1) Google Analytics doesn’t report your Return on Investment (ROI). It can only show page views and visitor trending and how well certain pages on your site are performing. It simply cannot connect the dots from a lead to a sale if the sale doesn’t happen online. This is not something that only happens with The Knot, this happens with any industry as it’s a technical issue, not a wedding website issue.
“…my intention here isn’t to bash Google Analytics, but rather to warn Webmasters that if you’re using Google Analytics for your sole source of statistics about your website’s performance, you’re almost certainly getting only a partial view of the real picture.”
Connor Young on ynot.com
2) The experts agree that no, one tracking program is enough. You should always use more than one and even then only use it to see trending, not absolute data. This way when you make changes to your website you can see if the new changes are having a positive impact (see the trending from the old to new).
This is from a Business Week article back from 2006, “Web Numbers: What's Real? Competing methods of measuring traffic online leave advertisers, investors, and even Net companies almost flying blind”:
“For advertisers, the problem is that while any one method of measurement may capture certain Web technologies or demographics, it misses others”
3) Clicks from The Knot sites, and other sources very often don’t show up on a separate line on a Google Analytics or other web tracking report. The clicks are there, they’re just not showing up as a separate line item. When someone clicks on a link in your vendor profile and a new window opens, Google Analytics, and some other programs, see that new window the same as if someone opened the window themselves and typed in your URL, which is called a “direct” referral.
Google Analytics does provide more accurate ways of measuring clickthroughs than “referral”, called “campaigns”. If you would like more accurate click data you should tag the URL you provide to us with Google Analytics tracking parameters and use the “campaigns” section to accurately report clicks. Here are instructions about how to tag a link:
4) If they’re not on a separate line, where are the clicks from your profiles on TKWN? Most clicks from The Knot sites show up on the line that says “direct”, which is the same as someone typing in your URL directly.
In the case of one advertiser, there were over 1,000 visits classified as “direct” in one month’s time. Does that advertiser really believe that over 1,000 people typed in her web address in one month? If so, where did they get her URL to know to type it in? Possibly her print ad… more likely it was a referral from a site like ours that didn’t get categorized correctly, which happens most of the time with Google Analytics and some other tracking programs.
5) There are some clicks from The Knot on the report, what are those? Those clicks are usually from other mentions on the site: Real Weddings, editorial, other links. Sometimes it’s some of the clicks from your profile ad, while others are on the “direct” line.
6) The Google Analytics report will almost never match The Knot Vendor Tracking Report numbers. Every measuring tool uses its own methods and data. Our data is the most accurate as it comes from the source, our server logs. No tracking program is going to match source data exactly. Some user’s browsers will block the cookies that Google Analytics uses so those clicks won’t get classified correctly. As I said earlier, this is not specific to The Knot websites; this is a technical issue that can affect almost any website in any industry.
From a blog post: “How Reliable is Google Analytics?”
“For July, Google Analytics says the same page received only 700 visitors and 900 views -- but my server logs indicate over 8,000 views.”
7) Web analytics is a complex topic. Most small businesses that use Google Analytics don’t know how to read the report. Therefore they use the number of visits as their measure of how well an ad is working, which is an incomplete measurement. Google Analytics is being misused by these vendors as they need to know what they’re looking at to be able to interpret it. Imagine a bride measuring her photographer based upon the number of pictures they take or their caterer on the number of shrimp. Sure, they can be measured but it says nothing about the quality of those photos or shrimp. While they are easy to compare, those too are incomplete measurements.
To show how long it’s been known that Page Views is the wrong metric, this is from a Business Week article back from 2006, “Web Numbers: What's Real? Competing methods of measuring traffic online leave advertisers, investors, and even Net companies almost flying blind”:
“To see why there's an opening for new ways of measuring traffic, look at what has happened to the old standard for gauging online growth, the page view. As the Internet evolved during the 1990s, advertisers came to rely on the number of pages a site served up each month as their most reliable metric. With the rise of new programming and distribution technologies, however, page views suddenly look less relevant.”
8) The number or visits tells you nothing about the quality of those visits. Someone that clicks through from our sites has filtered themselves down to a more qualified lead. Someone that clicks from a Search engine knows very little about you. Other measurements are needed to complete the picture and accurately show how an ad or lead source is working. How long are they staying on your site? How many pages are they viewing each time they come? Which are the most popular pages?
9) What’s the Bounce Rate and why should you care? The Bounce Rate is the people that land on one of your web pages and leave without looking at any other pages. On one customer’s Google Analytics report that I saw recently, The Knot clicks had the lowest Bounce Rate of any other source (in this case less than 9%). Facebook and Google direct had the highest at over 30%. I saw another tracking report that showed Facebook with a 78% bounce rate, so even though they had more clicks they were much lower quality, which is seen because they left from the same page they came in on. Knowing that you had a visitor is good. Knowing if they stayed and looked around is better. Knowing how many pages they viewed and in what order is even better. Knowing if they took any action and how many dollars that action brought you is ideal. Is it possible to do that? Sure. Is it up to you to track it and not Google Analytics? Absolutely.
10) Expensive ads are the ones that don’t bring you any business, not the ones that cost the most per click, or per month. Unless you’re really tracking the business you’re booking from each of these sources, a claim that any one source is the most expensive by the cost per click is incomplete. You can’t judge the lead on the cost of the lead unless you also track the business booked. The most expensive ad could also be bringing in the most business, thereby actually being the most cost efficient ad.
I had a vendor come up to me in Vegas at the Wedding MBA and tell me that we’re his highest cost per click, but we also bring him more business than any other source, so we’re ultimately not the most expensive ad at all. We are the most effective, regardless of cost. Some sites try to dazzle you with the number of clicks, but more clicks are not good unless they’re the right clicks. Unfortunately all clicks look the same to your website tracking since it can’t see whether you booked them or not.
The most expensive ad is the one that brings you less business than you paid for it. Clearly with the number or qualified leads we’re sending to most advertisers, we’re paying for ourselves many times over. The number of clicks and the cost per click are useless measurements by themselves. ROI is the only one that really matters. ROI pays the bills, clicks don’t.
Here’s an article on “Revenue Per Click” which is a much more relevant measurement of how your ads are working. Rather than the cost of the click this focuses on the amount of money you are getting from those clicks.
Revenue Per Click: The Forgotten Metric, by Joe Teixeira, on the morevisibility.com website
Here’s another article on why conversion, not clicks, is really where your focus should be.
Why conversions are more important than clicks, by Anna Talerico on iMediaConnection http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/26025.asp
I would also recommend that our advertisers watch the webinar I did where I talked specifically about this: “How do I know if my ads are working”