Get Prepared for the 2017 Holiday Season: How to Ensure Your Site Data isn’t Being Skewed by Bots
October 25, 2017
by Chemi Katz
While technically the holidays are still two months away, they represent a crucial portion of retail merchant sales. eCommerce marketers are already knee-deep in planning and executing on this year’s holiday offerings, advertisements, email and social media campaigns, ad display advertising budgets and more.
According to recent research, America’s holiday season accounts for 20-30% of the retail industry’s annual sales with December 22nd and December 23rd being the two largest sales days of the year. Forbes magazine reported an expected online spend of over $1 trillion dollars during this holiday season! With so much revenue at stake, it’s critical for eCommerce business leaders to make sure the data they use to optimize their campaign is fully accurate. Since more than half of website traffic comes from bots, across industries – understanding how they affect your analytics and your campaign performance is key.
Clean bots out of your holiday traffic – for free!
We’re excited to offer a tool for free for the holidays that will enable eCommerce sites to make smarter, more accurate, data-based decisions. Through January 2018, SME’s and enterprise companies are invited to use Namogoo’s Bot Detector for free. This tool identifies and filters outout non-human traffic, or ‘bots’, giving decision makers the clean data they need to successfully plan this year’s upcoming holiday campaigns. Implementation does not require development resources so your analytics can reflect accurate human only data right away.
What are bots?
Bots are machine generated website visits that perform actions such as clicking or extracting data. Bots can be good, such as the ones used by Google to index your site, or bad, such as the ones used by hackers to scrape and monetize your data. Regardless of whether the bots are good or bad, though, their visits will significantly skew your data, unless properly accounted for.
How bots affect the accuracy of your site data
Just how prevalent is the issue? Think about this – according to recent data from Imperva, over 90% of websites experience a bot attack – your website probably has. Furthermore, 52% of all web traffic comes from bots, meaning the monthly traffic numbers you have been relying upon are most probably inflated.
Inflated traffic is not the only problem bots present to your analytics. Since bot traffic does not distribute itself evenly across all digital marketing channels, your behavioral data is also most like to be skewed unevenly, which can have a direct impact on your marketing decision making.
Make well-informed marketing decisions
Here’s an example:suppose your e-Commerce site experienced a 20% increase in PPC based traffic conversions, and a 10% increase in SEO based traffic conversions. Based on the success of the recent PPC ads you’ve been running, your marketing department decides to increase PPC holiday budget spend by an additional 10%. They do not increase SEO spending as that channel did not prove nearly as successful.
Now suppose the analytics team had filtered out your site’s bot traffic. While doing so they discovered that machine generated bots were making false clicks on your PPC ads, and in fact, those ads generated only 1% human traffic, thus failing to convert. The SEO conversions you received however were all generated by humans, and thus SEO proved to be a far more successful marketing channel. Given the data presented, it is highly likely that same marketing department would have either 1. Reworked their PPC strategy or 2. Invested the additional budget spend in SEO efforts, and not on PPC traffic.
So how can you fix the bot traffic problem?
Bots are constantly evolving in their sophistication and their scope. While there are several bot detection tools out there, not all tools are created equally. Some bot tools rely on the IAB/ABC Spiders and Bots list, which relies on a known and relatively static list of spiders and bots. Tools such as these do not provide a comprehensive solution as they fail to keep up with rapidly evolving bot advancements.
Instead, it’s better to utilize an AI machine learning tool, such as Bot Detection, that will adapt to new bot behavior as it evolves, thus accurately identifying non- human traffic, and allowing you to remove it from your analytics.
Here’s to making this December 2017 a sales success!