This past Tuesday I was at the Infopresse Marketing Conference which had four speaker sessions looking at various topics in the analytics, SEO and SEM spaces. This is a recap of the most important points that were covered during the day.
Paul Bernier’s Advanced Google Analytics Takeaways
Paul Bernier’s presentation was focused on providing insight on how Google Analytics (GA) can be effective for one’s business. Although most of what he spoke about was extremely interesting, there are three main points I would like to discuss from his presentation that I thought were the most insightful. The first point was measuring video content on GA. This is interesting because it not only provides data for how many people view the video but shows where the people came from, where did they go after the video and at what point during the video they stopped watching.
Paul had done work for a car client and developed weekly webisodes . At first glance, this seemed like a great idea for generating a community around the web series, getting some video content ranking in the SERPs and implementing a more interactive call to action. However, based on his post mortem, Paul would be reluctant in advising clients to produce video content on a regular basis because it is extremely expensive to create and does not add any additional value that a well-written article cannot offer.
The second point of interest in Paul’s presentation is the distinction between traffic sources and conversion sources. To illustrate this, let’s take a PPC campaign and assume that 10 visits are generated at noon without any converisons. However, in the evening, one of the visitors that came to the site at noon via PPC comes back via a branded search in Google and converts. At first glance, analytics will tell you that the PPC campaign is not converting and should be stopped but what it doesn’t explain is the conversion it created at a later date.
The final point that was discussed during the questioning period of Paul’s presentation is the advantages and disadvantages of using Omniture versus GA. The consensus was Omniture requires a large investment up front from the client or website for a less than equal increase in value. To put it in perspective, it requires a year-round programmer dedicated to pulling the required data from Omniture as well as a large licensing fee depending on your site’s traffic numbers.
Nectarios Economakis’ Impact of Traditional Media on Online Media Takeaways
Nectarios shared three really interesting case studies that were conducted regarding the impact that traditional advertising had on online media and vice versa. The first case study was conducted by Concordia University and looked at what the effects of television advertising had on websites. After the television campaign was completed, there was an increase in branded search queries for 9 weeks that followed the ad campaign with the number of searchers diminishing week by week.
The second case study discusses the impact PPC has on offline sales in Pier 1 Imports stores across Canada. The study took 50% of the stores’ locations (test group) and ran a PPC campaign in those regions and left the remaining 50% of stores untouched (control group). The results showed an average increase in retail sales by 2% with struggling stores seeing an increase in sales as well.
The third case study that Nectarios presented was the effect banner ads for West Jet had on organic search. Over and above the click through traffic that occurred from having banner ads on high traffic websites, the banner ads resulted in a 22% increase in organic brand searches. One of the reasons why the traditional media resulted in branded organic traffic is because people consume traditional media with their mobile phone or computer nearby. This simplifies the process of going online to continue their engagement with the brand after they are exposed to a traditional ad. Although it is clear that offline and online media are connected, the real prize lies in the conversions that occur online because of traditional advertising. Unfortunately, this area is still very difficult to measure and is hard to justify in its current state.
Gord Hotchkiss’ Understanding Intent and Attitudes of Search Engine Users Takeaways
This was definitely the biggest surprise of the Infopresse Marketing Conference. Gord examined the intent, habits and expectations people have when they use search engines for information sources. Since the beginning, Google has provided user with a tool for aggregating all the information on the web and presenting the most relevant sources to the user. Although this goal needed to be solved back when search engines didn’t exist, it is not entirely true today.
Websites like Expedia, Amazon and Netflix are all sites that have changed the attitudes and expectations people have when searching for vacations, books and movies respectively. For example, Google requires the user to piece together travel information found in multiple Google queries while Expedia does it entirely for the user. Once you purchase one book or watch one movie on Amazon or Netflix, your personal preferences are recorded to better serve you in the future. Although Google is going along this route with personalization, planning an entire trip on Google is still a headache.
Understanding user intent and their habits will become an important part of SEO and has to do with more qualitative measurement. For example, if someone is looking to buy a car, they may look at reviews, what their friends posted on Facebook or Tweeted, company press releases and so on. They aren’t just going to check out BMW’s website and buy a car. It will take a little more research. It is not enough to have rankings strictly on the keywords that bring the most revenue but rather keywords that cover an entire vertical.
What if BMW had monthly press releases, was active on Twitter and Facebook , and constantly got reviews by large and medium sized car review blogs? They would have a lot more web real estate covered. The person searching for a new car might see one of his friends tweeted about unique feature found on the new BMW, or read a review by a source they trust. This will embed the BMW brand even deeper in the customer’s brain. This boils down to understanding the search habits of your customer and providing content to match those needs.