Motion Charts on Google Analytics – Visualize data better

Motion Charts - Google Analytics

With the incredible amount of data available on Google Analytics, making sense out of it can be a daunting process. Motion Charts, perhaps one of the most underutilized tools on Google Analytics, can help to simplify the process.

What are Motion Charts?

Wikipedia says – A motion chart is a dynamic bubble chart which allows efficient and interactive exploration and visualization of longitudinal multivariate Data.

Essentially, motion charts can be used to map complex data and can be a great tool to visualize trends and relationship between variables.

How can Motion Charts be used?

Motion Charts can be used in many ways. It can help you to:

  • Compare traffic from different keywords over a period of time
  • Compare keyword bounce rates over a period of time
  • Understand impact of seasonality on site traffic
  • Understand impact of seasonality on search traffic by language
  • And more…

The possibilities to visualize data with Motion Charts are limitless. It is easy to get lost looking at colourful balls moving around the chart, not exactly knowing what you are looking for. Before using them, the question you need to ask yourself is – What question do you want to be answered? J Once that is clear, you can play with the X and the Y axis of the charts to get the answers.

Here’s a simple video by Google of how to use Motion Charts:

Here’s the official blog by Google on Motions Charts: http://bit.ly/1jBnitf

Below is one of the best examples of use of Motion Charts that I’ve seen. Han Rosling, a professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institutet, demonstrates how data can sing using motion charts in his talk on Asia’s rise.

 

Where are the Motion Charts located in Google Analytics?

Under Reporting, on most of the reports, the motion chart can be accessed by clicking on its icon on the top right of the standard line graph. Below is the snapshot.

Motion Charts - Google Analytics

 

Do you think I missed any point? Do you extensively use motion charts? Or do you have a tip to share? Please share your insights, critique, stories or helpful guidance via comments. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you.

Advanced Benchmarking Method for Email Open Rates – a method that can be used to benchmark many KPI’s

This article simpifies:

  1. Typical method used by marketers for benchmarking
  2. Advanced method of benchmarking
  3. Steps marketers need to take to ace the benchmarking process
  4. Few tips on how to improve email open rates

So what is a good email open rate for your hospitality company? The simplest way to benchmark your performance is to source an industry report or even better, a competitive set report and benchmark against it.

Hotel marketers typically compare their aggregate email open rate to the aggregate industry email open rate and if their aggregate open rate is higher than that of the industry then they go “Hurray!” :) But should we celebrate just because we are above average? I say, “It depends!”

Typical method used by marketers for benchmarking email open rates (or most marketing KPI’s)
Before benchmarking email open rates, it is essential for marketers to be clear with what is their company’s digital marketing positioning within the industry – is it positioned as one of the best digital marketing travel & leisure companies, an average company or a below average company. Based on your company’s digital marketing positioning within the industry, you may mark the ideal email open rate.
For example, you source the below data from common validated reports published online:

Typical benchmarking technique of email open rates - hotelmarketingsutra.com

Typical benchmarking technique of email open rates – hotelmarketingsutra.com

Seeing that your company’s average (16.3%) is higher to that of the travel industry average (13.6%) or even the median of your company (16.1%) is higher than the industry average (10.7%), most marketers will be delighted with their performance and stop there. But is that the complete story?

Advanced method of benchmarking email open rates (or most marketing KPI’s)
To really take marketing analytics to the next level, it’s important that you dig deeper. The below benchmarking technique can be used not only for email open rates but also for other marketing KPI’s. For the same data above, take a look at the quartiles:

Advanced benchmarking technique of email open rates - hotelmarketingsutra.com

Advanced benchmarking technique of email open rates – hotelmarketingsutra.com

Looking at the data above, the top quartile of your company (18.2%) is lower than the top quartile of the travel industry (38.5%) while the bottom quartile of your company (15.1%) is higher than the bottom quartile of the travel industry (7.9%). So what does this mean? Let me put this data on a graph to make it easier:

Advanced benchmarking technique for hospitality marketing - hotelmarketingsutra.com

Advanced benchmarking technique for hospitality marketing – hotelmarketingsutra.com

  • The mean and the median of your company are higher than that of the travel industry. This means your average open rate performance is better and more consistent than the average performers of the travel industry.
  • The bottom quartile of your company is higher than that of the travel industry. This means that the bottom 25% of your performance is better than the worst performers of the travel industry.
  • The top quartile of your company is lower than that of the travel industry. This means that your top 25% open rates are worse than the best performers of the travel industry.

Given these 3 key insights from the sample data, we can derive the below:

  • If your company’s digital marketing positioning within the industry is below average, average or just above average then you are doing a good job with your email open rates as the email open rate is above industry average.
  • But if your company’s digital marketing positioning is to be in the top tier of the travel industry, then the current performance needs to be improved. The top 25% performers of the industry have an average open rate of 38.5% while that of your company is only 18.2%. Even the highest open rate of your company has not surpassed 22%. Given that, raising your email open rate to or above 38.5% straight away deserves to get into the marketing goals list of your digital marketer.

This is a classic example of why aggregate data is meaningless. An average marketer would just look at the average and the median email open rates and celebrate it for being above the industry average and median. But with the advanced benchmarking method i.e. mapping a KPI in relation to the company’s positioning plus looking at the quartile data, you truly understand where you are and where you need to be.

The above method of benchmarking can be used practically for any KPI within marketing. At a broad level, this method compares the positioning of a KPI to the positioning of the company within the industry – which in my opinion is a fair way to benchmark performance. If you are able to acquire your competitive set data, as industry data is a bit broad, then the benchmark and the insights from this method can be more precise.

What next steps you need to take to ace the benchmarking process?

  • Identify your company’s positioning: If you don’t already know, ask the CEO, CMO or the Director of Marketing or General Manager (basically your Key Business Strategist) as to where does the company position itself in terms of marketing and/or digital marketing within the industry? Do you position yourselves as Market Leaders? Followers? Challengers? Nichers? Your company positioning then will help you determine your KPI benchmarks.
  • Get comfortable with data and excel: If you need to brush up your statistical skills, here are some resources that can help you with some of the concepts discussed above –KPIMean, Median, Top Quartile, Bottom Quartile and how to build simple box plots on excel.

Few tips on how to improve email open rates
Whether your customers open an email primarily depends on:

  1. Sender Name: Customers value the sender name a lot to identify whether a mail is spam. Ensure you correctly use your brand or company name as the sender name.
  2. Subject Line: Majority customers decide within 2 seconds to open an email based on its subject line. Avoid flowery language, inform directly what the mail is about, include compelling promotions and try personalizing the subject line by adding the customer name. For example, “John, reserve Sunday Brunch for USD 50 only at ABC restaurant. Offer valid till Saturday” is likely to be opened more than “Exciting brunch promotion available at your favourite restaurant in town. We look forward to seeing you.”
  3. Day and Time of Delivery: Typically, the open rates of promotional emails are higher in the first half of the week, on working days and during day time/working hours.

Try A/B testing of the above 3 factors to evaluate what sender name, subject line and time of delivery works best for your hospitality company as available research does not provide more precise guidance than the 3 points mentioned above. Test, analyse and optimize your efforts to become a true hotel marketing ninja!

Do you think I missed any point? Do you use any benchmarking techniques? Or do you have a tip to share? Please share your insights, critique, stories or helpful guidance via comments. I would love to hear from you.

Thank you.

 

Multichannel Analytics for Hotels – Measure impact of online and offline campaigns on online and offline sales

Hotel marketers run cross channel marketing campaigns. Let’s say for example, you are to promote the weekend brunch at your signature venue. You distribute the marketing budget for radio, print, social media and a web page on your hotel website. The challenge that lies in front of hotel marketers is – how to measure the impact of each of these channels?

Most hoteliers think this is how customers interact with a campaign:

Online and Offline Customer Behavior

Perceived offline and online customer behavior – hotelmarketingsutra.com

Most hoteliers have a siloed belief that offline channels yield revenue through the vertical offline booking path and the online channels yield revenue through the vertical online booking path.

But in reality, this is how customers interact:

Actual offline and online customer behavior

Actual offline and online customer behavior – hotelmarketingsutra.com

The real world is not siloed into online or offline, but is seamless where people move from online to offline and offline to online. Customers may hear about your brunch offer on a radio ad and then may go to the website to learn more about the brunch. Then they may want to make a special booking request and hence choose to call the restaurant directly to make a table booking. It may also happen that someone sees a print ad, then learns more about the restaurant on the website and makes a table request online. Thus all telephone bookings cannot be attributed to print or radio ads and at the same time, all online bookings cannot be attributed just to PPC, social media or display ads. There are many combinations that are possible in terms of the online-offline behaviour path that a customer chooses to take.

If you measure only the vertical online behaviour path, you will get a view of only the vertical online path behaviour, if you measure only the vertical offline behaviour path, you will get a view of only the vertical offline path behaviour. If you don’t measure the impact of online on offline and offline on online, you will not be able to maximize the revenue for your hotel by leveraging these channels together.

How do you measure impact of online and offline channels on each other?
Below are 5 measurement techniques that you can adapt to understand each of your channels better to optimize your online or offline campaigns.

1. Vanity URL’s
Vanity URL’s are a great way to measure the impact of your online or offline channels. These URL’s can be made channel specific to exactly understand which channel was used by a customer to get to your webpage. For example, if you are running a radio or a TV campaign, then use a simple to remember vanity URL as a Call to Action. For example, on a radio ad use something like http://www.hotelname.com/radio for a radio ad or http://www.hotelname.com/tv for a TV ad. These vanity URL’s can then be redirected to the campaign page on your website. Vanity URL’s are extremely easy to setup. Work with your digital marketer to set them up for your channels. All the clicks, visits, bookings, revenue and other metrics can be tracked via the online tracking tool you use (like Google Analytics or SiteCatalyst) and these then can be clearly attributed to a specific channel, in this case – radio or TV. You will exactly know how many people were influenced to make a booking because of the radio ad or the TV ad. Vanity URL’s can also be used for social media campaigns, print ads or banners online and offline.

2. Tracking Codes
Tracking Codes is a fantastic technique to measure impact of primarily online channels. Tracking codes can be used on banners or links on your site or 3rd party sites, email blasts, all social media channels, PPC campaigns or QR codes. They are extremely easy to setup and your digital marketer can help you set them up for any of the channels. Tracking code is essentially a code that is attached to a URL that can be then linked to any online placement. A typical link with a tracking code looks something like this:
http://www.hotelname.com/offer?utm_source=email&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=febbrunch
In the link example above, everything after the ? is the tracking code. All the clicks, visits, bookings, revenue and other metrics can be tracked for the email blast banner for the February brunch via the online tracking tool you use (like Google Analytics or SiteCatalyst).

If you use Google Analytics, you can use the free URL builder tool for campaigns here: http://bit.ly/NiovWX
Here are some best practices from Google for creating campaign tracking codes: http://bit.ly/1f3xOjo

3. Unique Coupon or Offer Codes
The third method that you can use is coupons or offer codes for your offline and online campaigns. Let’s say you place an advertisement in a magazine, newspaper or SMS. In your ad include a unique coupon or offer code that is specific to that magazine, newspaper or SMS. For example, the code can be Offer1234mag for the magazine ad and Offer1234news for the newspaper ad. Whether the guest chooses to redeem the offer via telephone or online, ensure you put a tracking system in place for both the channels that is:
- Have the call takers or the receptionists trained to request for the offer code in case the guest chooses to call or walk-in directly.
- Have a field in the booking form to enter the offer code before a guest makes a online booking request.

The unique codes attributed to a specific offline channel can then be counted manually in case of direct offline/telephone bookings. In case of online bookings, the analytics tool that you use will have the ability to track the production or booking requests by channel offer code.

4. Unique Telephone Numbers
The fourth method that I propose here is a great way to measure online or offline campaigns where final bookings are made via telephone.

In case of offline campaigns, like Radio, TV or Print, you can assign a unique telephone number that customers can call and make a reservation directly. Ensure the telephone number is not published anywhere else, that way all bookings and revenue through calls on that telephone number can then be attributed to a specific offline channel.

If you want to keep it simple for online channels, you can apply the same method mentioned above and you can track bookings made by customers who after viewing your offer on the website made a call. But if you are a true marketing ninja, you would want to know how did the customer get to the website – via social media, search, email or display ads and attribute the ROI to that particular online channel.

How do you attribute a booking made on a telephone call to a specific online channel?
A solution to this is the Click to Call Technology. It is becoming quite common in non-hotel businesses and its time hotels start testing it extensively. The way it works is that a piece of Java Script needs to be added into the site backend. Now depending on which channel a visitor comes from to the site (PPC, Social Media, Email etc), the java script is intelligent to tweak the phone number to the one which is associated to that particular channel. For example, if a person comes from PPC Ad the number may show as +999901, if a person comes from social media the number may show as +999902, +999903 for display ads, +999904 for natural search and so on. These numbers essentially are linked to the same telephone number at your reservations centre, thus neither do you need one handset per channel nor do you need to make massive operational changes. The click to call technology then gathers the call data like callerID, length of the call & online channel source for all the assigned telephone numbers and marries it with Web Analytics data like Visits, Clicks, Bookings, Revenue etc. With this data in your Analytics tool, you are able to see which online channel generated how many telephone calls, the conversion rate and all other metrics. Here is a detailed overview video by Mongoose Metrics on how the system works:

5. Point of Sale Surveys
The fifth method is probably the most common and the heaviest in terms of operations. All you need to do is once the customer has experienced your product & service, say after dining in a restaurant, request him to fill up an experience feedback form. In the form, also ask the customer, how did he hear about you? The customers are likely to say via radio, TV, website, facebook or through a friend – depending where they heard about you. This is one of the very simplistic methods of attributing impact of channels on your business but yet a fairly effective one.

What tracking method you choose to use for a particular channel will always depend on various factors like your budget, available resources, market etc. To simplify what methods can be used for what channels, I have put together a table below – if you like it, download it and refer to it to make smart tracking decisions :)

tracking methods by marketing channel

Tracking methods by marketing channel for hotels – hotelmarketingsutra.com

If you as hotel marketers or hotel digital marketers are able to apply all or a combination of these 5 methods to effectively measure the impact of online and offline channels on online or offline sales, you will eventually understand which channels are the best for each market, season, offer type or segment. Assumptions like all telephone bookings at our hotel came due to the print and radio ads can be challenged. Test, analyse and optimize your efforts to become a true hotel marketing ninja!

Do you think I missed any point? Do you use any other methods for multi-channel analytics? Or do you have a tip to share? Please share your insights, critique, stories or helpful guidance via comments.

Thank you.

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