Visits to Transaction and Purchase Path Length in Google Analytics

  • January 9, 2012
  • Michael Whitaker
I just wanted to provide a visual equivalent to Avinash’s excellent explanation about the difference between Visits to Transaction and Path Length. Visits to Transaction is in the E-commerce > Time to Purchase report section, whereas Path Length is part of Multi-Channel Funnels. Here is an actual example of Visits to Transaction: Looks like 30 out of 33 transactions were completed in one visit. Maybe I don’t have to “worry” about attribution at all? Read More

Goal tracking and more on (not provided) keywords

  • December 7, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
I have always been a big believer in tracking mini goals. Abandonment occurs earlier than you may think: you are not going to convert someone if she is not able to get to the product detail page first. Or maybe a visitor is not ready to pull out his credit card, but gives you permission to continue the dialog by subscribing to your newsletter. That is a worthy goal to track. Read More

Using Median in Site Speed performance report

  • November 21, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
The site speed report in Google Analytics got a nice upgrade recently with the introduction of the performance report and the ability to track virtual pageviews. The performance report shows us how the page load times are distributed and you can see that the average page load time may not the best statistic to describe that distribution. The trouble is that you can have outliers with extremely high/non-sensical values: Read More

Analysis of (not provided) keywords

  • November 1, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
The impact of the SSL Google Organic change can be nicely visualized using Motion Charts since we can use up to 5 dimensions at the same time. For example, are the (not provided) keywords more like branded navigational terms or more like longtail? What’s the bounce rate? What’s the percentage of new visits or the impact on revenue? And since this is a gradual rollout it’s interesting to see it unfolding over time…even if you don’t like what you are seeing Read More

The real reason Google Analytics launched multi-channel funnels

  • September 5, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
Forget all the fancy new report capabilities…the real reason why Google Analytics launched multi-channel funnels is because they got tired of having to explain why Google Analytics showed fewer conversions than Google Adwords reporting. OK I made that up, but in my years of doing web analytics this is probably THE number one question I get and I am glad I can now point folks to this post. Despite the fact that Google Analytics and Adwords use different tracking approaches and attribution models I guess it feels “wrong” to many people that Google Analytics would show different/fewer conversions than Adwords. Read More

Segmented data in context

  • July 11, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
Segmentation is great, but segmentation in context is even better. Just wanted to point out one subtle update in the new version of Google Analytics. Let’s say I want to compare engagement metrics for two different segments. Specifically, I want to compare buyers vs non-buyers who have viewed more than 20 pageviews in their visit. Here is what it looks like in the “old” version of GA: And here it is in the new version: Read More

Tracking social buttons

  • July 8, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
In general you should be particularly concerned with tracking elements on your site where your visitors (hopefully) take action, such as adding an item to cart or filling out a form. Same thing with social buttons – you want to know if visitors click your Like button. These are mini-goals and should be tracked. So it’s great to see that Google Analytics now has a dedicated report for tracking social plugins, but it might be even better if you could add goal tracking to Social Actions, just like they did with event tracking. Read More

Site Speed analysis in Google Analytics

  • June 7, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
The Site Speed report in Google Analytics was announced about a month ago, so how about doing some analysis now that we have gathered some data? First off some background. Load times are still only collected for Internet Explorer and Chrome, and the data is sampled to the tune of about 3% of pageviews for IE and 9% of Chrome. I don’t have a problem with sampling at all, but since the metric of interest is average page load time it would be nice to know a little bit about how the data is distributed. Read More

New Google Analytics

  • April 6, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
It may be a bit premature to write about one’s impressions of the new Google Analytics because features that one is used to from the current version could be added back gradually rather than officially removed. For example, I miss weighted sort and I hope it’s just a temporary omission. GA also recently updated in-page Analytics and it’s nowhere to be found. Gone is also the $ Index metric for the Page type reports. Read More

Landing Pages and what people actually buy

  • February 15, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
Of course you know what your top landing pages are But if you haven’t already done so, create an advanced segment for each of your main landing pages, including the homepage. Then apply each segment in turn and make a note of **what products visitors actually bought **in the Ecommerce section. It can be quite eye-opening, as was the case in my example. Your data may look completely different, but the analysis is valuable all the same. Read More

Top Content and Top Landing Pages reports in Google Analytics

  • February 10, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
The Top Content and Top Landing Pages reports are super important, but I sometimes wish I could see some of the data from both reports in one place. But first, let’s take a look at the standard Top Content report: Pageviews. I am not a huge fan of just pageviews (who cares if people view or reload the same page a few times during the same session?) Unique Pageviews. Read More

Top Landing Pages and outcomes

  • January 6, 2011
  • Michael Whitaker
What is missing from the Top Landing Pages report in Google Analytics? Answer: Apart from bounces there are no outcomes or goals in this report. Better to start in Traffic Sources > Search Engines: Then use the first dropdown and select Landing Page: And you get: Good: Top Landing Pages that are now tied to goals. Better: Click on the Comparison View: Easy way to ease into the new year, n’est-ce pas? Read More

Average time on site and average pageviews revisited

  • December 10, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
I want to take a closer look at two common metrics: average pageviews and average time on site. What I want to find out if these average metrics adequately describe the underlying data. To start, lets work wth non-bounce visits. It’s a fact of life that most sites have a ton of bounces, i.e. visits with one pageview and 0 time on site. I just want to look at visitors who have shown a little bit of engagement. Read More

Tracking mobile sites and redirects in web analytics

  • December 8, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
With the increasing number of mobile devices coming to your website you might be considering creating a mobile version of your website. And naturally, you’d like to be able to track everything properly in your web analytics. Here is how it typically works. When a visitor arrives on your main site you have some kind of mechanism to detect the type of browser. If it’s a traditional browser then you’d show the normal www. Read More

Average metrics, context and story

  • November 4, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
Average metrics are rarely actionable because they hide what’s working and what isn’t. Everything is lumped in together and can be summed up as a**verage metrics = average results **(I think I heard this quote from Jim Novo, but I am not sure). Average metrics can also pretty **boring **in that they often don’t change much over time. Examples are average pageviews/visit or percentage of new visits. So…are averages basically useless? Read More

External scripts on your site could affect web analytics

  • October 28, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
I was recently asked to help troubleshoot someone’s web analytics instrumentation because the reports showed some weird data. Essentially, hardly any conversions were attributed to campaign sources and we just had a feeling that something was wrong. Tagging looked good on every page, but when I looked at the resources being loaded it looked like the analytics pixel was firing twice! How could that be possible since the tag was definitely only once on the page? Read More

Product Conversion Rate

  • October 21, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
You already know that there are lots of conversion rates in your web analytics: Every PPC, keyword or email campaign has a specific conversion rate. But what about the stuff that really matters: the actual products you sell? Shouldn’t products have a conversion rate as well? When a transaction occurs you can (and should) send the order details to Google Analytics, such as product name, SKU, price, order number. You’ll get very rich data and be able to attribute revenue to your various campaigns. Read More

Google Instant and keyword length

  • September 8, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
One of the things I would track in Google Analytics/Yahoo! Web Analytics following the Google Instant rollout is the **number of words in your keywords **driving traffic to your site. It’s possible that **short keywords will become more prevalent than longtail **keywords. Using regular expressions (regex) we can easily **segment **our data based on the number of words in the keyword. If you use Google Analytics, just click on the links below to import these segments into your account. Read More

SEO Analytics in Google Analytics using Page Title

  • July 22, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
Seeing Page URLs and Page Titles in the same report is like the gift that keeps on giving. Not only can you easily track 404 error pages in Google Analytics without having to change the tracking code on your site, but it also makes it very easy to optimize your Title Tags. The Title Tag is probably the most important on-page SEO element, so it’s in your control to change it. Read More

Visits to Purchase revisited in Google Analytics

  • July 12, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
I still like the Visits to Purchase report in Google Analytics even though it may be sub-optimal. At first glance you could be led to believe that 77% of transactions occur in a single visit. If almost 80% of your transactions come from single visits then why bother with attribution management? There are many other things you could be doing before worrying about those 20% multi-visit conversions. So what’s the issue? Read More

Using web analytics to optimize checkout forms

  • June 25, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
Although I tend to be skeptical of best practices – they might be a starting point, but I prefer doing testing to find out what works or not – there are some things that are always better than others. A fast-loading site always beats a slow-loading one, working links are always better than broken links, and reducing errors in general makes obvious sense. In the same vein I would say that a short checkout form is better than a longer one. Read More

Yahoo! Store trackable links and web analytics

  • May 10, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
(This post applies only to Yahoo! Store merchants). If you are using Trackable Links you can make a small change in the trackable link URL that allows you to track it directly in web analytics too. When you set up a trackable link it looks something like: When you click on a link like this one (which is a non-working sample link), you are redirected to the landing page – in this case the homepage. Read More

Onsite personalization example with Google Analytics

  • April 28, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
I have had quite a few requests to confirm that you can read custom variables so I thought I’d just show a quick demo. I also recommend you take a look at the video from the Google Analytics team that describes this feature (fast forward to around minute 29:00). As the name implies _getVisitorCustomVar() only reads custom variables that have a visitor-level scope. You can’t use this approach for reading page-level or session-level custom variables, so the scope should be set to 1 when you set a custom variable. Read More

Unique visitors, 0 visits and pages in web analytics

  • April 23, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
It’s always good to pause and ask yourself if the data you are looking at makes sense. Particularly with the awesome powers of advanced segmentation in Yahoo! Web Analytics and Google Analytics you are likely to come across cases where the data looks weird when you set up custom reports. The likely explanation is that you are mixing together dimensions (in GA parlance) or groups (YWA lingo) that don’t really go together. Read More

Onsite targeting with Google Analytics

  • March 30, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
A logical progression from segmenting your data in web analytics is to then be able to target those segments. For example, you might want to show a special offer only to loyal repeat customers and not to others. In a very informative webinar last week by the Google Analytics team on custom variables, one particular example caught my attention: the ability to not only set a custom variable, but also to read its value. Read More organic referrer update

  • March 30, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
Back in April 2009 Google announced a change to search referrals coming from The old familiar format when you search on would be replaced with: Initially, some people were concerned that the use of the hashtag # in the URL would cause issues with web analytics tracking, but Google found a way to make sure that the referrer data would still be valid (albeit different) when visitors click on a results link. Read More

Repeat Customers

  • March 29, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
What’s the only thing better than customers? Repeat Customers. According to the book Flip the Funnel the conventional wisdom is that it is far more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones. Many companies now base their strategy on increasing purchases from repeat customers, which in the case of Zappos is 75% of their business (again from the book Flip the Funnel). You should be able to get repeat customer metrics directly in your e-commerce order system. Read More

Is attribution management right for smaller online retailers?

  • February 4, 2010
  • Michael Whitaker
First of all, what is attribution management? If I may quote John Lovett from his paper “A Framework For Multicampaign Attribution Measurement“: The practice of attributing credit to all marketing exposures that led to a Web site and subsequently resulted in a conversion event, rather than attributing all credit to the exposure immediately preceding the conversion. Multi-campaign attribution is the practice of attributing credit to all marketing exposures that led to a Web site and subsequently resulted in a conversion event, rather than attributing all credit to the exposure immediately preceding the conversion. Read More

Google keyword rankings in web analytics

  • December 22, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
In April 2009 Google announced a change to the referrer information coming from Google organic searches. The interesting bit to many people was the addition of the cd parameter, which is the actual search results position. There are a few ways you can see the keyword position in your web analytics, such as with filters, custom variables or event tracking. I personally like event tracking in Google Analytics, and before the change in referrer information we were at least able to see the page a keyword was on. Read More

Monitus Tools product update: single-use coupons for Yahoo! Stores

  • November 20, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
You can now usesingle-use coupons in our cart recovery service and our web personalization platform PersonaQuest. As the name suggests, single-use coupons can only be used once. One issue with generic coupons is that they could be disseminated far more widely than intended. This can not only result in lower margins, but it’s also hard to tell how effective coupons are if you don’t know how many people have been exposed to them. Read More

Product merchandising analysis in Yahoo! Web Analytics (part 1)

  • November 18, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
When you think of web analytics, what terms come to mind? Hits, pageviews, visits, visitors, bounce rate, time on site, conversion rate, keywords? Those are all important of course, but if you are an online retailer you want to know what products are actually selling. And not only do you want to know what products are selling, but also what products are selling together because up-selling or cross-selling of relevant related items is an important tactic to try and increase your average order size. Read More

Product merchandising in Google Analytics (part 2)

  • November 18, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Following my post on Yahoo! Web Analytics, here are some ideas for doing product merchandising analysis in Google Analytics, As a recap, online retailers want to know what products sell together; they can then use this information to create content that shows relevant cross-sell products on the most relevant pages. In your Google Analytics UI (with e-commerce tracking enabled of course) click on Advanced Segments and create a new custom segment. Read More

Bounce rate and revenue per visit analysis

  • November 11, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Everyone loves bounce rate. Bounce rate analysis is a great way to start any optimization campaign as it gives you a quick and easy-to-understand metric that tells you what works and what doesn’t on your site. The higher the bounce rate the higher the proportion of visitors who leave immediately once they get to your site. In general, high bounce rate = badand low bounce rate = good, but you should be less concerned about the absolute value, eg a 55% bounce rate, than with reducing the bounce rate over time, e. Read More

Coupon Analytics

  • November 9, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
The saying “If you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage it” definitely applies to web analytics as well. Take online coupons. If I can’t see any data about coupon usage in my web analytics reports then I won’t worry about it, let alone do any kind of optimization. But by all accounts, coupons play an important part in the marketing tactics for many online retailers. By being able to see coupon usage in web analytics we can at least start asking some interesting questions and perhaps start uncovering some interesting nuggets. Read More

Event Tracking value

  • September 21, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
I am a big fan of Google Analytics’ event tracking feature and I think all web analytics programs should have that capability. There is one feature that would make event tracking even more useful in my opinion. In addition to Category, Action and Label, you can send an event value, but this is supposed to be a positive integer. It would be more powerful if event value could be used also for cost data, i. Read More

How to arrange items on your section pages using analytics data

  • September 18, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
From the excellent Neuromarketing blog comes a great post entitled “Order Effect Affects Orders” that shows that you should put your most important items first, because that’s what people will click on and buy. In other words, the item in position 0 should get more clicks than the one in position 6 on this sample section page. I thought I'd see if this is found to be true by looking directly at web analytics data. Read More

Segment by page type

  • September 16, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Love it when web analytics data paints a clear picture (even if it is not a pretty one). I was happily segmenting data in the quest for actionable insights when I came across segmentation by page type (hat tip to Gabriel), specifically for e-commerce sites. Outside of the homepage you typically have two main types in an online store: section/category pages and **item/product detail **pages You should be able to tag/segment your data by page type with any web analytics package – if you have a Yahoo! Read More

Surprising checkout error analysis

  • September 14, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Time to look at some data after gathering checkout error data for a while. Surprise #1 43% of all transactions had at least one error message during checkout. I expected there to be fewer although I don’t know why. Surprise #2 Seeing an error message does not necessarily mean that those people don’t convert. In fact, 91.7% of visitors who saw an error message still completed the purchase. Forgot to put in the state or the email address? Read More

Demographic data in Analytics

  • July 31, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
I know I know, comparing data from different sources will give me different results, but what if the values of my report are binary: 0 or 1, yes or no, new or return visitor, female or male? In this case I don’ care as much about the absolute occurrences of Zeroes and Ones, but rather the proportion between the two values. I will then optimize for the value that gets > 50%. Read More

SEO ranking and Event Tracking

  • July 22, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Love the flexibility of event tracking. Very quick to set up and I can send the data without having to specify ahead of time what the data has to look like. Event tracking reports are also conveniently separate from the standard reports, so no need to bend the system by creating “fake pageviews” to track events. In the normal web analytics paradigm I know when a page was viewed and generated a pageview, but with event tracking I can ask very specific questions about how visitors **interact **with a page, such as visualizing checkout error messages. Read More

Reducing checkout errors using event tracking

  • May 20, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Big hat tip to Joe Megibow for providing the inspiration for this post. At the recent eMetrics conference Joe talked about how Expedia is listening to their customers and using web analytics and monitoring techniques to fix problems with their site, particularly in the checkout process. Especially for online retailers fixing and reducing checkout problems means higher conversion rates and money in the bank. Of course the first step to fixing something is knowing that there is a problem in the first place, and customers may not always be kind enough to tell you about it. Read More

Website Optimizer and Event Tracking for e-commerce

  • February 27, 2009
  • Michael Whitaker
Website Optimizer is great, but Website Optimizer with e-commerce data would be better. In general, increasing conversion rates is what we are trying to do, but it has to be in context, right baby? For online retailers, a good context would be revenue. I want to know that a wining combination according to Website Optimizer actually makes money. Perhaps a “winning” combination appeals to fewer visitors, but these visitors have a higher average order size. Read More

Technorati data in Google Analytics

  • May 23, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
We have updated our Analytics Fox extension for Firefox, which can now query the Technorati API and return relevant blogs for your keywords. The Technorati data integrates into the Google Analytics Keywords report. Find out which blogs use the same keywords that drive traffic to your site. I should add that you don’t have to have a blog yourself. You can find out who is talking about your organization or mentioning your products. Read More

New radio program for Yahoo! Store merchants

  • April 21, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
Shawna Fennell of has just started a new radio show and has kindly invited me to participate as a guest speaker. I will chime in regularly with web analytics tips and tricks. Shawna sounds like a natural on radio and I wish her lots of success. The show is live every Monday at 3pm PT, but you can also get podcasts. Here is the link: Cheers, Michael Read More

Visit history for latent transactions in Google Analytics

  • April 18, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
I have been wondering about latent sales for quite some time, and how giving credit to only the last referrer leading up to a transaction could hide valuable information. While many visitors will convert during the first visit there are many visitors that take much longer to convert, interacting with your site across many visits and days. If you only give credit to the last referrer you may oversee some earlier referrers that may have at least assisted in the sales cycle. Read More

IndexTools and Yahoo! Store

  • April 15, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
Exciting times in the world of web analytics after the announcement of Yahoo!’s purchase of Index Tools and the subsequent news that Index Tools would be offered for free. It remains to be seen what the Yahoo! version of Index Tools will look like, but I am amazed as the pace of innovation and consolidation going on. One group of people to benefit are Yahoo! Store merchants. As mentioned on the Yahoo! Read More

EpikOne analytics seminar in San Francisco

  • March 20, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
I am going to Justin’s Google Analytics seminar on March 26 in San Francisco. Not only is Justin one of the nicest and smartest guys in this business, but the cost of the seminar is tremendous value for money. (It’s actually a 2-day seminar, but I can only make it on day 2) I know that some of my friends are going too, so it should be a great event. Please say hi if you are going too. Read More

Benchmarking Web Analytics data

  • March 5, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
I am very excited about today’s announcement from the Google Analytics team that there will be a benchmarking component built into Google Analytics. I certainly want that and I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me whether a 40% bounce rate is good or bad. People just want to compare themselves to their peers even if the comparison may not lead to any actionable insight. Since this is just hot off the press and in beta, we’ll have to see how this functionality actually works in practice; for instance I didn’t see a way to categorize my site, but I am sure it will be there. Read More

A/B testing or Multivariate testing?

  • February 29, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
Isn’t it cool to even have the choice to do A/B testing or Multivariate Testing courtesy of Google Website Optimizer? I have been using both tools extensively over the past several months. I am surprised that many online merchants haven’t tried doing website optimization this way, although once they “get it”, they’ll want to run experiments all the time. And why wouldn’t you? I find it very satisfying to let customers make the decision as to what works and what doesn’t, instead of the personal preferences a website owner or opinionated web designer. Read More

Good to Great and KPI

  • February 12, 2008
  • Michael Whitaker
I recently read Good to Great by Jim Collins. The book profiles 11 companies that made the leap from “good to great” in terms of stock market performance over a 15 year period and various other criteria. This means that lots of companies that you might have expected to be called “great” are not included. In any case, it is not so much about who made the list, but what common traits these few companies share that allowed them to go from “good” to “great”. Read More

Google Analytics mashup with other data sources?

  • December 7, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
“I want to see important information about my online business in one place.” Sounds like what portals and dashboards are supposed to do, and good web analytics data should give me much of the important information I need to know.  So how about using web analytics as the basis of the dashboard and adding other useful data sources to it? That’s essentially the idea behind our Analytics Fox extension for Google Analytics. Read More

Google Analytics KPI gadget v2 released

  • September 26, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
We have just released v2 of our Google Analytics gadget and have added quite a few new features. I thought I’d try my hand at making a screencast that walks through some of these features. Please let me know what you think. Read More

Website optimization and analytics

  • September 13, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
A/B Testing may not be as powerful as multivariate testing, but if you are starting out with website testing I would personally recommend doing some A/B experiments first. These are just easier to set up and implement, and you are also far more likely to results sooner than a multivariate experiment. So I was pretty excited about the announcement that Website Optimizer would have separate wizards for A/B and multivariate tests. Read More

Latent sales and who gets the credit

  • August 31, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
The Web Analytics Association has published a set a of important definitions of web analytics terms to “Promote Consistency across the Rapidly Evolving Web Analytics Community”. Standards are good and everyone benefits if practitioners and analytics vendors “speak the same language”. But do realize that tools will still be different in many ways and will continue to have different underlying assumptions. John Marshall recently enlightened me about a specific case: Read More

3rd party site search engines and tracking

  • August 30, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
No doubt it’s a good strategy to look for and implement the best tools to grow your online business. Having a site search engine on your e-commerce site is pretty much compulsory if you sell more than a handful of products. You should be able to get some very actionable insights from visitors using site search with your web analytics solution, such a zero results search terms. But here is the challenge. Read More

Google Analytics KPI gadget update

  • August 30, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
Hat tip to Julien Coquet for pointing out that it would be nice to use multiple instances of the Analytics KPI gadget on iGoogle. Lots of people manage multiple online properties and I agree that it would be nice to see your KPI all on one screen. Well, now you can with our updated version 1.1. Just add the gadget multiple times and voilà! Read More

Analytics KPI gadget for iGoogle

  • July 26, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
Following our Yahoo! widget for Google Analytics we have created a different widget called “Analytics KPI“that works on the iGoogle portal. It’s a little simpler than the desktop widget for now because it comes preloaded with just four KPI. Of course, keeping things simple is not a bad thing, and the four KPI we chose – new visitors to return visitors ratio, average visits per visitor, length of visit and goal conversion rates – were suggested by leading web analyst Eric Peterson. Read More

The importance of site search

  • July 18, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
How important is internal site search to an e-commerce site? Rather than using “quite important” as the conventional wisdom answer, I thought I’d drill down a little to get some practical information. As usual, the example here is a Yahoo! Store using our implementation of Google Analytics, but the general information applies to other platforms and tools as well. Lets see if we can ask some good questions and hopefully come up with some good answers. Read More

Proper web analytics tagging for static HTML

  • July 3, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
If you have a Yahoo! Store, one of the main benefits is that all your pages are static HTML. Make sure however that you use this fact to your advantage! I have come across many examples where the HTML structure is not optimal. It’s already bad enough if you put everything in one gigantic table, something that looks like this: The browser will have to parse the contents of every row in that table before displaying it. Read More

Key take-aways from Emetrics

  • May 11, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
Am slowly getting back to normal – just in time for the weekend – after a busy Emetrics conference this week. Here are some of the things that made an impression on me: Not that it should be surprising, but there are some pretty cool people in this industry and I feel fortunate to have met a lot of them in person: John , Eric (congratulations on your move), Avinash, Justin, Ian, Alex (blog some more), Rene, Dennis, Bob… I have to agree with John and Ian that some sessions were better than others. Read More

Latent sales and website testing

  • April 13, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
I think a lot of people will and should do website testing, courtesy of the free Website Optimizer. One thing I cannot quite wrap my head around is why the website optimizer experiment cookie only has a life span of 30 minutes. In other words, if you come to a landing page that has an experiment running and then leave or do nothing on the site for 31 minutes, your analytics would count this as a new visit and similarly you may see a different variation of the experiment. Read More

Announcing Vivalytics, a KPI tracking widget for Google Analytics

  • April 6, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
OK – here is another project Jean and I have been working on called Vivalytics – a free desktop widget that tracks KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) of your Google Analytics data. To download and learn more please check out (more screenshots at Features Cross-platform PC and Mac Track multiple Google Analytics accounts and profiles Choose the KPIs that are important to you Set individual alerts and thresholds for each KPI you track Use filters to access the data you need Color-coded stats make it easy for you to spot good and bad trends Export all KPIs to csv, including those within your threshold alert level. Read More

Website Optimizer and custom segmentation

  • April 4, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
As reported by Shawn over on ROI Revolution’s blog, Website Optimizer is now open to everyone. In addition to that Shawn makes a great point about the fact that picking a winner in a test is purely based on one metric: conversions. Perhaps this is not “deep” enough. After all, you could just set up a test headline that promises “50% off of all items” and you’d surely see conversions go up. Read More

Website testing

  • April 3, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
In the face of increasing search costs, 71% of marketers in MarketingSherpa’s Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2007 responded that “improve site’s conversion efficiency” is a top priority. In addition to using web analytics merchants should be prepared to brush up on website testing in order to make their sites convert better. Website testing has been around for quite a long time, but used to be mainly targeted (and hence priced) at large organizations. Read More

Keyword Forecast

  • January 3, 2007
  • Michael Whitaker
Have you seen the Keyword Forecast Tools from Microsoft adCenter Labs? “Learn about the impression count forecast and demographic predictions of your search terms.” I don’t know where or how Microsoft got this kind of data and how accurate it is, but it looks interesting nevertheless. I typed in “yahoo store;yahoo merchant solutions” and the graph does seem to confirm that “Yahoo! Store” as a name/brand/product has stuck, despite the renaming effort to “Yahoo! Read More

Who gets the credit?

  • November 16, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Justin Cutroni has a great post on “How Does Google Analytics Track Conversion Referrals?”. One of the key things about this post is that he is able pinpoint exactly what can and cannot be done with utm_nooverride. This does highlight though the bigger picture issue of allocating marketing spend appropriately. In an e-commerce scenario, where marketers pay for PPC ads, organic SEO and shopping comparison engine listings, the issue is giving proper credit to those channels. Read More

Google Website Optimizer

  • October 18, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
First reported by Timothy Seward at ROI Revolution, Google has announced the launch of the Google Website Optimizer, which will allow marketers to test the effectiveness of landing pages through multi-variate testing. Looks like it is targeted at improving the conversion rate of Adwords campaigns, but I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be used for other campaigns. Of course, it’s free, but signups are by invitation only at this point. Read More

Repeat vs first time visitors

  • August 24, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Every decent web analytics package can segment your traffic data by repeat vs first-time visitors. If you can track e-commerce transactions by $ amount you can also quickly see what the value of those two types of visitors is. You may find that repeat visitors are several times more valuable (in terms of $) than first-timers. What’s your call to action with this sort of information? I think there is a big opportunity if you can set up your site to meet the needs of those different types of visitors. Read More


  • August 22, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Used by quite a few Yahoo! Store merchants for their web analytics, ClickTracks was acquired by the J.L. Halsey Corporation according to this press release. Interesting… Read More

Cookie debate

  • August 18, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Read Scott Miller’s post first. I guess the bigger Google gets the more people will scrutinize them. Scott Miller’s post reminded me of Matt Roche’s post about the Google ToS, which appears to leave the door open for all kinds of mischief. One instance where Scott Miller’s writing can be seen to be misleading is in this paragraph: “They have code on many, many, MANY websites that they are using to spy on us, and log every move we make. Read More

Free Google Analytics webinar for Y! Store merchants

  • August 7, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
ROI Revolution is doing another free webinar tomorrow: Tuesday August 8 at 4.00pm EST. Sign up here: Read More

Visitor intent and referring keywords

  • July 27, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Following my earlier post about conversion rate I decided to take a closer look at referring keywords in the hope of learning more about visitor intent. Using our Keyword Monkey tool I can quickly sort through keywords that brought visitors to my site. Sometimes all you need to do is look at data in a different way, i.e. sorted alphabetically in this case, in order to see patterns. Well, I found some clear markers about people looking for advice. Read More

Conversion Rate revisited

  • July 26, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
For Yahoo! Store merchants, conventional wisdom says that “conversion rate” is the most important metric in e-commerce. You all know by now that you can see your Store’s conversion rate by looking in the Graphs section and selecting “Orders/Customer”. Whatever your conversion rate is – 0.5% or 3% – you strive to increase it. After all, if you can increase the conversion rate, you will make more money. You may also try to compare your Store against benchmarks, such as shop. Read More

Whose site is it anyway?

  • July 19, 2006
  • Michael Whitaker
Starting a new Yahoo! Store is hard, but as the saying goes: “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” These are the steps that a new merchant might take to launch a new Yahoo! Store: It all begins with site design. You have signed up for a new account and now it’s time to get a good-looking store. You spend a long time to come up with the design you like, perhaps with the help of a designer. Read More