Tuesday, October 12, 2010 | 12:22 PM
Michael Fox is a co-founder of Shoes of Prey, an online retail store that allows you to design women's shoes online, which are then handmade and shipped to you. Michael blogs about running Shoes of Prey at the business blog www.22michaels.com.
At Shoes of Prey we use a combination of Google Analytics and Google Alerts to keep tabs on which blogs and websites are writing about us. As a newly-formed startup, we rely heavily on positive buzz about our products, so staying up-to-date on these sites is crucial.
One of the ways I keep up with online buzz is by regularly checking our traffic sources and Google Analytics Intelligence Alerts to see which blogs are sending us the most valuable converting traffic. For the time-poor analyst, Intelligence Alerts is as good as having a personal assistant. Analytics Intelligence constantly monitors your website's traffic. Anytime your traffic patterns change significantly, such as a dip in traffic from a particular country, it adds an automatic alert to your Intelligence reports.
For us, a conversion is a successfully placed order for a new pair of shoes. We constantly monitor the Intelligence Alerts reports to look for unusual spikes in overnight traffic from referring sites. Since the web moves at light speed, we want to ensure that we are speaking to people writing about us as soon as they publish and not a week or two later (that’s 2 months in web years!).
We contact our top referring blogs with the goal of working with them to run follow-up articles. Google Analytics makes it easy to identify our top referring blogs. I look at the Traffic Sources > Referring Sites report, switch over to our Goals/Ecommerce tab, and sort by Conversion Rate/Revenue. The blogs at the top of the list are ones that we think are valuable partners and worth our time investment.
We don’t, however, always rely on conversion rates. One issue for us is accurately tracking our conversion funnel. Since we use PayPal for payment processing, only about half of our customers end their purchase on our “thank you” page, which is the end of our conversion funnel in Google Analytics. To get a complete picture of our conversion rates, we also review traffic and time on site to get a feel for which referring sites work best.
We recently did this with the wedding blog Polka Dot Bride. Within a week of our launch in October last year, Polka Dot Bride wrote about our site and we received a significant volume of traffic and sales from the article.
When we recently launched our range of wedding shoes, we followed up with Polka Dot Bride. We knew that their audience would be receptive and it was a natural choice to partner with them. Together we ran a competition for their readers to design and win a pair of wedding shoes on Shoes of Prey. This helped kick start the launch of our range of wedding shoes, and we're seeing great sales as a result.
In a nutshell, I highly recommend that you review your Intelligence Alerts reports on a daily basis. So much happens around us that we don’t always know, and Intelligence Alerts allows us to become aware of these “unknown unknowns” and make sure we’re responding effectively.
Naturally we will be closely monitoring whether this article generates buzz and sales for us. I will be interested to see whether visitors who clicked through from this article end up designing Google Analytics-themed orange and blue heels :)