The new year is such a wonderful time. Wonderful smells in the air. The world is full of hope. Unachievable things seem achievable and are being polished into shiny resolutions. World peace seems within grasp.
As we spring to action full of passion I wanted to share with you all a short list of things that will expand your little world of online marketing & web analytics.
We all have a tendency of getting caught in a rut, using the same tool to do the same things and spew forth the same data. Change is hard, even if we know that we should be executing a multiplicity strategy to win in the web analytics 2.0 world.
Before all the excitement of the new year wears out, here are five simple things I would love for you to try so that your company will have a glorious truly data driven 2010!
#1: Don't suck.
Seems obvious. And yet in our quest for ever more hard problems to solve we forget that the number one goal of every website is not to suck. Especially at the really simple and basic things.
At a recent conference there were three keynotes.
One was extolling the wonderfulness of their multi channel campaign tracking. When I went to their website it was a 100% flash website with a constrained small size where it took too much looking to click on anything and then too much scrolling to read anything and unclear calls to actions (if any). That's sucking. No amount of great multi channel tracking will save this company, they suck at the basics.
The second was about predictive analytics and how using massive integrations between online and offline databases they had accomplished some really cool reporting of data (and make no doubt the IT work done over 18 months to accomplish this was cool). Their home page is a mess. 24% of the content covers what any visitor might want, rest is the company shouting at you (in many annoying ways). That's sucking.
The third was about how to create data driven cultures and how this person had created a impressively big cross functional team across multiple countries and standardized on Omniture after a lot of work over two and half years. I did a search on some of their products and they did not have page one search listings (on Google or Bing) for what should be their head terms. (That's sucking.) They did have PPC ads, which I click on the ad for specific product they land me on generic nonsense pages. That's sucking.
I share these stories to illustrate vividly how we in the web analytics world get lost in our data and Omniture and Google Analytics and reporting and lose sight of the the basics and the customer experience.
It is important to realize that if you suck nothing else matters. Not your api driven integrated massively multi channel attribution analyzed campaign lifetime databases. That is not going to save you or your company.
Before you attempt the hard make sure that you do all the standard stuff to ensure your company has a fighting chance to win.
Here are some tips to inspire you:
- I LOVE looking at the bounce rates for the top 20 landing / entry pages to the site. Find the losers, fix 'em. These guys are so bad they could not even get one click from the visitors.
- Sit down with the owner of the top ten pages to the site and look at them. I mean really look at them and ask this question: "What the heck are we trying to do with each page?" Make sure there is a clear answer (and a match between Customer Intent and Webpage Purpose).
- Check the load time of your important pages. Use something simple like: www.WebSiteOptimization.com Or whatever complicated tool you have.
- Sign up for your websites campaigns using your personal email address. See how the emails look. Relevant? Personal? Click on the links, what to you see on the landing pages? Fix!
- Create a funnel for your cart / checkout / lead submission process. Find the biggest abandonment page. Fix it.
- Ask your Finance department where most money is being spent on the web. PPC? Affiliate? Display? What? Take a week to segment that data and find out how to save 10% of the cost.
- Count the number of links on your main pages. I mean count them. There are 98 links on a travel site I am looking at right now, on the page for a hotel in Chicago. 98! This is a top site.
What are the analytics people doing if they are not helping the product page owner figure out how to kill atleast 50% of those links on a product specific page. There should be one link: Search for Hotel or Make Reservation! Do this for your site.
- Fix the 25 things Dr. Pete lists in this delightful checklist: 25-point Website Usability Checklist.
There are so many ideas. I hope that before you go for massive web analytics glory that your use your wonderful powers first to make sure your site and customer acquisition strategy does not suck.
PS: Bonus tip: Make sure you visit your website once a week, atleast.
#2 Learn basic statistics.
The days of tools and reports simply puking data out are rapidly reducing. No longer can tools or "analysts" just puke 15 metrics on a report and hope to survive.
Web Analytics tools are starting to become smart (see: Analytics Becomes Intelligent). Data is starting to truly get numerous.
For all of the above reasons it is becoming ever more important that you are know atleast Statistics 101. You don't have to be armed with the knowledge of how to create various models or be able to jump into SAS and get naked with it. But you are going to have to know what a mean and a median and r squared and standard deviations and Z scores and confidence intervals and all that lovely stuff is.
If you have not been exposed to statistics perhaps you can take a class at a local community college or university. Many employers will pay for ongoing job relevant education.
Alternatively get one of the simpler books on the topic and immerse yourself in self education. Regardless of if you are a novice or an expert I think one of the best books to start with is The Cartoon Guide To Statistics ($13). A cartoon book? Yes. It is quite good.
Once you know statistics 101 you'll find that you'll think of data analysis differently and you'll get better at finding that proverbial needle of insight in the haystack of data. Knowledge of statistics is a key arrow to add to your analytical skills quiver.
Hello statistical significance!
#3 Try one (or two) new usability / VOC tool/'s.
My passion for the customer is, as they say, legendary!
Part of it is the humility I have developed at the powerlessness of clickstream data to answer all the needed questions. Part of it is that there are just so many darn good options out there to listen to our customers.
So this year why not try one of the newer more powerful and yet cheap usability analysis tools?
Here are some tools that are pretty cool and unique:
- Five Second Test. I absolutely love the idea of collecting "first impressions" from current customers, employees or just randomly selected people. Within thirty seconds you can take a screenshot of your lovely home page or landing page, upload it and for free get feedback from real people.
- 4Q / Kampyle / UserVoice. Each of these tools does something completely different, and yet each allows people to type things that you can read and be wow'ed or saddened by. Why not try one of these tools this year and truly get in touch with your customers and a real and meaningful way?
- UserTesting.com. You are not a small enough company, or a big enough one for that matter, to do usability testing. This is usability testing for ultra cheap, $29 per person. Set out the tasks, identify your audience, test happens, you watch the video and read comments, you cry, you fix things, you become rich.
Also checkout Feedback Army.
- WebSort / OptimalSort. The information architecture on most website is terrible and the reason is that company employees create it for themselves. A great option to hear from the customers was to do card sorting studies. Problem? Expense! Not any more baby. Both these tools are quite affordable, all online and in a fraction of the time it would take to do a offline card sorting study you can get the key data you need. Sweet.
You don't have to do all of the above. But you do have to listen to your customers.
In 2010 Consider trying just two tools listed above that you have not used so far. I promise you that you'll want to give me a big hug the next time you see me.
#4 Try one new competitive intelligence tool.
I practically have a illicit love affair with competitive intelligence. And I am not embarrassed!
If I ever come to see your company, or you see me presenting publicly, then you have seen me present data about your company / industry and then proceed to say nice / not nice things. There is just so much gold out there to be discovered.
Here are some tools for you to try, ideas for analysis you could do:
- Compete.com / Trends for Websites. I love the depth of data now available in both tools for free (even if you use just the free part of Compete). Index your overall performance against your competitors.
Where do people go after they leave your site? What are the top five referrers for your competitor? What are the top sites that get traffic for the word love? All free from Compete.
People who visit my site, what other sites do they visit? What are the things they search for? What's the difference between US traffic and India? All free from Trends for Websites.
- Google's Search-based Keyword Tool. If you have never explored the long tail for your website (if you are a medium to large site) using SbKT you might be committing a crime. If you have never taken a list of keywords AND the landing pages recommended by SbKT where you have zero impression share and given it to your SEO team then you should feel bad. There is so much here.
[Learn how to use SbKT here: Monetize The Long Tail of Search.]
- Google Ad Planner. Some display / banner ads stink because they are just terribly produced and blink and annoy you with sound and do insane things when you move your mouse over them inadvertently. Most display ads stink because they are not relevant / well targeted. Make sure that is not your ads. Use the Ad Planner to hone into the exact sites where you can find your audiences.
What sites are visited by: Men who are in the market for engagement rings. Women who are interested in the NFL. Young adults who are looking to buy net books. Affluent 100k+ folks or comic book buffs or brides to be.
Now go buy advertising on those sites (from any ad network) and earn a higher ROI on your campaigns.
[Learn more about Ad Planner: Competitive Intelligence Analysis: Google Ad Planner]
These four tools should keep you busy for a long time. Don't go at it all at once. Ask your boss's boss what his next 90 day priorities are, find the tool above that might have the insights, go on a honeymoon with it.
#5 Identify two new micro-conversions and goal values for each.
The road to web analytics glory (and a promotion for you) runs through the Micro Conversions path.
I am absolutely convinced that we don't get the love that we deserve from our company leaders because (even if we get beyond data puking) we rarely quantify the impact of all of work that the website is doing.
During Q1 make it your personal quest to identify two new micro conversions for your website (many ideas in the preceding blog post).
Now make sure, and this is absolutely key, you take one more step and quantify the economic value of each micro conversion (instructions and ideas: pages 159 to 162 in my new book Web Analytics 2.0).
That economic value will help you arrive at the number on the right, $83,848. That number will finally help you understand the complete value your website is adding to your business (only $21,454 is from the Macro Conversion). That number will allow you to measure your campaigns with a level of accountability that will be supremely awesome.
If you do nothing else on this list (I hope it does not come to that), please make sure you do this item. It is that important (especially if you are a non-ecommerce b2b government peaceful protest photo sharing website).
For the true Analysis Ninjas let me share one bonus item, one thing that will put even them above the top. . . .
Bonus: #6 Measure one thing that is "intangible".
The hardest thing to do in online analytics is to measure the intangible. How did people feel about the website experience? What was the positive brand lift? Did the unaided brand recall improve 60 days after the campaign (online or offline)? And more such questions.
Each is really hard to answer, one must think differently.
Here is a post with seven different strategies: Brand Measurement: Analytics & Metrics for Branding Campaigns.
As an Analysis Ninja go all out on three of them this year and take your business to the next level of measurement and insights.
Good luck ya'll!
Ok now your turn.
Care to share examples of sucking that you have killed on your websites? Got a creative use of statistics in your web metrics practice? Which is your favorite online customer listening strategy? Have you had success with quantifying goal values for your micro conversions?
What is your company's online, or online analytics, new year resolution?
Please share your thoughts via comments, thanks much!