Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Show Me the Clicks! - How to Make Your Web Analytics Outperform the Competition

Working at an advertising agency and helping clients manage their online purchased media campaigns, I've seen the allure and temptation of the click win out too many times. Forget about setting goals in Google Analytics, that takes too much time and effort! What about a campaign that is supposedly for "brand awareness"? No, no, no...show me the clicks! I'd like to discuss the shift from Web Analytics 1.0 to Web Analytics 2.0 and how businesses can take action to focus on those things that drive revenue and accomplish goals.

Web Analytics 1.0
In a day and age where being up to speed on the latest and greatest technologies is an extremely sought after position, it's hard to imagine that we would still talk about businesses lagging behind in any forward-thinking concept. Unfortunately, Web Analytics 1.0 is still widely accepted as an effective web analytics strategy.

In order to better understand what Web Analytics 1.0 is, I will give an example from my previous work experience. I won't name specific names, yet relate a story and call the business involved "Large Car Dealership Corporation A". While Large Car Dealership Corporation A has the resources to afford the most expensive of web analytics tools, they choose to focus on that which has been plaguing business decisions for years (see video above): clicks. The business is too narrowly focused on solely driving traffic to their website (which is not user-friendly nor attractive) and not on creating a funnel to allow customers to follow a path that leads them to making a purchase decision. This lack of a complete web analytics strategy leads to misinformed decisions by the client and inefficient results from their online marketing campaigns.

Web Analytics 2.0
While many businesses are still focused on what the click can do for them, a major shift has been made in the web analytics realm. There is a focus on other elements than just getting clicks or more visits to a website. The web analytics shift to a new philosophy causes businesses to ask the following questions: What are our customers saying? How does this affect how the website or how a path is set up? What actions do we take in order to meet our end goals of increasing revenue and reducing costs?

Avinash Kaushik, author and well-respected web analytics professional, wrote a book titled "Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity"[1] (also see his blog for more great information on web analytics). In it, he explains the shift from Web Analytics 1.0 to Web Analytics 2.0. He divides the new web analytics philosophy into five different parts and explains what role they play in an overall web analytics strategy.

The following gives more details around the parts of Web Analytics 2.0.

The What: Clickstream
Clickstream provides the fundamental elements of every web analytics strategy - clicks, unique visitors, pageviews, bounce rate, traffic sources, etc. While all of these elements are extremely important, they do not paint the entire web analytics picture. They are a base to support decisions made from other parts of Web Analytics 2.0.

The How Much: Multiple Outcomes Analysis
Too often businesses become obsessed with reporting and seeing some fancy new graph. When this happens, often there is a failure to recognize the need to take action. Avinash explains that there are three purposes to every web analytics or website optimization. Every website should do the following:
  • Increase revenue
  • Reduce cost
  • Improve customer satisfaction/loyalty
Everything that a business does with its web analytics strategy should push to do these three things. If any initiatives are not accomplishing these three goals, the business should reassess its strategy.

The Why: Experimentation and Testing
Why are we making this decision? This is a question that all businesses should make when it comes to web analytics. Many times the HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) are making all the decisions based on personal preference or due to feelings of power. 
Web Analytics, Web 2.0, Web Analytics 2.0
Taking advantage of the opportunity that the online world provides to test at a low cost and high efficiency is something that many businesses do not leverage for their overall web analytics efforts. 

The Why: Voice of the Customer
While web analytics provide an amazing opportunity to see things from an absolute data driven perspective, it is important to not forget about qualitative results that can provide valuable information. By performing surveys and usability testing, customers can provide information that will give deeper insights into the quantitative data. 

The What Else: Competitive Intelligence
In his book, Avinash relates competitive intelligence to the following story: Compare not having any competitive intelligence to driving in a car with blacked out windows and only focusing on the speed on the dashboard. It's important to stay focused on it, but it can hurt you. On the contrary, when you have competitive intelligence it is like having clean windows and seeing how fast other cars, or your competitors, are traveling. This can help you make adjustments to your own speed, or web analytics strategy.

In a world that is still longing for more clicks, being able to move beyond this crutch and include the components of Web Analytics 2.0 in your business web analytics strategies will help you optimize efficiently. You will provide a way to communicate with customers and drive results.

[1] http://www.webanalytics20.com/

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