How does one define “success” online in 2008? Tons of traffic? Tremendous revenue? An inbox full of customer leads? This Search Engine Strategies San Jose panel offered attendees various methods to measure “success,” and highlighted which metrics are important, which aren’t and how to make websites better to serve business objectives.

Moderator Richard Zwicky is the CEO of Enquisite, a next-gen natural search web analytics solution provider. The first speaker was Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist and Web Analytics Blogger at Occam’s Razor. He is also the co-founder of MarketMotive. He told the crowd that he was plotting “world-domination” (joke) and then, he showed pictures of his two kids. :)

Avinash preaches that Web 2.0 presents such a challenge because marketers need to fundamentally alter their mindset or 2.0 won’t work. He then showed how a “Dude” can interact, redistribute and mashup traditional news channels. At the end of the day (or beginning depending on your perspective) 2.0 is different but ultimately better.

New Ideas for a New World:
#1 Multiplicity, Baby. Need to use many different tools to work with and measure content distribution.

#2 Unique measures for a unique world. RSS is the ultimate permission marketing (Feedburner).

#3 Unique Data Collection. Foundation for analytical measurement had been based on Fake Page Views…instead, use “Event Logging” as your metric.

Avinash was an incredibly passionate speaker and it was a treat to watch him present.

The next speaker, Jim Sterne, founded Target Marketing and is the President of the Web Analytics Association. He thinks that Web 2.0 is now Web 2.0.1. “A website is window into the hearts and minds of the marketplace and there is an “overwhelming amount of data” to harvest. Web Metrics are”growing up as are search metrics. The economy is influencing Web 2.0 and the current tough times call for tough cost-cutting measures. Marketers need to know which keywords are bringing profits and are selling the highest margin items.

The next speaker, Matt Bailey, is President of SiteLogic, a search marketing consulting and training company. Analytics, he says, is about “asking questions and looking at complex issues. Build context, segment & compare to yourself.”

Conversion doesn’t mean anything unless you segment appropriately and you have context. Matt suggests “segmenting until you get meaningful information.Then, you can gain understanding as to what can affect your conversion rate and make decisions on the information you have.

1) Ask questions.
2) Take action.
3) Do something.

The final speaker, Marshall Sponder, is senior web analyst for Monster.com. Marshall spoke without a prepared presentation, but the guy genuinely looks at Web Analytics as an artist (and did a real good job on a self-portrait which was on his one slide).

He explained that traffic to social networks comes from social media, not from search. Therefore marketers need to try and figure out “What is a Conversation”? Web 2.0 is about empowering people to contribute and the technologies that are being used aren’t that difficult.

Also social media traffic is more directed than search traffic. Seek out “big pattens in data.The question you ask frequently determines the answer to it (…so true…). Don’t forget that once you get people to a site, you need to give them something to do.

Web analytics is established in organizations…search is part of marketing and social media isn’t…many organization aren’t clear where social media belongs.

Marketing can’t frequently quantify the ROI. For many organizations, measurement will be baked into the campaign right at the beginning…companies won’t do anything that can’t be measured.

Q&A Highlights.

  • Avinash: Page views aren’t dead yet but are trending that way.
  • Matt: Event logging much more important than page views.
  • Jim: “Don’t Make Me Think” and “Always Be Testing” (which happen to be 2 book titles).
  • Matt: No analytics program is 100% accurate…objective for software is to be less inaccurate…focus on the trends, not the hard numbers.
  • Avinash: Dynamic bidding works better for longtail terms, not head terms.
  • Avinash: Need to use qualitative feedback to understand the “Why” of your website (e.g. surveys, eyetracking).
  • Jim: Need to collect the following data: Behavior, Attitude, Outcomes & Competitive Intelligence. Ideally, one needs to bring all these factors together.
  • Avinash & Matt: Excel is still a necessary tool to use as part of the Analytics process. Marshall: Business processes have a great influence on analytics data which can drive peaks and valley of traffic.
  • Avinash: Focus on Visitor Loyalty report…measures returning visitors & distance between the visits.

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide.

  • Robert

    I don’t see what the big deal is. If he can actually afford to plant real trees for just $2 then good on him.

    Although I think the link is intended very much in the classic sponsor model rather than selling links for PR. I might be wrong here, but I don’t think the webmaster really wanted to sell PR. And lets face it if he gets it right and plants 1,000,000 trees then the PR that will be shared will be so minimal that I’m betting it won’t have any affect at all (as you rightly pointed out).

    Anyhow… I recycle, but don’t get paid. Perhaps I should contact Mondi and have them pay me ;)