Analyzing Web Analytics

When I sit down at my work computer each day, I do a lot online. But one thing I don’t currently work on is web analytics. As I mentioned in a previous post, at the company I work for we have an interactive marketing specialist who is dedicated to SEO and things like web analytics. After doing this week’s readings, however, I now have a better picture of why web analytics are so important in marketing.

Since I only had a basic knowledge of analytics before this week’s readings, it was interesting to learn about the process, specifically what Google does, to measure web pages. I laughed at the term “Googlebot,” picturing some massive robot calculating algorithms and crawling websites for information 24/7. But in all seriousness, learning about the process of crawling, indexing, and serving results is very complicated, yet interesting. Just thinking about the advanced technology it takes can be mind boggling.

I actually talked with our interactive marketing specialist about how we use web analytics for our company’s website and social media to see what we are doing to capitalize on this technology. Based on our analytics each month, we can see what’s working and what’s not. It helps us analyze what we are doing right and should continue doing and what we should stop pursuing. When it comes to a marketing campaign, we often use analytics to see how an audience is responding to our marketing messages. Are they responding directly to a vanity url to get to a specific web page or are they clicking on a video to get there? With all of this being tracked through web analytics we are able to track our audience’s habits and interests and ultimately conversions, which are what it’s all about, right? Since we “sell” healthcare and not really actual products the way we measure conversions is a little different than say an online store, but if we can build preference that’s a successful conversion for us. How has your company or you individually used analytics to better plan for a marketing initiative? Or do you think after learning more about it this week, you’ll try and utilize the technology more in the future?

Does this scream “Big Brother”? To an extent, yes, but I think from a marketing standpoint it’s priceless. When used correctly, I don’t think there’s any issue with tracking people’s online habits and interests. I mean when you log online you have to accept that anything you do is in the public realm. At least I do. Do you think web analytics crosses the line when it comes to targeted marketing? Did it creep you out to learn web sites can track your every move and your habits? 


11 thoughts on “Analyzing Web Analytics

  1. Laura,

    I also do not work with web analytics or web trafficking data on a day-to-day basis. I wish I did. A lot of this information is new to me, but I love it! This weeks’ readings also gave me a better understanding for Web Analytics and how they reveal insightful information about the success/health of the website as a whole. I definitely agree with you that these advancements in technology are mind boggling…yet so fascinating! It’s amazing what technology can do these days? What did you think about the site where all of the wires that retrieve all this data was? Wasn’t it fascinating? Can you imagine working there or even beginning to understand how everything works? I would probably faint!

    I also work in the Healthcare Industry. I am glad that your company has created social sites and use Web Analytics. My current job does not and after learning all of this stuff about SEO and Web Analytics I am just so disappointed in them. They are really missing out. Once, I am done building my consulting websites, I will definitely use Google Analytics and technology more to help market my brand and better reach my audience.

    Big Brother creeps me out a little but I agree with you, when used correctly it is definitely beneficial. I read an article about it being compared to Social profiling. Do you agree or disagree? I dont think it crosses the line when it comes to targeting loyal customers and yes I was definitely creeped out! What about you?

    • Tammy, Thanks for your response. I agree I can’t imagine working at the site where all this information is retrieved and disseminated. I can barely connect all the wires to my desktop correctly!

      As for your company not utilizing social networks and web analytics, I agreed it’s such a big mistake. There was resistance when my organization first decided to enter the social media world because of patient information concerns and just overall public opinion. But myself and colleagues really pushed for it. I believe that if you are not part of the conversation you are missing out. Yes, there is a risk. You open yourselves up to negative feedback, but if you can’t connect with your audience you can’t really meet their needs. There have been several instances where we have received a negative comment or question on one of our social media pages and we were actually able to resolve the issue. Without being on social media, the users would probably still have complained about us, but we wouldn’t have been able to address the issue and resolve it. It’s examples like that which prove why it’s beneficial to be part of the conversation online.

      I do see similarities in social profiling and targeted marketing as far as demographics, but I think it’s different in the fact that we as consumers choose to shop at certain stores. Therefore, I think it’s okay for those businesses to then reach out to us after a purchase.

      • I agree it is a big mistake for them to not take advantage of social networks or web analytics. Fortunately for me, I resigned from my position today so I am hoping to gain a position in a company where I can put the things we are learning into use. I think it is extremely useful that you are able to resolve problems via social networks. I used to work in the HealthCare industry as well, may I ask what in particular were they concerned about regarding Patient Records? It is not like they would be tweeing or Facebooking patients diagnoses. I am just curious.

        You make a very good point that we consumers choose to shop at certain stores therefore it is not necessarily “social profiling”.

      • They were mainly concerned about patient information being released via social media. This seems like an obvious thing not to do, but you’d be surprised how many medical professionals post about their patients and even without mentioning a name can have that patient be identified. This is why we urge out providers to stay off social media as professionals and let the organization respond to patients online if need be.

        Best of luck with your job situation. I give you credit for making a change to better your career in the long run!

  2. Laura –

    I truly believe that consumer web tracking is just the next step in the the evolution of digital media.

    The Big Brother aspect has been happening for years, but has been accelerated with the proliferation of the web. I’m not too concerned about being tracked, though. Quite frankly, there’s nothing I can do to really stop it. The tracking results are only going to get more detailed.

    Look what Google is doing with the social media analytics. The more and more data collected, the better the web experience, right? I can see pages being served up to users completely customized (read: targeted) for users.

    I really do think before long, if you and I both visit a website, the experience will be completely different for the two of us. And the entire reason will be due to analytics.

    • Dave, you make some great points. I agree there’s nothing we can do about being tracked online. And I don’t think that’s really a bad thing. If we are targeted by online marketers about certain products, it’s still up to us, as consumers, whether we want to visit sites or buy products. Just like junk mail in our mailboxes or inboxes, we can choose to read or trash it.

  3. Laura,

    The web analytics is new to me too, and it’s really cool you were able to talk to the marketing specialist at your work about it. That must have been so helpful! It my work I’m helping to “create a web presence” for the woman I work for…. I’m an executive assistant/personal assistant. So what I’ve learned recently is that the more updates to her webpages, the higher her google ranking will be. Right now there are lots of irrelevant hits on her name, but the marketing company suggested creating a blog for her so that she is continually adding new content, thereby increasing content for the googlebot. With the readings and seeing people’s posts, this is much clearer.

    As far as a big brother thing happening here, I’ve noticed a huge increased in targeted marketing in the last few years. It doesn’t really bother me, in fact I see some benefits for me because I like to do my shopping online so I might even so something interesting pop up. It’s better than seeing mail order bride ads that I saw all the time when I was in Europe. I guess because I don’t think I have anything to hide, it doesn’t bother me. Maybe I’m just naive.

    • Thanks for your comments Blythe. It’s nice that you get to work directly with someone on improve their websites rankings. I’m sort of a pseudo-member of my company’s web team. I do all the social media and write a lot of content, but don’t work much web analytics on a day-to-day basis. I’m hoping that changes as I learn more in this program.

      I’m on the same page as you when it comes to targeted marketing. If I saw a mail-order bride ad I might be scared, but maybe that had something to do with you being in Europe? Kind of strange. But again like you said if you’re doing online shopping, which I do as well, I almost expect to see ads now from those businesses when I’m online and on social networks. It’s the new norm for advertising.

  4. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have targeted marketing campaigns based on what the analytics have told me. I’ve also used the analytics to my advantage when needed to make something seem better than it was or to make something seem worse to not have to do it again… oops! That’s the beauty of analytics, you can manipulate them as you see fit.

    It’s funny you mention a vanity URL… I actually think that’s one of the most important pieces in marketing that can often be overlooked. When you’re creating a Facebook page, Facebook will let you have one for free– and there are many companies and businesses that do not do it. This is how people find you! This is one of the easiest ways to make sure you have analytics to take a look at. (I’m done with the rant, thanks for listening.)

    I think that Big Brother has become an understood part of the internet and how we use it. The information is sent somewhere, now we’re just lucky enough to how it’s being used and what it’s telling companies about us and our habits. As information and technology advances I can only see it getting more in depth.

    • Kristen, you’re not the only one to manipulate analytics to benefit marketing campaigns. That’s kind of the point right? Having a way to look at our consumers/audience gives us a better perspective on how better meet their needs. It’s a great technology.

  5. I feel like my department is constantly working so hard to keep up with our campaigns that we rarely have time to truly analyze the data we’re collecting- and there’s a lot of it. We use a service called SmartURL to track all of our links… and I mean ALL of them… and there’s a great deal of untapped data just waiting for us.

    It did creep me out a little.. .especially that Collusion thing! I’m aware of how all of this works, but to actually see it in action – and what we’re doing to our users – is a little weird. We track the heck out of these fans. We can serve ads for one artist directly to everyone that clicked on the SmartURL for another artist’s presale. Which can backfire a bit, since I’m constantly served ads for our own artists.

    Our readings have just reinforced the knowledge that I need to do more with our data. I just need to figure out what!

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