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Analytics for Error Pages

404 error
404 error

Have you ever ran a campaign analysis and found that you had a 0% conversion rate?
Are you seeing a large decrease in return visitors to a part of your site that should be increasing?
Have people stopped logging in suddenly?
Are you seeing self referrals and other click path abnormalities?

Error – your website is broken

While working for TELUS as Voice of Customer Prime, I was charged with the duty of collecting and managing all feedback from and the app portals. One of the first things I noticed about the opt-in page feedback – this is where a visitor pro-actively wants to tell us something – was that there were many comments from error pages. Most of these pages were 500 Internal Server error pages or 404 Page Not Found error pages. These server generated error pages were not even captured by our web analytics tool. No tracking code on them at all!

Tag managers are not often configured to deal with these dynamic error pages. Large websites often use multiple platforms, so it’s important to audit each area and make sure that tracking code is being inserted into all the server generated pages.

Canary In The Coal Mine

If your not tracking error pages, that’s quite a hole for visibility into the health of your website. There are three things I want you to take away from this article.

  1. Website health relies on a number of tracking tools, not just click analytics
  2. Opt-in feedback is gold for fixing usability problems. Let people tell you how much your website/app sucks. Encourage that! Then act on the feedback to fix and optimize.
  3. Tracking errors and making these reports visible to everyone on your digital team can save you money and save your customers from frustration. It’s the canary in the coal mine.

Google Data Studio

Google announced a free version of Data Studio at this year’s Google Ads & Analytics Innovations Keynote that will allow you to create and share beautiful interactive reports from multiple data sources.

Data connectors for the Google Ad and Analytics ecosystem let you pull that data (AdWords, BigQuery, Google Analytics, Google Sheets, Youtube Analytics) into Data Studio. You can also pull in data from other sources, although I’m not sure if that will be just through Google Sheets, the cloud SQL connector or other pre-built connectors.

This tool will compete with other visualization tools such as: Domo, Tableau, Klipfolio, Chartio, Cyfe

Google Data Studio is a completely new, free version of Data Studio 360 that we’re launching today! Starting now, anyone can use Data Studio to create up to 5 reports with unlimited sharing, editing and collaboration. We’re starting the BETA in the U.S. and rolling out to other regions throughout the year.”

Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio Beta (free version) is not available in Canada yet


Here is the Introduction to Google Data Studio video:

Data Lens

Data Lenses
Lenses used to derive insights from data.

We are finally at the tipping point where data strategy is the focus for new business ventures. Hooray! I’m not just talking about the tech world. Sure, there are still a few laggards in the digital industry that have recently realized the need to mature their data strategy…and that’s one reason people like us are so busy.

As a digital marketing consultant I’ve worked to mature the data strategy of many small businesses and large corporations. I’ve grouped them into a few buckets here:

Some–> Don’t collect any data–> Completely blind
Many–> Have data but no insights–> Therefore no action
Few–> Using this data to drive tactical changes–> Therefore no optimization
Too few–> Using data to optimize all aspects of their business–> Growth limited to specific areas

By the same token, there are a few businesses that have insights, but don’t have a strategy that allows them to connect the economic motivation for change. This is a failure to communicate the value of recommendations. It’s not for lack of hard work or focus; It’s often because they lack the resources and bandwidth. Ultimately, that’s where vendors and digital marketing consultants like myself can fill the gaps.

The Analogy

The maturity of a company’s data strategy can be compared to lenses of different sizes.

Eye Glasses – See & endeavour – Readiness

Don’t be blind. Without the basic ability to see the data, you won’t know what is working and what is not working.

Enablers: Basic digital analytics implementation and dashboards with basic measures

Telescope – Observe the macro – Directional

Use this lens for looking back in time to see trends and set goals for the future. If your telescope is powerful enough you can peer into the trends of your industry and see how you trend against your competition.

Enablers: Conversion tracking, marketing research data

Microscope – Study and experiment with the micro – Tactical

This lens is for looking at the details associated with the mechanics.
Done right, you will be able to derive immediately actionable insights to promote growth of good seeds and quash the growth of poisonous spores.

Enablers: A/B testing, micro-conversion tracking, segmentation, conjoint analysis

Google Glass – Put everything in context with augmented reality – Tactical

Now you are looking at information in context instead of disparate insights. Qualitative data is ultra-useful for optimizing all aspects of the business, yet too few have a data strategy which allows insights from this data source to be used effectively across the whole organization. Get data out of the silo and stop data hoarding!

Enablers: internal ratings, feedback & research programs, external reviews and ratings data


All these lenses will be used to generate insights. The key enabler to science, including marketing science, is observation. Improve your observational powers and you will enable better analysis.

You are limited or enabled by the maturity of your data strategy.
In your case, which is it?

Marketing Is Like Physics

Marketing is like Physics
Marketing is like Physics

I was inspired to write this article while listening to Lawrence Krauss explain the history of physics from Plato to the Large Hadron Collider.

Krauss began by talking about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and how advances in science are uncovering reality, like an unchained prisoner exploring outside the cave for the first time. Measurement techniques are changing in physics and marketing! My takeaway for marketers – when it’s not possible to measure directly through current means, then innovate and measure indirectly. Carry out experiments to test your model. Observe the effects of your campaign particles directly or through other means.

Copernican view of the Customer

I encourage you to read about Nicolaus Copernicus if you are not familiar with his contributions to science and his struggles along the way.

Some companies are steeped in tradition (just like some Churches) and have refused to get on the Cluetrain. Some marketers find themselves in the same position as Copernicus. Customers do not revolve around brands, brands revolve around customers. You are not the center of your customer’s galaxy. Customers are at the center of your galaxy, and there are lots of other brands that are revolving around them too so be careful not to fall out of orbit or …Continue reading “Marketing Is Like Physics”

Web Marketing Governance

Web analytics governance is just one facet, one team, in the bigger picture of web marketing governance.
While web analytics governance is exclusive to the team responsible for the tool and
(sometimes) reporting, web marketing governance is about getting the whole marketing department aligned.

Web Marketing Governance example

Team – Process
Marketing – creates the ads and the business success measures
Ad Operations – Flights the ads with tracking codes
Web Analytics – Implements and maintains tracking tool
Business/Web Analyst – Generates reports and insights

At the level of web marketing governance, we are talking about the management of the people and processes from campaign creation to operation and executive reporting levels.

Governance, at the very least, should answer these basic questions: …Continue reading “Web Marketing Governance”