Archive for the ‘metrics’ Category

Give web analytics the human touch

May 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/18905.asp

Getting the right web analytics tool is only half the battle; the real focus of your web analytics program should be the people who work with it.

Web analytics solutions can be automated to track and then deliver data to individuals in an organization, but people need to set up the solution in the first place, and people need to make key decisions regarding the data. The tool itself — its cost and acquisition, etc. — used to be the analytics industry’s primary focus, but the focus is now moving towards the question of what to do with the tools and data once you have them. While the tool is automated, most of the value of web analytics is a function of the people who work with the numbers.

Inception
As an analytical solution is born, a huge amount of human interaction is necessary to get it off the ground. Someone in the organization will need to assume responsibility for the project, effectively becoming the stakeholder who will be in charge of setting the key business objectives, evaluating the different tools and eventually driving web analytics within the company. This person is pivotal to the success of the rest of the project; laying a solid foundation will ensure that the solution is as close to spec (business needs) and as reliable as possible. This person is likely to be someone who has an excellent understanding of the business and its objectives and who wants to see the project work.

Implementation
Once the tool has been chosen, it is now necessary to engage with a technical resource within the organization. This person will need to interpret the KPI’s that have been passed down from the stakeholder and make sure that the tagging solution and blueprint match these objectives as closely as possible. This requires a strong understanding of the technology, as well as of the infrastructure it will run on and the methods for its deployment. This individual is also likely to be involved with strategies relating to page and campaign tracking and integration with external data sources. This ensures that the solution is installed with minimum negative impact to business as usual.

Analysis and optimization
Once a good repository of historical information has been created, an analyst is engaged. This is the person that finds trends in the data in order to predict items like churn, click fraud and likelihood to convert/engage with the site. Based on expertise, he or she will be able to make the call on items that are likely to affect the objectives of the web business, and he or she will report to the key individuals who can take action. This person would also be able to set up testing and optimization strategies to assess campaigns, landing pages and content to determine which are improving and degrading the customer experience. There is a perpetual need for human interaction at this stage, as the individual will be involved in constantly testing and optimizing elements and content of the website.

Training
Training is one of the biggest pain points, and there is definitely a huge correlation between knowledge and the subsequent adoption of any tool. There are applications out there that can provide simulated training, but these are very rigid and only provide generic data. Interactive training provided by a person that can interact, engage and inspire users is more effective. This person will be able to look at specific data that excites the audience and field questions from the participants as the training progresses.

Training related to implementation of the tools, tagging concepts and analytics terminology can facilitate the uptake of web analytics within a business. Many vendors offer certification training, which offers the dual benefits of imparting knowledge and helping the individual’s career and credibility.

Internal adoption
Internal adoption is vital to analytics being accepted throughout an organization. It is necessary to maintain a key stakeholder that will champion the cause throughout the company. They may hold sessions with individuals in the company, set up a road show to highlight the analytics key points or illustrate how the tool can increase throughput or ROI.  They will be responsible for establishing the web analytics team, definition of roles and responsibility, executive mandating, business process integration, data adoption and opening the communication channels to ensure timely delivery of credible and relevant data.

The examples above highlight just some of the reasons that human interaction is related to web analytics today. The list is by no means conclusive, but it makes clearer that the knowledge that comes from people power is essential to the success at all stages of the analytics process. Furthermore, training and empowerment is necessary to ensure these key skills remain where they are needed, within the organization.

A low-cost plan to elevate your brand

May 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/19129.asp

As the economy weakens and your competitors cut budgets, you can get the leg up with a thought-out digital marketing strategy.

As the economy grows more uncertain, a common reaction is to cut marketing budgets. Before following the crowd you may want to look for the silver lining. It is likely that your competitors will cut their marketing budgets thereby reducing their media presence. With a few adjustments in your marketing plan, you have an opportunity to eclipse the competition while remaining mindful of budget restrictions.

Now is the time to engage the full range of interactive media to create a powerful, targeted marketing mix. The following presents effective ways to move forward.

Use your data
More than likely your company has been collecting data from numerous channels — website, call center, direct mail, etc.­– but if you are like many companies this may be as far as it goes. Now is the perfect time to analyze your data.

A thorough analysis may uncover a trend that can be acted upon in a significant way, such as repositioning your website. As major overhauls are time-consuming and expensive, it may be easier, less costly and potentially more beneficial to create a targeted micro-site focused on a particular product, service or niche. With the intelligence gathered, this site should be optimized to yield meaningful results from major search engines. A micro-site is a good way to test the accuracy of your analysis and it can be the basis for a website overhaul later.

You may also consider creating several SEO (Search Engine Optimized) landing pages to target different audiences, which is one of the most effective ways to get powerful results from Google. Here, users arrive at a welcoming page that speaks directly to their search, and are guided to relevant sections of your site. This can bring them closer to a purchase decision or connect them with the information they want. Now analytics equals results.

Digital deals and opportunities
Traditional media buys typically have long leads before their effectiveness can be measured, providing little opportunity to tweak campaigns. By the time measurable results arrive, your budget is depleted. While traditional advertising can be expensive, digital media offers a wide range of affordable advertising options. With the ability to build highly customized campaigns that can be tracked up to the minute and down to the individual user, search engine marketing should be part of almost any advertising campaign. But effective digital marketing does not need to stop there.

Here are a few effective approaches:

Blogs and beyond
Advertising on a community site whose audience is inclined toward your product or service can build strong brand association. By getting involved as an active contributor with valuable content, you become part of a community and are able to monitor what is going on in your industry’s corner of the blogosphere. This can gain you invaluable market insight.

To take it a step further, consider micro-blogging through services such as Twitter or Pownce. Here you can keep a group informed of your every move on a moment-to-moment basis and learn what they are up to as well. This can be an even deeper way of involving yourself in the lives of a core group.

Podcasts
Often overlooked as an advertising vehicle, podcasts can also reach a core demographic. For example, if you’re looking to reach a tech-savvy audience, consider TWIT (This Week in Tech’s podcast.) Or create your own custom podcasts to get your message out. Startup costs are minimal, and if you offer valuable information, you can create a meaningful relationship with your listeners. (See “The Perks of podcast advertising.”)

Niche and community websites
The internet has no shortage of websites with unique audiences. MySpace and Facebook are the two communities that come to mind, but there are many others that are even more geared toward specialized interests. Check Ning.com for examples of easy-to-create niche social networks.

If you build it (right), they will come
Besides web-based advertising, consider fostering relationships with customers by creating a destination worth visiting or a useful widget to download. These interactive platforms can be custom built to effectively reach your audience.

Some possibilities follow, with a few examples of what has worked from my company’s clients:

The micro-site
Micro-sites provide a great way to promote a product or service at lower cost than a corporate site and can provide greater flexibility. Additionally, these sites are often more fun to visit as they can be built around a single creative concept. The Oprah, Dove and the Girl Scouts of America site, which we based upon Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, is an example of an effective micro-site. This provided an engaging environment built around user-generated content.

Landing pages
Landing pages are a powerful way to stretch one’s website development investment. A landing page designed around a specific search query, such as “hammer,” can send a prospect to the home page of a hardware store, where he will have to navigate through that site to track down the product. Alternatively, if the search engine had directed the consumer to a landing page for that same hardware store where a variety of hammers, nails and tool belts were featured, you not only have a result that brings you closer to making a purchase, but that also offers cross-selling options. This is where valuable online customer relationships can begin.

Mobile
Mobile communications as a means of marketing is one of the fastest growing options and enables users to connect with people in unique ways. For example, SiiTE Interactive worked with PayPal to create a mobile shopping environment that brought mobility to ecommerce. The way this works is the following: If a user spots a product in a store front window, in a magazine, on a billboard or almost any place, and she sees a PayPal ID, she simply texts the ID code from her mobile phone and the product is purchased and shipped directly to her mailing address.

Widgets
Widgets are distributed components used to present data through a user interface. They break into three major types. The first is the desktop widget, which lives within the highly coveted real-estate of your computer’s desktop or as an add-on to the operating system. The second is the embedded widget, which is typically placed into blogs, web pages and personal pages such as Facebook. The third type is the mobile widget developed for smart phones.

Widgets are powerful because they are trackable, easily distributed, and if the content is compelling, they will show up everywhere. Creating a custom widget can be a great broadcast medium for advertising or sponsorships. (See “The art of widgetry: a primer.”)

SiiTE has developed numerous widgets including branded shopping widgets that serve up favorite items for avid shoppers on a daily basis. This widget has a calendar-based system on the back-end that allows an administrator to serve new products on any date and for any duration.

Viral content
The current rage is creating content that is so compelling, humorous, or off-the-wall that people are driven to pass it along to friends. Well-known examples include the JibJab spoofs, the Cadbury drum-playing gorilla, and of course, Diet Coke-Mentos’ eruption videos. One favorite is Will it Blend, a website with 3.5 million viewings of the infamous iPhone in a blender video. More importantly, Blendtec quadrupled blender sales after the video hit.

This can be a great marketing tool on a small budget. It is even possible to create live streaming content from your mobile phone with services such as qik.com. However, purposefully creating content in the hopes of it going viral is a long shot. Have fun and get your content out there but don’t expect it to explode unless you’ve really got something unique or you have content that serves some positive social value. (See “5 consumer touchpoints for viral viability.”)

SiiTE Interactive worked with a major pharmaceutical company to help create personalized video messages directed toward caregivers of specific medical conditions. These campaigns generate tremendous pass-along appeal because of their personalized nature. Once customized by a friend or family member, a collection of video clips are automatically edited and sent to the recipient. The final video presentation speaks directly to the caregiver, even going as far as having the video spokesperson refer to family members by their first name.

Measuring success
Measuring the effectiveness of traditional media is often subject to a significant amount of interpretation. Digital media metrics, while not perfect themselves, are often more precise and more targeted. Digital media metrics can more easily track niche groups or even individuals right through to a sales conversion. This said, when money is tight, it may be comforting to see where one’s budget is actually going.

With the lower cost of entry that digital media offers, it becomes affordable to experiment. You can test various targeted buys that yield results within days or even hours, or build precisely crafted micro-sites. The bottom line — now is a fantastic time to explore the possibilities of digital media.

Omniture Adds Tracking For Video, Search Engines

April 2, 2008

Media Post Publications

 by Mark Walsh, Thursday, Mar 6, 2008 7:00 AM ET

AMONG PRODUCT UPGRADES ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY, Omniture has added the ability to track video to the latest version of its flagship SiteCatalyst Web analytics software.

 

The new capability will allow marketers using video in online campaigns to monitor engagement through metrics such as how long videos were played, whether viewers skipped through them, and which led to conversions. The technology can also be used to track Flash- and Flex-based applications and is compatible with Windows Media Player, QuickTime and RealPlayer.

Omniture said the move is aimed at addressing the growing use of rich media, user-generated content, widgets, video and mobile devices. The prior version of SiteCatalyst added features for tracking Web 2.0 marketing campaigns on forum such as blogs and social networking sites.

The new version-SiteCatalyst14-also features a new dashboard that allows users to publish and distribute reports in various formats including PDF, Excel, Word and HTML.

The company also launched a new version of its search engine marketing software that lets users analyze campaigns through metrics such as revenue, clicks, return-on-investment or budget optimization. Its SearchCenter 3 also increases the volume of keywords that can be managed under a given campaign. It also shows natural and paid search results side-by-side in a new interface to make it easier to track SEM efforts.

Separately, Omniture on Wednesday said it had entered into a partnership with Baidu.com to provide metrics for search marketing campaigns through the Chinese-language search engine. “By integrating our search metrics with Omniture, we believe online marketers will not only be able to measure campaigns but also improve conversion by making the end-to-end search experience more relevant,” said Haoyu Shen, Baidu.com’s vice president of business operations, in a statement.

Baidu.com’s share of Web search traffic in China as of the end of September 2007 was 73.6%; its share of search marketing spend was 60.8%, according to iResearch.

Omniture has cemented its position atop the industry in the last year through a string of acquisitions including an agreement to purchase Visual Sciences (formerly WebSideStory) for $394 million.