A Business Technology Place

Thought readings 1

Each week I capture, mark, and comment on blog posts and news articles around the internet. This is short list of three links that I think others will find valuable for their thought lives.

  1. The Book Every Analytics Professional Must Read by Douglas Karr at Marketing Tech Blog.  This post hit me in two my passion zones of baseball and internet analytics. I previously saw Moneyball as well and like the parallels Karr draws towards measurement of what really matters for your eCommerce store. Moneyball is on my “to read list”.
  2. 6 Tips for Improving Twitter Link Click Through Rate by Linda Bustos at GetElastic.  I like this examination of how to get a message more noticed. Whether it’s Twitter or some other medium this is part of the life of a marketer. See how many of these tips you are already performing with your tweets.
  3. Pinterest quietly profits off its users’ links by Laurie Segall at CNN Money. Pinterest has received a bunch of media attention lately. My first impression was a visual Delicious. As for making profits on links I think that most people respect making a profit. But the company should be transparent about it. Social networks like this are used by the choice of the poster and reader. They just need to know how the game is played.

Let me know what links you shared, tagged, or commented on this week.

Tracking customer behavior across multiple channels

Two ads. Two shows. One Brand.
While traveling home this week I was skimming a Delta Sky Magazine and noticed two full page ads from Cirque du Soleil. My first thought was that the ads were repetitive. They had different pictures but they were advertising  entertainment from the same brand. With just one page separating the two I thought maybe it was an A/B test for the advertisement.

On closer examination I saw that the two ads followed a template that was constructed to show seven different Cirque du Soleil experiences. The banner strip in the middle of the page had a raised block for the specific show. Each show is themed for a different “mood”.

The call to action on the ads was exactly the same. They contained the same URL and phone number for tickets. As a marketer I wonder if the URL and phone number are unique to the print-ad campaign in any way or even to Delta SkyMiles magazine. There is no promo-code, adcode, or offer code to enter  in the web site or give to the phone agent to identify the source otherwise.

(I forgot to get a picture of the actual ad and cannot locate it online. Sorry!)

Tracking customer behavior across multiple channels.
Marketers know that tracking leads back to the source of the customer origination is important because it helps us to fine tune our messages to those that attract customers. Before any business transaction takes place a customer must be engaged with something that they find valuable. How do we know what that is unless we track responses and listen?

But here’s another thought for tracking codes that’s becoming more relevant to marketers today.  Channel boundaries are blurring because technology brings products and our brands closer to the customer. But do you have a way to track each customer touch point and associate each touch point to the final business transaction (your conversion goal)?

For example I might see a banner ad on a website and respond to it, but not place the order on the web site (the initial lead). After I see the offer I may leave the website and price shop the product with competitors. Then let’s say I become distracted and forget about the product (happens a lot with all the stuff competing for our attention). The next day I receive an email from the original store and it reminds me that I wanted to purchase product X. So I follow the link in the email and purchase the product in the online store.

Who or what gets credited for the sale?
In my example, does the online banner ad or the email get credit as the ad that generated the sale? Most sales analysis tools will track the last touch to the end customer. But multiple touch points are a new way of thinking for marketers. Maybe this makes decision making more complex, but as marketers we need to know all the content that is connecting with our customers. This includes not only what creates interest to close the sale, but also what generates the initial attraction/interest  to the product.

Here’s some advice. Find out if your internet analytics tool has the ability to track visitors behavior across multiple visits. In today’s evolving digital world, customers may be seeing your marketing messages in more than one channel or from more than one source. Don’t lose site of the overall effectiveness of your marketing work because you only count the last ad touched when the order is placed.

This will require some retooling of your analytics tracking, reporting, and decision making but it’ll be well worth it in the extra insights you’ll gain about your customers.

What web analytics really provides

If you ask eCommerce professionals what role analtyics plays in their organization you’ll undoubtedly receive many answers that concern numbers, charts, and graphs. The Wikipedia community has defined web analytics as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage.” This is a good definition because it touches on a purpose of analytics as an optimization process.

Are you using analytics to make your vision clearer?

But web analytics is so much more than numbers, charts, and graphs. It’s certainly useful for more than optimizing web usage. Web analytics has a role in the eCommerce organization because it is an activity that is useful for decision making.

Web analytics is story telling
At the end of analytics processes is story about your customers and/or your web site. The numbers, charts, and graphs paint a picture or tell a story about the what, when, why, how, and where of your customer’s actions and decisions. I like to think of my analytics reports as my daily newspaper or weekly magazine that tells me what is happening in the internet store.

Web analytics is fact mining
We don’t need to make decisions based on biases, perceptions, or opinions when we have web analytics data. It’s like digging in a mine and finding fact nuggets. Number of visitors, number of purchases, pages visited, time on the site, number of items purchased are just examples of undisputable facts. Those nuggets can be refined into decisions, so fill up your cart.

Web analytics is puzzle solving
Most people love a good puzzle. Our internet sites don’t disappoint with creating them either. Are people interested in that new product? How many customers purchase because free shipping is offered? How many customers abandon when they see a promotion code box? Why did sales for January increase over December? This list goes on and on. Web analytics more times than not, is able to solve these puzzles because it’s flexible for customization and can target specific data, down to the individual customer if necessary.

Web analytics is performance evaluation
How is the site performing year-over-year, quarter-over-quarter, or day-by-day? Web analytics is useful for analyzing data to create baselines and trendlines for key metrics. That becomes valuable to understand if the release implemented last night is negatively or positively effecting key metrics. It’s valuable to determine if the performance of the site this year increase or decreased over last year.

Web analytics is predictive modeling
The same trendlines used for performance evaluation of past events can also be used for predictive modeling useful in forecasting results. If there is a consistent acceptance rate of an add-on accessory to a certain product, you can forecast sales of that accessory. The number of product sales resulting from certain types of email campaigns help build a an inventory forecast for future email campaigns.

Web analytics is achieving relevance
Business decision making is about staying relevant to customers and relevancy to customers equates to business success and longevity. Making business decisions based on customer behavior is a contributing factoring to staying relevant. This may include what products to discontinue because of low interest, what products sell better with a discount, or even what the optimal price point is for a group of products. Knowing customers behaviors and choices is a must for staying relevant.

And finally, the real value of web analytics is in the web analyst
At the end of the day, numbers and data don’t automatically group together to form reports. It’s the web analyst that performs the magic. The web analyst is a craftsman with a tool. They create stories, they help solve problems, they evaluate releases, and forecast future results. Web analysts may not be the most visible role in your organization, but something tells me they like it that way. As Arthur O’Shaughnessy wrote in Ode

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams”

Make sure your staff has a good music maker. Everyone likes to dance.

Photo credit: Michael David Pedersen via creative commons 2.0