- Perry Williams: Hello Dear, I am strongly agree with your point that the web analytics is associated with the social...
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My Blogger Friends
In the path to web analytical enlightenment (heaven), there is no one answer or even one path - a bit of a misnomer really. However, since we have to start somewhere here is a 5 step web analytics plan that I have developed after working with a number of clients that really helps me to get the perspective I need to really improve their marketing effectiveness and as a result conversion rate. First, look at your actual website (it’s design and layout etc) and then get started.
Here is my 5 step web analytics plan
1. Map out your websites’ goals
2. Assess clickstream data
3. Take ownership of your site’s goals
4. Ask your customers – surveys/testing
5. Benchmark against your competitors
1. What are the site’s goals?
Map out your websites’ goals and what is currently available to make these a reality – it is so important for key stakeholders to be involved at this stage to make sure you really nail your KPIs. At the end of the day, everything else that you find out about your site and your ultimate conversion rate are all completely dependent on making sure you know exactly what your goals are and what is currently available online to make them a reality. If you cannot decide the one important reason why your site exists, you have a big problem – it’s that classic “build it and they will come” which unfortunately does not work. Once your goals are firmly in place, brainstorm and drill-down into inordinate amounts of detail as whether the website supports these goals as successfully as it possibly could (there is no such thing as perfection but whatever you think is as perfect it could get). Already, a long list of action points (actionable insights) are jumping out where the site is not supporting it’s goals as completely as it could.
2. Assess clickstream data
Assess clickstream data with site overlay tools, which can also show which clicks are for example generating most goal conversions and also with heatmaps which give a wonderful visual perspective of what is actually happening on your site. Google Analytics or Clicktracks site overlay tools both can show total clicks and clicks generating conversions. Crazy Egg has a great heat map and it is so easy to set up. However, clickstream data is often missing the context, in that absence we overlay our own opinions / perspectives to make sense of it all – which is why it is only one part of the analytical process. For example, looking at a conversion funnel on your website will not always be as meaningful as we think it should – in most cases your visitors will have so many paths to a your site’s goal that a linear funnel is not helpful. Instead if we have more of a flow chart with the most popular pages in each step of the process grouped together a much more evocative illustration is depicted. As another example, it may be that over 20% of the clicks on your homepage are on non-clickable items which is telling you that your content is not as intuitively displayed as it could be. In any case, this new generation of heatmapping and overlay is a very visual way of understanding what people are actually doing.
3. Taking ownership of goals for the site
Make sure that the relevant/right person at your company takes ownership of their goal for the site, such as Increase site engagement rate by posting relevant articles and blog posts and highlights them on the home page. If each goal owner has a KPI (key performance indicator) card they are answerable and responsible for improving on that particular goal – it has become part of their job description. This is a very simple idea that has been around for ages, I saw Nokia doing KPI cards recently but this really goes back to Kaplan’s balanced scorecard.
4. Ask your customers and listen- testing different page versions, online surveys, old fashioned questionnaires
Add a short “free text” 3 question survey to the site:
Definitely an Avinash ism but also a fundamental/traditional part of marketing as well. Ask questions such as: Why are you here today? Were you able to do what you wanted? How can we improve the site to make it easier for you to do what you want to do? One client consistently has 50% response rate to their survey on the confirmation page. And this is the quickest, cheapest and one of the best ways to find out what your customers/site visitors want. Let the customer/visitor talk (no drop menu choices), give them a chance to tell you in their own voice the reasons and let them provide you with suggestions. It works better than guessing what the answers might be and suggesting those. Categorise the responses into common themes and then rate the % of times each theme is occurring for those who are not able to complete their task. This is a simple and direct to-do list of issues directly from the horse’s mouth about what you should work on in order to improve your website experience for your customers and as a result increase your site’s effectiveness (marketing effectiveness dare I say it).
Test different versions of the home page/key conversion page:
Change specific parts of the page to assess the impact on defined goals, and assess which version is most effective – change the images, change the tone and messaging of copy from salesy to informative, change the layout – for example place only your two most popular products/services on a page versus in addition having all your significant products or services but without too much detail. The key is to test 2 page variants that are significantly different from the original with underlying marketing premise/understanding. Version 1 generates more short-term sales of product X, version 2 generates visitors with a better site experience, version 3 generates less sales of product X than version 1 but more sales overall via a better displayed overall product/service range.
Market questionnaires – old-fashioned but they work
These can be a goldmine of valuable customer preferences to one’s marketing. However, they can take longer to organise, are usually more expensive if one involves an agency and due to their qualititative nature take longer (than online surveys) to generate the same quantity of responses.
5. Expansive benchmarking against your competitors
Try comparing yourself/site against other successful online marketing resources. What can you learn from them and apply? How can we be better than them? Define where the benchmarks are (eg how often do other sites update their homepages with relevant content)? Who are the competitors we see ourselves competing against. N.B Remember that significant time and resources are required to achieve benchmarking successfully – this is not just an add-on.Benchmarking is not always easily quantifiable – but insights will begin to jump out at you once carried out. For example, if you work for a magazine – what is the customer subscription process delivering, how often is content updated in key areas and what is it’s quality, what level of services are offered to visitors versus registered users versus subscribers, how is the magazine presenting it’s brand/itself etc. Some of this is subjective and qualititative and best carried out if you have experience in usability for example. Others such as site popularity, seo presence etc can be easily found out either through Alexa the poor man’s competitive intelligence tool or paid-for services such as Comscore and Hitwise.
A list of areas (not definitive) to benchmark your company against your main competitors:
Usability: Navigation and tools, Content categorisation and quality.
Audience needs: Currency and relevancy to audience, Depth of services for subscribers.
Self representation: Brand communication, Innovation.
Content areas: Visitor interaction, Frequency of updated content.
Traffic: Incoming links, Site traffic.
It can be a bit daunting when faced with this 5 step plan to contemplate carrying out the whole thing within a short time frame (2 months), but it is achievable and the results can be unimaginably insightful and really can and will transform your site’s performance and marketing effectiveness overall.Each step in the analytics plan will have generated conclusions, action points and actionable insights and when placed in a categorised matrix by conclusion theme and in proximity to the site goals (betweenness), a natural order in which to carry out and deliver the action points and insights delivered by this plan will develop. I will write a thorough post on delivering change and insights as a follow-up to this 5 step analytics plan post. Hope that you enjoyed reading and please do comment whether you agree or completely disagree!
Social networks online, such as Facebook and Myspace are becoming more and more important. Increasingly, marketing through these online social networks will become ever more prevalent. For example, a friend of mine has launched his “socialight” application onto Facebook’s open API (which means external programmers can add programs and applications to facebook – not just facebook employees) – where you subscribe to an online and mobile phone GPS “stickies” service. Another example might be someone with a lot of social capital (ie contacts and influence online), in turn influencing their friends, contacts and others exponentially in theory due to the fluid nature of a social network to buy a product or service. Related to this but slightly different, Blogvertise is a service which pays bloggers to promote a product or service related to the blogger’s field of expertise. You get the gist. This is all seriously fascinating marketing.
The 2 things that absolutely fascinate me are:
1. The major challenge facing marketing strategists in how to increase the effectiveness of social network based marketing strategies.
2. The future marrying of web analytics and social network analysis and resulting improved marketing effectiveness and business intelligence.
Measuring the influence of myspace visitors
MIT Media Lab / Social Media Lab designed a flexible tool for the content driven exploration and visualization of a social network. Building upon a traditional force-directed network layout consisting of nodes (profiles) and ties (friend-links), the system shows the activity and the information exchange (postings in the comment box) between nodes, taking the sequence and age of the messages into account.
In the myspace service network-only visualization methods are no longer sufficient to meaningfully represent the community structure. Numerous commercial profiles, fake/spam/celebrity profiles and tools such as automated friend adders result in a huge numbers of connections, many of which carry little information about a person’s actual social ties and behavior. The average myspace user has more than 130 friends, but there are also profiles with over a million “friends”. By going beyond the “skeleton” of network connectivity and looking at the flow of information between the individual actors, the authors hope to create a far more accurate portrait of online social life.
Visualisation of the true influence of comment flow of myspace visitors:
What is social networking analysis:
Social network analysis has emerged as a key technique over the last century in modern sociology, anthropology (good thing I am a qualified anthropologist), sociolinguistics, geography, social psychology, information science to measure what individuals do and the many types of relationships between one another. And now social network analysis becomes important in web analytics. Social network analysis sees social relationships in terms of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individuals (visitors) within the networks, and ties are the many types of relationships between the individuals.
Two Social networking analysis metrics (an introduction merely):
Read Judah’s thought provoking post for more social networking analysis metrics and opinions.
Degree an individual lies between other individuals in the network i.e it’s the number of people who a person is connected to indirectly through their direct links.
The degree an individual is near all other individuals in a network (directly or indirectly). It reflects the ability to access information through the “grapevine” of network members. Thus, closeness is the inverse of the sum of the shortest distances between each individual and every other person in the network.
Marketing in social networks
Jason Ethier has written a good paper on social networks. He tells us that the main questions for researchers in social network theory are which types of social networks can be used as a basis for marketing strategy, how to identify and measure social networks, how to mobilise and manage social networks, and which marketing decisions can benefit the most from social network concepts and methods? Researchers have found that consumer networks that are not under the control of a corporation work best for marketing purposes which is why networks such as facebook and myspace are so successful. Corporations identify and measure social networks by collecting information from their customers. One method of doing this is by distributing loyalty/discount cards (large retailers do this) in exchange for customer information.
Social network theory and analysis and their marrying with web analytics is certain to become ever more prevalent as more companies learn of the marketing potential of social networks. And hopefully will become more mainstreamed into web analytics as a whole and into the web analytics solutions themselves. (hopefully anyway)
I welcome your feedback, thoughts or complete disagreement – so please share your thoughts and most importantly, THANKS FOR READING!
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