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Web Analytics Meet Search Marketing

Niel Bornman and Wayne Lieb
Web Analytics Meet Search Marketing Niel Bornman and Wayne Lieb

Search engine marketing is one of the fastest-growing and largest discrete segments in the world of online marketing. Put simply, search has become the online marketer's acquisition tool of choice.

Yet many marketers do not have access to the site side information that will allow them to optimize their search campaigns so that they can efficiently drive the maximum amount of conversions from search.

Anyone can submit a site to a search engine or start a paid search campaign. The trick is to understand what happens between a click and a conversion. This is where web analytics -- and the way it is integrated with search engine marketing -- comes into the picture. 
It is easy to test multiple landing pages and determine which delivers the higher conversion rate. But, without web analytics you cannot tell why one variable works better than another. 

As an example, an ecommerce site selling multiple products may find customers coming to their site through one keyword and purchasing a totally different product. The search marketer generally considers one or all of these options to optimize the campaign:

  • Change creative

  • Change the landing page

  • Stop spending search dollars on the product whose keyword didn't lead to a sale

The search marketer should look at web analytics to get a deeper understanding of why the cross sell occurred. Without knowing the attrition rate of the landing page and conversion path of successful purchases, all decisions the search marketer makes are based on assumptions.

Increase your search marketing ROI by focusing on the 99 percent that didn't convert

Final search data gives you a view of the people who converted and your ROI. If your conversion rate is 1 percent and your ROI is positive, you are probably happy with your search marketing campaign. But what about the other 99 percent?

Only web analytics can provide you with a deeper level of understanding of the 99 percent of clicks that didn't convert.  Did the viewers leave immediately? Did they browse through the site? How long did they spend browsing? What path did they take? What other products where they interested in? What were the attrition rates on visited pages?

These insights will enable you to fine-tune your website and increase the performance of your search marketing campaigns.

Of course, not all web analytics tools are able to integrate search marketing and web analytics data. Marketers have grown to depend on tools with limited scope. Some don't offer search marketing integration, and others cannot provide data across multiple search engines.

What this means is that many search marketers are failing to understand what happens between a click and a conversion; they are missing the "why" which underlies the final quantitative search data.

Niel Bornman founded a web application development company, in 1998 before moving on to IT management at a large online publisher. Niel recently joined Acceleration as Director of Web Analytics.

Wayne Lieb specializes in online search marketing and media planning. He has worked closely with large global companies on the strategy, implementation and optimization of their online marketing initiatives. Lieb is the Search Marketing Director at Acceleration.


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