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Evaluating the media: March 2015

PR geekiness - the tools & techniques to gain insights from PR exposure

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Using Google Analytics to track PR outreach & outcomes

In my previous blog post I referred to an experiment I was running with Google Analytics for a guest blog post I was writing. This has just been published and many thanks to Stephen Waddington for using the article. It can be found here under the title 'How-to use Google Analytics to track public relations outcomes'. 

Thank you for viewing the article and very much hope you found it interesting. Please don't hesitate to offer a comment, particularly if I get things wrong!  It would also be great if you wanted to subscribe to future blog updates.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Link Tagging & Goal Conversions in Google Analytics

This is a brief post just to record my thanks for clicking on the Twitter link! 

This will record a positive result against a Google Analytics record of activity from Twitter on this blog and will be used in a guest blog I am writing on how to create link tags and goal tracking. I will post a link to this blog post when its up.

Thanks again!

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Downloadable Google Analytics Custom Dashboard for PR people

Custom dashboards are such a good aspect of Google Analytics. They compose of up to 12 components, or widgets. They can be placed on a blank page taking highlights from nearly all the various reports presenting them in near enough real-time, with up-to-date data.

I have created a Public Relations Custom Dashboard which will allow you to import the layout and settings (as above) into you own Google Analytics account, minus my data. 

You can create quite a few custom dashboards which would be useful if you wanted to present a slightly different slant to different people. For example your management might want a brief overview of aspects like web popularity, top referral sources, campaign goals and conversions. Where-as, brand analysts might want to know more about what search terms are being used, and marketing might want to find the steps taken before an e-commerce sale. 

All can be catered for via an individual custom dashboard. When you have finished laying out your widgets, choosing the dimensions and metrics, you collect a template link from the drop-down Share button at the top of the page. As long as your user has a Google Analytics account, a connection to the site data, when they click on your link it will automatically add the dashboard to top of the left hand column.

This custom dashboard aims to present to PR people what might be useful to know about from geographical representation of where site visitors are to how they are finding you. Then on to the device they are using and their level of engagement (bounce rate). We have also indicated volume of sessions (visits) and individual users and the most popular landing pages. If you have campaigns we would suggest adding a goals widget and tags to you inbound URL to measure their success and conversions. 

Thank you for viewing the article and very much hope you found it interesting. Please don't hesitate to offer a comment, particularly if I get things wrong!  It would also be great if you wanted to subscribe to future blog updates.  


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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Measure Camp - compulsory for anyone serious about analytics?

A few years back I was an advocate of a PR/measurement combine called Measurement Camp. This was in no way connected with Measure Camp. It proved a useful talking shop for PR to understand more about social media metrics. 

Maybe it was too early, but it seemed to miss out on the business end of analytics, dealing with techniques as they were a decade or so ago. Useful, but flip forward a couple of short years and Measure Camp came into being, not by PR people as before, but by the people tasked to quantify online experience, aka 'the geeks'.

The latest Measure Camp took place in London last Saturday. It applies the unconference format with the 260 participants suggesting topics to be dealt with over the following hours in a series of presentation rooms. 

Topics were diverse, addressing advanced pointers on using Google Analytics, j script and R; thru to philosophical discussions on what they would do differently if they could turn back time, or how you break downs the barriers to analytics (thanks to Measure Camp founder Peter O'Neill).

There seemed to be only a single presentation related to PR analytics. It was a really interesting discussion by Ed Hammerton comparing how they used to measure, with how they do it now. What made it better was it was all about the regulation-infested health sector and featured how they report on their PR activity. 

Just as PR missed out on search engine optimisation (ref. Stephen Waddington at a recent Future PR event), there seems to be every likelihood that serious analytics is now slipping away from PR. 

Particularly when considering the recent CIPR state of the industry findings that senior PR people are failing to recognise the importance of online media and measurement.

I don't want to paint too depressing a picture for PR. But if they don't want to be marginalised by advertising/marketing analysts they need to be prepared to give up the occasional Saturday. 

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Does Google Analytics offer PR a way of connecting their efforts with organisational outcomes?

- Put simply, yes(ish). 

Though it comes with lots of caveats, this is a possible way of tracking cross social media impact. Google Analytics (GA), as has been said before, is not easy. The interface is often confusing, often inconsistent and often failing the 'so what?' test.

But if your goal is for people to do certain things on your site, it might just prove to be the assist that puts the ball in the back of the net - not that I do football analogies.

Before I go any further I have a quick rant about GA. 

I do a lot of competitor comparison/analysis of media coverage. I hoped GA could help me with this, but it can't. While Google Search is the master at finding influential news topics and comment, GA does not integrate search results, unless (..and how great this would be) you can correct me.

Back on-topic; and the starting point is nowhere near Google Analytics. You need to think about what success might look like. Think carefully about the goals to achieve. If you run an e-commerce site and have a new product, its likely it involve sales. If you are B2B you might want sign up on your site, white paper downloads or contact forms. 

To appreciate the many processes involved, and you are a newbie to GA you would be best reviewing these tutorials: 

Firstly there is a series on GA Fundamentals. Then, if you run e-commerce (a shopping cart, but not etsy!) on your site you will need to enable that element and also review these additional tutorials.

I know this all seem ponderous, but there are concepts, terminology and bolt-on you need to know about if you are going to manage this this well. I promise you, if you really want to find the answers, this will not be a waste of your time.

However this is a gist of what's involved. Get a Google Analytics account or update an existing account (it changed quite a lot about 2 years ago, latest version known as 'Universal Analytics'). Prepare a list of your target social media networks. What you will probably want to know is which of these networks gets the most sales or conversions. 

Once you have prepared your post or tweet for sending out, you will want to add a link to the best landing page on your site. This is the magic bit...GA can add a bit of extra code to track lots of extra things to work out what works best.     

So you need to add a bit to your inbound link address and that's done in GA by using the Link Builder (put Link Builder into the Analytics Help bar). You will need to add 3 pieces of information, the Source or referrer, the Medium (banner, email, etc), and Campaign name. If that's not enough to isolate which of your efforts it is there are 2 other optional field you can use.

The link builder will create a unique link which you can then use as your link for that network and campaign, etc. Once installed the code will start returning activites to your GA account telling you things like what network and promotion was most successful in getting people to your site, making conversions and hitting your preset goals. It will also give you other useful information like what was the bounce rate (only visited 1 page), what type of device and browser was used. 

It will also tell you about what people do once on your site, like where did they go, for how long and if they were new or returning visitors. If its an e-commerce site, as long as you have enabled the right GA settings you can also see how people progress through the buying process and if there is an aspect making buyers drop out, or loop-back in the process. 

When you connect the initial tagging process with the other trackable things like product groups and categories, it is easy to image how easy it is to link the initial outreach with an end result.

This outcome connection is something PR has been striving to achieve. 

GA as a tool, has the feeling of being an instrument for the use of advertisers. It will quite easily integrate Adwords data, letting advertisers see how well different ads work. 

The worry I have is that too many PR's are discounting it for this very reason. Any sensible organisation will be using GA, or the even more confusing Abobe analytics package. 

PR's should fight to get and keep their GA logins; and study very carefully what they can do with it, as it has many PR applications. If I might be so bold, I might suggest it is one of the few ways you might genuinely connect PR input with organisational outcome.   

I hope you found this of interest and if you have a view please post a comment. It would also be great if you wanted to subscribe to future blog updates.     


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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Metric Silos - a desolate place to be

I have been reflecting on the Google Analytics Individual Qualification I did a few weeks ago. In particular, what benefit this might be to a PR person. 

We are surrounded by analytics tools and one of the many challenges is finding the right one for the job. 

If there is one thing I hate in PR it is silos. What I mean is separate media groups, separate networks and measurement tools and crucially, separate metrics. They require some comparative measure of return to justify overall resourcing. 

These silos run counter to the way the public sees the media; in the round - as one. At the same time these silos also run counter to the way business manage them. 

How do you decide how much time to ascribe to Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter when there is little commonality behind the metrics? 

The way these networks have developed leaves me with little doubt that a common currency does not exist.  Sure there is page views, users, sessions (GA), tweet impressions and weekly reach (FB Insights).

The more I ponder this issue, the more limitations I find. I am so sure social media is supposed to make like easier; this does not seem to be happening.

In the next post I'll explore if there is any chance that Google Analytics can be gamed to produce some form of comparative data. 

Thank you for reading this and I'd love it if you could add a comment or share this. 

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Google Analytics Individual Qualification -

Google is a strange organisation. It provides all these free tools but has one product (Adwords) which seems to make all their money. Many of us have been playing with their gadgets and properties over the years. Things like like Trends, Maps and YouTube. I have experimented with early versions of Adwords, Motion Charts, and of course, Analytics.

It is this final Google property which received a revamp almost 2 years ago, this latest version referred to as Universal Analytics. My early plays with Analytics were laced with confusion (on my part) as it did not seem relevant to competitor intelligence, which is core to my interest.

For a number of years Google has been running a Analytics Individual Qualification. Within the past year it has received a revamp, now making it free. It now has to be done in a single 90 minute sitting; no pausing or browser closing to 'stop' time, like before. You are presented with 70 question in turn, with no opportunity to go back at the end. In the screens bottom corners there are an indications of how far (as a percentage) you are through the exam and how long you have left of the 90 minutes.

Why take it? There are other analytics tools you can use to analyse your site and without exception they are easier to use. Google Analytics is difficult but it is the benchmark for tooling needed to gain insight from your site, be it with or without an e-commerce element. 

In preparation I spent time going over the Google course video/dec tutorials and self tests making notes as I went (not that I could read them). This I would say is a must and the most accurate indication of the type of questioning you will face. There also a number of third part testing sites which on the whole were harder than the Google ones. My feeling was as many of these were prepared by named (with links) individuals who were showing off their prowess with Analytics to be difficult not to be disillusioned reader.

How long you take to prepare on how familiar you are with Google Analytics (GA). I would suggest at a minimum you review their tutorials, which would take a good 6-8 hours. I am a slow learner and not terribly familiar with the tool and so spent a week preparing. 

I delayed taking the Exam until I started getting more than 50% of the harder questions right.  The Exam structure is all multiple choice, tick 1 box questions. A large number of the questions have a 'catch all'....all the statements are right or wrong. My feeling was this option seemed to apply an awful lot of the time. That said, I can not be entirely sure as you have no way of knowing if you answered specific questions correctly, it only tells you at the end how many you got right and if you exceeded the 80% pass rate. If I had passed in the upper 90%'s I would know with certainty, but I did not. If you pass your Google Analytics Individual Qualification certificate should appear on your Partners profile within two days

As the Google Analytics course covers a broad selection of topics, I would restate that even if you use GA on a daily basis, I would suggest going over their tutorials. Once you are ready to face the Exam I would suggest diverting the phones, opening a single browser with the exam and another with you resources, a blank browser, cribs notes and help screens like this one which I found really useful..

In case your were wondering, you can not grab the text from an exam questions and insert it into a help page or search engine. I understand if you do pass you can not retake it for a week.

While this would seem relevant to advertising and marketing people, I would strongly recommend PR people consider this qualification. Google is not going away anytime soon and analytics is increasingly becoming a core discipline within PR, and the quest for the linkage between effort and outcome.

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