Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics!

CenterWe are constantly on a quest to conquer the next big thing. Mountain. Ocean. Planet. "Conversion Buster." The next million dollar opportunity.

Not that there's anything fundamentally wrong with that quest.

The challenge is that frequently in that quest we ignore the immediately achievable. And that tradeoff is a crime.

The title of this post comes from a blog post that my friend David Hughes had written in September 2008: What can Digital Marketers learn from Olympic Cyclists? He started that post with this wonderful quote:

Back in the 1980's Jan Carlzon was trying to breathe new life into an ailing Scandinavian Air Services. He was famous for saying "You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%".

Aggregation of marginal gains!

Fantastic concept, loved it instantly, captured my heart.

I have mentioned this issue in the past, though never quite as eloquently. Here's my humble tweet from Aug 2008:

aggregration of marginal gains

This post is all about the low hanging fruits. Small and medium sized ideas for finding opportunities that collectively should add up to something remarkable for your website.

This being the recession and what not, please share your own stories of simple every day things you do to find actionable insights for your company. Together we can! : )

So before your go boiling the ocean here are a few things you can and should do today to ensure your company is benefiting from immediately fixable things:

1) Figure out where you are making money, where you ain't.
2) Cover all the bases in your email campaigns.
3) Funnels baby!
4) Stop The "Puking": Fix Your Top Landing / Entry Pages.
5) Identify Paid Search Keyword Opportunities.
6) When In Doubt, Ask Your Customers.
7) Stop Doing "Dumb" Things. (Examples included!)

Batten down the hatches, let's deep dive. . . .

1) Figure out where you are making money, where you ain't.

I have covered this in the past: Pick One, Just One Web Analytics Report, Go!


Why is it great?

You come to work to: 1) Increase Revenue 2) Reduce Costs 3) Improve Customer Satisfaction (create Brand Evangelists).

This analysis focuses on the first two of those things.

It helps you identify which sources are working well (and hence need more love, resulting in increased revenue.

It will help you identify sources that might be sucking wind, and help you reduce cost.

Possible outcomes?

Focus in your advertising, sales, marketing spend. Identification of valuable sources that might have been below the radar so far (#2 or #10 for me above).

2) Cover all the bases in your email campaigns.

This one comes from David's post.

All of us run email campaigns, most of us professionally (and we live in Russia and sell spicy things!). But have you covered all the simple basic things you should doing to maximize value?

improving email campaigns

He recommends that by fixing five simple things he was able to really crank up the conversion rate for a seminar, by 486%.

[Of course having penned the Four Not Useful KPI Measurement Techniques post I hasten to add that improvement was from 7 to 41. Now before you roll your eyes consider this, would you not kill to have a 20% improvement in your email campaigns?]

Why is it great?

It is achievable.

Each thing he recommends is quite simple. For example fix the Hard Bounce Rate by using email repair software, or Soft Bounce Rate by identifying spam blocks, or Open Rate by testing subject fields (or, my fav, optimizing for the Preview Pane), or creating illusions of personalization for Click Thru Rates, or continuing the "scent" to landing pages to improving conversion.

Small things that add up to a lot.

Possible outcomes?

Email continues to be one of the most lucrative channels for most businesses (even spammers!). Doing things above means you make a better connection with your customers (that itself is worth it) and improve Revenue.

3) Funnels baby!

I rarely talk about funnels (specifically cart/checkout or credit card application or lead submission). That's because I think everyone's doing 'em.

But it turns out I am wrong.

A small fraction of the people use funnels and that's a real shame because you can find actionable things to fix pretty fast.

So if you are Chase and have a multi step credit card application:

chase credit card application

Or you are Burger King and have multiple steps for new franchises:

burger king franchise

Or you are Caterpillar trying to "unload" a whole bunch of Backhoe Loaders:

caterpillar backhoe loader pricing

You need a funnel report in your web analytics tool! Demand / command that you have a funnel created for each structured experience on your site. Ok beg if that is what it takes.

analytics funnel visualization

They look so pretty too don't they?

Why is it great?

For structured experiences funnels can be awesomely actionable. They can identify problems quickly, is 73% abandonment on step one acceptable (seems a bit harsh I think) or how about 75% on step two.

And talk about low hanging fruit. At the end of the day you are dealing with one page. One. Uno. Ek.

You know why that page exists. You know where people come to it from (look at the box on the left). You know where people exit to (look on the right). Not that hard to come up with two or three simple fixes to put in place (or A/B tests to get going with the Google Website Optimizer!).

Possible outcomes?

Most structured experience on sites are money making / saving opportunities. Shopping Carts (or Baskets to my British friends :)). Lead requests. Applications. What not.

clicktracks funnel report You will rarely get this close to having a direct impact on the bottom line.

Initially you'll be ok without segmentation but later you'll learn that segmentation is your BFF. It is hard to do this with Google Analytics (you can apply the filters and profiles magic) but it is pretty easy to do it in a tool like ClickTracks . Do it.

4) Stop The "Puking": Fix Your Top Landing / Entry Pages.

Another eternal favorite of mine when I want to get some quick wins under my belt. It is one of the first things I look at when I analyze any website.

Most web analytics tools have a standard reports that show the Top Landing Pages by Bounce Rate. Go get it.

Here's how it looks in ClickTracks (column: Short Visits):

clicktracks data dissection report

Yahoo! Web Analytics (IndexTools) does not have a standard report but click on Customize Report and in two seconds you have:

yahoo web analytics bounce rate top landing pages

Note what I am doing with the stars: looking for landing pages which really high bounce rates. That's what you'll do on your site, find the pages that are "losers" who can't even earn one click.

[Sidebar: if you look at bounce rates for blogs remember it is not the best metric, unless you segment out new visitors in which case it is still helpful. Read how to analyze bounce rates for more.]

Why is it great?

Like we did before, you are looking at high value individual pages. Lots of traffic, lots of bouncing.

You already know why the page exists (just read it!). And when you look at these pages it is easy to get to the thing you covet the most: Customer Intent!

Check two important things (both available on the same report): External sources referring traffic to this page ("why?"). External keywords referring traffic to this page ("what do they want?").

individual website page analysis

But give you a quick understanding of what the mismatch might be between your intent on the page (sell sexy pants) and what the customer wants (v1agra!).

If you want to go one step deeper go to your internal site search report and look for keywords people in your internal search engine on that page.

So on your sexy pants page people are searching for sexy pants something's wrong with the page.

Possible outcomes?

Increased possibility of conversions / leads / watching videos / whatever the purpose of your main pages are.

And remember these are your "head" pages, small improvements yield high ROI.

5) Identify Paid Search Keyword Opportunities.

Search, organic or paid or both, tends to be a corner stone of the acquisition strategy for many companies. Lots of gains can be gotten from wise investments in search.

search metrics

One beautiful actionable idea for you.

Do a diff between your paid and organic search keywords and look for anomalies.

paid search traffic keywords

Keywords that have a better conversion / time on site / bounce rate / your fav KPI under the Organic bucket when compared to their performance in the Paid search bucket.

Why is it great?

If you find keyword that perform better when they bring Organic Search traffic then investigate the landing pages and see what is better / different about them then the Paid Search landing pages for that traffic.

Compare the organic listing in Google (ok, ok, or in Live or Yahoo! :) with the Paid Search ad. Is there any different (better) about the text and call to action in the Organic listing?

In both cases learn from Organic and fix in Paid. If the Paid performance is truly sucky then rethink PPC for those keywords.

Do the reverse for Paid Search. Look at the above report and see where are places where your PPC campaigns are doing better. Why? What can you learn and implement on the Organic results pages?

Often there are lots of learnings from the Paid campaigns because your landing pages are much simpler and more targeted than your Organic pages. Take the lessons and apply them to the other.

Possible outcomes?

Search is a complex and tough thing to do right. Covering the basics above means that your company will start to be a learning machine where you are not discarding any scraps of information you are collecting on your site.

At the minimum you'll improve conversion rates. With just a little effort you'll also reduce cost of Paid Search.

6) When In Doubt, Ask Your Customers.

How many times have you heard me talk about limitations of ClickStream data?

Far too often.

One more time: You can try to torture your data and guess. But why not ask your customers?

Use the free 4Q site level survey to get this key information:

task completion rates

"Dear Visitor, why are you here and pray tell us all the ways in which we have disappointed you?"

See? No guessing. Fix those things in Orange and you have a leg up on your competition.

The team keeps pouring more love into improving 4Q. Now you can add these two advanced segmentation questions:

survey segmentation questions

More insights into Customer Intent! The nice thing is you can get some offline signals as well ("came from a tv ad", "your radio campaigns were sweet" etc).

4Q's for site level. If you want to improve individual pages then I recommend getting a page level survey to collect tactical can be quickly fixed information. Check out Kampyle and GetSatisfaction , both are wonderful.

Why is it great?

Why rely on your opinions and then fall flat on your face? Why try to argue with a HiPPO and let her decide what's best for your customers?

By getting your customers involved means you magnificently increase the chances that you'll get it right. More often.

Possible outcomes?

You will certainly increase Outcomes (conversions / leads / movie tickets / electric shocks to sub par customers, sorry I meant employees!).

But what is cooler is that you'll focus on the 98% that will never convert and you'll improve their task completion and satisfaction. So more offline conversions. More micro conversions! [See this post: Measure Macro AND Micro Conversions .]

7) Stop Doing "Dumb" Things.

Pardon my french, and please know I use that word with love.

It is hard to believe that in 2009 we still have websites that ask us every time we visit to pick a country (, even if I visit an hour later! How lame is that (!!). Or that have pages that look like this:

content website with no content!

That is a page from a major content site where I have covered the navigation elements in blue and the ads in black. 8 ads.

In white is the actual content delivered to me. At 1440 screen resolution!

Astonishing right?

I call it the "selfish lover" strategy. Just think of yourself and what you can get out of it rather than the other person (customer!).

Have you ever loved a selfish lover back?

Why do you think it would work on your website?

If you have Web Analytics: An Hour A Day then on Page 59 you'll find a Heuristic Evaluation checklist. Basic things you should do to make sure your have a good website experience.

If you don't have my book, no worries, let me recommend my friend Dr. Pete Meyers's 25-point Website Usability Checklist. Partial excerpt:

website usability checklist

I think he has done a fantastic job of capturing all the "dumb" things that we should not be doing.

You can download the complete pdf on his site.

Why is it great?

Do you really need me to tell you why? I am not going to insult you.

Except perhaps to say that before you pay thousands of dollars for to a external consultant / agency to "improve" your site, this simple checklist (or mine in the book) will yield huge benefits.

And they are all really simple easy to fix things.

Possible outcomes?

Happy customers. Engaging experience.

And a nice bonus, no one will call you out in their presentation / blog for being a poster child of how not to do website usability. :)

That's it! End of story! Actionability awaits you!

Your turn now.

Please share your own ideas for "aggregation of marginal gains". Is there a report / piece of analysis that always works for you? When you crack open Omniture or WebTrends or Google Analytics for a new site what do you look at first? Have a to die for KPI or Metric? What is one completely flawed assumption I have made in this post?

I would love to hear from you.


Couple other related posts you might find interesting:


  1. 1


    Once again you manage to surprise me, I read with great interest your blog (and book also :) ).

    But I do have a question regarding that so scary metric "bounce Rate".

    If your site is what we (because we are two) call an utility site (in my case we have cooking recipes), will not the bounce rate be high? Specially because 80%-90% of the traffic comes from search engines?


  2. 2

    Another great post Avinash!

    I can testify to the effectiveness of (6) "When In Doubt, Ask Your Customers". Kampyle, 4Q, et al. are great tools to find out problems which you and your web analytics tool are missing.

    Web Analytics is never going to tell you "your site is slow" or "customers hate your web design". VOC Rules!

  3. 3

    Hey Avinash, great post (as always!) I'd like to add:

    #1 – What better way to quantify marginal gains than to add a numerical value to your outcomes / conversion points / goals? I LOVE Goal Values, and things like Per Visit Goal Value, etc.. If your WA Tool doesn't allow for Goal / Conversion Values, demand to your vendor that the feature gets added.

    #3 – Funnels are great. Recently I've been using it for specific path analysis (e.g. Client wants to know what happens when visitors take this exact path vs. another exact path to reach a "Download White Paper" page…which is a good example of the fact that Funnels are not exclusive to shopping cart / e-commerce environments only).

    #7 – Even though I am a very strong proponent of Site Usability…I am going to play Devil's advocate here and join the dark side (muahaha!!) for a minute and take the side of website owners and web marketers out there. Sometimes site owners pick an ecommerce platform or CMS platform that is inexpensive, easy to implement products / forms / PDF files, and doesn't take 8-12 months to go live. The drawback to speed and cheap is usually rigid, uncooperative, troublesome website layouts…in some cases site owners are locked in to contracts that prevent them from making changes until a certain point in time. So all this basically means is that sometimes people are stuck with what they have and breaking free of that is very expensive and time-consuming.

    So I will cut site owners with user-unfriendly websites a little slack (but just a little!). Most Ecommerce / CMS systems don't necessarily promote themselves as offering a highly customizable, user-friendly website layout and navigation structure…and if they do promote that, they sure don't deliver on that most of the time.

    Thank you!!

  4. 4


    You need to repost this article about every 3-6 months as consultants and advertising agencies lead their clients down the primrose path of the latest "cool thing" to do online. To me, an example of trying to eat the whole tree is turning their whole site into a Twitter feed. Talk about jumping the shark!

    As I say to my clients, why should you completely jump off the cliff into Web 2.0 / Social Media when you haven't full utilized Web 1.0?

  5. 5
    Ned Kumar says

    Avinash- great theme and loved the quote from Jan's, couldn't agree with him, David and you more that a lot can be gained by "aggregation of marginal gains". On the usability part, one of the things I have found out is the tug-of-war between the various stakeholders. One group is focused on aesthetics, another is focused on SEO and so loading keywords into the landing page, yet another is focused on load/response times etc. So sometimes, depending on who can shout the most or has the blessing of the hippo one or the other dominates driving down the customer experience. Ideally, a zen like balance is needed between all these aspects to deliver thrilling experience.

    The only other comment I will make is that while it is good to go for the low-hanging fruits, one should not loose focus of the strategic initiatives. You definitely don't want to be in a position where you were so excited about the low-hanging fruits that you did not set aside some time to build a ladder or something else to get to the fruits on top of the tree :-). If that happens, you are going to have a lot of rotten fruits and a net loss in the long-run. Great post.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat (Sun Tzu).

  6. 6

    Thanks for the mention, Avinash, and glad you liked the checklist. Ironically, it started out as just a resource for myself – even we so-called "experts" sometimes have to remind ourselves of the basics. Ultimately, I found it so useful for my new small-biz clients that I thought I'd share it.

    @Joe – If I can butt in on this one, I certainly understand what you're saying about CMS limitations and small clients with limited budgets, but I have two arguments. First, there are quite a few easy fixes that can have an impact: font sizing, contrast, taglines, reducing copy, emphasizing calls-to-action. Most CMS systems will allow you to change the basics, so start with the basics.

    Second, is it really a win to produce a site in 3 months for $1,000 if it's unusable and produces lousy results? Did you save time and effort, or did you just waste 3 months and $1K to represent your business badly? Even small businesses would sometimes be better off investing a little more time and money to get real results than rush out an inferior product.

  7. 7

    @ Dr. Pete – Agree 100% with you. It definitely isn't a win-win situation to spend $1K and throw a site up in a few months, no way would I ever do that myself or recommend anyone do that. Unfortunately, it does happen, seemingly a lot out there…people get an idea or get marching orders from their execs / VPs and, sadly, "getting the site up there ASAP" overrides "CMS flexibility / template usability"…a lot of clients who have had the misfortune of going this route wind up confessing to me "Well we had to meet X deadline, so we launched the site and dealt with obstacles as they came up"…

    What I see too sometimes are sites that don't match the CMS system. Very large etailers sometimes have the most bare-bones, one-size-fits-all CMS / Ecommerce platform, which totally corners them into not being able to do too much with it (especially after spending a lot of time and IT trouble tickets later)…

    But yes, there are DEFINITELY small things – MARGINAL GAINS (see I learned something today) – that can be done in a lot of situations that help out a big deal.

    Would love for you to jump in here and comment, Avinash! :)

  8. 8

    @Joe – No arguments with you there. I work with a lot of small companies, and it's admittedly hard to find a balance between getting them to spend on optimization (usability, analytics, SEO, etc.) while still leaving them budget room for development. Obviously, the best advice in the world isn't much help if they can't implement it. I try to be sensitive to that, but there's no perfect answer.

    I'll hand the blog back over to Avinash now. Sorry ;)

  9. 9
    Eric Baudais says

    I find I need to do the basics everyday on a web site. I am constantly looking and unfortunately finding the page without a title someone put up quickly or the page without appropriate keywords and too much marketing fluff.

    In addition to looking at top traffic sources, I usually look to see what products are making money and which aren't. If there are products with a lot of visits and little to no sales, I need to understand why the product isn't selling. Then you can use surveys or A/B testing on the page to figure it out. I spend the majority of my time trying to optimize products with high visits or high sales.

  10. 10


    Excellent post. With all the noise around how Web 2.0 and social networking are going to render web sites and marketing obsolete, it is always good to be reminded that it still starts with the basics.

    In our work with publishing sites, we are seeing demand for behavioral analytics, i.e understanding sequences of interactions that lead to monetizable events (purchases, clicks, return visits), in one or over multiple sessions. Do you see a similar pattern for the companies that you work with? Recommendations for the next big gains once these low-hanging fruits have been achieved might make for a great discussion here.

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    Another seemingly minuscule thing to look for is consistency of design/UI/content elements across the site.

    Assuming you have calls to action (primary/secondary/tertiary) on every page, do the primaries all look like primaries? Do your downloadables all look the same and use the same icon? Are all your sub-headlines the same size/color/font and written in a consistent style? etc.

    Site visitors pick up on inconsistencies in the experience; maybe on an unconscious level. Audit the site and fix all inconsistencies, and you will see at least some improvement.

  12. 12

    Thanks for this and so many of your posts. I feel compelled to highlight the concept of delivering quality "for free" (or, as you put it, not being a selfish lover). It's not really for free, but it does mean running fewer ads and relying on some of the high-number stats to charge more (to cover the nut).

    Many sites are too concerned with capitalizing on scarcity of real estate, which can result in scarcity of meaningful traffic.

  13. 13

    Rui: Your site might have a higher bounce rate. But I would not accept 80%.

    In order for you to make money you need people to see more pages so they can see more ads you have on your site.

    If I am reading the Cod recipe page on your site:

    Then you should get to stay longer by having something like "other related recipes" or a more clear link to your RSS feed or to open an account so I can have my book or recipes etc etc.

    All those actions will lead to a lower bounce rate, will get people to engage with your site, will make you more profitable.

    So by default don't accept your bounce rate of 80%. Get it lower. And make some more money!

    Joe: I can empathize with the rigidness of website platforms. But you would never accept the excuse that I am in a shopping mall with restrictions so I'll have a crappy store. You do the best you can else no one will walk into the store. Same thing.

    I know you get it. :)

    PS: I just got someone to switch and launch their site on WordPress! Great CMS. Ecommerce plugins. Tons of usability friendly free themes (or pay a couple hundred to get it!). Now certainly not for everyone, but hey it is fast & cheap. :)

    Dave: I could not agree more.

    I met someone the other day who wanted advanced artificial intelligent driven behavior targeting on their site. When I look at their current site it broke 9 of 10 basic usability rules. It was slower than a tired turtles (they were rendering fonts in flash!). And so much more.

    I was like "you are kidding me that you want to more intelligently target crap you have today?".

    Of course they meant well, they just needed someone to put a mirror in front of them.

    Ned: For the stakeholder battle I love testing. The idea is "lets take ourselves out the equation and let the customer help us". I very carefully never turn down anyone's idea / feeling, no matter how terrible. I say "let's put it into the system, let's wait for statistical significance". After a couple times people get the message. :)

    Love the quote!

    Albert: There is certainly interest in behavior targeting platform. But I think they usually over promise and under deliver, and it has Nothing to do with the platforms themselves.

    Here is my blog post on BT and the prerequisites that need to exist before any company can be successful at BT:

    The Promise & Challenge of Behavior Targeting

    Brendan: I would not call that "minuscule", what you are pointing are the essence of a consistent user experience and it is broken on so many sites.

    In a world where seemingly everyone as ADD (especially on the web) these subtle things can mean the difference with Visitors sticking around and bouncing quickly.

    Tony: I am certainly not making lite of the fact that it is hard to monetize content.

    But compare what is doing vs and that is really what I was pointing to. Give the content, atleast enough to cover 50% of the page and not 20%, and then show ads. People don't come to a content site to see ads, they come to see the content and if they like it they will come again and click on ads.

    You are right that it is difficult to convince the HiPPO's of this.


  14. 14

    Great post, love it. I also love the post "What can Digital Marketers learn from Olympic Cyclists?".


    I keep a document with questions about analytics / of which I can't find the answer online. Maybe you could open 'send in your questions' section in your website. And once a while, when you have the urge to write, pick a question that gets asked a lot and write the answer.

    Just a thought!

  15. 15

    Great post, Avinash!

    Business schools often do a case study on Home Depot's recovery from near bankrupcy to the top hardware retailer in the US. The unique thing about that case study is that there wasn't one big change that resulted in the improvements. They simply tightened their belt just a little in several places and made very minor changes to a variety of things. In essence, this blog post is the web analytics version of the Home Depot case study.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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    Mathieu Bernatchez says

    Hello Avinash, (and please excuse my English)

    About your #6 and surveys, it seems that today almost every website is running its own "tell us what you think" survey. Your 4Q post and promotion made surveys the new buzzword and I am now exposed to one of them almost every day. They were cute a few months ago, but now they're becoming increasingly annoying for me.

    Is there a risk that, considering the number of times that users are now exposed to these "pop-ups that are not real pop-ups but are equally annoying", these surveys will become as bad as advertising pop-ups for the overall user experience?

    Aren't the exit rates higher on the pages that ask people to fill-in these surveys? Are users exposed to these "pop-ups" less likely to be back on the site afterwards?

    I saw Google using another way of asking users to fill-in a survey, with a large square box located at the botton of their pages (that was inside the conversion university), asking users to click to tell them what they thought. I personnaly prefer that method that is less intrusive for me but are the users participating is those surveys?

    Your input on that would be appreciated, it's always a pleasure to read your blog!

  17. 17

    Mathieu: Your concern is valid, you should ideally not see the survey on more than one site.

    The challenge that iPerceptions (or any other vendor) has is how do they "know" that you have already seen on my site, as an example, and also on, say,

    What they would need is a third party cookie (or spyware!). It is a non trivial challenge (for any vendor).

    I concur with you that it is a problem that needs to be solved cleverly.

    Today you won't see the survey on the same site more than once a month (at most, if you are lucky enough to be in the small pool that gets sampled). So if you saw it on my site today, you won't see it again for a month because a first party cookie is set to prevent that.

    To your second point, there are many page level surveys available, I liked to two in my post in point #6.

    They are good and serve a wonderful purpose, but it is important to know that Page Level surveys serve a different purpose than Site Level surveys. They are not "swappable". See more in this post:

    Eight Tips For Choosing An Online Survey Provider

    Thanks for the great comment (and your English is excellent!!).


  18. 18

    @Mathieu and bounce rates: Hi,

    We use 4Q for a lot of our clients and have not seen a measurable increase in bounces or any other "unwanted" behavior. Even if there is an increase in the 0.x% section, the outcomes of these surveys are far too valuable that this would give me sleepless nights.


  19. 19

    Hi Avinash,

    Sent you a tweet too on this. is there anyway i can understand how google search engine works?
    read somethings on the internet but they dont make much sense to me and also, its not accurate.


  20. 20

    Thanks, Avinash, that's the most comprehensive and well illustrated SEO advice I've seen in awhile.

    I'll remember to improve a little on a lot the next time I feel overwhelmed by a project.

  21. 21

    I am amazed to see how can continue to write such wonderful post all the time….

    It was indeed useful

  22. 22

    Hi Avinash, great post as usual.

    One question: we have an avg of 3% conversion of visitors who make enquiries (we sell a service not a product), of course I would like to have more, then I read about people struggling to get 1% and I think, ok can I get any better then?

    Excuse the skeptical comment, but where do we put the upper limit? 7%? 10%?

    Has any research been done and are any benchmark data available? Thanks.

  23. 23

    Avinash, how long does it take you to write one of these blog posts?

  24. 24

    Cheers for sharing this awesome and in-depth article. Simply just great stuff.

  25. 25


    Here's my attitude:

    Each week / month / day you want to keep getting better. Of course your focus should not only be on Conversion but also the Micro Conversions!

    Excellent Analytics Tip #13: Measure Macro AND Micro Conversions

    That said check in the UK in terms of what is available, things might be different there. For a more US centric view I recommend checking out:

    FireClick Index (benchmarks in a bunch of verticals):

    Hope this helps.

    Nithin: Typically around four or five hours to write the post, another couple to find all the pictures and finalize things. Of course I would have thought about the topic and researched it and stress tested it in my head for hours before that. But I suppose that does not count.


  26. 26

    We have been using 4Q since it went public. We tested it using Google Website Optimizer. It actually increased conversion a bit for our site.

    That said, our biggest frustration is the number open responses that say "We would have finished our primary task but we got this survey popup." Basically a portion of the online public at large only glances at the 4Q invitation instead of reading the instructions and waiting for their session to be over.

    I've posted in the forum that there ought to be a way to improve this (more concise instructions, delayed popup, explanation on the first question, some idea should work). The only response I got from 4Q was the "We test these things carefully . . ." brushoff.

    We do continue to use this free tool and enjoy the data we get from it, but we have the invitation rate as low as it will go (it would be nice to have a finer touch than whole percent) to minimize the invitation frustration factor.

    The point is to be careful with 4Q because it will raise user frustration to some level and the data from these users will be suspect.

  27. 27

    First of all, i really like all of your posts. I read them all! :)

    i saw one of your pictures, and of them caught my atention "individual-website-page-analysis.png"

    I work at, we are responsibles of Online marketing Latam of this company. I know that maybe is confidencial but… from what website is that analytics in that pic? seems to be… We know that we are the top referrer to, so i was just curious :)

  28. 28

    I have a Google Analytics question… if you have a bounce rate of 60% and average pages per visit of 4 – does that mean that 40% of the traffic view 4 pages each, or are the pages per visit taken from 100% of the traffic (and therefore the 40% that stay actually view more than the 4 pages)?

  29. 29

    Alex: What you are looking for is the Depth of Visit report.

    You'll find it under Visitors -> Visitor Loyalty -> Depth of Visit.

    That will tell you exactly how many people see how many pages on a nice delightful distribution of the data.

    Oh and everyone in that first row on that report bounced.

    No guessing. :)


  30. 30

    Glad, finding this site- some answers to a beginners questions-

    greetings from germany

  31. 31

    Great article. My traffic is slowly increasing but my conversions and adsense click are not. This article has given me lots of food for thought for ways to improve what I have – thanks.


  1. […] Recession Busting Analytics (Occam's Razor blog – better for advanced users) […]

  2. […] Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics! (Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik) […]

  3. […]
    Avinash Kaushik wrote a terrific post on his blog, Occam’s Razor, titled “Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics!” which touches on topics that apply not only to web analytics but can be expanded into customer experience analytics as well. If you haven’t read Avinash’s post, do that now, then come back and read more here.

  4. […] Kudos to Avinash Kaushik’s “Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics!” blog post; it’s a good read and it should help people become more realistic about their expectations for conversion rate improvements. Of course, there will always be those who want their money for nothing […]

  5. […] Our favorite Analytics Guru, Avinash Kaushik, brings us Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics! […]

  6. Quote gem…

    Love this quote gem from Avinash Kaushik:

    Back in the 1980's Jan Carlzon was trying to breathe new life into an ailing Scandinavian Air Services. He was famous for saying "You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%".

    The post on aggregating marginal gains is excellent, too.

  7. […]
    Avinash Kaushik lists 7 actionable “small and medium sized ideas” that will add up to big changes and hopefully big ROI for your website. These aren’t necessarily new projects, just tweaks and changes to the way things are already being done. Kaushik calls them “immediately fixable things”. Try out a few and let us know how it works out for you!

    "Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics!"

  8. […] [Me atrevo a decir que es un tema principalmente importante para Consultores, no entregar reportes y datos sino "Insights" – incluso simplemente ideas accionables como sugiere este post: Generación de Ganancia Marginal] […]

  9. […]
    So many tools exist out there to help you find the right metrics. Here are just a few examples:

    Avinash Kaushik looked at some “recession busting analytics“. Good tips there.

    Avinash also recently spelled out 4 useful KPI measurement techniques.

  10. […] Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics Avinash Kaushik surmises, on his blog, that simple things can add up to big things, and that by using web analytics for online businesses, we'll know exactly how to look for them. "We are constantly on a quest to conquer the next big thing. Mountain. Ocean. Planet. 'Conversion Buster.' The next million dollar opportunity. Not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with that quest. The challenge is that frequently in that quest we ignore the immediately achievable. And that tradeoff is a crime. Back in the 1980’s Jan Carlzon was trying to breathe new life into an ailing Scandinavian Air Services. He was famous for saying “You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%”." […]

  11. […]
    In reading an Occam’s Razor blog post from earlier this year, “Aggregation of Marginal Gains: Recession Busting Analytics!," I noted that Avinash is discussing exactly the same experience we at FutureNow underwent. Ten years ago, low hanging fruit in the conversion improvement space meant high traffic, high impact changes from fixing obviously-wrong calls to action: bad linking, non-obvious next steps, poor UI (user interface).

  12. […]
    If you haven't already, link your AdSense and Analytics accounts in order to take full advantage of what Analytics can offer. If you don't yet have an Analytics account, you can sign up today.

    Additional Resources:
    Read more from Avinash at his blog, Occam's Razor, which has more tips like the above and additional ways to use Visitor Loyalty metrics, or on the Official Google Blog.

  13. Woopra » How Can Woopra Help You Better “See” Your Customers? says:

    […] Analytics expert, Avinash Kaushik explained in his article on "Recession Busting Analytics" that we learn more about our business, and our opportunities, with our customers and websites by […]

  14. […]
    One very useful approach, touted by Avinash Kaushik is called aggregation of marginal gains, wherein basically you laser target small, useful changes and let those minor successes pool into big results. This is counter to what most people will try to do, namely fix some really big thing and therefore hit a home run. Avinash is all about hitting meaningful singles.

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