User behaviour Web metrics

Segmenting your ‘brand traffic’ in your web metrics

Here’s another web analytics 101 post for you.

One of the important segments for your web analytics are those visitors who come to your website intentionally because it is your website – not just because you have content for Texan monarchists on it.

If you are a museum then this segment is the one that is most influenced by your traditional marketing strategies as well as by what exhibitions and events you have on. In terms of Brownbill and Peacock (2007) these are your ‘visitors’ and ‘transactors’.

So how can you set up a filter to segment this group out in your analytics?

First, in setting up any segment you need to think about how this group might come to your site.

In this case there are five probable ways – directly to your URL, via a bookmark, via an online advertisement, via a third party link, or via a search containing your brand name as a keyword.

Next, you need to look at each of these and figure out how to measure them with the tools you have available.

Direct traffic – easy – they will already be a default segment.

Bookmark traffic – these will be captured as direct traffic and you won’t be able to separate them out as a percentage but that’s probably OK. If you are really hardcore then you might want to segment by landing page here so that those who have bookmarked your funny video of ‘cats in the museum’ get excluded (they’re there for the content, not the brand most probably).

Online advertising – easy. Use your campaign identifiers, track them, and pour in that traffic too.

Third party links – now things are getting harder because in our case the vast majority of third party link traffic (like all our site visitation) is content-related not brand-related. This content-related traffic comes from all sorts of websites, blogs, tweets, Facebook and other places that link directly to a piece of content not because of ‘us’ but because it is ‘good’, ‘funny’, etc. If there are some specific URLs you know have been doing work with then add them in too but I’d recommend not including Twitter, Facebook etc as they are often best addressed as a separate segment altogether.

Search – if you have a relatively unique brand then you can segment out the search traffic containing that brand keyword and add that in. If you are really serious about separating the wheat from the chaff then it might be wise to add another level of filtering which only counts search traffic for the keyword resulting in visits that look at more than one page. (The only problem here will be that you will potentially lose traffic that is coming for simple information like your address – especially if you have tailored a mobile version of your site optimised for mobile traffic.) If you have a generic brand like ‘Australian Museum’ then you are going to need to figure out particular combinations of keyword search as well as landing pages.

Then you want to look at the results further segmented by geography – ideally you’ll find that this segment matches the target geography of your advertising campaigns both online and offline.

If you’ve got a growing brand and you’ve done the segmentation correctly you should see an upward trend as well as significant difference in behaviour of this segment and that of ‘all visitors’.

Ideally this segment should make more conversions (whatever they might be), have a far lower bounce rate and, where relevant spend more time on your site and look at more pages. You also want to be checking that this segment goes to the parts of your site that have been specifically set up for them!

Fingers crossed, eh?

In case of the Powerhouse doing a simple 10 minute analysis on this segment revealed that it made up 15% of our traffic for the past 6 months. We have a site heavy on diverse content so this relatively low percentage is not unexpected – if I was a retailer or I had a museum website with predominantly ‘venue information’ then I’d be worried! Visitors in this segment spent 2x as much time on site, looked at 1.6x as many pages on average, and were 30% less likely to bounce. They were also 3x more likely to begin their visit at the home page and also far more interested in the exhibitions and visit information than the collection than other segments of visitor. They were also 50% more likely to be from Sydney. The time on site and page view ratios for that Sydney segment were even higher!

One reply on “Segmenting your ‘brand traffic’ in your web metrics”

Enjoyed the post Seb, thanks. We did something similar at the end of 2008 and found that the sub-brand we set up for our collections site was more or less non-existent to our audience – they were just interested in finding content relevant to their search (in Google). However we didn’t filter as much – will take some tips from the blog…

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