One of the most common problems online marketers often face is when client’s lump all their web channels together from an overview perspective when measuring ROI. The danger with this is that due to the way user behaviour has evolved in the last few years the lines between web, off-the-page advertising and the high street are blurring. This means that measuring ROI needs to happen on a more finite level to really understand the success of each channel.
The reality is that to really understand how your website is performing, you have to segment the channels which drive traffic and revenue. Although this may seem scary for those unfamiliar with statistical analysis, tools like Google Analytics make it simpler than you think, meaning you don’t need to turn yourself into a statistical ninja, just follow by Google Analytics Channel Guide Below:
The Main Channels
All the main traffic channels in Google Analytics can be reached under the ‘Traffic Sources’ section of Google Analytics.
What is it: This is when a user types your website address directly into their web browser e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple Safari
Business Context: From a branding point of view: User’s could visit from any channel (e.g. PPC) and not convert but later return via a direct visit and convert, so a sale could be attributed to both channels.
From a traditional marketing point of view: A user could see a piece of off-the-page advertising in a national paper and visit your website. Drops or rises in this channel’s performance can be closely linked to the success of your off-the-page marketing, so including this channel in your business analysis can be key.
What is it: This is any visit that has occurred due to a user clicking a link or banner on another website.
Business Context: This is an important channel for monitoring the effect of your relationships with other websites and their success for example:
- Minor Search Engines such a search.bt.com
- Affiliate Marketing. E.g. banners on other websites which drive sales and visits
- Non SEO Related Links. E.g. a post on a forum about a product offer.
- SEO Related Links. This could include guest posts or website links created on the back of a link building campaign
- Social Media e.g. Traffic driven via Twitter or Facebook.
What is it: This covers any website visits driven by paid PPC (pay-per-click) campaign on Google, Yahoo or Bing and includes sponsored adverts place on search engine result pages and display adverts on other websites (e.g. using Google’s Display Network).
Business Context: PPC campaigns can require substantial investment to maximise your return, so to really understand this channel it is important that you carry out Brand vs. Non Brand segmentation. This is especially true if you run any significant off-the-page advertising campaigns to so judge the full effect of those campaigns on your bottom line. As with Direct Visits any brand based PPC campaigns and their success or failure can be directly linked to traditional marketing and should be included in analysis of off-the-page marketing activities.
What is it: Any visit driven by a user clicking on an organic link (non-paid) in search engine result pages, as with paid search it’s important to split brand and non-brand related traffic.
Splitting brand related traffic on organic results is a little more difficult, although this easy to follow guide on seomoz.com should help.
Non Brand organic search traffic can often be directly attributed to any SEO activities that are being carried out and deeper analysis of this channel is often needed to get the best of out of your SEO campaign.
Brand Traffic on this channel like direct visits can be driven by both visits which originated from other channels such as a non-brand organic search, non-brand PPC or even referral.
So there you have it my guide to getting to grips with what different web channels mean to your business. In my next post I’ll deal with Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnel’s which let you attribute sales to the channel which first drove a visitor to your website rather than the last allowing you to better understand the link between brand and non-brand traffic.