Category: Analytics

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Google Analytics – Follow the Money

At last week's Hospitality Marketing Summit Conference in Denver, Colorado, I presented several sessions on Google Analytics for Innkeepers. The first of those sessions, entitled Follow the Money, gave an overview of how Google Analytics can help innkeepers evaluate their paid marketing to see if they are getting good value for the investment, that is, to see if they get an adequate return on investment. The slideshow is below. Beneath it is a description based on my HMS Conference session. I hope you enjoy it! Slide 1: Title Slide 2: Overview - the presentation will cover (1) reasons people give for not using analytics; (2) a case study; and (3) some words of caution. Slide 3: Here are several (bad) reasons people give for not using Google Analytics. The link is to a prior post on this blog, with even more reasons. Slide 4: What do you, the Innkeeper, really want to know about visitors to your website? The answer is generally the same: What sites send visitors (and how many), what sites send bookings, and how does one paid source compare with other paid sources. Slide 5: Bear in mind, that while sites that send lots of traffic are nice, visits are not bookings. You can't spend visits. By themselves, they don't produce income. There are a lot of reasons people visit your site but do not book. Slide 6: If you can learn which sites send visitors who book, then you can find the return on investment (ROI) for a paid listing, and compare the actual value of your paid listings. Slide 7: How do we evaluate this? Many innkeepers go by "feel" - they "feel" that a site isn't providing bookings. Others ask the guests, and we know that isn't reliable information! Slide 8: The better way…

Where Have We Been? Where are we going?

Where have we been? Apologies for not posting for quite some time (though I continue to share on Twitter and Facebook the posts of others that I find useful or interesting). I have two "excuses" for not posting. Neither is perfect. One is that since we sold our B&B in May of 2013, we "tuned out" a bit. Sorry. The other is that I've been doing a bit of consulting that creates a bit of a conflict of interest for some types of posts. That said, I do plan to post from time-to-time, but don't be surprised if it isn't terribly frequent. Do feel free to connect via Facebook (if you PM me on Twitter, I might not find out about it for months, as I find the signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter to be unacceptably static-filled. Email via the contact form on this blog is always fine, though. Meanwhile, what's up? This week I'll be in Denver for the inaugural Hospitality Marketing Summit Conference, created and hosted by Acorn Internet Services and Whitestone Marketing. I'll be doing three all-new sessions on Google Analytics for lodging properties. All three sessions will stress making Google Analytics simple and useful. We'll focus on getting right to the heart of what you want to know - what sites send visitors who book. I'll also be co-hosting one with Acorn's Lisa Kolb on testing the Google-friendliness of your site. In addition, I'll be doing several one-on-one mini-consultations, as well as hanging out wherever and with whomever is interesting. ;-)

High Direct Traffic Numbers: What is causing it?

It seems that whenever I speak at a conference or give a webinar on Google Analytics, someone asks a good question, that prompts a blog post. That happened again recently, when the question was about the high measure of Direct traffic to the property's website, asking about high direct traffic sessions. Direct traffic has been increasing for many (perhaps most) sites. Here are some steps to take to look into the reasons your site may have high direct traffic numbers. 1. Verify the Analytics Code on Your Site Visit your own website, then right-click on the page somewhere, and select "View Page Source" (or similar language - depending on the browser and operating system you are using). Look for the analytics code. It is usually near the top of the page (though some sites that have not been updated may have it near the bottom). To find it press Ctrl-F on PC (Cmd-F on Mac) and put ga.js in the search box. If you don't find anything, try again, putting analytics.js in the search box. Visit the Google Analytics help page to see what the code should look like if you found ga.js. If you found analytics.js, compare the code to this analytics help page. Compare every character, as a single difference can cause a problem. There is no problem if your code has an entry saying "_gaq.push(['_setAllowLinker',true],['_setDomainName','YOURDOMAIN.com']" or something very close to this. 2. Are You Using a Redirect Page? A redirect page is a page that forwards a visitor from one page to another. Some properties may have outside sites (like B&B directories) point to a redirect page, which will forward them to the home page. In that case, GA would count that as direct traffic (or possibly as a referral from your own site). It is possible…

Who Sends Guests (at a glance)

Who sends guests? That was the question innkeepers wanted to know when Scott spoke recently at the Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia 2014 annual conference. In two Google Analytics sessions, Scott began by asking what the innkeepers wanted to know. Answers ranged from "How long people stay on my site" to "What do people do on the site" but the number one question was "Who is sending me guests?" Using updated and revised versions of the Google Analytics presentations from prior sessions, we discussed the basic Google Analytics tools that will help you answer the question of who sends guests, as well as how long they spend on the site, and what they do there. If you would like to cut to the chase, just be sure you are logged in to Google Analytics, then click these links to download the basic dashboard, and the B&B Directory traffic dashboard. You may need to edit the list of directories on the dashboards to reflect your paid listings. To do that, Open the dashboard, then click the pencil icon at the upper right of each widget that has "Source" in its title (Visits by Source, for example). In the next screen, look at the "Filter" line (see image at right) and read through the list of directories there. Add the domain (such as bedandbreakfast.com) of any you use that are not listed (very important!) and remove any you don't use (less important, as they will be ignored anyway). Make sure there is a "pipe" character ("|" but without the quotes) between each directory (the pipe means "OR"). Save it and you're done. Data should show up immediately, and you can see the directories who are sending you guests. For even more detail you can set up Ecommerce and Goal tracking, and…

How Effective is Your Website?

How effective is your website? You probably check where you come up in search engine results, claim your Google+ Local page, link to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more, and use Instagram and Pinterest, right? But once your guests get to your site, what do they look at? How effectively is your website delivering the goods? You could ask the same question about your blog. You may write about different things (food/recipes, things to do in the area, specials, events, etc.), but which ones do the visitors to the site actually read? Is your blog or website really effective at delivering on the promise that the guest finds in the search results? There is a way to see if your website is effective For a technical explanation, and more ways to analyze things, you may want to check out Avinash Kaushik's recent blog post, that provided the idea for this post. For our purposes, we'll look at a fairly simple way to check what guests find useful on your blog or website (and what they don't). In other words, how effective your website is. In fact, at the end of this post is a link to a spreadsheet that will give you very pretty results, if you provide the raw information. Get the Categories your site uses The first thing you'll want to do is look at your website (or blog) and consider the primary categories of the site. This may be the top level menu items on your navigation menu, or you may need to do a bit of organizing. For many inns or B&B's, this might be: Rooms and Rates About Breakfast Availability Specials Things to Do Directions If you have other areas, like a Photo Gallery, or whatever, feel free to add that, too. If you're looking at…

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