Six Questions with John Marshall
Yesterday we posted our interview with Matt Bailey in anticipation for next week’s eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit. Today’s featured speaker is John Marshall!
John Marshall spent five years as the founder and CEO of ClickTracks before forming MarketMotive in early 2007. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and somehow was gracious enough to agree to this interview. Let’s jump in.
1. Welcome, John. That’s for chatting with us. For those that are unaware, can you speak a little bit about your background, founding ClickTracks and your current work with MarketMotive?
I founded ClickTracks through frustration at using other web analytics tools. They were heavy, cumbersome and the data was hard to interpret. We designed ClickTracks to solve those problems and we focused on easy to interpret data and a very powerful segmentation model. Web analytics relies on the ability to segment different types of users, and compare them. If you’ve ever stared at web analytics data and thought ‘so what’ – it’s because the data isn’t segmented. We learned an important lesson at ClickTracks, however: many people lack the fundamental knowledge of testing, copywriting, SEO etc. They end up unable to use web analytics because, although it tells them to change something, it doesn’t tell you what.
Market Motive is an educational resource founded by online market thought leaders – quite simply the best people in the business, and we teach marketers how to improve their online presence, whether that be through interpreting web analytics data, improving PPC effectiveneness, getting better SEO rankings or testing aspects of the site.
2. Great. Tell our readers a little bit about the training and educational opportunities available through MarketMotive. You’ve done a great job of assembling quite a team over there. What exactly can members expect from the experience should they subscribe?
It’s a little like attending a conference, without needing to travel. The sessions are arranged in topic specific tracks, and are prerecorded so you can watch them at any time. Each faculty member is responsible for a topic. Then there’s a private forum where you can ask for advice, and because it’s not open to the public, you can ask very detailed questions that are specific to your site. The faculty personally answers the questions. Finally there’s a monthly conference call for each topic where the faculty member coaches people, audits their sites and gives advice, live.
3. At eMetrics you’ll be speaking on the Tracking Widgets and Feeds: Measuring Distributed Content panel. What are the metrics businesses need to be aware of in terms of how blogs and other social media elements are impacting their brands? Is it really possible to measure engagement?
Blogs impact businesses through link strength and direct clicks, plus the readership of the blog itself. Readership is only indirectly measurable because RSS feeds complicate the picture a lot. Direct clicks are the easiest to measure, if you take the trouble to place parameters into the destination URL for tracking purposes.
4. There was a study done recently that tried to prove bloggers didn’t have as much influence on consumer behavior as originally thought. Do you think social media analytics will allow sites to measure just what the “influence” of top bloggers and social media sites really is?
I think it’s true that the influence of bloggers is overstated, but it remains significant just the same. The best way to measure the influence is to compare the behavior of visitors clicking from a blog to those clicking from PPC, for example. It’s not enough to look at the number of clicks – you have to look at the post click activity. Conversion rate could be useful, but I generally find this too crude. I prefer to look at time on site, comparing across blogs, PPC, SEO, email campaigns etc. It generally shows blogs to have low traffic, and very strong interest.
5. When examining their own sites, which metrics do you feel are the most important for site owners to pay attention to in order to effect change and improve their Web sites? Are there any metrics that site owners are obsessing over that they’re better off ignoring?
Of course I assume people no longer look at hits or page views. Beyond this I still find too much obsessing over unique visitors, when the simpler visits (or sessions) are probably better. Uniques are only valuable to publisher sites selling ad impressions. Finally, ROI is over used. Avinash and I recently recorded a training session that breaks apart how ROI calculations are made inside web analytics tools, and when you understand this you realise that ROI is actually very imprecise. Because it shows up in reports with dollar signs, people think of it as an absolute truth. It’s not that simple. In many case average time on site (ATOS) is a good proxy for ROI and it works better because it has a larger sample size. ROI only measures the few visitors that convert, whereas ATOS measures all visitors and is better at predicting the likelihood that a campaign will be effective, even before the first sale completes.
6. What are the sessions you’re most looking forward to during eMetrics? Any speakers you’re really looking forward to hearing?
Avinash is definitely a favourite. Great content, funny and irreverent.
Thanks again to John for taking the time to speak with me. Next up in our series of eMetrics interviews: Vanessa Fox. Tune in tomorrow.