Launch Effect

November 4, 2011 in 4 out of 5 stars, A piece of software, Analytics, Free, Landing Pages

What is it?

Launch-effect-logoLaunch Effect: A free WordPress theme anyone can use to quickly create a professional looking, virally inclined pre-launch page for your upcoming product website, app, service, etc.).

Who makes it?

Barrel LLC

Why is it the killerest?

First let me state that I'm saving you some trouble, because I did this the hard way first. For my latest venture I started by building a pre-launch site from scratch. It's a couple pages, right? How hard can it be? Well - to do well, actually - kinda hard. Or, time consuming anyway. Consuming of time you should be spending building your New Thing.

1. It's very easy to set up - virtually anyone can do it.

I'm no WordPress guru, but I went from nothing to a fully launched site in just a few hours. First, I fired up a super cheap hosting account with my registrar NameCheap. Once my account was set up, I logged in, installed WordPress (literally a few mouse clicks), then downloaded the Launch Effect theme, uploaded and installed it in my WordPress, made a few tweaks, and my site was ready to go. 

2. It's got built in social-sharing tools and viral spreading motivation 

This is perhaps the nicest feature and something you likely wouldn't have time to build yourself. And it's all baked in, and very easy to configure. 

How it works: After someone gives you their email address, they're presented with a thank you message, and a panel of social icons they can click to share. 


Subscribers are also given a unique tracking link. When they use that link (or any of the icons) to share, you and they will both be able to see how many folks they've sent to the site, and how many signed up themselves.

Additionally, you can give them an incentive to share. On mine, I'm giving away a free lifetime account to someone who shares and leads someone else to sign up.

3. It's got great built in tracking

As mentioned above, each person who signs up will show up in your admin panel, along with the number of clicks they've sent you, and how many of those have also signed up (plus conversion rate). Both you, and they can see these stats at any time.


What could be improved?

Tracking your referrals is too confusing for visitors.

When a visitor shares, they have access to their referral, and conversion stats, but in order to see that information, they have to re-submit their email address into the signup form. Clever - but how on earth are they supposed to know that? There's really no good way to communicate that to them at this point.

It needs to integrate with MailChimp and/or Campaign Monitor.

First, it's very easy to export your signups in a CSV and import them into MailChimp - which, if you're only going to do that once, is no big deal. But ideally, you'd like to get an auto-response email to your signups. This would allow you to tell them about the referral stuff noted in my last complaint, as well as a few other bells and whistles that MailChimp offers.

It's a bit hard to fully customize without touching the code.

Out of the box, it probably does most everything you need, and you can certainly make a perfectly good-enough site without customization. But if what you want to do isn't exactly what the theme expects you to do, you'll need to dive into the css and/or php files. This is a minor niggle though, it has very solid customization constructs.

It has only a small subset of the available Google Fonts to work with. 

That said, they do natively support TypeKit and MonoType.

And I note, they're working improving it. This roadmap looks great.

How much does it cost?

Nothing (it's free)


Reviewed by Carson McComas

p.s. Here's the one I set up. If you make one, please share it in the comments below.


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Clicky Web Analytics (

June 8, 2009 in 5 out of 5 stars, Analytics

What is it?

Clicky Web Analytics: A web analytics system (i.e. a web stats program).


Who makes it?

Roxr Software Ltd.

Why is it the killerest?

I remember when Google Analytics (GA) came on the scene, and for free, I thought "there goes every single web analytics company, it's over." And to a degree, I was right. I don't think there are any web analytics offerings that existed before GA came out that haven't lost crippling market share to GA.

But in an instructive (and inspiring) move – the Roxr folks found a way to create something that is more in touch, more contemporary, more interesting, and ultimately (yes I’m going to say it) better than Google Analytics.

Of course you can always use both. I’m doing that – but I virtually never look at my GA reports anymore, like an addict I return at my Clicky reports.

I won’t go into detail on all the juicy Clicky features here – you can see those on their site. But I will outline why I think they’re succeeding, and why I’m such an enthusiastic fan.

Clicky gives you a raw, intimate, personal connection to your web traffic (including a fantastic “spy” feature letting you know who is currently on the site, where they came from, what they’re viewing, and more) and they “get” the things that matter, and that we care about in today’s online market place (take their Twitter tracking features, for example).

But it’s not all stat candy, it’s useful stuff. Like GA they’ve got goals, and campaign tracking so you can use it with your serious online marketing efforts.

Plus the interface is a pleasure to use, and is very well considered. These folks entered what any sane person would call an impenetrable market, and they’ve made their mark. I’ve been using them for over a month now, and I can’t imagine living without them now.

What could be improved?

I have only one complaint - it's impossible to find pricing on their site. It's ridiculous.

How much does it cost?

From free to $50/mo if you really try.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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AdWords updates their admin interface

February 2, 2009 in Analytics, SEO/SEM

It looks like some higher volume AdWords accounts are being offered a new admin interface. Haven’t had a chance to dive in real deep yet, but so far, I’m liking it – lots of clever Google-Analytics-ish touches.


Update: really liking this. Seeing a few errors (like, it's timing out - might be getting hammered). And so far only one thing that really bothers me - you no longer get your quality score visible at a glance in a single column, you have to click this little bubble to see it. Yes, you have to click it for every word. Absurd.


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Tip: Track the ROI of any campaign with Google Analytics

January 29, 2009 in Analytics, SEO/SEM, Tips

Did you know that you can track any advertising or marketing campaign with Google Analytics, not just AdWords? Of course failure to track is the first (well, fifth actually) mistake entrepreneurs make. You shouldn’t just want to track things precisely, you must.

Here are some examples of what you might like to track with the same precision as an AdWords campaign:

  • Pay per click campaigns with Yahoo or MSN
  • A banner ad buy on another site
  • An email marketing campaign
  • An affiliate program
  • Any link you give out for which you want to track the effectiveness

For todays’ tip, let’s say you’re running a banner ad and you want to track how many clicks you get from that banner, where those visitors go on your site, how long they stay, how many of them convert to your goals, etc. (Incidentally, this works very nicely with your Google Analytics conversion goals.)

Campaign Report Example It’s actually easier than you think. The bonus is that you get a nice report inside of Google Analytics under Traffic Source > Campaigns.

This report provides you information on visitors, including:

  • pages per visit
  • average time on site
  • bounce rate
  • goal conversion
  • sales revenues
  • number of transactions
  • ecommerce conversion rate
  • value per visitor
  • and more

And actually, it so simple (bear with me), it would be ridiculous not to do it.

So here’s how:

Simply add the following to the end of the link back to your site from the campaign source:

utm_source=campaignname where campaignname is whatever you want to call the campaign.

For example, let’s say your site is, and you are running a banner campaign on

The link you would provide to would be

And you can do it to any URL, not just your homepage.

That’s the bare minimum, but you can just as easily pass in more information to make your reporting even richer. There are 5 name/value combinations you can use in all (called “tags”), and you really want to use at least the first three.

The five tags are:

  • Name  (utm_campaign) The name of your campaign. Example: Free Shipping Promotion. utm_campaign=Free+Shipping+Promotion
  • Source (utm_source) The source of your traffic. Example:
  • Medium (utm_medium) This is the medium sending you traffic. Example: banner. utm_medium=banner
  • Term (utm_term) Mostly used by AdWords campaigns, Google will load it with the search term used when they saw (and clicked on) your ad. If you’re running a PPC campaign with Yahoo or MSN, you can add this one yourself but to do so, you’ll need to create a specific URL for each keyword. utm_term=my+keyword
  • Content (utm_content) Here you put any additional clues to help you determine the effectiveness of two otherwise similar things. Example – let’s say you’re running two banner ads, one in the header, one in the footer. You might put footer in one, and header in the other. utm_content=header.

So for our banner ad example, the full link might look like this now:

I know what you’re saying now – how the heck do you know how to get the link just right? Looks complicated right? Well it’s not, and to make it even easier to figure out how to properly format Google has given us an URL Builder to do the heavy lifting for you.

Google’s URL Builder

Hope this helps.

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals Wrapup

June 5, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

Intro_small_new If you're not using Google Analytics, you're missing out. It's ridiculously powerful, informative, easy to set up, and it's free. If you're serious at all about your web efforts, you need to be using it.

I just finished up a series teaching you how to take Google Analytics beyond the very basic setup. In it I cover the use of Conversion Goals that help you go beyond tracking page views, to tracking desired visitor actions like making a purchase, filling out a form, signing up for an account, joining an email list, etc.

Here are quick links to the full guide:

  1. Part One: Basics of goal set up. What they are, how they work, how to set yours up today.
  2. Part Two: Setting up Funnels. Learn how many people start the goal conversion process, how many finish, and where the stragglers stop progressing.
  3. Part Three: Tracking goals with no distinct associated pageview. Let's say you want to track a software download, or your goal doesn't have a unique page at the end.
  4. Part Four: Tracking income from your goals. Beef up your analytics with information about exactly how your web traffic is impacting your bottom line.

My hope is that you'll utilize this valuable resource to improve your chances of success. Best of luck friend.

p.s. I've had a couple people ask, and if this is all overwhelming and you'd rather just hire me to set it all up for you, drop me a note.

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Four)

June 5, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

In part one of this series I covered the basics of setting up goals in GA (Google Analytics).
In part two I covered setting up funnels.
In part three I discussed tracking goals with no distinct associated pageview.

Today, in the final installment, we'll be discussing how to track the income from certain goals.  Google calls this "goal value tracking."

It's for those of you selling something. It allows you to track the income you make from a given goal. Having this extra information in your web analytics is very powerful in helping you make the right decisions.

Tracking income from your goals

Ok, there are three common scenarios where you want to track goal values.

Common Scenarios:

1) You have a lead generation form as your goal. You know that you typically convert 10% of your leads to a $100 sale. For your Goal value when you set up your goal, you'd put $10. You're done.

Like this:


2) You have a store, and you sell a $25 eBook, and you only ever sell one at a time. Put $25 as your goal value, and you're done.

3) Let's say you have a store where you sell any number of items and your final ticket value is unknown.

First - make sure you website profile in GA is set to be an E-Commerce site. To do this, login to your GA account, click Edit next to the website profile in question, then on the next page (Profile Settings), click edit in the upper right corner (on the "Main Website Profile Information" panel). Then look for this radio button and change it and your currency as appropriate:


Second, we'll be diving back into some javascript code as we did in part three, but if you follow along carefully it's not hard. It will, however, require some programmer intervention to get it right as the sale values must be dynamically loaded into the javascript below.

Before we go any further, you need to make sure you're using the latest version of the Google Analytics code on your site. To find and make sure you've got the right code, do the following:

  1. Load up GA.
  2. Click edit in the settings column for the website profile in question.
  3. In the upper right corner of the edit page, click the "Check Status" link (dumb, I know).
  4. Make sure you grab the "New Tracking Code." This should be the code you have in place throughout your site (not the legacy code).


Next, as we've discussed previously, set up your goal.

Here's an example:


Note I have 0 in the Goal value field, don't worry - we'll be creating that value dynamically in a moment.

Now - on your receipt page, in the code itself, you're going to need to call some javascript to register the sale with GA.

Warning: this is decidedly technical, so if this is mumbo jumbo to you, your programmer will need to help.

On your receipt page, below the GA tracking code, you're going to need to make three javascript function calls.

  1. pageTracker._addTrans() to register a transaction.
  2. pageTracker._addItem() to add the item(s) (you can call it multiple times, once for each product purchased).
  3. pageTracker._trackTrans() to send it all to the mother ship.

The parameters for these functions are outlined in the example below provided by Google. You or your programmer will need to populate in the values for each of those items when the page is rendered. In the event that you don't have (or want to record) a value (like, for shipping) you can put 0, or leave it blank.

That's it! I hope this little tour of the power of goal tracking in Google Analytics has been helpful to you.

<script type="text/javascript">
    "1234",                                     // Order ID
    "Mountain View",                            // Affiliation
    "11.99",                                    // Total
    "1.29",                                     // Tax
    "5",                                        // Shipping
    "San Jose",                                 // City
    "California",                               // State
    "USA"                                       // Country

    "1234",                                     // Order ID
    "DD44",                                     // SKU
    "T-Shirt",                                  // Product Name
    "Green Medium",                             // Category
    "11.99",                                    // Price
    "1"                                         // Quantity


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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Three)

May 29, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

In part one of this series I covered the basics of setting up goals in GA (Google Analytics).
In part two I covered setting up funnels.

These are both straightforward techniques that everyone should be using because you can do them without ever touching your website (assuming you have the GA code installed on your site, of course).

Today, I'm going to cover a more technically advanced topic. Namely, tracking things that don't have a distinct page view associated with them. This one will require some web page editing know-how, and a little bit of programming savvy, but not a ton if you carefully follow along.

Tracking goals with no distinct associated pageview

Remember that goals are really just a pageview that you've specified as being a goal inside GA. To track a goal without a distinct pageview associated, we're going to simulate a pageview using simple javascript.

First, let's define what we mean.

Here are a couple examples:

Let's say you've got a software download you offer, but visitors just click a download link to get the software. There is no specific pageview, just a link someone clicks to download a file.

Or, you have a registration form that when filled out - doesn't go to a specific unique page you can enter into GA. Maybe it goes to their new profile page, but that's not a page that only constitutes the completion of a goal because this same user (and others) will return to that same page many times in the future.

Here's how we handle that:

It's simple and brilliant really, you just use a snippet of javascript code (provided by Google) which simulates a pageview.

When the action you desire has taken place (say, they clicked the download software link, or they filled out the form), you use the little javascript call to simulate a pageview.

Let's walk through an example:

First, set up your goal as before. This time pick Exact Match, and for your Goal URL, you can make it anything you'd like. Start with the slash, (/) and then use a fairly descriptive name, no spaces. It can be anything you want. This is the pageview we'll be simulating in a moment. For the Goal name, this is how it'll appear in the report, so put something meaningful. (Only you will see it.)


Define a funnel if you wish, these would be the pages leading up to the goal. Perhaps you have a product screenshot tour, followed by the download link. Put the steps to the tour in the funnel.

Now comes the technical part.

Move the original GA code to the top of the page

First - On the page where the goal happens (from our example above, the page where the software download link is) you're going to need to move the original GA code to the top of the page instead of the bottom (which is where they initially tell you to put it). The safest place to put it is right after the first <body> tag. It must appear before the new snippet we'll be using below to simulate the pageview. If needed, you can do this for every page, not just the ones where the goal happens.


Make the pageview simulation javascript call

Don't get freaked out! This sounds complicated, but it's simple. All you need to do is have the following javascript where your desired action takes place.


So, for our example above, on the software download link, I'd do the following:

<a href="" onclick="pageTracker._trackPageview('/DownloadSoftware')"> Download Software!</a>

The part in red, is the part I added. the "onclick=..." mumbo jumbo says, when someone clicks this link, make this javascript call which simulates a pageview. Note the value I have in the parenthesis and single quotes matches the value I put as the Goal URL above. These values must match.

Ok let's do another one with our second example, someone is filling out a signup form.

Here's how we'd define our goal inside GA.


You have two options with simulating the pageview. You can either trigger it when the form is submitted this way:

Option 1:

Put the part in red in the form tag on your signup form.

<form action="..." method="..." onsubmit="pageTracker._trackPageview('/NewSignUp)">

Option 2:

Or, you can use your backend code to show the following on the profile page, only after a signup happens. I'd put this at the bottom of the page just before the </body> tag:

<script type="text/javascript">

And that's it!

This tip requires a bit more technical savvy, but if you have a scenario where you need to track a goal without a distinct pageview associated, it's the best way.

Hope this helps.

In our next, and final installment, we'll discuss how to track track the income from certain goals (goal value tracking).

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part Two)

May 23, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

Last time we discussed the basics of setting up goals in Google Analytics. Something so easy and valuable, everyone should be doing it.

Today we're going to cover funnels.


Funnels are optional when setting up goals, but again, it's very valuable information and it's not hard to set up, so why not do it?

A funnel is the series of pages that a visitor passes through to accomplish a goal.

An example: Let's say your goal is for someone to create an account. You might have a promo page, then a two-page signup process, with your goal page being the final "You're now a member!" confirmation page.

Enter the page URLs (without domain) and give each one a name (this name will only appear in your reports). Put the first step at the top.

Like this:


Another common example would be to track an e-commerce conversion. i.e. adding to cart, checkout - shipping, checkout - billing, review order, receipt page (as goal).

Note, the "Required Step" checkbox to the right of Step 1 only impacts the funnel visualization report. If you check that box, then you'll only get a funnel visualization report on conversions that touch that page prior to converting. That said, the conversion will be tracked whether you check it or not. (Useful, for example, if you only wanted to visualize funnels for conversions that came from a certain landing page.)

Why is this valuable?
The key value of tracking funnels is to know how many people start the conversion process, but don't ultimately convert. This can be extremely useful information. With this data, you can examine your pre-conversion process and determine if it's hurting or helping you, and test optimizations to increase your conversion rate. (And the funnel visualization report tells you the abandonment rate for each step of the funnel.)

Once you have your funnels defined, inside your Google Analytics reports, you'll now have two new reports.

1) Abandoned Funnels. Here you'll find your funnel abandonment rate, broken down by month, week, day or even hour.


2) Funnel Visualization. This helps you visualize each step of the funnel process, and what percent of visitors progress from step to step, all the way to your final conversion rate.


Again, I hope this helps motivate you to take better advantage of this wonderful free resource for improving the way you do business on the web.

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Advanced Google Analytics: Conversion Goals (Part One)

May 20, 2008 in Analytics, Expert Advice

So you've signup up for Google Analytics. You've grabbed the code, you've pasted it on every page. You're done, right?

Wrong. You've only tapped a portion of the Google Analytics Goodness. Setting up goals in Google Analytics is very easy, and very powerful. You only need to invest a few minutes to avail yourself of this very valuable additional data.

First, let's define goals:

Goals are desired visitor actions on your website.

For example, here are mine from a current venture:

  • Created a profile
  • Joined the email list
  • Made a purchase

Yours might be things like, submitted a sales inquiry, viewed a key page, started or downloaded a free trial, upgraded their account, referred a friend.

Currently, Google Analytics only allows you to select up to four goals so choose wisely.

How goals work:

Goals are actually just a page view. Really, that's it. When you define a goal in GA, you tell it what page view constitutes the completion of a goal, and GA tracks it as a goal.

For example: let's say you want to track purchases.
You just tell GA to track your Receipt.html/ThankYou.html-type-page  and define that goal as "Made a purchase" and as long as you have the GA tracking code snippet on that page, you're done defining that goal.

Let's walk through it:

Step One: Click the "Edit" link on the Google Analytics Website Profiles page.


Step Two: Click the "Edit" link in the "Settings" column for the first goal (i.e. G1).


Step Three: Here's where you want to enter the page, that when viewed, constitutes the completion of a goal. (This part is only a tiny bit tricky, so don't freak out.)


Active Goal: leave it marked "On" or it won't track.

Match Type: This is the tricky part, you or your programmer can read the excellent help to find the appropriate one for how your pages work, but if you're not sure, try Head Match. This allows your URL to have additional values after the page file name (e.g. Receipt.aspx?orderid=123), or not, and still be tracked.

Goal Name: You can put whatever you want here, but put something clear and meaningful so you'll know what you're looking at when you view it in your Google Analytics Goals Dashboard.

Scroll to the bottom of this page, click Save Changes and you're done!

Let a little time pass, then head to the GA dashboard and click the Goals nav item to see how things are going.


Told you it wasn't hard.

Hope that helps motivate you to look closer at goal tracking with GA. It's valuable business intel you'd be crazy not to track.

In future posts we'll cover goal value tracking (track the income from certain goals) as well as funnels, and tracking things that don't have a distinct page view associated with them.

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Adwords Optimizer

June 11, 2007 in 3 out of 5 stars, Analytics, SEO/SEM

What is it?

Adwords Optimizer: A tool to help you fine tune your AdWords ads.


Who makes it?

MindValley LC

Why is it the killerest?

It's simple, it's free, and it works.

Savvy AdWords users write two or more ads for a given ad group. Google then uses both ads and you can learn which ad performs the best by watching the CTR (click through rate) and conversion over time.

Adwords Optimizer sends you a daily report of how your different ads are performing and which one has the best CTR, then offers suggestions for improving. It's a simple thing, and something you can do by hand-checking your AdWords account every day and keeping track, but Adwords Optimizer makes a tedious thing you should do every day (but probably don't because it's tedious) very simple.

What could be improved?

I wish I could view a back history of my reports. If you save all the emails you get, you have a crude history, but I'd like a screen where it listed all my reports so I could view past ones.

It's a bit sparse on metrics (but it does provide what it promises to provide).

Update: The signup process they suggest is confusing and lame, you can signup here.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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