Avinash, Analytics & Making Love To Keywords That Matter

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Day 1 at #SESCHI 2010 was brimming with familiar sites & sounds. Marketers clutching Starbucks cups & swag bags packed into a swank ballroom to claim seats for the Conference Welcome & Opening Keynote. The soothing hum of laptop fans, vibrating smart phones & the enormous projector looming before us was out-beat  by the hum of one very excited audience. We came to be educated & entertained, and fortunately for us the opening keynote was to be delivered by Avinash Kaushik– author, blogger, Analytics Evangelist @ Google & all-around awesomely energized speaker.

As the techno-dance music faded away, an epic thundering voice welcomed us to Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2010, and Avinash took the stage. aimClear live-tweeted the opening keynote this go-ground– read on for full coverage of the tasty food for thought.

“What the heck is search marketing?”
Avinash is surprised by how many people have little, lame, or no understanding of what search marketing is. The consumer-centric & the tool-centric views that can pervade marketing communities are sub-optimal at best, and can lead to disastrous (& avoidable) self-sabotage.

“When I see two divisions of the same company outbidding each other in the search space, it makes me want to shoot myself.” -Avinash

Clever & complete marketers move beyond these views and are able to behold the big picture of search marketing & translate that understanding into business success.

5 Main Components of Search Marketing

  • Keyword Discovery
  • Keyword Management & Analtyics
  • Keyword Bidding & Optimization
  • Website & Landing Pages
  • Business Outcomes

“So… you made love to the search engines. What came out of it?”
You’ve hit these 5 components & made sweet, sweet love to the search engines. But within the 5 main components of search marketing lie sub-components that must also be seriously considered.

  • Keyword Discovery
    • Web analytics
    • Competitive intelligence
    • (“If you’re not good at that first bucket, you will JUST SUCK at everything else.” -Avinash)
  • Keyword Management & Analytics
    • Who bids on what, when?
    • Audits
    • Historical performance
  • Keyword Bidding & Optimization
    • Adgroups
    • Keywords & phrases
    • Text & creative
    • Bids
    • Match types
  • Websites & Landing Page Optimization
    • Landing page mgmt
    • Testing & experimenting
    • Behavior targeting
    • SEM analytics
  • Business Outcomes
    • Direct revenue
    • Profit & margin
    • Net profit
    • Online impact
    • Offline impact

“It is astonishing to realize the *offline* impact of search marketing.” -Avinash

It’s Time To Diagnose: “How YOU Doin’?”
Invest time in some deep self-reflection of your own SEM efforts.

  • What are you doing really well?
  • What are you missing?
  • Prioritize accordingly.

“Sometimes you may find you do the basics well, but you stink at evolving.” -Avinash

Super Awesome SEM Tips from Avinash

  • Don’t obsess about tools.
  • Understand the true landscape.
  • Identify your gaps & opportunities.
  • Execute like crazy.

“Good only comes from Jesus & Allah & God if you execute like crazy.” -Avinash

Show That Hot Tail Some Love
The magic in search & analytics lies not within obsessing over the head of the keywords that drive traffic to a site… it comes from obsessing about the tail of keywords. The tail comes in the tens of thousands– in the head, there are only a handful of keywords to work with. Many marketers underestimate the amount of data at their disposal- they focus on top 10 rows– the top 10 keywords that drive traffic. But there’s so much more… sometimes, like, 20,000 more.

Finding Your Analytics Zen
With thousands upon thousands of lines of data in analytics, where do you focus? How can you physically view the data in a digestible way? Avinash tells us that the solution is so easy it will make us cry: Create Logical Filters! If you’re working in Google Analytics, scroll down… past the top 10 rows of keywords that drive traffic to your site. Apply logical filters that automatically sort all of your data by factors that matter in the big picture.”You can solve anything with a good algorithm,” Avinash says. These filters will allow you to discover the KWs that are doing exceptionally well for you. Then, make love to them.

Various Filters, What They Reveal, & The Magic of “Weighted Sort”
There are a ridiculous number of combinations you can apply to your data. Avinash suggests filtering & sorting by bounce rate.

  • Sort by highest to lowest bounce rate.
    • This will help you understand how many people come to your landing page & immediately throw up in their mouths.
    • These places suck. Fix these places!
  • Reverse sort to show where you’re NOT sucking.
    • Get an understanding of what you’re doing right.
    • Apply what you’re doing right to the places you suck.

When you sort, a “magic button” appears – click it & it applies a “weighted sort” to the data. As Avinash so eloquently stated, this feature sorts data by level of  “interestinglyness.” In other words, the algorithm helps you understand where, if you focus time & effort, you can expect the highest ROI.

For example, sort by conversion rate & click that magic “weighted sort” button. .The algorithm reveals the “most interesting keywords” you should focus on… if you do, you can expect the highest ROI.

“#omg” -Avinash

Expanding The Landscape: Tag Clouds & Keyword Trees

  • Tag Clouds are another useful way to help you visualize tens of thousands of lines of data. They can give a basic understanding of how your brand name is doing vs. the generic types of products / services you provide. Wordle.net – check it out. What do you do with the data? Avinash’s happy medium: leverage quantitative data & mash it up with qualitative analysis.
  • Keyword “Trees” are similar to tag clouds. Check out the plug-in offered by juice analytics. Enter a keyword & feast your eyes on the colorful crazy awesome “tree” of phrases connected to that keyword.

Tragically for Avinash, the keyword “metrics” doesn’t have a KW tree – it has a tiny bush, a shrub. “I write books about metrics!” cried Avinash. The silver lining in this grim discovery was that it encouraged Avinash to rethink his organic search strategy, rethink the way people went about finding information on “metrics.”

Moving Beyond The Top 10
“The top 10 rows of anything never changes,” says Avinash. In other words, the top ten data results for keywords, landing pages, products, referral sites, etc. are not a reliable sample of site performance on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis. “You’ve got to figure out how to live life beyond the top 10 rows.”

Getting a Green Light From the Boss
One of the first & most obnoxious social media obstacles marketers may face is actually getting the C-Suite on board.

In Avinash’s case, the C-Suite was (and still is) his wife.

By the time he comes home at from work at 6pm, spends time talking, reading & playing with his children, spends some *ehem* quality time with his wife, the only time Avinash has to blog is late at night. But when he pulls out his laptop to begin working, his wife turns to him & says, “Go to bed. If you don’t sleep, you’ll die.” To this he responds, “You should let me blog because… I’m kind of a big deal.”

But that isn’t reason enough for his boss wife to OK the investment in social media. The fact that Avinash is a “big deal” means nothing to her. The assertion has to be backed up by concrete data.

So, he grabs some basic data from Google Analtyics, goes to his wife and says, “You should let me blog because last month I had 73,000+ visits from 176 countries.”

Here, he provides actual data that proves the statement he made a few minutes ago is valid. Still, none of that data really translates in value to his boss wife. “You can’t just puke up data,” says Avinash, and expect people to understand the monetary benefits. You have to correlate this data to conversions, into something that matters.

Cultivating RSS Subscribers
To Avinash, RSS represents the ultimate form of “permission marketing.” It’s difficult to ever be accused of spamming folks when they go out of their way to subscribe to your feed. That level of willingness & commitment  is what makes those subscribers positively invaluable compared to the fleeting traffic attributed to mere “visits.” Put another way, “Eighty thousand visits to my blog are like one-night-stands,” explained Avinash. “But RSS subscribers are long term relationships… the ones worth having.

Quantifying  the Quality Data
When you quantify the economic value of the data gathered from Analtyics, you’re attributing monetary figures to otherwise ambiguous figures. By doing this, Avinash can finally go to his boss wife and say, “You should let me blog because last month I made 26k fake dollars.” To this, his boss wife does not say, “Go to bed” (aka: Give it up). She says, “Work harder.” Et voilà- the C-Suite is on board :) .

Setting Macro & Micro Site Goals
It is key to have one main goal for your site that is supported by a bunch of smaller goals. These macro & micro goals will help you quantify your data economically, help you put a $ amount to your data & ultimately help achieve the green-light from your boss. Echoing his advice from earlier, Avinash stresses that you should not obsess about fancy analytics tools, bur rather about economic value. “Breathe magic into your search campaigns,” he advises, “by putting numbers to analytics”– quantify the economic value, which is the goods you take to your boss. Speaking of goods… Avinash likes to say that “Revenue = Good. Economic Value = God.”

Intelligent Attribution
Arguably the most bleeding edge of analytics is intelligent attribution. Say people come to your site via Google- logic says you should spend $ on organic SEO. But life’s not that simple. Not only are there a lot of channels, there are a lot of touch points through which people arrive at your site. How can you decide where to allot your credit and divvy out marketing dollars? For many, this can be a big problem.

“Should we freak out and cry like a little girl?” Avinash asks. No. Be calm & be smart about how you approach a problem.

A tip on getting started: generate an analytics report illustrating how many visits to your site does it take for someone to convert. This report will show you A) If you have a problem and B) Where the problem is. Now you can deal with the problem, if it exists, intelligently.

4 Touchpoint Credit Models

  • The First Come, First Serve Model- “Giving most credit to the first touch point is like giving credit to my first girlfriend for me marrying my wife.” -Avinash
  • The Berkley Kumbaya Model –  Giving every touch point credit is not an effective use of your marketing $s.
  • The MCU (Make Crap Up) Model – Assigning credit / marketing dollars arbitrarily is just as ineffective.
  • Avinash’s Model- Assigns significant % of credit to last touchpoint, & distributes the rest of credit based on a sophisticated algorithm contingent upon the amount of money they spent in a transaction.

And with that, Avinash wrapped up the session and in doing so, set the bar to “awesome” at #SESCHI 2010. Stay tuned for more coverage here in aimClear Blog, and of course, follow the aimClear team’s live-tweets from @aengleson (Alyssa), @lindsaylorraine (Lindsay) & @beebow (yours truly).

  • Dana Lookadoo

    Lauren, excellent coverage! I had little time to look at Twitter today, and guess who’s stream I scanned today? YOURS!

    This was so well done. And how fast do you type??? You captured this as if it were a replay. Thank you!

  • Lauren Litwinka

    @Dana – Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment – honored to be bringing you coverage from this tip-top event. One of these days… one of these days, we will be at the *same* event, and we shall high-5!

  • Dana Lookadoo

    Lauren, I so look forward to IRL at the same conference as you!

    I’m especially glad you covered this keynote. This was so good, it deserved a Thumbs Up on StumbleUpon!

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Great coverage of the session. There were some great tips here. I was especially enjoying the bit on getting the green light from the boss, and how true is it that they the “boss” needs to see quantifiable results in order to understand that the efforts do pay off. We run into that almost daily, where clients need proof of value of their efforts.

  • Dan Mandle

    Proof of the point about Long Tail power: I’m reading this post months after the event. VERY detailed summary. It might just make me find the Hour A Day I need to read Avinash’s Web Analytics book. Thank you for the inspiration.

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