Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Google Analytics: social ROI update

Earlier this morning Phil Mui, Google Product Manager for Google Analytics, posted a blog announcing social media support.  In addition to tracking number of website visitors, page views, conversions, visitor location and time spent, Google Analytics will soon track social media metrics that marketers and publishers have been looking for.

Here are social media metrics that Google Analytics will track starting in next few weeks:

1. Conversions directly and indirectly caused by social sharing

Some conversion goals are met with single link shared over social media (Last Interaction Social Conversion).  There could be others where although visitor found the site via link shared on social media, the visitor ended up coming back to the site to complete the conversion goal at later time (Assisted Social Conversions).

Last Interaction Social Conversion is direct conversion through social sharing;
Assisted Social Conversion is indirect conversion through social sharing;
click here to understand "conversion".

2. Top ranking social referral sites for your website

Straight forward idea here.  Google will provide the list of top social media sites that generated the most referrals to your website.

3. Visitor trend via social referral versus all others

Once visitor gets to your website, Google will track the social visitors separately from the rest of visitors.  Idea is isolating social media marketing campaigns metrics from the rest.  This will allow marketers to fine tune the social media campaign execution.

4. Most socially engaging content and most active social network for the content

Engaging content is defined as content that generated most likes, +1's, shares, comments, etc.  By looking at the type of content that are generating the most buzz on social media, marketers can increase the brand awareness by creating similar content.  Google will provide breakdown of engagement level over social media as well.

Number of social engagement made through website is tracked;
idea is to give marketer a sense of where visitors are sharing content the most

5. What social network users are saying about the content on social media

Here is an interesting bit.  Google will provide status updates that mentions your keywords from registered social media.  If this sounds a lot like Google's now defunct Realtime Search of Twitter, it is.  Instead of getting a firehose license from Twitter, Google is setting up Social Data Hub.  It is an open platform where social media can send their traffic to so that Google can index the updates and surface them to Google Analytics users.  There are 21 social networks shown to be integrated with Social Data Hub.

It's safe to bet that Facebook and Twitter won't be integrating to Google Social Data Hub.  It's not clear there will be enough incentives for others like Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other up-and-coming social networks to integrate with Google Social Data Hub.  Not having Facebook and Twitter may invalidate Point #5 value prop just like Google Realtime Search lost most its value after losing Twitter back in July 2011.

Demographic data is on top of marketer's mind,
yet Google Analytics is not providing them yet
Overall Google Analytics will be an indispensable tool for marketers and publishers while designing social media campaign.  But it may fall short for marketers who are looking for visitor demographics.  According to eMarketer.com, most marketers responded demographic data being the most popular type of data point collected from their target audience.

Challenge for Google will be to augment Google Analytics to add these data points.  For Google to pull that off, they will need all the help that they can get from Google+.

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