However, you can make money from your website when properly advised & optimized by your web analytics, as Jim Sterne so correctly pointed out at SES Chicago 2009. Many of us have access to some sort of analytics for web properties we’re involved with, but how many of us really use the data effectively? More importantly, are we making real money from analytics insight? Is there more to life than just the conversion?
The session How To Turn Your Web Analytics Into a Money Making Machine was totally educational, not just because it provided answers, but because it proferred the types of questions we should all ask when pulling up our analytics dashboard over morning tea.
Moderating this session was Richard Zwicky . Speaking first was Bryan Eisenberg, SES advisory board manager.
Oh My God! Bad Analysis Killed Kenny
Bryan says there aren’t enough people in the world that know what to do with analytics & on top of that, we have a data diarrhea problem. Before Google analytics, not everyone had access to good data. This is no longer the case. The problem is what do you do with it?
The first extreme people fall into is looking at analytics (even daily reports) & then just filing them without action. The other extreme is from looking so deep into the data that they’re completely removed from revenue.
Bryan says that analytics works because of process. It’s about continuous improvement (kaizen maybe?) Most people can plan, most people can measure, but not everyone can improve. You can’t make money by just looking at reports.
Improvement comes down to:
Budget – Even it you dedicated 5 hours a month of your personal time on things you can to do optimize – you will do better.
People - You need talented people, creative resources to pool.
Culture – Adopt the policy of being a data driven company. For obvious reasons, this can be harder for large companies.
There are three steps for making real improvements based on analytics insight:
1. Every time you see reports, you need a to – do list. What marketing efforts or parts of your site have challenges? What do you think can improve these things? What sort of things do you want to test? Look at your competitor’s efforts and test. Decide what efforts you do more of & what efforts you do less of.
Then you prioritize your improvements & recommendations. You have to prioritize based on resources and impact. If you only have 5 hours a month and you have something that will take 20 hours, don’t do it.
2. Segment your way out of sadness. Average metrics product average results – they don’t given you any kind of valuable information. Why? If one of your goals is to improve conversion rate – break down the number of people in your audience – do you treat repeat customers different from new customers? How do you treat people different later vs sooner in the buying cycle?
What do you do with this information? Create personas to classify your potential customers. They have different preferences. If you need to, create little stories around them to relate to these people. Each one of these personas is going through a different journey through the conversion points you send them through. It’s unfair to think everyone who’s never heard of you before wants to come to your website and sleep with you.
Then, look at basic segments in Google. There’s different conversion rates based on different visitors. Maybe users need different information. After you realize this – that each person is part of a different segment, then prioritize which personas are the most important.
3. Always be Testing! (not a plug, Bryan swears). A/B and multivariate testing is classic, but you have to do other tests. Usability tests are important. Explore new marketing efforts; play with new things to see if they have traction or not.
Consider low cost user testing tools like 5 Second Test & Feedback Army (among several others). You can have people do usability testing of your pages with attached audio commentary for peanuts basically.
If these don’t work for you – Pray!!!
Next up was Phil Mui from Google Analytics. Phil said he admired the other panelists when he was even in grammar school
Making Money with Google Analytics
Most of us have a 2% conversion rate, how do you measure the success of the rest of the 98%? Conversion is such an important KPI, that our world looks like keyword -> website -> conversion. Is optimizing for conversion the main thing you want to do? Mui says it may not be the right KPI.
Imagine if Sears only cared about conversion rate at their retail stores. They could give every sales person a knife & force people to buy by knifepoint. Their conversions will go up , but is that really what they want?
Look beyond keywords – do you also optimize creatives. What about landing pages? What are you doing to optimize your ROI at each of these customer touch points?
1st Suggestion: Optimize Holistically
You can use Google analytics at every touch point. Look at creative, using your favorite search tool to test different creatives, then apply unique tracking parameters.
A set of best practices to use when optimizing creatives: There needs to be a strong call to action. Special offers pique attention. Delivery details generally help clickthrough rates. Also, inserting actual prices. Dynamic keyword insertion is generally a best practice. The percentage of capitalization in creatives helps it feel more personal. In the URL word length – keep it 4-6. No exclamation points.
Landing Page & Website Optimizations: You don’t know how effective a landing page is until you test alternatives against it. Google Website optimizer allows you to do two kinds of web/landing page optimization The first type if A/B testing. Alternatively you can use multivariate testing. Break up the page into multiple variable parts and then test them in combination. You can view combination performance in Google Web Optimizer reports.
2nd Suggestion- Always test (just like Byan said)
Most sites have a few “existential KPI’s” – reasons why a site exists. These are your macro conversions.
For a video sharing website it could be # of uploads. Blogs it could be # of subscriptions. Ask “Why are people engaged with the content” “what influenced them”, & “why did they bounce?” Then start measuring successes with micro conversions – little wins at every part of the site.
3rd Suggestions – Analytics Intelligence
One new Google analytics feature is analytics “intelligence.” These are proactive insights & will say something like” On this particular day, please look at these particular metrics.”
4th Suggestion: Be vigilant – know the unknown unknowns
Closing the session was Jim Sterne from the Web Analytics association & the Metrics Summit.
3 Tips for turning your website into a money making machine
Tip #1 Optimize that basket - Amazon has done a great job at testing their shopping cart process. Their magic is the 1-click order button. Jim says to focus on optimizing a specific process, what about just the cart process? Users have to add to cart, review, change quantity, shipping, billing, confirming etc. just to get to the all important thank you page.
Where are the problems here? This is what Web analytics are really good at. Are people leaving at shipping page before billing? We have to do classic testing – usability testing or the survey. Analytics will tell you where the problem is and which problem is most significant at the moment. Test and measure and oh by the way – occasionally look at your page.
Tip #2 Determine Visit Value - If I’m spending a lot of money on a keyword or a banner ad or PR – how do you determine the value of a visit? Jim likes to assign a point system:
Time on Site – interesting but not terribly useful. With time on site, it might be “I’m gonna go to your website but then go eat lunch or go on the phone etc. 0-5 points
Page views – cool you went other places on the site. 1-10 points
Events – did you do some activity to prove engagement 5-20 points
Personally identifiable information – Did I get your email address or phone number. 25-50 points
Purchase – did you buy something, worth a lot but not necessarily the most? – 100 points
What’s the Cart Value – Did you spend 5$ versus $500. 200-400 points
Profitability – did you buy the most profitable thing. 400 -600 points
Ultimately, you want to invest in the sources that yield the highest values.
Tip 3#: Determine attribution:
How are these things working in concert? Assist attribution. Compare your quantity of key phrase searches vs conversion. What if you only focus on your high conversion traffic. It could drop off. Your high search volume stuff might be assisting your high converting keywords (excellent food for thought).
Jim then gave us a taste of his upcoming Social Media Metrics book due in 2010:
- Reach – How many people could hear my message. If it’s on a city street, it’s a billboard.
- Frequency – How often are people talking about me? If discussion increases, that’s good. There’s no such thing as bad publicity
- Influence – It’s great to get a blog mention until your realize only the blog owner’s mom and maybe his dog read it. Who has the most influence? They will help you with your reach.
- Sentiment – Having a lot of people talking about you a lot is great, but you still have to monitor that & the tools aren’t there yet.
- Outcomes – The actual conversion; did they download the whitepaper, join the discussion, did they buy the product?
Q & A Session Selected Questions:
Q: Any chance in the future that Google analytics data will pass through the rankings.
Mui: We don’t comment on future features. I can say that every year Google analytics is doing better.
Q: What tools do you like to couple with analytics to complement and augment your understanding?
Eisenberg: Usertesting.com. I’m also a screenshot-aholic, I like grabbing screenshots from competitor’s sites. Personal surveys are great tools, there’s also really cool search tools. Look up “69 free search tools to improve your website”.
Mui: How many of you use insights for search? How many of you are using ad planner? Search based keyword tools? If you have not used these, these will help you gain search intelligence, plan your campaign & understand your search traffic over time.