Wednesday, December 28, 2011

10 Conversion Optimization Posts You Must Read

You will find many examples of how various headlines, call to actions etc. can be tested to drive more conversions and how many companies have successfully done so. Maybe you have done it too. However deep inside you know that moving the needle from 3% to 4% is huge but still there are 96% of your visitors/visits that did not convert. I have compiled a list of some of my blog posts that show you how can move the needle further up by taking action on things that are generally not found in tips and tricks books and articles.

  1. 5 Things That Could Be Hindering Your Conversions
    In this post I have listed 5 fundamental things that are part of most of the online forms but could be preventing the visitors from converting.
  2. Underline the Clickable Text and Link the Pictures
    Sometimes you just have to do it without doing testing. Underlining the clickable text and linking the picture to a page are few of those things that really do not require testing.
  3. Are Form Validations Invalidating Your Conversions?
    Are the data validations on your sites form hindering your conversions? This posts gives you something to think about.
  4. Is CAPTCHA Eating Up Your Conversions?
    Though CAPTCHA is a great tool for blocking spam it could be coming in the way of user experience and resulting in a lower conversion than you would have had without it.
  5. 7 Ways Of Handling 404 Error Messages  - 404s are hard to avoid. Even if you have done everything correctly users might mistype the URLs and get a 404 on your site.  This post shows you how various companies are handling them effectively to drive engagement and conversions.
  6. Conversion Optimization: Go Beyond A/B Testing and MVT
    A/B testing and MVT are a great way to help you drive more conversion on your website. A/B testing and MVT help you decide the best layout, headlines, images, message copy etc. that motivates the visitors to complete a transaction.
    However, A/B testing and MVT will only get you so far. If a visitor does not complete a transaction during later steps of the funnel then there are generally other reasons than those that can be simply fixed by changing the page layout, copy, images etc. .
  7. Is Your Conversion Rate Wrong? – This post explains how your conversion rate calculations are wrong.
  8. Conversion Tip: Making the Most of the Email Confirmation Thank you Page  -
    Thank you and confirmation pages are the most ignored pages. This post shows how to effectively use those pages to drive further engagement and conversions.
  9. Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?
    Due to organizational structure, many marketers/analysts get a partial view of the customers’ conversion process data.  This results in optimizing the wrong steps of the conversion funnel /channel. I describe my recent experience while purchasing a laptop to show how focusing on one channel only can lead to wrong
    results.
  10. Most likely your Conversion Rate is Wrong
    Most of the web analytics tools just allow you to see a view of single channel conversion rate i.e. web conversion rate. However, as I discussed in my post "Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?", customers don’t care how your channels are divided or who is responsible for what channel at your organization. They care about their money and will use whatever channel they feel most comfortable with.  Are you considering other channels when calculating your conversion rates?
And a bonus:
Significance of Statistically Significant Results in A/B Testing

Do not make the mistake of jumping the conclusions too quickly when running A/B tests, wait for statistically significant results.


I hope 2012 will bring you lot more conversions. Happy New Year!!!

Comments? Questions?

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Web Analytics Jobs


Monday, December 19, 2011

One Prediction and Five Web Analytics Tips for 2012

For past few years I have made several predictions about Web Analytics. This year I am going to make only one prediction but will provide five tips for 2012.

Prediction

This year the push will be towards “Multichannel Analytics”. Integration of various data sources, e.g. email, CRM, social media, call center etc. , with Web Analytics will take center stage.

Five Tips for Web Analytics

  1. Expand your web analytics to consider other data sources
    We all know by now that no one channel exists in isolation. Web, email, mobile, social media, catalog, stores, call centers etc. all impact each other. Web is a just one part of the customer’s experience and journey towards purchase. To fully understand customer behavior and optimize your marketing you have to go beyond web analytics and look at data from other channels.
  2. Move from “How Many” to “Who”
    Majority of the web analyst today analyze “How Many” e.g. how many people landed, how many bounced, how many converted etc. “How many” is a great start but it is time for you move to “Who”, e.g. who bounced, who did not convert etc. and then think about how to engage with those “Who” did or did not do something. (if you need help with this then ping me)
  3. Understand the data structure behind your web analytics data
    I am surprised that many web analysts today don’t understand how the web data is structured, how it is collected, where all the variables that are passed in your JavaScript end up at and how various data elements are related to each other. If you are one of those analysts, take some time to understand the data structure. Open a raw web server log file and start from there. If you company is porting the web analytics data into a database then open up that database and look under the hood.
  4. Learn SQL
    This is going to be critical. You can only do limited segmentation and optimization with aggregated data that is provided in the web analytics tools interface. To really understand customer behavior and capitalize on that you should be able to extract the data from the backend. Even if you are not going extract the data yourself, having an understanding of SQL will give you tons of ideas on segmentation, optimization and targeting.
  5. Make friends with “HiPP” (Highest Paid Person) and say goodbye to “HiPPO”
    HiPP is your friend, not foe. If you really want to create a culture of analytics in your organization then make friends with HiPP, get them on your side. You need their support. Stop using the term “HiPPO”.

Comments? Questions?

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Do you need Real-Time Web Analytics?


Real-time web analytics provides you a view into what is happening on your site at that very moment. It is really interesting to see where visitors are coming from, what keywords they are searching, what pages they are viewing etc. Though most of the time that’s where it ends i.e. it is interesting but not very valuable. As many web analysts have stated time and again, the value of the analytics comes from the action you take on that data. So, unless you are going to take actions in real time you really don’t need real-time analytics. However, I can understand the temptation to use Real Time Analytics for instant gratification.

Side Bar:
Recently Google Analytics joined the bandwagon of providing Real-Time analytics. Other notable real time web analytics vendors include Chartbeat, Woopra. As of now, Google analytics only provides a very limited view of real time stats at this point, though I am assuming that it is just the beginning and Google will roll out more stats in its real time reports. 

Few cases where you might want to (or be tempted to) use Real-Time Analytics
  • You launched a new campaign e.g. paid search, email newsletter, TV ad , and would like to see how people are reacting to those campaigns.
  • You added new promotions on your site and want to see how visitors are reacting to those promotions, so that you can tweak those promotions in real time.
  • You added new stories, links etc. and want to see if anybody is clicking on them so that you can make some changes based on instant feedback. I can see the usefulness of this feature for news and media sites.
  • You made some technical changes e.g. changed tracking code and want to see if those pages are being recorded in Google Analytics. Real time reports can serve as QA tools.
  • You launched a new feature on your site, launched a video, deployed a new game and would like to know if your visitors are using it or not.
Keep in mind that even if you are ready to make changes in real time, you might not have statistically significant results based on few data points that you get in real time reports. If you have nothing better to do then you can for sure kill your time with some real time view into your site traffic.

Views from Twitter

 
What do you think? Have you found Real time analytics to be useful? How are you using it? Please share your views.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Most likely your Conversion Rate is Wrong

I am sorry to break this news to you but chances are that your conversion numbers are all messed up. Let me demonstrate it with an example.

Let’s take a simple conversion process, see the figure below. Let’s assume that you get 100,000 visitors on your site, and 20,000 start the checkout process, 15,000 make it the next step and finally 5,000 end up converting.

Based on your web analytics tool your conversion rate will be 5,000/100,000 = 5% . So far everything looks good.





But what if your checkout path looks something like this?



Do you see the phone number? I bet many customers are using that phone number to complete the purchase. Are you taking those, who call and convert, into consideration when calculating the conversion rate? Do you know that when someone picks up the phone to call he/she has a higher likelihood of converting?

Taking the example above, here is how your conversion funnel looks like:


Most of the web analytics tools just allow you to see a view of single channel conversion rate i.e. web conversion rate. However, as I discussed in my post "Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?", customers don’t care how your channels are divided or who is responsible for what channel at your organization. They care about their money and will use whatever channel they feel most comfortable with.

Are you going beyond single channel when calculating your conversion rate? If your answer is no then your conversion rate is wrong.

Thoughts? Comments?

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Conversion Optimization: Go Beyond A/B Testing and MVT

A/B testing and MVT are a great way to help you drive more conversion on your website. A/B testing and MVT help you decide the best layout, headlines, images, message copy etc. that motivates the visitors to complete a transaction.

However, A/B testing and MVT will only get you so far. If a visitor does not complete a transaction during later steps of the funnel then there are generally other reasons than those that can be simply fixed by changing the page layout, copy, images etc. . Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t improve conversions by optimizing later steps of the funnel. You can, but you will get to a point of diminishing return and you will need something else to drive more conversions. Moreover, the learning from A/B and MVT will only help you going forward but you will lose many customers while you are doing the tests.

Keep in mind that as a visitor moves down the conversion funnel his/her commitment to complete the transaction (convert) increases. If you are able to capitalize on that motivation in time, you will drive higher conversions.

Here are some of the ways to help you drive conversions from those visitors who walked away without converting (sales, download etc.):

  1. On-Site Targeting – This is very effective technique to drive user to take desired actions. You can target visitors with personalized message/offer, prompting them to complete a transaction, when they come back to your site at a later time.
  2. Remarketing or Retargeting via Ads– This works great to bring the potential customers, who have wandered away on the internet, back to your site. Using a service like Google Adwords you can reach your visitors on various sites which use Google Adsense. There are several remarketing services that you can use but Google Adwords, though not very sophisticated, is a good way to get started. Read my post on Google Adwords Remarketing before moving forward.
  3. Online Chat – Online chats are a great way to make a human connection with the visitors while he/she is still on the site and in the buying mode. Some products/people need human interaction to persuade and a triggered online chat might just do the trick.
  4. SMS - Everybody seems to own a cell phone these day, follow-up the shopping cart abandoners with an SMS message, hit the iron while it is still hot. SMS marketing is not very prevalent in US but is heavily used in many other countries.
  5. Email Follow-upFollowing up with an email is another excellent and widely used way to drive conversions from those unfinished conversions.
  6. Phone Calls – Similar to online chat, phone calls have a human element to them. Phone calls work very effectively even in converting a person who might have decided otherwise. Phone conversion rate is generally a lot higher than web conversion rates and phone salesperson can even do upsell to drive more revenue/visitors, though the cost also goes up. Striking a right balance is critical and needs proper assessment and strategy.
  7. Direct Mail - Yes it still does work in many cases.
Keep in mind that timing and right follow up strategy is very critical when contacting those that did not convert. If you do need help in this area send me a note.

Questions/Comments?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?

Due to organizational structure, many marketers/analysts get a partial view of the customers’ conversion process data.  This result in them optimizing the wrong steps of the conversion funnel /channel.

Read below about a shopping experience I recently had, it will make it clear how this narrow view can come in the way of an organization's ability to effectively optimize the right step/channel in the conversion path.

 I was recently in the market to buy a laptop. I had a Lenovo laptop in past, which I really liked, so I decided to buy another Lenovo laptop.

I went to their site, configured the laptop and chose various options. When I got to the last step, I decided to contact a live person because I was not sure of all the options that I had picked. I clicked on the little chat button on their site and connected with a sales guy. The person asked me to save my order (create an account etc.) so that he can find the order and help me with it.

I did what he told me to but to my disappointment, the sales guy (online chat) was not able to find my order even when I gave him the email address I used to create the account. 

I had my credit card ready and was willing to make a purchase but they just could not close the deal. 

Where do think the problem is in this conversion process? Which steps are you going to optimizing?

Someone just focusing and looking at online channel data will not know the complete pictures. They will see a drop-off at the last step of the funnel and if there are a significant number of visitors like me, they will most likely focus their attention on optimizing (A/B testing, MVT etc.) the last step. Right? This is where the problem lies.  You may live in your little silo of online optimization but customers don’t follow your organizational boundaries. They will flow from one channel to other and convert from the channel that they are most comfortable with.  You can go ahead and A/B test all you want to the last step of the funnel but if the issue is not with the page layout, heading, fonts, colors etc. then you A/B test are not going to help.

As an analyst you should go beyond your designated channel. If there are other channels (e.g. contact center) that the visitors can use to complete the process then don’t ignore them.  Get a complete view of the data so that you don’t end up optimizing the wrong steps in the conversion process.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sentiment Indicator: Social Media KPI

People talk, they say good things about a brand, they say bad things about a brand or they just talk. Social media has become a place for people to make sure whatever they are saying is heard loud and clear by their friend and followers on Facebook, twitter, blogs etc.

Going through all this social media chatter to understand and figure out what is going on about your brand is a very labor and time intensive work. Even though many Social Media Monitoring tools have done a great job in aggregating the data from various sources, but to understand the context of those conversation and provide that to marketers in a meaningful way still needs a lot of work. Currently it really needs a human to understand the full context of the conversations and understand the sentiments of consumers.

However there are some metrics that can provide you a measure of the sentiments (positive or negative) of these conversations and indicate which direction they are going.

Social Media Sentiment Metrics


Almost all of the social media monitoring (listening) tools provide following metrics to help you understand the sentiment of the conversations about your brand in social media.
  • Total number of conversation or mentions about a brand, product or topic
  • Number of positive conversations or mentions about a brand, product or topic e.g. a tweet saying: I love brand ABC
  • Number of negative conversations or mentions about a brand, product or topic e.g. a tweet saying I hate brand ABC
Many social media analysts use these raw number of positive and negative conversation to monitor the health of their brand, competitor or industry in social media (positive is good and negative is bad, unless that conversation is about your competitor).

However,these numbers are not KPIs. For example, if one day there are 100 negative conversation about your brand and the next day you have 50 negative conversations then what does it really mean? On the surface it looks like you have done something good to bring down the negative conversations by 50%. Is it really true though?

To fully understand those numbers we need a little more context. Looking at the total number of conversations about your brand might provide some context. Say, there were total 200 conversations about our brand on day1 and 100 on day two. If we take percentage or ratio of positive conversation to total conversations and ratio of negative conversation to total conversation we find that we did exactly the same on both the day.

On Day 1: Negative Conversations/Total Conversation Ratio = 100/200 = 50%

On Day 2: Negative Conversations/Total Conversation is 50/100 = 50%

As you can see these ratios or percentages provide much more information than the raw number did. Even though raw negative mentions were down, as a percentage your negative conversation were about the same on both the days. This is where many social media analysts and marketers stop and use the above 5 metrics as KPIs. Let’s relist the 5 KPIs discussed so far
  1. Total Conversation about a brand, product or topic
  2. Number of Positive Conversations about a brand, product or topic
  3. Number of Negative Conversations about a brand, product or topic
  4. Ratio or Percentage of Negative Conversations/Total Conversation
  5. Ratio or Percentage of Positive Conversations/Total Conversations

But something is still missing in these metrics. Those who have analyzed social media conversation know that majority of the conversations are classified as “Neutral”. Neutral means that there is no positive or negative sentiment in the sentence or the conversation in which that brand, product or topic is mentioned. In my experiences, over 90% of the conversations are neutral. So let’s take another example to show how that messes up the above KPIs.
  1. Day 1
    Total Conversations: 1000
    Negative Conversation: 5
    Positive Conversations: 10
    Negative/Total Conversation = 5/1000 = 0.5%
    Positive/Total Conversation = 10/1000 = 1%
  2. Day 2
    Total Conversations: 1500
    Negative Conversation: 5
    Positive Conversations: 10
    Negative/Total Conversation = 5/1500 = 0.33%
    Positive/Total Conversation = 10/1500 = 0.67%
In the example above, it looks like our positive and negative conversation both dropped on day 2. Though in reality, looking at the raw numbers there was no difference in the volume of positive or negative conversations. It just happened that “neutral” conversations went up on day 2 causing the percent of positive and negative conversations to go down.
So as you can see, in this case raw numbers are a better indicator than the percentages or ratios. So you can see how none of the above 5 KPIs provide an accurate view of sentiments of conversations in the social media. We need a better KPI.


Sentiment Indicator

I use another KPI, that I call "Sentiment Indicator" or "Sentiment Index", which in my opinion, is a better indicator of sentiment then other metrics that we discussed. Here is how I calculate “Sentiment Indicator”:

Sentiment Indicator = (Positive Conversations – Negative Conversations)/(Positive Conversations + Negative Conversations) 


(Note: Even though neutral comments are still good for analysis, I do not use them in my calculations of Sentiment Indicator.)

Using our example above Day 1, The Sentiment Index will be 10-5/(10+5) = 33%, which is exactly the same as that on the Day 2.

This metrics is more actionable than other metrics. If it goes in negative direction that means we are getting higher number of negatives as compared to positives and it is time to get into action. If it goes in the positive direction then we must be doing something good and time to find out what that is. Also, many times I will use the volume of conversation along with it to make sure that while we are maximizing the positive conversation we are also enabling the total conversation volume to go up.

Note: You should still dig deeper into those conversation, particularly the negative ones and see what is going on. Sometimes even one negative comment can quickly go viral and ruin your reputation.

Your turn now. How do you measure sentiment?

If you are not sure and need help, don't hesitate to email me at batraonline (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment on this blog post.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

QR Code Analytics

QR codes have started to pop-up in lot of places such as store display, business cards, online ads, postcards etc. Whether QR codes are here to stay or not but from the measurement perspective they do present a huge opportunity in measuring advertising's (particularly offline) effectiveness.

If you are one of those marketers who have embraced QR code or are thinking about it or just curious to know how QR code measurement works then this post is for you.

Measuring URLs in QR Codes

You won’t be able to measure the number of impressions of the QR codes if they are distributed offline. What you can measure is how much traffic those QR codes are driving to your site or to your pages on 3rd party sites like facebook page, twitter account etc.
  • Measuring QR code links to your site

    Measuring QR codes that sends user to your site is as simple as campaign tracking. Just add the campaign tracking variable to the URLs that you have in your QR Codes and treat it like any other campaign. Then you can use your campaign reports to see how much traffic QR codes are bringing and how valuable that traffic is.

    (Note: The tracking code, that you should append, depends on your Web Analytics tool.

    For Google Analytics, you need to append add at least 3 variables, Source, Medium and Campaign Name. to the URL for it to be tracked in the Google Analytics (Check out URL Shortner, http://clop.in as it’s URL builder let’s you append the variables for tracking in Google Analytics, Omniture, WebTrend and Unica NetInsights )

    Example
    Say I want to create a QR code to send people to
    http://webanalyis.blogspot.com

    Instead of simply creating a QR code to http://webanalyis.blogspot.com I appended Google Analytic campaign tracking code so my URL looks like the following http://webanalysis.blogspot.com?utm_source=qrcode&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=qrcodeblogpost



    Now I can use the campaign tracking in Google Analytics to see the stats on my QR code advertising.

  • Measuring QR links to offfsite URLs such as Facebook page

    Since you won’t have your own web analytics tool running on a Facebook page you can use a URL shortener like http://clop.in or http://bit.ly (or better yet get a URL Shortener for your own domain with built in analytics from http://clop.in) to shorten the destination URL and then build a QR code using the shortened URL. This way you can use the built in analytics functionality of the URL shortener.

    Example:
    Say I want to send user to my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TheAnilBatra

    Rather than sending user to the facebook page, via my QR code, I created a short URL using http://clop.in, http://clop.in/PByJfv and then used this shortened URL to build my QR Code.


    Now I can use the analytics reporting of http://clop.in/short-url-clopin.aspx?utm_source=qrcode&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=qrcodeblogpost to see the stats on my QR code advertising.

Tracking Phone Numbers in QR Code

To Track phone numbers, that get dialed when someone scans a QR code, use a unique phone number that you have tracking for. If you don't have unique phone number then you can use 3rd party services likes Marchex to get a unique phone number for each QR code that you publish.

Note: To create a QR code use a service like http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ 

Questions? Comments?


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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Underline the Clickable Text and Link the Pictures

Sometimes there are things that you know are not right and need to be fixed immediately rather than testing and waiting for the result. Such was a case that I recently encountered and the results were amazing.

Recently, I was working with a client who sells people expertise (I am purposely vague here because I don’t want to reveal the name of the client). The “Expert” search is the start of the process and then “Expert Search result” page is a second step in the process.

On the expert search page, each expert is listed with a small blurb and the name of the expert was linked to the next step of the “checkout process”.

When analyzing the “checkout” process we noticed that there were 2 things missing
  1. The name of Expert was not underlined – it was linked to the next step in the “checkout” funnel but not underlined. Also, that was the only call to action on that page i.e. to click on the experts name to go to the next step.
  2. The picture of the Expert was static and had no link whatsoever.
Recommendation

Usually I recommend doing A/B testing before making any changes to a page/process but I also do rely on best practices from time to time. In this case underlining the Expert’s name (“product name”) to get more information and to link the image to either next step or the enlarged version of the image with more info made total sense. I was confident that I did not need any test (I sound like a HiPPO, right?). So
So rather than waiting to conduct an A/B test we went ahead and made those changes.
(of couse a clear to call to action link or button might have worked too but that was not an option)

Result
  • Exits from that page dropped from 38% to 33%
  • Funnel conversion rate went up from 40% to 47% (Though 40% conversion was amazing considering there was no highly visible way to get to the next step of the process).
I am sure if you look at your own site you will find plenty of such opportunities for improvement.
Thoughts? Comments?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Context is Critical: Creating a Culture of Web Analytics

Continuing my series on Creating a Culture of Analytics I would like to touch on a very critical aspect of creating a culture of Web Analytics and that is Context.

What is Context

According to Princeton.edu context is
  • Discourse that surrounds a language unit and helps to determine its interpretation
  • the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation or event

Context takes the ambiguity out of the equation. As an Analyst it is very important that you provide full context when reporting your web analytics data. Context gets everybody on the same page. Do not leave anything for interpretation by the end users of your reports, give them the insights in a simple and easy to understand format.

Let’s look at an example to understand critical context is.

60 Degrees

If I say it is going to be 60 degrees tomorrow. What will be you reaction?
If you are in Minnesota – You will yell “Summer”
If you are in Seattle, you will think – ““Spring”
If you are in Florida, you will say “ Damn… Cold”
If you are in India, you will say “WTF….” (Indians measures temperature in Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius is 140 F)

Some other question that might pop in people’s mind are:
  • What is the temperature today?
  • Is it normal to have 60 degrees this time of the year

Without context 60 degrees does not mean much. Right.
Similarly when you report your numbers and tell report on visits, page views, time on site etc. it does not mean much unless you provide the full context.

Web Analytics & Context

Just saying that Visits are down by 10% from last week is not enough. You have to put that 10% decline in full context. Tell your end users what happened and why they should or should not worry.

So add something like : Visits are down 10% from last week and also 10% lower compared to the same time last year. Prior to this week we saw a 10% year over year growth but last week was abnormally down. Isn’t that betting better now?

You should go even further: Last year we got some free advertising from local newspaper sites that drove 20% additional traffic same time last year. Since we did not have the advertising deal this year, it impacted our visits this year. We noted the potential impact of newspaper site advertising in our last year’s annual recap (here is the link to last year report – people forget so remind them). If we take out the impact of spike from newspaper sites then we have a consistent pattern of 10% year over year increase. As noted in last few reports, that increase is due to our social media efforts this year. Now the picture is much clearer. Of course you should look into the full impact e.g. conversion, bounces, sales etc. (Note: How you present this story will depend on what format you chose to present your report)

Now everybody is on the same page and knows exactly what those numbers mean. Without that context, everybody would have had their own interpretations of the data. Misinterpretations lead to wrong action and/or mistrust in the data and the analytics team.

Final Words

Do not provide any reports without providing full context. Keep in mind that most of the canned and automatic reports do more harm than good because they do not provide context.

Other posts in the series




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Monday, February 28, 2011

Value of Social Shares

Adding a widget such as AddThis , ShareThis and Facebook Like button on your site makes it very easy for your site visitors to share your site and content with their friends and followers via email or social media. Even though these are small widgets, that your developers/designers might not have paid much attention to, they add a tremendous value to your business.

According to a recent report by eMarketer 47.5% of the people trust the recommendations of their social media contacts. In order to leverage social sharers you have to make it easy for them to share you content and widgets like these do a good job in making your site shareable.

A small widget like this can save you thousands of dollars in customer acquisition and even retaining the customers via either direct conversions from the traffic driven by shared links or by the brand awareness that those links create.

Monetary value of Social Shares

Most of the sharing widgets have built in analytics to measure the virality of your site/content. Use the analytics report to understand how valuable those shares are. Make share analytics reporting part of your web analytics reporting so that other stakeholders can see the value too. If you need to convince your boss on why they should pay attention to these social shares, tie the value of shares to something more tangible i.e. Dollars/Pound/Euro/Rupee. Here are some of the ways you can tie the value of social shares to money:
  • Direct revenue
  • Life-time value of customer gained via social share
  • Advertising cost savings from the shares
Let’s do a simple calculation to see the value of social shares. In this example I tied the value of “Social Share” to the amount saved in paid search advertising

Example Calculation

Data that you will need:
  1. Clicks Generated– The number of click/visit/visitors generated from Social shares shares. (You might only get clicks/share from the widget analytics but you can easily estimate visits or visitors based on the data from your web analytics tool)
  2. Cost of a visit – You can estimate this from either a blended cost of all your online advertising or simply from paid search.
That’s all. Using the above information you will be able to calculate the “Cost Savings”, the cost you would have paid to drive those visits that you got for free from social shares.
Note: If you are able to tie the social sharing with your web analytics tool then you can not only get accurate count of visits (or visitors) instead of just clicks but also can get the conversions and revenue generated from those shares.


A/B Testing & Optimization
The location of you share widget will have an impact on the number of social shares you get. Social shares present a great opportunity to drive lots of valuable traffic. A/B test different locations of share widget to see how it impacts your bottom line and find the best location for those widgets.



I have attached a spreadsheet that will allow you to calculate the value of those shares and the opportunities optimization present. Just plug in some basic numbers and see the results. Download the spreadsheet from http://anilbatra.com/digitalmarketing/downloads/socialshares.xlsx

Related post: 3 Tools for Measuring the Virality of Your Content


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Current Open Positions


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  • Web Analytics Analyst at Designory. (formerly Agency.com) (Chicago, IL)



  • Web Games Analyst at Arkadium (New York, NY)



  • Online Performance Data Analyst at Announce Media (St Louis, MO)



  • Web Data Analyst at Genworth Financial (Richmond, VA)



  • Web Games Analyst at Arkadium (New York, NY)



  • Web Metrics Analyst at Omnitec Solutions (Alexandria, VA)



  • Thursday, February 24, 2011

    3 Tools for Measuring the Virality of Your Content

    Several studies have shown that people trust the link and site recommendation they receive from their friends or experts in the field. To capitalize on this opportunity websites have long used features like “Recommend to a Friend” or “Email this” kind of functionality. Recently we have seen a rise in usage of tools/widgets that make it easy for the visitors to share links via email and social media.

    Measuring Virality
    Many of the tools/widget that allow you to add easy sharing now also have built in analytics to help you track things such as which content is getting shared, how many people like to share etc, what methods do they use to share etc.

    3 tools that you should look into are:
    Tool Comparison

    ShareThis and AddThis

    ShareThis and AddThis are very similar in functionality with some minor differences but they look more like each other.
    Both this widgets have very similar reporting and tell you
    • How many links were shared
    • How many people shared them
    • What content was shared
    • Number of clicks back to you site from those shares
    • Sharer’s interest
    • Geo locations of the sharers


    AddThis and ShareThis only capture the information if a user uses the widget provided by these companies. However, these widgets won’t’ track the content shared by old fashioned copy and paste of either the URL or the actual content of the page. This is where Tynt comes into picture.

    Tynt

    Unlike AddThis and ShareThis Tyne does not have any share widget. Instead it works by automatically appending a unique hash value (a number folder by #) to each URL and the copied content. It uses that hash value (sort of like unique cookie) to determine metrics such as how many times the links/content was copied from your site, the number of visits it brought back and various other metrics.

    Most of the reporting is very similar to AddThis and ShareThis widgets. Here is a list of some of the data that Tynt reports on:
    • How many times your content was shared
    • How many visitors you got back from those shares
    • What content was shared and how much
    • It even tells you how your sharing compares to others
    • Geo locations of the sharers and clickers

    However, There is one report that only Tynt provides and that is the keyword report. It shows you
    1. Inbound keywords - keywords that visitors searched to get to your site (AddThis has a different variation of keyword report)
    2. Outbound keyword - the keywords that visitors found on your sites but left your site to find out more about them. This is a really cool report because it tells me what else I can write more about on my site so that my visitors don’t have to leave the site to find out more about them. I will be using that report to add more content to my blog/site.

      I will cover some more details on these tools and how we use them for our clients in future but for now I suggest you look at these tools and let me know what you like or don’t like about them.

      Do you know of or use any other service? Send me the details.

      Note: In addition to above three there is “Facebook Like” button too.

      Tuesday, February 15, 2011

      The Curse of Knowledge: Creating a Culture of Web Analytics

      Presenting the data is what Web Analysts do majority of the time. It is critical for Web Analysts to present the data in a way that is easily understood by their intended audience. However, I have seen time and again that this simple rule is missed. Why? Because we all suffer from what is known as "The Curse of Knowledge".

      What is The Curse of Knowledge?

      Here is what 37Signals.com write on this subject:
      Lots of research in economics and psychology shows that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we become lousy communicators. Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.

      "Curse of Knowledge" becomes a big issue for Web Analysts and Managers who are trying to create a Culture of Web Analytics. We assume that people know what we know because it seems so simple, right? Think again. Even simple metrics such as Visits, Visitors and Page views that seem so simple and no-brainer to you are difficult for others to understand.

      If the numbers/data/reports that you present to the stakeholders do not provide them what they need in a simple and easy to understand format then you are in for a very though journey to building a Culture of Web Analytics.
      To further illustrate my point, let me tell you about a situation that I personally had to go through.

      I was approached by a mortgage agent who wanted me to refinance my mortgage and claimed that he had better rates than any other lender in the area. So I thought, sure let me see what this guy has to offer. So we met and I gave him my goals

      1. The amount that I wanted to refinance
      2. The interest rate range that I was comfortable with
      3. $0 closing fee

      I also asked him to tell me how much my monthly payment was going to be for those interest rates. We decided to watch the interest rates to see when they fall in my range and he promised to send me the daily interest rates.

      That’s all.

      Next day he sends me the following table with some explanation of the two columns. All this did not make sense to me, and I deal with numbers all day long. He also wrote that he will explain this to me over the phone.


      So he called and tried to explain me the above chart but he still did not answer my earlier questions. See the problem?


      If you have to call someone to explain your data that mean you have not done a good job of understanding him and his needs.

      You see how easily you can alienate someone by not presenting the information in the right way. That’s the issue you face when you are trying to sell value of analytics within your organization. People look at your reports few times, find it too complex to understand and move over to other things. If that happens then you are done.

      So do not fall a victim to “Curse of Knowledge”, step in your audiences’ shoes and make your reports really simple and actionable. Three key points to remember when presenting the data are
      1. Understand your audience and their goals
      2. Understand their level of understanding of the subject matter
      3. Customize the data presentation to meet your audience level of understanding of web analytics and needs. Make it a no-brainer to understand and tie everything back to the business goals
      Questions? Comments?


      Follow me on twitter @anilbatra

      Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anil-Batra-Page/130050670343547



      Looking to fill your Web Analytics or Online Marketing position?  Post your open jobs on Web Analytics Job Board.

      Current Open Positions




    1. Web Analytics Analyst at Designory. (formerly Agency.com) (Chicago, IL)



    2. Web Games Analyst at Arkadium (New York, NY)



    3. Online Performance Data Analyst at Announce Media (St Louis, MO)



    4. Web Data Analyst at Genworth Financial (Richmond, VA)



    5. Web Games Analyst at Arkadium (New York, NY)



    6. Web Metrics Analyst at Omnitec Solutions (Alexandria, VA)



    7. Web Data Analyst at Alzheimer's Association (Chicago, IL)

    8. Friday, January 07, 2011

      Creating a Culture of Web Analytics

      All those who have worked at companies which never used or do not use web analytics to make decisions about site changes, know how difficult it is to create a culture of web analytics. It is very hard. Building a culture of web analytics is a grueling uphill task.
      After working with various client I have found that reasons for not using web analytics vary from company to company, some of the common ones are:
      • Gut feel has always worked or at least it seems like it has worked
      • It is an additional step in the process
      • New skills are required to use web analytics. They feel they don’t have the required skills for using web analytics
      • Fear of accountability i.e. now I will be measured and I don’t like that
      • The reports that they got in past were pretty useless
      • They didn’t believe in web analytics data because they have no clue on how the data was collected
      • They don’t understand how web analytics can help them
      • They don’t understand what web analytics is

      The first reaction of many newly hired analyst/analytics manager is to start talking about KPIs, reports, what web analytics can do etc. But before you start digging into the data and analysis and start to talk about KPIs, dashboards etc. you need to understand the root cause of why analytics has not been used in the past. Understanding and tacking those issues will give you a better platform to build the culture of analytics on.

      Here are few things you need to do before jumping into KPIs
      • Identify various stakeholders, who could benefit from web analytics, in the company. You don’t have to have a comprehensive list of every person but some that you think could immediately benefit and you can immediately help is also a good list to start with
      • Get a meeting with them, individually or grouped together in groups based on their roles/departments etc.
      • Agenda of the first meeting should be to understand why they have not used web analytics in the past and what they would like to see from web analytics group. Don’t talk about KPIs yet. This meeting is about hearing them, if they talk about goals, metrics etc. then fine but don’t jump to discussing KPIs
      • Make sure they understand that there will be a follow-up and you are there to help them not to use numbers to find faults. You need collaboration. Don’t let other people’s opinion about HiPPOs put you in an offensive or defensive position
      • Schedule a follow-up meeting to go over you analysis of the past meeting, address any concerns/issues that are preventing them to use analytics

      The goal of this exercise is to make people feel confident that you can truly help them make data driven decisions without jeopardizing their job. You understand their concerns and are willing to address them.

      During this process you will also find out who all (groups/individual) are more willing than others to help you build your case and will provide you small wins that you can use to garner more support. If you have an executive support e.g. your bosses boss then leverage that to help you.

      At the end,remember, every company is different. The culture is different, challenges are different, political structure is different so it is critical you understand all those elements. It is not going to happen overnight so be prepared for a long rocky journey.

      Comments/Questions?




      Follow me on twitter @anilbatra

      Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anil-Batra-Page/130050670343547


      Looking to fill your Web Analytics or Online Marketing position?  Post your open jobs on Web Analytics Job Board.

      Current Open Positions


    9. Web Games Analyst at Arkadium (New York, NY)

    10. Online Performance Data Analyst at Announce Media (St Louis, MO)

    11. Web Data Analyst at Genworth Financial (Richmond, VA)

    12. Web Games Analyst at Arkadium (New York, NY)

    13. Web Metrics Analyst at Omnitec Solutions (Alexandria, VA)

    14. Web Data Analyst at Alzheimer's Association (Chicago, IL)

    15. Web Analytics Manager at Tig Global (Chevy Chase, MD)