Web Analytics at SES SF with Tami Dalley (Director, User Experience Optimization)

From your Aussie reporter Kate Gamble (on the ground @SES San Francisco)

Tami introduces herself as being from “this area” (she shows a map of the world with this little island next to the bottom of the globe highlighted – I recognise it as Australia – AKA home!) She also explains that she will pronounce data as DAH-TA and not DAY-TA (it’s true, people here don’t understand the accent, you wouldn’t believe its all English J)

So first up, web analytics is not a tool and it’s not about the reports that run every week. Web analytics is about So What, and hang that above your desk!

Use analytics to find out what it is we are doing that works? And what we need to do differently.

Old school marketing would come up with the strategy and then measure using analytics. The brave new world of marketing drives strategy from the analytics.

With so much dah-ta around, how do you know what to track? Tami recommends tying your bonus to the KPIs you set for the project. Do you have the power to move the needle on this metric from the current position you have? If the answer is no – this is not the right KPI for your project.

Tami also alludes to how terrible the implementation of most analytics systems are. Most people think they have the golden city set up on their website, but in reality it’s a ghetto (that’s an American word for a dodgy area).

When you are looking at what’s going on in analytics, Tami recommends that you look at the fast movers (both up and down) which is the most important area. Just looking at the top items is a trap for many new players.  This trick is to sort by variance looking month on month.

Analysing what people are looking for on your internal search is the greatest untapped customer insight. Check the variance to see what the trending products are, dig them up from the basement of your website and get them on to the front page. *Snap* (that’s an American word, it’s like *yay*).

Take it to the next level and create a landing page all about that new trend (high top florescent sneakers is the example – punk is back!).

Next Tami moves on to the conversion funnel – it’s like a martini glass. For the martini conversion a whole bunch of people come to the website but the conversion is not so good.

The wine glass conversion funnel is lots of people coming to the website, they come in and they engage but they drop off before converting.

What you want to be is a shot glass conversion funnel.  Lots of people come in, lots of people engage, and lots of people convert. This is imperative for the current economic climate (you wouldn’t believe it in Australia, but the US is just crawling out of a heavy recession).

The next tip from Tami is to find the valuable geographies. It’s really important to get the conversion statistics on your visiting geographies in reports. By default they show visits, but you want to get your average order value, and then the conversion statics. Tami says that the cash cow geo regions are never as you would expect… if people from SF (that’s San Francisco) spend double what that of NYC peeps do (that’s people from New York City), then you specifically target offers to high value groups of consumers. You can even take it off-line (shock!) and have billboards.

Tip 5 is all about tracking social. Tami admits that the analytics industry is not there yet. It’s got a long way to go but a few tips are:

  • Check the referring URLs – blogs / forum / social networking sites are sending you traffic. The key here is which one is working the best, and you need conversion set up to be able to tell
  • Connect via APIs – in the future analytics systems will be able to plug into the social sites. EG omniture and twitter join forces. You can even pass the tweet info into the Omniture tool, so you can review the tweets right there in your reporting system. You can track keywords used in the tweets, like “crap” with your brand, and the system will even send you a text to your phone – Warning! For dedicated marketers only!

Bounce rates: people who came to your site and thought it was so horrible they wouldn’t even give you a single click. So people have come to your site – yes! But you lose them before they do anything… Run an entry page report and add bounce rate as a key metric to track.

“Lipstick on a pig” is a concept to try to make an old page work, when really it’s time to move on. This is when you can use A/B Testing.

While getting Mr Right (who just needs a bit of extra work, like flowers and chocolates and a cooking class or two) is when you need multivariate testing. Big plug for Google Website Optimiser – its free!  You can drill down to find out what it is about that page that really matters, so you just change that bit.

All web pages are designed by HIPPOS (Highest Paid Persons Opinion) – it’s not about one person’s options, it’s about testing it on the people who matter – your customers! But remember “life is too short to test every page”, testing pages can be addictive but you need to make some rules because too much testing can leave little time for implementation.

And now a word of warning from our Tami: you wont always get a better page. Sometimes the new page that wins the tests is not the prettiest. But as long as you have your primary success metric and that improves, then the look of the page might not be what matters. Don’t have too many goal posts –

So the trip up areas:

  • Your sample size – make sure its big enough to make business decisions
  • Track changes made to the site – ensure you add annotations on the analytics for key changes to the site
  • Seasonality is important – do you track month by month or year on year?
  • Tracking must be set up correctly
  • If you lose budget, make sure you note that down. Are you getting the same traffic with less money? That’s still success!

Great to hear a familiar accent, made me home sick for the fantastic Bruce Clay Australia offices.

More to come from Search Engine Strategies San Francisco.

See kgamble's author page for links to connect on social media.

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