11 June 2020
In this series of posts, I’ve addressed some of the reasons why what Google Analytics reports may not align with the numbers you’re receiving from advertising partners. In this edition, I’ll address two more potential causes that may be more difficult to resolve. Clicks Counted as Direct Traffic A lot of display ad traffic happens on mobile devices, specifically in apps. This can be problematic because when a user clicks an ad in an app, their browser has to open—the website doesn’t open within the app. Sometimes, Google Analytics gets confused about where this user came from and just dumps them in the “direct” traffic bucket. In other words, Google Analytics thinks, “Hey, this person just opened up their browser and went directly to this website.” It isn’t able to see that they really came from an app, specifically an ad within an app. This recently happened to one of our clients. A long-standing vendor reported 17,833 clicks for a given campaign. During that same time, Google Analytics was only attributing 5,734 users to that vendor. That’s a discrepancy of almost 68 percent—far larger than what we had ever seen from this vendor. Closer examination showed that this client had a HUGE number of direct visitors for the campaign period. The number of direct users was about nine times higher than the site average. After accounting for all of the previously mentioned reasons for a discrepancy and talking to the vendor, we determined that Google Analytics had been counting in-app clicks as “direct” traffic. This had not happened in previous campaigns. We told the vendor to stop serving our ads in apps and we’ve since seen a much smaller discrepancy between the vendor’s report and Google Analytics, as well as normal levels of direct traffic. Is It Fraud? If you’ve ruled everything else out, it’s sad to say, but there could be fraudulent activity going on. There are two possibilities: There were invalid clicks on your ad. Most ad servers have safeguards in place to filter out invalid clicks (like those by a bot). Typically, your vendor will deduct these invalid clicks from the total in your report. However, Google Analytics reports all users. This is an instance where the number of Google Analytics users may be higher than the numbers reported by your vendor. Your vendor has inflated the number of clicks. This could be some kind of glitch with their reporting system OR an intentional action to make the campaign appear to have performed better than it did. It’s a sad truth, but there are vendors in the marketplace who are less than reputable. It’s not the most frequent reason behind reporting discrepancies, but it does happen. By understanding the logic behind the reports your web team and your vendors are delivering, you will be better equipped to protect your budget and yourself. This post is part of a series on digital marketing analytics. To read the others, follow this link or subscribe to our blog to get updates when new posts are available. Loading…
21 May 2020
Multiple digital campaigns running on different platforms can make measuring results more complicated than we’d like. The challenge is particularly acute when comparing your own Google Analytics to reporting from a third-party partner. In a previous article, I discussed how one of the main causes of discrepancies is conflating Google Analytics users with third-party clicks. While that’s a common issue, there are several other reasons outside data that may differ from your own metrics—and sometimes wildly. Google Analytics Is Not Firing In order for Google Analytics to count a user, the Google Analytics tag must fire, which happens as the web page loads. This means if a visitor clicks your ad and then quickly hits the back button your vendor will most likely report a click while Google Analytics will show nothing. In addition, if the visitor prevents the page from fully loading by quickly moving to another page or by pressing the browser’s “stop” button, Google Analytics may not fire. Your vendor would report a click because the person did click your ad but Google Analytics would show nothing because it never fired. Google Analytics Is Not Set Up Properly If Google Analytics is not set up properly, it may not accurately count users or document where they came from. This could be something as simple as Google Analytics not being installed on your landing page or something more complicated, like a cross-domain tracking issue. Traffic Is Being Sent to The Wrong Page This sounds silly, but if you’re seeing large discrepancies, always ask the vendor to verify the URL they were sending traffic to. We’ve seen cases where clients have accidentally provided invalid URLs or URLs to a different website and therefore traffic was going to an unintended location. Not every tactic we roll out as marketers is going to work perfectly the first time. To get the best value from your marketing investment, you have to make choices. And to make the right choices, you need data you can trust. And confidence that it’s being presented accurately. This post is part of a series on digital marketing analytics. To read the others, follow this link or subscribe to our blog to get updates when new posts are available. Loading…
14 May 2020
Help; the clicks my vendor is showing don’t match what I’m seeing in Google Analytics! Unfortunately, this is a very common problem. In fact, we’d say it’s the norm! Usually, the number of clicks a vendor is reporting is significantly higher than what you’re seeing in Google Analytics, which can be quite distressing. However, there are a myriad of potential causes behind this discrepancy, and while more than one factor may be at play, let’s take a look at one of the most common issues. Clicks Are Not the Same as Users If you’re running display or pre-roll video ads, the vendor is probably delivering those ads over an ad server or ad exchange. The vendor is most likely tracking clicks, which are calculated based on server logs. On the other hand, Google is tracking “users.” A user is not necessarily the same thing as a click. A user is a unique person that has come to your website. To put it more accurately, it is a unique device and/or browser. Let’s dig a little deeper. Scenario 1: Let’s say John is surfing the web using his iPhone and a Safari browser. He clicks your display ad three times. Your vendor would count this as three clicks, but Google Analytics would only count this as one user. That’s because the first time John clicked your ad and Google Analytics fired, he was “cookied.” A code snippet was appended to him so that Google could recognize him. Now, any time John visits your website on his iPhone in Safari, he’ll just be counted as one user unless he clears his cache or the cookie expires. Scenario 2: Let’s say John is surfing the web using his iPhone and a Safari browser. He clicks your ad two times. Later that night, John is on his laptop in a Chrome browser and clicks your ad once. Your vendor would count this as three clicks, but Google Analytics would count this as two users. Once on the iPhone in Safari (even though he clicked the ad twice) and once on the laptop in Chrome. Unless John changes his device and/or browser or clears his cache he’ll continue to be counted as one user in Google Analytics … but your vendor will count a new click each time he clicks on your ad. Conflating clicks with users is the quintessential apples/oranges issue in third-party reporting. But, it’s far from the only possible cause of reporting discrepancies. In an upcoming post, I’ll discuss some other common causes and how to use your web data for the best results possible. If there’s a particular issue your brand is wrestling with, give us a call or join the conversation on LinkedIn or Facebook. This post is part of a series on digital marketing analytics. To read the others, follow this link.
20 April 2020
Operating during Coronavirus is as new for your customers as it is for all of us. Every opportunity counts, while your consumers are changing their behavior simultaneously online and in real life. As these shifts continue, our reaction time as marketers is even shorter. This presents opportunities for your brand—as well as your competitor’s—to capture their attention through your digital content. And your customers want to hear from you. In fact, Kantar found that only eight percent of consumers think companies should stop advertising during the outbreak. Be present This is not the time to go dark—either in your social media channels or your website content. Consumer behavior has changed considerably on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Traffic is up, but visits are more kinetic. It’s as if our collective attention spans have gotten even shorter as we process a flood of new information. Maintaining a brand presence between customer touchpoints is always important and relevant and useful information will keep your brand in the consciousness of both consumers and search engines. Be helpful That relevant information should include ways your organization can help in these unusual times. Have you changed operating hours or procedures to serve your customers and protect them and your staff? Tell us about it. Are you pausing operations but scheduling service for the future? Let us know how your biggest fans can get to the head of the line. Do you have a product or service that is particularly useful during quarantine? By all means, tell us more! Be clear Sharing details about doing business with your brand is really only helpful if it’s relevant to the customer. You’re changing your hours to sanitize your vehicles? Lay out how that affects the customer. Having inventory issues? Communicate exactly what is in-stock, what’s not and when you expect that to change. Phone lines jammed? Share that immediately through every other channel at your disposal. People understand these are unusual times for you, too, and they’re willing to be patient when they have a clear understanding. Be consistent Don’t fall into the trap of communicating with your customers once and calling it a day. Update at least as frequently as you did during normal times. Remember, a good part of your content will be pushed down people’s news feeds by the latest news, along with graduation pictures from 1997. Stay active to stay relevant. Be a connector A major theme in much of the consumer-generated content right now is staying connected. People are feeling isolated and are eager for human contact. If possible, demonstrate how your brand brings people together by acknowledging your online community and inviting them to join with your company—and each other—in some community effort. Salute local amateur athletes who lost their spring sports season. Repost the community theater’s rehearsal video. Recognize local students or civic organizations for community service. Be grateful Remember to thank your customers—and your casual followers—for remaining with your brand through this situation. Thank them for their efforts and their sacrifice to stay healthy and help to shorten the duration. Most important, thank your employees—the line staff, technicians, phone center representatives, all of them—who one way or another are facing new challenges right now. Also remember your vendors. A little appreciation, even when you’re the one writing the checks—can go a long way to keeping your supply chain running smoothly now and when we get back to something approaching normal. This post is part of a series on marketing during and after the pandemic. To read the others, follow this link or subscribe to our blog to get updates when new posts are available. Loading…
29 January 2020
Author: Natalie Shawver
In today’s world we’ve taken the very definition of multitasking to an entirely new level. We’re bingeing the latest season of The Crowne on Netflix while scrolling through our Instagram feed. We’re listening to a podcast while adding something to Facebook Marketplace. We’re downloading books from the local library and reading another on our tablet. This, of course, is on top of working full-time at a career or as a parent (or both), juggling upkeep with our house, attending the neighbor’s birthday party and somehow remembering to let the dog out. We’re exhausted. And we’re wondering how we can win our time back. Many companies have cracked the tick-tock code: Netflix tells us what we should watch next (time saved on searching); Amazon has monthly subscriptions so we’ll never run out of toilet paper (time saved on trip to grocery store); and bill payments and Rx refills have never been simpler thanks to automatic bank account deductions or reminder texts. #truelove Life seems simpler with all of these technological shortcuts … and yet we’re still running around with our proverbial heads cut off and wondering where the 25th hour in the day is. Take me for example and meet my friend Liz. And by “friend” I mean the influencer I’ve turned to (who I don’t personally know but I pretend like I do) for the past nine years when I need a decision made and relief in my brain. Chicago lifestyle blogger Liz Adams of Hello Adams Family has been on the scene since 2011. What first started as a fashion blog has turned into her full-time, focus-on-real-life account from all angles. Her transition from single-to-married woman to mother of two has shown the power of evolution at its finest—all before our very eyes. Instead of writing about what the latest spring trend in raincoats is, she serves up must-have skincare, must-try recipes and must-do activities for children. And I/we love her (and others like her) for it. We see someone else in the same place of life with the same undereye circles just trying to get through the day, and we realize that heck, if they can juggle it all, so can we. Oh, and they’re going to tell me what gifts I need to buy my husband for Christmas? Sign me up. Liz is like the equivalent of the Netflix movie recommendation in human form. And, just like I trust Netflix to know what I’ll love best, I trust Liz, too. But why? I don’t really know her. Because, simply put, she does all the heavy lifting and she gives me my time back. I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner because poof! Liz emails me a recipe every Wednesday. I don’t have to figure out which home cleaning product is the safest for my toddler because poof! Liz tells me which one is. She takes a product and makes it relatable—a product that may be hard to sell (hello CBD oil) as well as ones that fly off the shelves (bedazzled headbands). She makes me feel like I need it without being used-carsalesman-y. She makes me feel like her friend—who she is trying to help save time, too. #sharingiscaring It is this uncanny need for time saving that makes me the epitome of a sponge, soaking up every possible human advertisement thrown my way. I’m a marketer’s dream. So how can a company capitalize on overwhelmed, searching-for-extra-minutes consumers like me? They can make it easy, automated and enjoyable. They can showcase have-to-have products in my social feeds, newsletters in my inboxes with curated content, and eye-catching advertisements before my YouTube video begins. They can partner with my friends (cough cough Liz) to talk about their products in a very real way. They can catch me in the small moments I have and convert me into a sale. They can use the power of influence to capture my attention and make me part of their tribe. They can give me my time back.
06 January 2020
There’s no denying that we live in a review culture now. Social media started it, and online retailers made it the norm. Often overlooked, this element of word-of-mouth marketing has become one of the most powerful drivers of sales, particularly in the “decision” phase of the buyer’s journey.