If you’ve been to a marketing conference in the past year or so, or even read an article on the subject, you’ve probably heard someone ask, “What’s the ROI on social marketing?” (Alternate version: “What’s the value of a Like or a retweet?”) That’s what the new features in Google Analytics are trying to answer.
Given the increasing importance of social marketing and social network traffic, it was probably inevitable that the Google Analytics team would add social-focused reports. However, Group Product Manger Phil Mui says the new reports take a different approach than most social analytics products, which are more focused on “listening” — counting mentions, retweets, analyzing sentiment, and so on.
“Those are important metrics for sure,” Mui says. “But how do these metrics tie to the bottom line of a business? That’s what the CEOs most of the Fortune 500 folks that we talk with want to know.”
So companies using the new social reports can tell Google the goal that they’re interested in, whether it’s making a purchase, registering a user, or just having someone click on their about page. Then Google will show you not just how many visits are coming in from social networks (and which social networks in particular), but also how many of those social visits are “converting” to that goal. Mui says the reports also examine the impact that social networks have on a company’s “upper funnel” — in other words, the harder-to-measure cases where they don’t lead directly to a conversion, but may contribute indirectly. So if someone visits your website by following a link from Twitter, then returns in a week to buy something, Google will track that too.
Google can then assign a monetary value to both these “last interaction” and “assisted” conversions. That, in turn, helps companies decide whether the money they might be putting into a social marketing campaign on Facebook or Twitter is actually paying off.
There’s also an Activity Stream tab for tracking what people are saying about your company on social networks. It works with any social network that has connected to Google’s Social Data Hub. In the future, Software Engineering Manager Ilya Grigorik (who, along with some other members of the Google Analytics team, joined Google through the acquisition of social analytics service PostRank) says that other social sites could join, but for now, the big name on the hub is, of course, Google+. (Other participants include Digg, Disqus, and Reddit.)
Speaking of Google+, it’s hard not to notice the way that the social network seems to be creeping into Google’s other products. Mui says that in this case, Google wanted to make sure it followed its famous “do no evil” policy, which means that it provides “the most transparent measurements of the various social channels whether it is Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, or Delicious.” He adds that he’s confident that as Google+ matures and grows, “it’s going to be of value to a large number of merchants and advertisers.”
Update: I forgot to mention when this is actually going live. Google says it will be rolling this out over the next few weeks. Google Analytics users will find the new features under the Standard Reporting Tab.
Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including: Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Google+, the company’s extension into the social space. Most of its Web-based products are free, funded by Google’s highly integrated online advertising platforms AdWords and AdSense. Google promotes the idea that advertising should be highly targeted and relevant to users thus providing...
Google Analytics (GA) is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. The product is targeted towards marketers rather than webmasters and technologists. GA can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and even digital collateral such as links within PDF documents. Integrated with AdWords, users can optimize online campaigns by tracking landing page quality and conversions. Goals might include sales, lead generation, viewing a specific...
Phil is the Chief Product & Engineering Officer, EVP for Acxiom and is based in Foster City, CA. Phil used to be Group Product Manager for Google Analytics for many years. He has a Ph.D. (EECS) from MIT and a Masters (Management) from Oxford University where he was a Marshall Scholar. Prior to Google, Phil was an entrepreneur (founded and sold an early European display ads startup) and a bioinformatics researcher in Stanford.