Google Analytics: Tracking the Money

At the recent Hospitality Marketing Summit Conference in Denver, I gave three presentations on Google Analytics. This is the third of those three, Google Analytics: Tracking the Money. The earlier Google Analytics presentations were Google Analytics: Follow the Money and Beginning Google Analytics.

Google Analytics tracking using Ecommerce tracking can be a very effective way to evaluate paid listings. However, it is necessary to use a booking engine that supports Ecommerce tracking, and then set up Ecommerce tracking properly. You can achieve similar, though less precise, results using Goal tracking if your booking engine doesn’t support Ecommerce. But why? Ecommerce has been around far too long, and it is far too important, for booking engines not to support it. You should be using a booking engine that supports it.

Slide descriptions are below the embedded slideshow.

Slide 1: Overview: We’ll discuss what we want to know, and how we track it. Where to find this information, and how we can simplify getting the information we need.

Slide 2: We may want to know who sends visitors to our site, but visitors are not bookers. We want to know who sends the visitors who book. And we want to be able to compare paid sources to see how they perform.

Slide 3: Sources sending visitors to our website are tracked in the Acquisition menu section in the Google Analytics tracking world. Clicking on Acquisition -> All Traffic, or to get a report without search engine traffic, Acquisition -> All Referrals, will show a list of who sends visitors. In order to filter out and view only the paid listings, we can create a custom Segment (a grouping of referral sources we choose) so that we can compare them directly. If we want to know how much revenue we have received from these sources, we need to configure Ecommerce and/or Goals (Ecommerce is better, Goals will provide useful information if Ecommerce can not be used, or both can be used if you like).

Slide 4: Under Acquisition, looking either at All Traffic or All Referrals, we see a list of sites sending visitors to our website. By default they are sorted by the number of Sessions (sessions used to be called unique visits).

Slide 5: In these reports (Acquisition -> All Traffic or Acquisition -> All Referrals), if you click on the Ecommerce link (or the Goal Set link, if you have that configured instead), the table below changes. If you like, you can click on Revenue to sort by the amount of revenue generated.

Slide 6: To create a segment which will show only our paid listings, click on + Add Segment near the top, and then click + New Segment.

Slide 7: You’ll want to name your segment (“Paid Listings” might be appropriate), Filter the Sessions for just the sites you pay for, listing all paid traffic sources you want to compare, and Save the Segment.

Slide 8: Contrary to the way this is shown in the slide (the slide will only allow you to put in one entry, though it may include wild cards), click on “Conditions” on the left and enter “Source” from the pulldown, then it should say “Containing”, and in the box put in the unique part of the domain of the site you want to track. For example, for BnBFinder.com, you might put in “bnbfinder”. For BedAndBreakfast.com you would need the full domain, as other domains sometimes have “Bedandbreakfast” in them. Caution: some domains, like TripAdvisor, have domains in multiple countries, so you would include them as “tripadvisor” not “tripadvisor.com”. Otherwise you might miss traffic from tripadvisor.it or tripadvisor.co.uk, etc. Add additional entries by clicking the large “OR” button beneath the entry. You may put in up to 20 sources. If you need more than 20, you’ll need a second Segment.

Slide 9: Clicking “Test” will give an idea of how much traffic the Segment will capture. After saving the Segment, click “+ Add Segment” and add, then Apply, your new Paid Listings segment. Now you can see just your paid listings sources, and their Ecommerce revenue or Goal completions. There is a sample Paid Listings segment you can install by logging in to your GA account, then follow this link: http://goo.gl/F7FWs1. You will need to edit the Paid Listings segment to remove unused entries and add your own paid entries.

Slide 10: Some innkeepers try to evaluate a paid source by the seat of their pants. They “feel like” it is (or is not) sending “enough” bookings.

Slide 11: If you want to really have concrete evidence of performance, you need to measure it. Otherwise, you really won’t know if a listing is performing as expected.

Slide 12: You also need to be able to compare a listing’s performance to the previous period to see if it is improving, declining, or remaining the same. Comparing the prior year helps take the seasonality into consideration.

Slide 13: Follow the Money :-)

Slide 14: To use Ecommerce Google Analytics tracking you must use a booking engine that supports Ecommerce. This is too important to omit. If your booking engine doesn’t support it, you really should consider another booking engine. You can use Goals as a poor replacement for Ecommerce tracking, but not all booking engines will allow for this. You can also use both Ecommerce and Goals, but if you do, be careful that you don’t end up with double reporting of revenue.

Slide 15: To use these features, your GA code needs a small, cut-and-paste change (on every page of your site). Use the links in the slide to get the code for the Google Analytics tracking code version you are using.

Slide 16: Setting up Ecommerce in Google Analytics is very quick – in the Admin section go to View -> Ecommerce settings and make sure this is set to ON.

Slide 17: If you don’t have Ecommerce available, set up a Goal for the URL of the page after a booking is complete (usually the “Thank You” page). You may also want to track the URL’s of pages in the booking engine as the “funnel” of traffic to the booking result. You can add the value of your average booking as the Goal value, so you’ll be able to simulate revenue reporting.

Slide 18: To set this up in GA, go to Admin -> View -> Goals and click on “+ New Goal”

Slide 19: Enter the name for the Goal (perhaps Booking?), mark it as a Destination goal and click “Next Step”.

Slide 20: Put the URL for the Goal (the “Thank You” page) in the Destination box. Many booking engines use URL’s that have “parameters” after the page, such as /thank-you.html?x=20fjfd&b=dkoso. If you see that style of URL, change the box with “Equals To” to “Begins with” and cut off everything from the question mark on. Delete the question mark, too.

Slide 21: Turn on Value, and enter the average value of a booking at your property to simulate Ecommerce tracking.

Slide 22: It will take about a day for the data to begin to show up. After that all your online bookings should show up as Goal completions, with Goal value entries.

Slide 23: If you add a funnel, you can later see where guests fall out of the process of booking. Add all the pages a guest goes through to complete a booking. Be sure you the “Required step” button is set to NO, or else you will miss bookings that managed to skip that page.

Slide 24: To view Ecommerce data, go to Acquisition -> All Traffic and select Ecommerce at the top of the page. You can also go to Conversions -> Ecommerce -> Overview to get a summary. The “full report” is the same as the one reached via Acquistion, above.

Slide 25: Sample of Ecommerce report sorted by Revenue.

Slide 26: Applying our Paid Listings Segment, we see only those paid sources in our Ecommerce report.

Slide 27: Now you can compare year over year, or other time periods to see how Revenue has changed by source.

Slide 28: When you see the chart for year over year, you’ll see a direct comparison of revenue from each source this year and last year, and the increase or decrease.

Slide 29: We all realize that very few bookings result the first time a visitor comes to your website. Most often a visitor comes via one source, then returns one or more additional times, often via different sources, or by typing in your address, directly. This means that multiple sources should get part credit for the booking. Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports on this, showing how bookings should be credited to different sources as visitors return.

Slide 30: Under Conversions, if you click Multi-Channel Funnels -> Assisted Conversions you’ll see different “channels” (Direct, Organic, Referrals, Paid Search, etc.). Click on Referrals and you’ll see Assisted Conversions from all your referral sources.

Slide 31: The Assisted Conversions are the bookings where the referral source did not send the visitor the last time (when they booked – also called the “last click” conversion), but they participated by sending the visitor prior to the booking visit.

Slide 32: We can automate our reports in three ways: we can build a Dashboard to give us an at-a-glance view, we can use “Shortcuts” – Google Analytics’ version of bookmarks for frequently-used reports, and we can email reports to ourselves at regular intervals.

Slide 33: Sample Ecommerce Dashboard

Slide 34: To install the sample ecommerce dashboard, log in to your Google Analytics account and follow the link in the slide.

Slide 35: To Email reports, view the report you want to use, applying any Segments, sorting by Revenue, or whatever you like, then scroll to the top of the report and click “Email”. Complete the form, add some text to the message, and save.

Slide 36: The Email form.

Slide 37: Summary: Use the Acquisition reports to see where visitors come from. Compare sources using custom Segments. Evaluate booking sources using Ecommerce tracking. Automate your reports with Dashboards, Shortcuts, and Email.

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