Identify, Analyze, Act: SEM by the Numbers

Wait, SEM by the numbers? Oh noes. How did I end up in this room? Lisa doesn’t do numbers. She’s pretty. And talking about herself.

Moving on.

[And Li Evans just snuck up behind me and gave me a full-fledged heart attack. Thanks, Li! :)]

Chris Boggs (Brulant) is moderating speakers Craig Danuloff (Commerce360, Inc.), Brian Cosgrove (AvenueA/Razorfish, SearchMarketingGurus Author), Heather Doughery (Hitwise), Michael Stebbins (MarketMotive) and Brett Crosby (Google).

Up first is Craig Danuloff.

Ooo, he has Superman on his first slide. Susan so wishes she was here.

There are three things you’re up against when dealing with Web analytics: Invisibility, deception, and unlimited power & resources.

Invisibility: You miss the full spectrum of what’s going on because the start and the end of what you’re measuring are both missing. Every search is a question; every ad is an attempt to answer that question. Keywords are simply a connector. ROAS is a “feel good” metrics that you shouldn’t take seriously.

Deception: Can you really trust what you see? You have tens of dozens of campaign groups and all that ever comes back are the averages. You see a rollup of your average position of your profit and ROI. It looks good but if you haven’t seen the raw data, you can’t make informed decisions. You also have to worry about accuracy. You don’t always know if you have a statistically significant sample size.

Unlimited Power & Resource: You run huge campaigns and time is an issue. You have to watch where you put your energy and your effort. A change is not a test. Someone needs to be there to record it, to track it and to alert you of the results. Not all the tools provide that, but you have to be more methodical about watching it. You have to manage inter-dependency.

How Good Can Triumph Over Evil

  • De-Cloak ’em: Request a way to get information on queries. Demand real margin-net Profit-ROI numbers in SEM Analytics
  • Keep ’em Honest: Constantly segregate keywords by performance. Understand revenue and expense attribution and allocation. Don’t get lied to by statistics.
  • Use the force: Apply math and statistics to numeric problems. Make changes with testing and inter-relations in mind.

Good stuff!

Next up is Brian Cosgrove.

Implementation: If you don’t configure your analytics package correctly all of your referrals will come in as organic search. It’s just going to bucket it that way. You need to make sure you configure it so that you’re separating everything out, especially if you’re using something like Yahoo Paid Inclusion.

Filtering: Lots of people don’t take into account that they have a lot of internal traffic happening. People come in for different reasons. You want to put filters in there. Go through your reports and look for things you don’t understand.

Data Driven: With all these different platforms you have lots of people sending in ad hoc requests asking you to get numbers or reports on something they need. They’re not using it to drive business decisions. To get to a data driven organization, changes need to happen.

Roles: Web analysts are very good at looking at data. They have a general understanding of what they’re seeing. They come up with insights that they have to feed along to Web developers. But what they’re missing is an operations person. There needs to be a Project Manager to keep everyone on task and make sure things are getting organized and done.

Process: Report -> Analyze -> Optimize -> Measure. This process gives you full utilization. Analysts are always putting stuff together and people are always ready to take them.

Create landing page reports. This will help you to find the pages that happen to rank well but where the word isn’t exactly the best place for someone to make their way in the funnel. It’s important to look at the different words and see which landing pages are really working for you.

In conclusion:

  • Implement your platform correctly
  • ID actions you can take ahead of time
  • Coordinate with other resources
  • Separate the analysis cycles
  • Staff people to manage the projects

Heather Dougherty is next.

Identify and Maximize SEM Opportunities:

Identify trends and seasonality: Be proactive by planning ahead for trends. Keep in touch with that’s going on in marketing. Understand the reliance of paid vs. organic search within specific industries and do the same for any competitive Web sites. Measure the impact of brand awareness upon competitor’s organic traffic.

Compare where people are searching to where they are clicking.

Improve keyword list efficiency by breaking out the best terms for optimization vs PPC campaigns.

Identify who is doing well in sponsored listings and learn from their copy. What are they saying that works? What’s in their copy? How are they attracting people?

Learn from the best optimizer. See who’s getting the most traffic and figure out why they’re getting it. If you can’t beat them, maybe you can partner with them (ala Google?). Find good partners for product placement, affiliates, etc.

Determine user intent – purchase or new? Can help you optimize for that strategy?

Monitor your brand health and use search for reputation management in a crisis.

Integrate search findings across the organization. Do research to determine the best search engine optimization and PPC opportunities. Take advantage of these findings to help drive all marketing initiatives. Identify advertising opportunities on Web sites that are well optimized for organic results.

Discover affiliate partners that are bidding on competitive terms to maximize your budget.

Michael Stebbins is next.

What’s In Your Data?

Basic: Bounce Rate, Average Time, Page Views
More Vital: Conversion Rate, Cost of Visitor and Revenue per Visitor.

The Grim Reaper

  1. Tactical Question: Which 10 percent of my ads are not performing?
  2. Possible Answers: Find ads with high cost, bad ROI, low engagement, low conversion, etc.
  3. Planned Actions: Cut them. Create replacement ads. Increased investment in the areas that are performing.

He runs us through a sample of The Grim Reaper technique. He also mentions that has a calculator to help you figure out your margins, so you should check that out.

Take a look at your keyword stats and see how they’re performing. Based on that, mark the candidates for deletion. You want to get rid of the campaigns that are not performing. Don’t try and fix them.

In Google Analytics you can sort by ROI. The ones on the top (aka the ones with the highest ROI) you can ignore. The ones on the bottom are your candidates for deletion. Take a look at the number of visits, the ROI percentage, etc, and decide which ones should be deleted

Free Tools Love

When you’re doing your testing, rig the election by protecting the incumbent. You want to create three copies of the incumbent ad that’s performing. You don’t want to cut a performing ad in half. Set your ads to rotate evenly. This will give 75 percent to your incumbent ad and 25 percent to the challenger.

Brett Cosby will finish things up.

Brett says that today is the 4 year anniversary that Google approached him about buying Urchin. Aw.

When Google bought Urchin, Brett realized that their audience had changed drastically. They launched a new interface for Google Analytics where the goal was to put data into context. You get the big overview first and then it gets broken down as you go down the page. They kept the deep pool for the experts and added a shallow end for everyone.
Get the right data to the right people.

  1. Set up goals and funnels (ecommerce and non-ecommerce).
  2. Customize dashboards.
  3. Customize your email reports for different roles.

Goals and Funnels: You have funnel reports – traffic goes in and you see how it leaves. Set up your goals via your admin interface. Enter goals, funnels and value. Once you do that, Google can tell you the goal value per visit and other data. Set up actual ecommerce for even better data.

Customized dashboards: You can put any report you want on your dashboard with a click of a button. You can also email reports – either instantly or scheduling them. Get customized data going out to the right people at the right time. Do this for each major role and everyone is happy.

Chris Bogg finishes things off by asking the panel what the audience can do now that will save them money the fastest. Here are their answers:

  • Click the revenue data
  • Figure out which terms you’re going to optimize better
  • Segregate your brand terms and look at the ones that are not brand terms.
  • Look at your site and see what kind of duplicate content issue you have.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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One Reply to “Identify, Analyze, Act: SEM by the Numbers”

Thanks Lisa for the write up. I’ve posted my slides and a write up of my talk for anyone who did or didn’t make it:


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