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In the B2B market, an efficient PPC campaign needs to capture and motivate prospects throughout the decision-making and sales cycles; while always understanding that intent and CTR are not always uniquely matched with either the research or buying phase.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Google Analytics Upgrade

On May 8th, Google announced its first major upgrade to the free Analytics package since the Internet giant acquired Urchin and MeasureMap. Why? Because Google wanted its analytics package to be as intuitively usable to a mid-level marketer as it would be to a senior developer or “mom & pop” wholesaler trying to get a toe hold into an online identity. But before you get too excited, this is a staged roll out; over the next several weeks, Google will be migrating all existing Analytics accounts to the new interface. Each account will be notified by email once the account has been migrated, where for a minimum of one month, you will have access to both the original interface and the new interface.

1. Thanks largely to the acquired MeasureMap team, Google analytics now has the ability to create customizable dashboards – greatly improving data presentation by establishing top level summaries – you don’t have to hunt and spreadsheet data to find out where your visitors are coming from or other actionable metrics to make those all important business decisions. Half the importance of analytics is being able to deliver the data so that any decision maker can instantly see what is working and what is not working – with a dashboard, you can make sure you are watching the metrics that are important to you without having to do any work manipulating generic reports.

2. Reporting capabilities are now almost as good as any high-level expensive product on the market. First of all, you can now establish remote scheduling and emailing of previous built reports. Second, contextual help and tips are available with every report to help you build up your own capabilities at acting on effective analytics. What’s more, reports now include time trending capabilities as well to recognize market fluctuations in both the short and long term.

3. Reports have also become more robust. Sampled data reports allow you to quickly generate reports for larger segments with high confidence ranges. They are also less cluttered and easier to read. What’s more, Google has added levels to each report so that you can drill down for more information – find metrics/keyword in a CPC report – find visitor navigation paths for each static page – zoom into specific locations within a map overlay in the Geographic Domain report.

4. The best upgrade, in my opinion – plain language descriptions of all the data – allowing any user the ability to quickly interpret what action needs to be done to improve their website.

In my opinion, Google’s upgrade is one of the most worthwhile that Google has done on any of their products in a long time, because for the first time it wasn’t necessarily about innovation so much as it was taking a complicated product (one that is an absolute necessity for anybody with a web property) and making it completely accessible by all people in an organization. But more so, they made it sophisticated enough to handle all the data, and yet intelligent enough that the answers seem almost intuitive to any user. In other words, you don’t need an MBA to be able to read your analytics reports and recognize what needs to be done to improve your website, you just need Google Analytics.

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Long Tail Thinking

Everybody over the past year or more with any type of involvement in buying clicks, be it PPC, CPM, or any other type of keyword associated traffic purchase, has been talking about the long tail of user intent. In other words, those 80-90% of words that people search for, but that do not possess the individual volume to be highly competitive.

For example: let’s say you are running a campaign for Detroit’s latest sports car. First and foremost, you try and buy up all the branded queries because it will take time for your website to get some natural traction and you don’t want to be mugged by any squatters or direct competition. Second, you try to buy all those reasonable search terms that you think your target market is using when they are looking for your product; words like, “sports car”, “fast car”, and “hot car”. But odds are that these keywords are very competitive. Why... because you aren’t the only guy trying to market a sports car. And no matter what your budget is, these words are going to cost you. At this point, somebody says, “lets look at the long tail. Let’s focus our buy on all those words that are less competitive, have a lower CPC, and may not have the same high impressions, but combined, could drive us a lot more traffic at a more reasonable cost level.” And you say, “what a great idea!!! Let’s do that… but what are those words?”

Sound familiar?

The tough part with long tail thinking is that it is not always the right thinking. Sometimes there isn’t a wide variety of keywords that people use when making niche purchases. In other words, if somebody is looking to buy an iPod, they are probably going to only use a handful of search queries… “cheap mp3” is not really a long tail term. What’s more, sometimes long tail thinking opens you up to other types of competition that may not be specific product competitors. For example, if you are looking for long tail words to direct traffic to your family magazine on dealing with kids and allergies, the more varied you get in your keyword purchases, the more likely you are going to eventually start competing with big pharmaceutical companies and trying to reach an intent that doesn’t necessarily match what you are offering.

In short, long tail seems like a great idea on paper, but it very rarely exists, and if you are lucky enough to find some untapped words, the return is far less than what statistics and theory would have you think otherwise.

So what should you do?

First and foremost, focus on language. Synonyms are the biggest net return investment when it comes to sponsored advertising. You would be crazy to focus on “car” and forget “auto” or “ride”. Use online tools to find those synonyms that Keyword tools may not suggest because of low search volume. Don’t forget that all keyword tools are based on an algorithm that does not report Google’s numbers – because Google never shares those numbers. So even though WordTracker says it is a dog, Google might show you it is a Star. Here are some useful tools.

Second, focus on popular culture. Culture influences language, why else has “idol” become synonymous with “rock star” when it used to be considered a sin. Pay attention to what is around you. “Ride” wouldn’t have been a good exchange for “car” ten or twenty years ago, because in the 80s nobody used the phrase – there was no Fast and Furious or MTV pimping – now it is very much a vernacular or the buying generation. These tools can help you find some popular search terms that may be an opportunity for your product.

Third, and this is the most important… listen to your audience; what’s more, ask them directly. If you are in the B2B market, have direct sales staff ask clients about search terms they use. Maybe try a survey – there are a lot of free tools out there – or try making it a part of you newsletter. Either way, if you want to know what words people associate with your product, the best way to find out is to ask them point blank.

The only way long tail words can ever be effective is if they are actually used by your target market, otherwise, you are just throwing money away on impressions and useless clicks – no matter what the book tells you.

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