You can’t manage what you can’t measure and you
certainly can’t monetize it either. Analytics is the
single greatest opportunity you have as an Internet
professional to determine how your website is
performing. But analytics also indicate how much
more you can get out of your investment in your
website, both in terms of financials and time
commitments. This is high performance analytics.
Performance analysis involves gathering formal
and informal data to help not just ourselves,
but also our customers and sponsors define and
achieve their goals. Several perspectives on a
problem or opportunity, determining any and all drivers
toward, or barriers to successful performance, and can
help propose a solution system based on what is discovered.
Consider performance analysis the front end of the
front end — it’s what we do to figure out what to do. You
can call it planning, scoping, auditing, or diagnostics, but
you’ll need to roll up your sleeves, prepare yourself to be
shocked, and immerse yourself in a lot of creative thinking
if you want to move the needle in a positive direction.
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Web Analytics: Key Performance Indicators
It might be the least sexy of all Web responsibilities, but
analytics is arguably the most important to an online business’
success. Unfortunately, it is an area where most enterprises
fail to focus their attention.
Website analytics refers to the measurement that occurs
once a visitor arrives on your website and even how
they arrived and what they did during a visit — ideally a
conversion. The entire undertaking of website analytics is
inextricably tied to performance indicators (or key performance
indicators — KPIs) that help define and evaluate
the success or failure of a particular marketing (SMO
or SEO) or advertising (PPC) campaign.
More often than not, many are content with seeing the
most basic charts (unique visitors or page views) move up
or down and base important decisions on those simple
metrics alone. However, there are an endless number of
factors and elements that can and should be measured instead.
Identifying what is really important to the stakeholders
of your enterprise is what will define your level
of engagement with your analytics solution.
Perhaps the most difficult part of Web analytics as it
stands today is determining which KPIs to use. The sheer
volume of available KPIs can be overwhelming, as can the
multitude of ways to compare the data they present and
how they align with the objectives of different departments
within a company. To help cut through all the KPI
confusion and clutter, we’ve come up with a list of a few
basic KPIs that will give the most insight, while requiring
the least amount of time and specialty knowledge.
Visitors per Conversion, Lead or Order
How many visitors does it take to achieve your website
goals? Whether the objective of your site is to generate
leads for the sales team or to have visitors purchase goods
or services, this measurement indicates if your website and
its promotional channels are working together. Consider
this example: You decide to offer a whitepaper because
you have exclusive content that will appeal to your target
audience. You receive 100 visits to your whitepaper download
page, but only 5 people complete the download (convert).
This is a good indication that there is a problem with
the landing page. Most likely, the layout design is poor,
the copy itself is confusing, or the page requires visitors to
provide too much personal information. Knowing this,
you can tweak these aspects of the page, examine the KPI,
and determine what was preventing downloads so that
you avoid those mistakes in the future.
Many analytics solutions offer heatmaps to help identify
where users are clicking on certain page sections but
new tools, including SiteTuners’ AttentionWizard.com (in
beta) use advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to
simulate human visual processing and attention, creating
an “attention heatmap” of your Web page. This can predict
where people will look during the all-important first
few seconds of their visit.
Cost per Lead
For any organization interested in streamlining processes
to get the maximum amount of value out of their promotional
investments, the cost per lead measurement helps
show what techniques or channels are paying off and
those that might need to be eliminated. Returning to the
whitepaper download example, let’s say the aggregate cost
of your project (including research, copywriting, design,
etc.) was $1,000. If you generated two leads, you would be
paying $500 per lead. Since that would be completely unacceptable,
it is our responsibility as someone keen on
high performance analytics to find ways to cut costs or
make modifications to improve response rates and, ultimately,
the number of conversions, driving our cost per
Reviewing the number of page views per visit enables us
to measures how deeply a viewer delves into the website
content. That is important information, but measuring the
level of involvement and length of time a visitor spends
within a specific content area will show areas of potential
improvement. If viewers are highly engaged in a specific
content area, you may decide to keep the section the same,
or put links to other parts of your site that relate to that
content. If visitors are not spending as much time in a section
as they once did, it’s probably time to update that content.
In some cases, if visitors are not going to a page at all,
it can signal a problem with your navigation or promotional
channels — perhaps the user did not find what they
expected after clicking on a confusing ad, for example.
Most Web professionals are concerned only with the
activity that occurs on their own websites and for good
reason — since we can manage that portion of our business
we are better able to actively monetize it. But performance
analytics can go much further beyond the posts
and pages that comprise our Web properties. By taking
full advantage of available analytics, we can discover areas
across the Web where consumers are interacting with our
businesses, and improve our presence across any number
Website Load Time Matters
It should come as no surprise that fast-loading sites increase user
satisfaction but a great many online destinations still suffer from poor
performance. Google Site Performance, an experimental Webmaster Tools
Labs feature, was released in early December and informs webmasters
of their website load time.
Site Performance displays load times of pages
along with suggestions on how to improve performance including recommendations
lookups. Google also recommends using Page Speed, an open-source
Firefox/Firebug add-on that can be used to evaluate the performance of
Web pages. Where else can you look to check your website’s loading time?
Here are two of the most popular resources available:
Pingdom Page Load Test Tool: Tests all objects
statistics about total number of objects, total load time and size of all objects.
Internet Supervision: Page load times
are affected greatly by geography of the user. This tool enables webmasters
to check latency from nine different servers across the globe — including
Sydney, Beijing, Chicago, Santiago, Gloucester, Los Angeles, Dortmund
and Washington DC.
Video Analytics: Caught on Film
Video continues to spread across the Web, making it
an important consideration in online marketing programs.
Comscore reported that nearly 28 billion videos were
watched during November 2009, although the number of
unique visitors dipped slightly to 167 million in October
from 168 million in September. While video giants like
Hulu.com are experiencing phenomenal rates of use by
consumers, plenty of opportunities exist for content marketers
looking to make their mark with online video. With
each and every marketing opportunity, however, comes a
responsibility to measure performance and improve upon
prior activity. Fortunately, there are video analytics solutions
on the market that make the process a breeze.
YouTube released its video analytics tool (YouTube Insight)
back in March 2008, enabling all users to view statistics
about the videos they upload to the site. Video
content marketers can see not only how often videos are
viewed in different geographic regions and how popular
they are during a given period of time, but can even dig
deeper into the lifecycle of videos. For example, YouTube
Insight provides the ability to see how long it takes for a
video to become popular and what happens to video views
once their popularity peaks. While this might not seem
like much of a value-add, knowing the day a video reaches this tipping point and/or within what region might provide
some informed guidance on production schedules
and even geo-targeted advertising in the future.
YouTube took its Insight tool in a completely different
direction in July 2009, giving users the ability to make the
analytical information publicly available to anyone watching
videos on YouTube.com. Now, when users watch a video
they are presented with metrics — views over time, its popularity
in different parts of the world, the top drivers of traffic
and the video’s top three audience demographics, under
the “Statistics & Data” section. Content producers have the
option to make this information public by adjusting their
privacy settings. By providing this information you might
be able to drive additional views and sustain a more engaged
audience. For example, if a viewer sees that the video is popular
among those in his or her region or age group, the user
might be more inclined to recommend that video to a friend,
or simply watch the entire video.
Where YouTube provides a starting point for those new
to producing and marketing video content, there remains a
host of other outlets — making analyzing the performance
of this distributed environment much more challenging.
However, companies like LiveStream (formerly Tube-
Mogul) have all but solved the problem. The company’s free
inPlay analytics technology now tracks 15 different video
sites; including Brightcove, DailyMotion, MetaCafe, blip.tv,
Break.com, Howcast, eBaum’s World, Graspr, GrindTV,
Sclipo, Webcastr, Viddler, 5min, Streetfire.net and Sevenload.
LiveStream’s inPlay provides some valuable data including
standardized per-second audience drop-off, referral
sites and terms, and geography.
Social Analytics: Engagement Matters
In many respects, social media (at least for marketers) is
the art of engagement. And in today’s consumer landscape,
When it comes to social media marketing, many businesses
will publish content and basically hope something
sticks. But each and every social media campaign can have
metrics applied to it if the goal is clearly defined from the
outset. It might be to understand how and where the content
is disseminated, or how it resonates with the target
audience based on social “mentions.” But what is often
most difficult to measure is the impact that social media
has on the bottom line and branding efforts.
For most, it’s the bottom line. So, being able to accurately
track monetization is vital. But for many, correlating
revenue directly to a social media campaign is but a myth.
To date, there are few tools or solutions that enable
marketers to accurately track (or even analyze) the total
effect that social media engagement provides. There are
certainly resources available that make measuring and aggregating
social media information easier on specific platforms;
URL shortener bit.ly is one such example. Few
combine everything you need into one interface, aligning
that data into a format where true insights can be gleaned.
For those Web enterprises that are pure-play content
producers, an existing analytics account will take you
most of the way toward your goal of informed analysis —
usually as simple as where the viewers came from, tor total
page views and visits. But for those in other industries
(namely e-commerce) tracking social media efforts in relation
to their bottom line is not as easy. In those cases,
engagement is more of a moving target. For example, a
buying cycle can prove difficult to measure through social
media when taking into account latency or when a
product is purchased on the recommendation of a friend-of-
a-friend-of-a-friend — that person likely never clicked
on your link or even saw your page. Fortunately, services
like PostRank (PostRank Analytics) provide users with
some very valuable engagement trends, including engagement
events — social activities such as bookmarking
and sharing across multiple social networks. Consider the
solution the “missing link” between social media engagement
and traditional Web analytics.
Once users are successfully driven to our websites —
whether through natural search or social media — and
have been measured as a conversion, don’t think for a
minute that your analytics focus should wane. In reality,
there are many more insights that can be gained from
those users’ experiences that will help improve the experiences
for future visitors.
CRM Analytics: Know Thy Customer
How much do you know about your customers?
Chances are good that you don’t know nearly enough as you should. Chances are even better that you don’t
know as much as you could. CRM (customer relationship
management) analytics refers to the analysis of an enterprise’s
customers and presents it so that better and quicker
business decisions can be made.
As websites add new and faster ways to interact with their
customers, the need to turn that very valuable customer data
into useful information has become apparent to many Internet
marketers and Web professionals. As a result, a number
of CRM vendors have added deeply integrated customer data
analysis into their systems. Whether it’s Microsoft CRM 3.0,
RightNow CRM, Sage CRM, Zoho CRM, SalesForce.com or
open-source solutions like SugarCRM; know that many
choices are available. These are powerful tools at your disposal
that will help facilitate a greater understanding of your
users and what you need to provide them for deeper levels of
engagement and higher profits.
One particular case in point is an app for SalesForce.com
users called In2Clouds. This predictive analytics add-on
gives website owners the opportunity to rank leads by their
probability of conversion. Charts are provided to offer quick
insights about the health of the “sales pipeline,” and its efficiency
and effectiveness. The rankings can be used to prioritize
sales efforts and help new staff get up to speed quickly.
CRM analytics can provide deep customer segmentation
groupings. At its simplest, they can divide customers
into those most and least likely to repurchase a product.
Two benefits of CRM analytics are quite clear — more
productive customer relations in terms of sales and service,
and a streamlined marketing effort based on real data. But
it can be used to better other business initiatives as well.
For example, analyzing customers’ previous purchases can
show when a particular product must be stocked, or when
that product is not expected to be in high demand — lowering
the need for unused inventory, thus lowering costs
and potentially giving the ability to offer more competitive
One of the major challenges implicit in CRM analytics,
however, is integrating the analytical software with existing
legacy systems as well as with other new systems.
But once complete, a more detailed understanding of
your customers and users is available to draw from when
both auditing current marketing campaigns and planning
The Many Capabilities of CRM Analytics
Profitability analysis shows which customers lead to
the most profit over time. This is crucial to identifying
the lifetime value of a customer or group of customers,
therefore sharpening your focus on those
segments for sustained profitability.
Personalization offers the ability to market to
individual customers based on the data collected
about them during previous visits, from registration
forms, or previous purchase, among other metrics.
Event monitoring can alert a business owner when a
customer reaches a certain dollar volume of purchases
— thus calling attention to big revenue generators, or
triggering an opportunity for even more purchases,
such as sending that person a coupon for a discount
on future purchases.
What-if scenarios can help determine how likely a
customer or customer category that bought one
product might buy a similar one.
Predictive modeling can compare various product
development plans in terms of likely future success,
given the customer knowledge base. This can also
help predict negative behavior, such as the likelihood
a customer is about to abandon the site altogether,
based on less frequent visits.
Are you Ready for High Performance Analytics?
Analytics can be a confusing area of focus for Web professionals.
What’s most important to understand is that all
the data you will ever need is available right now in your
analytics account or the third-party tools that you use to
measure conversions and engagement. The gold in these
hills is not found solely in the metrics that we review each
and every day — it is in the connections that we make between
often disparate sets of data that will enable us to
move the revenue needle in the positive direction. While
requiring deep and critical thinking, being able to align
empirical data with corporate objectives will always result
in higher performance.