The demands on modern marketing professionals are great, and ever-increasing. As Google's digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik notes, "You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon)." It can seem overwhelming: search, social, display, email, mobile, and much more. But there is good news. One of the most vital areas that touches all of this - technical assessment of your digital marketing performance - is easily available at your fingertips to analyze and improve the customer experience.
The fact is that technical issues are a shared responsibility by your marketing and development teams. In my years of experience as a consultant, not some, but all marketing teams with a fluency in and operational structure to implement technical fixes came out ahead. At Google we recognize this and bake technical reports into tools that can be used by marketing and technology team members collaboratively. But as marketers, it's in all likelihood our responsibility to drive assessment and assignment to our technical teams to address.
Let's explore just a few reports that marketing professionals can use to take action immediately. These reports are in Google's tools, but I'd encourage you to look at similar data points no matter what you are using.
1. Site speed reports (page timings) in Google Analytics. At Google, we've found that faster sites make for a better user experience. No one on the consumer or business side likes waiting. According to research from Gomez, two-thirds (67 percent) of web users say they come across slow websites at least weekly and over a third (37 percent) say it makes them less likely to return to the site.
Google Analytics offers site-speed reports, which show your average page load time and assess at a glance how your site performs. While your technical team can get more details than this, and taking into consideration that site speed may vary by page (extremely content-rich pages will load slower), it's a quick and easy way to assess if performance is an issue. For example, this is a fairly acceptable average page load time:
If your average page load time looks like this, send kudos to your developers!
However, if your page load time looks like this, it's a huge opportunity to challenge them to do better:
How can you take action? Run PageSpeed Insights, which analyzes the content of your site and generates suggestions to make that page faster. Reducing page load times can reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates.
2. App crashes and exceptions report in Mobile App Analytics. Everyone has experienced an application on their mobile device crashing and the frustration that goes along with it. That's why App Crashes and Exceptions are key reports in the engagement section of Mobile App Analytics. This is the type of report that you'd want to see going "down and to the right" as your team iterates new versions of your app:
Sample Crashes and Exceptions report in Mobile App Analytics:
In these reports, your developers can dive in deeper to explore the app version causing issues, operating systems impacted, exception description, and more in order to pinpoint what went wrong and work to decrease crashes.
How can you take action? As a marketer, work with your development team to have an acceptable level of crashes and exceptions (they are of course not completely unavoidable) and monitor accordingly. If things seem to be headed downhill with new versions of your app or you're getting negative feedback, this is both a marketing and development problem to work on jointly. After all, there's nothing worse than putting in the work and dollars of marketing into an app only to suffer attrition later due to crashes.
3. URL errors in Webmaster Tools. There's nothing more frustrating than visiting a page you bookmarked to the perfect gift for a friend only to find that page is gone and the company didn't redirect you to a similar product or explain the situation. Inaccessible pages on your website provide a poor user experience and can result in the loss of customers, links, social shares, and traffic. Google Webmaster Tools provides a simple report of not found URLs to see exactly what pages are being crawled but no longer exist (and no action was taken to help users find this content after removal).
How can you take action? Once identified, it's easy to matrix out the issues in a spreadsheet and assign a next step to each one (ideally recreate the missing page at the same URL or 301 redirect missing pages to a "like" page).
These reports are just the start and a sample of the wealth of data your technical and marketing teams can use collaboratively. The bigger picture of where to go from here is to get your team to love embracing the technical with the creative aspects of marketing. In a digital-powered world this is a key advantage to win the web today and even more into the future.
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Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, a marketing, media and PR industry speaker, startup adviser and blogger. He previously was digital director for a 300+ person global consulting team and over the course of his career has provided online marketing strategy for B2B & B2C brands in a variety of industries including marketing technology, healthcare, manufacturing, advertising/subscription-based web startups, and much in between. Singer and his campaigns have been cited by top media outlets such as TechCrunch, AdWeek, NY Times and more for creative use of digital marketing and PR. Singer blogs at The Future Buzz - an award-winning blog with more than 25K subscribers and frequently-referenced source of what's new in digital marketing.
March 19, 2014