Be Careful Using Google Analytics to Manage Your Adwords Remarketing Lists

You’re likely are aware of the recent Google Adwords (AW) remarketing code updates, which are a great new way to manage remarketing segment lists. One of the biggest benefits with this update is the ability to use Google Analytics (GA) to manage your remarketing lists (assuming AW and GA are linked — which they always should be).

With the new remarketing functions, technically you no longer need to use a separate snippet of code for remarketing (the one you get from AW). It can all be done using GA with a slight modification to the Google Analytics tracking code (GATC). This is great from the standpoint of not needing have two separate scripts on the page (e.g. less scripts can help improve page load time).

However, you may want to think twice before you combine your remarketing script with the Google Analytics tracking code (at least for now, until there is a work around for the issue stated below).

At a very high level: The modification to the GATC includes a call to DoubleClick to install third party cookies. Unfortunately, there are browsers and antivirus software with third party cookie blocking settings on by default that stop any scripts with third party cookies from running. Therefore, by having the DoubleClick call in your GATC, any of these browser security functions or antivirus/malware software will stop the GATC from executing, and you’ll lose GA tracking entirely for that visitor. There are reports of 10-75% losses of GA data with this issue.

The crew at Lunametrics has an excellent article with more details on the issue, and a nice work around to figure out how much data you may be losing by combining the AW remarketing script with GATC: http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2012/07/30/adwords-remarketing-google-

The very simple way to avoid any data loss issues in Google Analytics is to continue using separate scripts until there is a workaround for this issue (i.e. The AW remarking script is separate from the GA script).

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Fundamental Website Visitor Behavior Principles

Use of Visual Elements vs. Text to Drive Engagement, Then Action: The goals of any web page are to engage and elicit action from a visitor (in that order). It is a common misnomer that people do not read web pages, which lead to designers over simplifying pages with too many images or rich content. People do, in fact, read web pages, but only after they have performed a logical scanning process and see elements such as images that are relevant to the information for which they are looking. The following content explains typical visitor behavior on any web page.

The use of visual elements (i.e. Images, videos, etc.) should be strictly for primary engagement purposes. Visitors only conduct a high-level scan during their initial arrival on a web page (the equivalent of blurring your vision). This is driven by human survival instincts; In effect, we are looking for things that can hurt or kill us (more details on this study: WhatMakesThemClick.com). Images/video, headlines and bulleted lists tend to be the most dominant visual elements on any web page, and thereby provide excellent visual anchor points for visitors as they begin to scan and process the page. Note that no text has actually been read by the visitor at this point.

Once visitors have a visual understanding of the page layout (primary engagement), they begin a secondary engagement process where they focus and process the images, headlines and bulleted lists shown on the page. Assuming these elements have continued to meet their expectations (e.g. Are relevant to the information for which they are looking), they begin reading more detailed content (e.g. Paragraphs). It is the detailed content in the paragraphs that provide the information needed by visitors to drive action (e.g. Purchase, sign-up or make a phone call to the sales team).

Visitors require relatively deep level of education regarding the offering before they will be comfortable with talking to a sales representative. In the end, text is what will convey the information needed to entice action from visitors on the pages (i.e. Purchase, sign-up or make a phone call). The text used in the wireframes was developed with direct-response copywriting techniques that use different font sizes, style and positioning in order to convey the necessary information. Furthermore, the techniques increase readability of the text by delivering large amounts of text in small digestible amounts and minimizing the visual complexity. The use of these techniques along with a balanced ratio of strategically placed images will provide the “engage, then act” behavior that leads to higher conversion rates.

Use of trust & credibility elements: Trust/credibility elements (e.g. Testimonials, “credability facts” and  payment security logos) are used throughout the wireframes in order to help reduce visitor anxiety. See key conversion insights slide for details on sources of visitor anxiety. The relative level of anxiety for every visitor will peak just before they complete a “committed action” on a page (e.g. Press a submit button on a form or buy button in a shopping cart). As such, trust/credibility elements typically work best in close proximity to the point of action (e.g. Submit button), and therefore are located near points of action such as phone numbers & form submission buttons.

Use of human faces: Web sites, by nature, are faceless documents, which introduces the need to use human faces that show visitors that there are real, good & honest people behind the website that they are viewing. The use of human faces (like any image) should be used to visually guide the visitors eyes to the desired content on the page (e.g. If the face looks at the content such as a bulleted list, then it is likely that the visitor will also look at the content). The use of human faces looking directly at the visitor will likely cause distraction and increase levels of anxiety since this approach, in effect, is similar to a real human standing over the visitor watching their every move.

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