How To Use Social Reports in Google Analytics To Analyze Specific Blog Posts or Content [Tutorial]

Social Reports in Google Analytics

In March of this year, Google Analytics released a set of new reports for measuring the effectiveness of traffic from social networks.  It was a great addition and provides some valuable information about how social is affecting your business.  For example, you can view social referrers, content that received traffic from social networks, view conversations across certain social networks, view conversion data (including last click and assisted attribution), how social visitors flow through your site, and more.

One question I keep getting from business owners is how to easily analyze a piece of content they are tracking?  For example, let’s say a certain blog post went live recently, was heavily shared across social networks, and ended up driving a lot of traffic.  What if you want to isolate that page and view data via GA’s social reports?  Well, you can absolutely do that, and I’m going to walk you through some of the core insights you can glean from the reporting.  Let’s get started.

Isolating a Blog Post or Piece of Content
For this tutorial, I’m going to use a recent post of mine, which ended up being popular within the search marketing industry.  Last month, I attended the Google Agency Summit and found out that the old Google Wonder Wheel’s engine actually drives the Contextual Targeting Tool.  The Wonder Wheel was a great tool for finding related searches, based on actual Google data, and many in my industry loved using it.  Needless to say, search marketers were thrilled to find out the functionality can still be found in the Contextual Targeting Tool.  The post ended up getting shared quite a bit on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.  Let’s take a look at the social reporting for this post.

You can isolate a page in two ways via social reporting in Google Analytics.  The first way is from the overview page, and the second way is from the Pages report.  Let’s jump to the Pages report, which will list your top content receiving traffic from social networks.  You can access this report by clicking “Traffic Sources”, “Social”, and then “Pages”.

The Pages Report in Google Analytics Social Reports

At this point, you will see a list of pages from your site, along with key metrics like visits, pageviews, time on site, data hub activities, etc.  I’ll cover what data hub partners are in a second.  For now, find the page you want to analyze and click the URL.  For me, I’m going to click the URL for my Google Wonder Wheel post, which had 1040 visits from social networks from June 20th through June 30th.

After clicking the URL, the Social Referral tab is the default view.  Here, you can view the social networks driving the most traffic to the post, along with viewing trending for all traffic versus trending for social traffic.  In addition, the primary dimension in the report is “Social Network”, which as I mentioned above, will display a list of social networks driving the most traffic to this specific post.  For me, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ drove the most traffic to this post over the 10 day period.

Social Networks in Social Reports

Social Actions and Data Hub Partners
If you click the “Social Network and Action” dimension, you will see Data Hub Activities for the post. Data Hub partners are social networks that have chosen to share additional information with Google so users of Google Analytics can view that data within Google Analytics reporting.  The activity stream from data hub partners can provide rich information that can be organized and viewed via Social Reports.

Unfortunately, some of the big players in Social are not participating, like Facebook and Twitter.  This means you will only get basic data in your reporting from these networks.  Current Data Hub partners include Google+, Delicious, Blogger, Disqus, Diigo, Pocket, etc.  You can tell which social network is a data hub partner since there will be a data hub icon next to participating networks.  See the icon below.

Data Hub Partners in Social Reports

Back to our example.  If you click the “Social Network and Action” dimension, you can analyze Data Hub activities for specific pieces of content.  For example, you can view Google+ posts, +1’s, reshares, bookmarks from Delicious, Pocket saves, etc.  You can also view a graphical breakdown of the data hub activities to the right.  Again, I wish more social networks were data hub partners, so you could get a full view of activities like tweets, likes, etc. from major networks like Twitter and Facebook.  That said, this is still valuable, and we’ll get more granular next.

Data Hub Activities in Social Reports

Activity Stream and Special Treatment for Data Hub Partners
You can click the Activity Stream tab to view specific data hub activities across social networks.  Sure, it’s cool to see top-level activity like we’ve seen so far, but the activity stream gets much more specific.  When clicking the tab, you will see actual conversations and events from across data hub partners.  The default tab is the Conversations tab, which will display shares and comments from data hub actions. You will see specific users, their shares, what they wrote when sharing the content, resharing, or commenting on a post.   For example, you can view Google+ and Diigo information below for my Wonder Wheel post.

Activity Stream in Social Reports

It’s important to note that while analyzing the activity stream (starting with conversations), you’ll notice some great functionality for Google+ content.  For example, you can click a person’s photo to view their G+ profile and there are icons that let you know if the person shared an update, reshared someone else’s update, or commented on a G+ update.  Then you can click the dropdown arrow on the far right to view additional information, including the Google+ ripple for the piece of content, you can view specific shares on G+, etc.  This is awesome data, as you can find influencers, view their posts about your content, view +1’s from other G+ users, etc.

Viewing additional data for data hub partners.

The Power of Ripples
In particular, viewing the Google+ Ripple for a specific URL reveals incredible data.  I’ve written previously about how to analyze G+ Ripples, and you should definitely check out that post.  Ripples enable you to see how your content was shared across Google+, from user to user.  You can also view influencers, sharing sequences, links to each public Google+ post, view shares over time, etc.  Spend some time with Ripples… you can find some incredible information.

Viewing Google Plus Ripples for Specific URL's

Events in Activity Stream
The second dimension in the Activity Stream report is Events.  By clicking this dimension, you can view additional information beyond just the conversations people are having about your content.  For example, you can view data hub partner events like +1’s, delicious bookmarks, pocket saves, trackbacks, etc.  I’ll cover more about trackbacks shortly, but this was a cool addition by Google recently.

Similar to what we did earlier, using the dropdown arrow on the right side enables you to see the actual activity on each social network.  For example, selecting “View Activity” for a delicious bookmark takes you to the actual bookmark page.  Here, you can view the profile of the person bookmarking your content, view comments, etc.  This is a great way to understand what people are saying about your content, find influencers, connect with similar people, etc.

Events in Social Reports in Google Analytics

Quick Tip:
By clicking the social network logo in the events list for any action, you can link to a page that shows all activity from that specific social network.  For example, clicking the delicious icon in the screenshot below, you will be taken to all delicious events for this specific piece of content.

A Note About Twitter
I mentioned earlier that you can only get advanced level data from Data Hub Partners.  That’s true (and unfortunate), but there is some additional data you can get from Twitter.  If you click the the link for Twitter when viewing social networks in your reporting, you will see a list of links (shortened links from Twitter).  If you move fast enough, you can enter those shortened URL’s in Twitter Search to view the actual tweets.  Then you can check out each Twitter user to find influencers, follow them, engage them, etc.  Twitter Search does not go back very far, so you’ll need to move fast.  You can also use a number of third party tools to mine Twitter data, but that’s for another post. :)

Analyzing Tweets via Social Reports in Google Analytics

If you click back to the Social Referral tab, and click the “Social Referrers” dimension, you might see “Trackbacks” listed in the report.  Note, you might have to use the rows dropdown at the bottom of the report to reveal additional rows to view trackbacks.  If you click the “Trackbacks” link, and then click the Activity Stream tab, you will see inbound links that Google Analytics picked up.  Trackbacks will display links to your content from outside your site (inbound links).

Viewing trackbacks in social reports

From this report, you can view the pages linking to your content by clicking the link icon next to the URL, or by clicking the arrow dropdown and clicking “View Activity”.

Trackbacks are a Great Addition, But Not Perfect
It’s important to understand the links that your content is building on several levels.  First, you can start to understand what people are saying about your content, what types of sites are linking to you, understand the authors of that content, what the comments are saying, etc.  That’s all really useful information.  Second, you want to understand the SEO power of those links. Are they relevant websites, is the content high quality, is it a spammy website, etc?  Third, you can absolutely use this intelligence to connect with influencers, whether that’s the blog author, or people commenting.  And no, this isn’t as robust as using Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO Tools, Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, etc., but it’s nice having this data in Google Analytics.

Social Conversion Data for Specific Content
GA’s Social Reports include a valuable conversion report that displays the last click and assisted conversions from social networks. This is important data to analyze, since you can understand how social networks impact conversion (by directly impacting conversion and/or assisting conversion).

But, the social conversion report is not broken down by content.  In order to get that data, you would need to create an advanced segment for social traffic, then view top landing pages with that segment active.  Then you can analyze the conversion impact of visits to that piece of content from social networks.  At a top-level view, it’s great to see conversion data from each social network, but if you are laser focused on a specific piece of content, then the standard social reports won’t really help you.

Summary – Get Social with Google Analytics
As you can see, Social Reporting was a great addition for Google Analytics.  It’s ultra-important to understand the impact of social traffic, what’s being shared across social networks, which influencers are sharing your content, who is engaging that content, etc.  It’s also important to analyze specific pieces of content that are being actively shared across social networks.  I hope this post explained more about how to find and analyze data for a specific post.  But like anything else in digital marketing, you need to test it out for yourself!  So target a piece of content, fire up Google Analytics, and hit the social reports.  Good luck.


Local Remarketing – 6 Remarketing Strategies for Local Businesses

AdWords Remarketing Strategies for Local Businesses

Have you ever visited a website, researched a product or service, and then left only to see that company’s ads as you browse the web?  I bet you have.  That’s remarketing in action, and it’s darn powerful when implemented correctly.  Sure, there can definitely be a creepy factor, since users are being followed around the web, but getting your messaging back in front of people that already visited your site is a very smart move.

Using remarketing in AdWords, you can tag specific visitors to a certain page, or section of pages, and then remarket to them as they browse the Google Display Network (GDN).  The GDN includes any site running Google Ads, and includes Google properties like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, etc. It reaches approximately 80% of all web users.  It’s also important to note that you can use both image ads and text ads across the Google Display Network.  This gives you more creative options than just text ads like in Search.

Remarketing for Local Businesses
When you think about remarketing campaigns, it makes complete sense to think about ecommerce retailers.  Prospective customers visit category or product pages, and left without converting. Maybe they even added items to their shopping cart, but left without completing a purchase.  It’s smart to get targeted messages back in front of those people, like special deals, offers, etc.  So it makes sense for ecommerce retailers, but what about other types of businesses?  Can they also utilize remarketing to increase sales?  You bet they can, and I’m going to tackle remarketing for local businesses in this post.

As consumers research local businesses, they might visit several different websites during their research.  Tagging visitors that hit your own site, and then getting your message back in front of those prospective customers, can be the difference between just another visit and a paying customer.   And when local is heavily influenced by word of mouth, that one new customer can actually turn into 5, or more.

How Remarketing in AdWords Works

By the way, you should check out my post about how to set up a remarketing campaign if you are interested in launching campaigns like this.  I also published a post about using custom combinations to exclude visitors that already converted.  But don’t visit those posts yet.  Read more about how local businesses can utilize remarketing first, and then you can follow those tutorials to get up and running quickly. :)

A Note About Timing and Membership Duration
For certain types of local businesses, consumers will inherently act fast.  For example, if there is an immediate problem someone is having with their home, then you might only have a few days to land that customer.  Then there are other local businesses that aren’t as time-sensitive, and you’ll have much longer of an opportunity to get back in front of them.

It’s Important to Tailor Membership Duration for Local Remarketing:

Membershiup Duration in AdWords Remarketing

For example, a plumber or electrician might only have a few days, while a karate school or day care center might have longer.  In order to tackle timing issues, you can adjust the membership duration of your remarketing list to shorter or longer during the setup phase. The membership duration tells AdWords how long someone should remain on your remarketing list after being tagged on your site.  For example, you might set a membership duration of just 10 days for the plumber example I mentioned earlier, but 90 days for a daycare center.

Remarketing Strategies for Local
Now that we’ve covered timing, let’s talk about local remarketing strategies.  Again, we have the ability to tag certain visitors (or all visitors), and then provide targeted ads in front of that audience as they browse the web.  It’s important that you analyze the various types of visitors hitting your site, understand the campaigns you are currently running, etc. before implementing a remarketing campaign for local.  Those considerations can absolutely help you tailor your efforts, and drive higher performance.

Below, I’ve listed several ways that local business can implement remarketing campaigns.  Note, this does not include every possible way to implement remarketing, but can definitely get you moving in the right direction.  Let’s begin.

1. Starting Broad – Remarket to All Site Visitors
This is obviously the broadest strategy, but can still work.  This involves tagging every visitor to your local site, and the remarketing to them as they browse the Google Display Network.  It’s definitely smart to get back in front of people that were interested in your business, but the messaging won’t be as targeted as the other approaches I’ll list below (since you didn’t isolate pages or sections).

If you are new to remarketing, then this is a good way to start.  With regard to your ad creative, you can punch your current deals, packages, etc.  And just to clarify, your remarketing ads will only be shown to your remarketing list, which includes people that already visited your site.  Definitely make sure to include a strong call to action, which applies to all strategies I’m including in this post.  For example, ask them to act.

Conversion-wise, using the site-wide approach, you won’t be excluding visitors that converted already.  This can lead to an awkward experience for customers, as you are still advertising to them even though they converted.  To alleviate this situation, you can use custom combinations to exclude customers that converted already.  That said, you can only use this approach if you have a hard conversion on your site (like someone filling out a contact form, or buying something).  If you don’t, then there’s not an action you can use to trigger “conversion”.  For example, you can’t easily exclude someone picking up the phone and calling your business, or someone walking in…

2. Tagging Contact Page Visitors (AKA, Your Local “Shopping Cart”)
For many local businesses, the contact page is an extremely important page on their websites.  Since they are local, visitors will often check out the contact page to find the address, phone number, directions, etc.  I’ve helped some local businesses build remarketing campaigns using this page as the trigger, and it can work well.  By tagging this page, you can provide targeted messaging to visitors that you know visited your contact page.

Remarketing to Visitors of Local Contact Pages:

Remarketing to visitors of a local contact page

For local businesses, this is the equivalent of someone adding an item to their shopping cart on an ecommerce site.  Theoretically, they are more targeted than the average visitor, so you definitely want to get back in front of them.  You might be more aggressive with your messaging and calls to action.  Maybe you’ll provide an incentive in your ads to get members of that audience to convert.  Note, you can test various ads to see which ones perform best.  This can help you better understand the messaging that works best for the audience (people that already visited your contact page).  Also, since you can use image ads across the Google Display Network, you can test visuals, as well as just text ads.

If you have a contact form on your website, make sure you use a custom combination (mentioned earlier) to exclude those visitors from your remarketing list.  Since they already “converted”, they shouldn’t be on your remarketing list.  That’s unless there’s some other type of messaging you want to provide to that audience.  For example, you might choose to drive return customers by providing special messaging and incentives to them as they browse the web.  This is why it’s important to map out a solid remarketing strategy before pulling the trigger.

3. Tag Deals and Special Offers
Many local businesses provide deals and special offers.  If you provide these deals on specific pages, you can tag those visitors by deal or sale.  Then you can remarket to them with messaging specific to the page they visited.  You know they are interested in your company, and you know they were interested in your deal or offer, and you can use that combination to craft targeted ads to get them back to your website.

Remarketing to Visitors of Special Offers Pages:

Remarketing to visitors of a special offers page.

For example, maybe you are providing a package deal where customers can get 30% off your cleaning service if they buy a package of four cleanings.  If you know someone visited that special offer page, you can provide ads punching the offer to that specific audience as they browse the Display Network.  And again, you can use both image and text ads.

Quick Example: I have a client that recently launched a remarketing campaign based on a special offer they were running.  They had several new customers explain to them that the ads they saw around the web drew them back to the site. The only ads this client was running were remarketing ads, so the new sales were assisted by their use of remarketing in AdWords.  There you go, ROI from remarketing. :)

4. Tag Campaign Landing Pages
Similar to what I listed above, you can remarket to people that visited one of your sale pages.  For example, having a Labor Day Sale where you are providing 20% off everything in your store?  If prospective customers have visited that sale page, you can tag them and then remarket to them as they browse the web.

Remarketing to Visitors of Local Sale Pages:

Remarketing to visitors of a local sale page.

This can be extremely important, since many people will research products before pulling the trigger.  Let’s say they left your site, and visited YouTube to view video reviews of the products you sell.  Using remarketing, you can provide ads to this audience as they view videos on YouTube.  Again, this is a smart way to use remarketing, since your ads can punch your 20% off store-wide sale.  Since you are a local businesses, you can mention your location, a strong call to action, and possibly even an additional incentive to get them to the store.  The sky’s the limit with what you can do.

5. Tag Your Mobile Site
With mobile booming, many businesses are starting to provide a user experience tailored for mobile visitors.  For example, you can redirect visitors to a mobile version of your site, you can format your content on the fly for mobile devices, etc.  For local businesses, this can be extremely important since prospective customers might be on the go, quickly looking for phone numbers, directions, store hours, etc.  You can also provide mobile-formatted campaign landing pages for specific sales.

Remarketing to Mobile Visitors:

Remarketing to local mobile visitors.

You can absolutely tag mobile visitors just like desktop visitors.   Since they visited your mobile pages, you have some additional intelligence about them.  You know there’s a good chance they were on the go, that they probably didn’t view all of your product pages, that they might not have been able to research all of the specifics of each product, and they might not have viewed your videos.  Again, you know what your mobile pages provide, so you know what this audience could have missed.

Using remarketing, you can make sure you get your ads back in front of these people (on their desktop systems).  Targeted ads can include copy and visuals that punch the desktop functionality and content.  You might include messaging about your product videos, high resolution photos of products, customer reviews, etc.  Make sure they know they can find all of that rich content by revisiting your site.   And since everything is trackable, you can understand the impact of reaching this audience via remarketing.

6. Bonus: Tag Prospective Customers That Call You
Many local businesses would love to get their ads in front of people that call them directly, but that’s hard to achieve.  Here’s a workaround.  As they call, make sure you get their email address.  You can then send a follow up email thanking them for calling, and providing a special offer that they can access via a specific URL.  You can then tag those visitors as they view the special offer page.  Note, this page should be isolated from your other pages, since you want to make sure only prospective customers that call will be on the remarketing list.  If you do, then you can tailor specific ads for people that called, with the goal of turning them into paying customers.

Summary – Remarketing for Local
As I explained earlier, remarketing is not just for ecommerce retailers.  Local businesses can absolutely utilize remarketing campaigns as well.  I recommend mapping out a strong remarketing strategy, based on your specific business.  Understand your sales and offers, and get back in front of visitors that show interest.  If you are new to remarketing, start by tagging all visits to your site.  Then as you get more comfortable with how remarketing works, you can expand to more specific campaigns (like sale pages, contact pages, offers, etc.)

In closing, there’s a reason why remarketing has taken off.  It works.  Now it’s your time to leverage remarketing to drive more local customers.  Go ahead, set up your first campaign now.