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How to Use Yahoo! Search Marketing Analytics to Improve Your Campaign Performance

Mar 22, 2008
If you are going to be successful running Yahoo! Search Marketing campaigns for your business, then you must use analytics to measure the performance of various elements of your campaigns. For instance, you need to know which keywords generate the most conversions. This will allow you to allocate your budget to those keywords that generate the highest return on investment.
To turn analytics on:

1. Log into your Yahoo! Search Marketing account.
2. Click the Administration tab.
3. Click the "Analytics" link on the sub-menu.
4. Click the blue "Enable Analytics" button.

It will serve you well to have some kind of well-defined conversion event on your web site. This gives you something to measure. If you sell products, it's easy. You just pass the amount of the sale to the analytics, and Yahoo! will calculate how much profit you are making on your campaign. If you sell services, it's a little more difficult. In that instance, what you need to do is assign some kind of value for having a visitor complete some action on your web site.

Conversion tracking like we are talking about here, where you can actually determine with precision the profitability of every keyword in your campaign, is accomplished by placing a snippet of JavaScript code on the page of your web site that signifies the completion of a conversion event. Examples are an order confirmation page for a web site that sells products, and a mailing list signup thank you page. Into the JavaScript code you pass the value of the transaction. So if you sell products, you would pass through the actual amount of money you made on the product. If you sell services, you might pass through a static value like $1 every time someone signs up for your mailing list.

If you have enough data, you can more accurately assign a value to an event like a newsletter signup. For example, if you know that your average customer is worth $100 in profit, and you know that 5% of the people who sign up for your newsletter eventually become customers, then you can assign a newsletter signup a value of $5 ($100 X 5%). This means that every newsletter signup is worth $5 in revenue, because for every 20 you will make $100 in profit. You should be able to come up with a reasonable guess about how much profit you earn on the average customer. After you have generated a few hundred newsletter signups, you will have a good idea what your average conversion rate is for newsletter subscribers.

To start tracking your campaign financially, you need to enable "Conversion Only" analytics.

To enable Conversion Only analytics, tags that record conversion events and revenue:

1. Click the radio button next to "Conversion Only Analytics".

2. Click the blue "Activate" button.

You will see a section of the page that contains a snippet of code something like:

window.ysm_customData = new Object();
window.ysm_customData.conversion = "transId=,currency=,amount=";

As the instructions say, you need to place the code snippet in the header section of the page on your site that represents your converting event.

If you sell items that can be different prices, such as items in an ecommerce shopping cart, you will need to have your web site administrator or programmer place some code that will dynamically insert the price. It should be appended to ",amount=" in the appropriate line of the JavaScript code snippet.

For example, if the sale is for an item that costs $24.95, line 4 of the code snippet above would end:

...conversion = "transid=,currency=,amount=24.95";

If you only sale a single-priced item, or if you are a service business that is going to assume some dollar value for the converting event, you can always pass the same dollar amount through by setting the "Revenue Value:" dropdown on the Analytics Settings page to "Constant Average Value", typing the amount in the textbox, and clicking the "Save" button. If you do this, you don't have to worry about modifying the JavaScript code to pass the amount of the sale through.

When you activate analytics, some new columns of data are added to your campaign summary, campaign detail, and ad group detail charts: conversions, revenue, CPA (cost per acquisition), and ROAS (return on ad spend). This will show you at a glance how well your campaigns, ad groups, and even keywords are doing financially.

If you need some more detailed information about setting up analytics, such as configuring your ecommerce platform to pass revenue data to the tracking code, refer to the Yahoo! Search Marketing Analytics Setup Guide, which is a PDF file that can be downloaded from Yahoo! at help.marketingsolutions.yahoo.com.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, a pay per click management and search engine optimization firm based in Nashville.
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