are more likely to engaged with the blog than with twitter.  So should I focus squarely on yahoo and forget twitter…. Well no.  While Yahoo has thousands of members, I currently only have about 13 followers.  The amount of visitors I can reach on twitter is limited, but hopefully this will be fixed as the days go on.

Now what does this mean?  The simple answer is, as this gives you insight, each site is completely unique and the techniques that will work for one site, may not work for another.  Look at your own site and ask yourself "what does my site live for?"  "What makes a visitor an 'exception' visitor".  When you decide what this is, look at what this visitors are doing; what can you do to get more visitors into that category?

But we can look at different segments custom segments: Visitors that clicked a link, visitors that came between X time, visitors from the US, visitors not from US.  We can make the segments more difficult and say I want to look at only visitors that came from US between 10am – 12pm that clicked a link and came from yahoo.  But creating these segments are completely dependant on the site that you look after.  The possibilities of different segments you could create is endless (literally, I am not exaggerating).

For myself, the following are best:
  • Visitors that came from yahoo web group (based on my campaign code)
  • Visitors that came from Twitter
  • Visitors that came from Linkedin
  • Visitors that clicked on a link that goes to another blog (event tracking)
  • Visitors that clicked on a link that goes to another website (event Tracking)
  • Visitors that clicked on any link (event tracking)
  • Visitors that came to the site between 9am – 1pm (Custom Traffic)
  • Visitors that came from US
  • Visitors that did not come from US
  • And a new one that I am about to implement is Visitors that scrolled x% (event tracking).  I will talk about this custom event during my next blog post.

I hope this helped you understand a little bit about custom segments.  I will delve more in on this as I see needed.

What do you think of Custom Segments?  How many of you are using it on your blogs?  How are you utilizing it?  Do you believe it is the most powerful tool in Google Analytics?  If not, what do you believe is?

Till next time, keep on analyzing.