Web Analytics

4 Ways Big Data Analytics Affects Your Customer Service


Not needing customer service is the best example of customer service.

Big data analytics helps you tune into your customers’ expectations, frustrations and demands, so you can constantly evolve your business platform, providing a superior and smooth experience to your customers.

However there is a giant elephant in the room: the probability of failure of big data analytics. You won’t hear people talking about it for the fear of appearing incompetent or ignorant, but believe me, it is a common occurrence with many problems and roadblocks on the way.

Let’s examine a few reasons why big data analytics fail and some instances where they succeed when it comes to customer service intelligence, so that you can avoid these mistakes and improve your chances of success in retention as well as acquisition.

Data models

Bear with me while I spew some mumbo-jumbo.

The concept of data models is very complex. In a nutshell, it manages its constituent elements and their mutual relationships. A database model, in turn, is a logical data model, which determines the structure of a computerized (usually) database, and specifies how data can be added, stored, organized, accessed and edited. Common database models include hierarchical, relational, and semantic.

In your organization, the decision of which big data or automation tools you’ll adopt and deploy is often dependent on the data model that is on offer, whether you realize it or not.

Suppose you are a retail ecommerce website selling t-shirts and such. Using your analytics tools, you could easily profile shoppers who interested in product X – things like the source of visit, age, location, etc. Let’s say you find that the majority of your customers are millennials.

Now you want to know what kind of t-shirts millennials like. So you decide to do product A/B testing based on the relational model i.e. the relation between a demographic (millennials) and their consumer behavior (t-shirt preferences).

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See where I am going? At the end of the day, unless you make sure your customer service team sounds more authentic, and totally gets the marketing channels favored by millennials, you won’t see any results from either your data analytics or testing.

Again, it all boils down to the data model. Even a business that makes extensive use of analytics data can go wrong. For example, Google Analytics follows the “last Interaction” attribution model by default when it comes to tracking conversions. As per this model, a product purchase is credited to the last channel that your site visitor interacted with before making the purchase.

For instance, Tim finds your website through organic search, sees some cool t-shirts and forgets all about it. His second interaction comes through a tweet about your blog post. During both these visits, he has liked your products and maybe registered and added a couple to his wish-list but hasn’t taken any action. His final purchase comes a few weeks later when he really needs to buy a t-shirt, googles “hip tshirts” again and clicks through the first ad he sees (yours).

Google Analytics will attribute the success of this conversion to paid search, based on its last touch attribution model. Consequently, you might feel compelled to increase your AdWords budget. This is how you can go wrong.

You must use a lot of different data models to make an informed decision. Blindly trusting one data model can prove to be an expensive mistake.


The Columbia Business School and the New York American Marketing Association surveyed over 250 corporate decision-makers in marketing – director-level at large companies. This is what they found:

  • 51% of the respondents said that a lack of sharing customer data within their own organization was a big challenge to overcome.
  • Nearly half weren’t using data to personalize their communications.
  • Almost a third did not know which high-value customers to focus their marketing on.
  • 39% said their company’s data collection methods weren’t well-timed.

There are countless tools – from Hadoop to Kyvos – that help enterprises collect and analyze big data. However, you must remember these are just tools. They will give you valuable insights on your data, but that doesn’t guarantee changes at the ground level.

Most of the times, analysis reports are seen only by the select few in the upper echelons while the team that actually connects with the customers on a regular basis is left out.

For instance, I once ordered a pair of jeans only to find them a size too small. I wanted to get a bigger size, so I left a message on the retailer’s website, for which I got a support ticket. But I didn’t hear from them, so I emailed the whole thing again to the customer care ID and waited another 24 hours before giving them a call. I was told to hang up (my and wait for someone to get in touch with me, which of course never materialized. So I took the jeans to their store (luckily for me, they have one in my city), repeated the whole story to the manager and got my jeans exchanged. To cut a long story short, had the details of my order and issue been available to all employees on the shop floor, warehouse as well as customer service departments, we all would have saved a lot of time.

Although this is my personal experience, I’m sure you will identify with this story. It illustrates how important it is to make real time data analytics more available to everyone, right down to your customer service team.

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As with everything, CIOs and managers want everything yesterday! They want to see results from big data in as early as 3 to 6 months. Most CMOs and CIOs go as far as to calculate ROI within the first year.

The truth is that it takes you far longer than three months to even make sense of the overwhelming amount of data analytics today’s tool present you, let alone glean insights from them. Then you go on to draw up plans on which metrics you’d like to monitor and meet, based on your business goals, and proceed to implement it over the next six months to a year depending on the scope of the task at hand.

Even then, you can never be a 100% sure that you have made the right changes, so you keep tweaking your data analytics models; the question of ROI doesn’t arise this early in the game.

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Source: SlideShare

So how do you work around this problem?

  • Find the pain points in your customer service.
  • Define metrics for improvement. The success of measuring ROI in big data analytics depends on how well you pinpoint metrics that precisely gauge its success.
  • Set realistic short and long term goals.
  • Keep updating your big data models as and when you get more relevant data or insights.

For instance, XO Communications’ ultimate aim was to model their customer base and use that data to deduce whether a customer was happy or not. However, this was a long term goal and it would have been impossible to define metrics or determine success based on this goal alone. So, they broke it down into a short term goal of identifying “high risk” customers who could possibly switch to another carrier, contacting them in time and convincing them to stay. (Another win for customer retention!)

XO then converted this goal into KPI form – they aimed at reducing customer query times by up to 90 percent (from 7 to 10 days to less than a day). This was a realistic and measurable objective and they found they saved up to 5 million in revenue in just 30 days by solving this pain point.

They scaled up and changed their models several times after that and their annual savings shot up from $11 million in the first year to $15 million with a subsequent optimized data model.


One of the most important ingredients in the recipe for big data success is disruption. If you keep trying to milk the same old data warehouse, team, IT infrastructure and tools, you are headed for big-time big data failure.

To ensure success, you need to be able to do a 360-degree pivot at the snap of a finger – hire experienced data scientists, do not be afraid to use newer tools, encourage disruptive thinking and most importantly, be prepared for implementing changes at all times.

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The biggest case in point here would be Groupon’s failure to capture China’s budding market. Encouraged by their success in Europe, Groupon duplicated the same approach in China – a high volume, low touch, cold-call approach (read, mass email marketing). However they didn’t take market differentiators like Chinese culture into the big data equation and thus failed to please their Chinese customers.

Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, used data intelligence quite wisely. They were always good at data analytics and have a track record of successfully using it to improve customer service several times. Some time back, they announced the deployment of speech analytics in order to extract information out of live-recorded interactions between customers and service personnel, in an effort to dig deeper for customer insights. No surprises that they are amongst the top 3 airlines for excellent customer service.

Tesla too created disruption by using data to understand their vehicles’ security issues and recruited hackers to break into their car’s security control unit, a preventive step ahead of their plans to collect more data from their connected cars. This is a great example of how companies today think inside and outside the box.

Over to You

As you saw, there are several ways you can fumble and fail to achieve results from big data for your customer service. If you’re a business decision maker, here are a few sources of big data learning you must make a habit of revisiting regularly. This will help you to gain industry insights on everything related to big data or customer service.

  • Clickz’s “Analyzing Customer Data” section
  • Inside Big Data’s concise insights on big data strategy
  • This huge list active blogs on big data, data science, data mining, machine learning and analytics
  • This Quora question, where everyone from data novices to entrepreneurs have shared their favorite resources for big data analytics

Have you tried using big data analytics for improving customer service or are planning to in the near future? What are the other business areas you wish to improve with big data analytics?

I’d love to hear about any news, case studies, experiences and insights on everything related to big data that you might have to share. See you


Over 90% of Companies Lack Digital Skills – And What You Can Do About It


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What is the digital talent gap?

According to a study done by Capgemini Consulting in conjunction with MIT Center for Digital Business, they uncovered some staggering stats that will help us understand the phenomenon.

  • Over 90% of companies lack digital skills
  • 77% of companies considered ‘missing digital skills’ as a key hurdle to digital transformation
  • 87% of companies believe a digital transformation is a competitive opportunity
  • Only 47% of companies are investing in developing digital skills
  • Only 4% of companies are ensuring their training efforts are aligned with their overall digital strategy
  • Companies are spending no more than 20% of their training budget on digital
  • Only 30% of organizations mentioned HR as being actively involved in skills development

Companies across the globe felt the biggest holes in digital skill sets across their organization in the following areas: social media, mobile, internal social networks, process automation and analysis.

According to the same 2013 study, the below skills are most relevant for the digital age:

  • Big data analytics
  • Social media
  • Mobile devices
  • Cloud

To get a bit more granular, skills in this area range from light tech to heavy tech-centric skills. Light tech skills in the digital age include things like social media management, brand building online, online community management, virtual (webinar, presentation, etc.) facilitation, writing for different digital mediums, marketing automation tools management, customer service and public relations. Heavy tech skills in the digital age include things like user interface design, mobile device management, mobile device security, data analysis, app management and design, and much more.

The second half of the puzzle lies in corporations needs to match tech skills with business acumen. The true value of digital skills are born when they are combined with a deep understanding of the business. This is leading to an increased need for employees who have both technical skills plus business and leadership abilities.

So - what can companies do to ‘plug the skills gap?’

Let’s first take a look at what some companies are currently doing. Google partnered with P&G to implement an employee exchange program to help teach their employees how to sell things online. They focused on digital and search marketing to help bring their e-commerce into the 21st century. Nike partnered with Techstars in an incubator program to create new products.

Upskilling employees is an ideal way to empower those who already know your business, with the digital skills needed to close the gap in your organization.

And, this upskilling does not need to be ‘Google-sized.’ Small and medium sized business have options. There are ways to invest in current employees that don’t require you to be P&G or Nike.

Organizations, like ours - offer affordable options for digital and online training for companies of all sizes. We’ve been training teams since 2007 and have supported corporate teams as large as 10,000 employees, and as small as 10. We offer fully customized eLearning programs with the added benefit of leveraging over 400 + hours of existing high quality content taught by Digital Marketing thought leaders, authors, and leading practitioners.

We begin with an assessment to test employee’s digital knowledge to help us build a program to fill your skills gap and augment your employee strengths. We’ll then help design a custom based learning pathway comprised of classes that fit your organization's’ particular skill(s) gap. We also offer LMS integration, marketing support, reporting dashboards, and robust user role access to support any size organization.

We’d love to help you empower your team. Visit our Corporate Training Page or send us an inquiry.



5 Digital Trends That Will Define 2016


1) High Customer Expectations Will Just Keep Getting Higher

Personalization, targeting, retargeting and seamless e-commerce experiences will be exponentially more important in 2016. An average customer experience will no longer fly. The ‘new normal’ in customer experience will trend towards tailoring the experience to each person’s behaviors, interest,  and on, and even off-line, activities. Companies must think about specific customer journeys, personalities and interests of their varied customers. They must seek out the appropriate tools to execute on those initiatives, and empower their employees to work together to bring the experience to life.


2) Powerful Tools (Read Data) For All:

Integrative software that felt out of reach for many small businesses will become more affordable. The market has become more saturated with copy cat, yet powerful, tools across numerous parts of any business making them more accessible.

Close-up of a modern business team using tablet computer to work with financial data

3) Data, Data, and More Data

With powerful, data driven software accessible to more companies, marketers will begin to focus on the data. You'll see marketers leaning heavily on metrics to help inform strategies and priorities.


4) Be Prepared to Spend More

While online ads are still relatively cheap, the increase in competition in the digital world should increase the cost of advertising quite a bit. Small companies with already limited budgets may find themselves struggling to make any sum of money go the distance when it comes to paid advertising.


5) Work With Siri, Not Against Her

Search Engine Optimization is going to change dramatically. This is in part due to social media beginning to be indexed by Google (aka your social presence will affect search results). This is also in part thanks to our favorite mobile friend Siri and her counterparts. Siri, the google app, etc., are now woven into our technology of choice - our phone. Now that mobile browsing has surpassed desktop, and these technologies have become less clunky, people will begin trending their way to find what they need. To ensure you don’t get left out of the mix, make sure you’re serving these bots with the information to find you.


Meet the real woman behind the voice of Siri 



Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends For 2016



Tis’ the season for lists! Christmas lists, lengthy grocery lists for holiday gatherings, itineraries for holiday travel. If you’re a marketer, surely you’re poised for the onslaught of ‘2016 trends to watch,’ lists, popping up all over our favorite blogs, periodicals, and websites; Top digital marketing trends to watch in 2016, 5 Marketing tactics that will make or break your company in 2016, 7 Digital marketing tactics you need to master in 2016. So, to ease your burden, we’ve read most of them for you - and prepared a snap-shot of the most popular from the list of lists. Here are the Top 10 digital trends and tactics to plan for in 2016.


1) Social Media - From Ugly Duckling to Swan

With a number of alliances between Google and big social media players (read: Facebook and Twitter) it’s no wonder marketers are starting to head the social call. The product of these marriages will increase the importance of a company's social media presence. Bloomberg was quoted saying, “[tweets] will start to be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they are posted.” It doesn’t seem likely that Google will slow down forging more partnerships with leading social platforms. The result? Allowing social results to influence search engine results!

Next, if you haven’t experienced the upgraded targeting ad features on Facebook, take the time to get acquainted now. The retargeting and integrations within Facebook Ad’s manager are powerful data driven features that have marketers excited. Serve ads based on retargeting, custom lists, actions, behaviors, page visits ... the list goes on.

Lastly, social media has become one of the number one place customers go to thank (or complain). The highly transparent and public nature of social media makes users feel like they’ve ‘cut to the front of the line’. If you’re not hearing their complaints (or accolades) and acting accordingly, you can be certain other people are.

So what should you do? Tweet. Be active, transparent, human and timely across social channels. Allow people to know what you’re up to - build brand trust and intrigue. Invest in your Facebook content and strategies, and get social listening tools so your customer service team can be a part of (and control of) the ‘social goings on’ of your company.

Recommended class: Using Social Media to Create Engagement by Kevin Popovic - Founder of Ideahaus


2) Now You See It, Now You Don’t - The Rise of Ephemeral Marketing

Sometimes termed ‘temporary social media’ - Snapchat is leading the way in ephemeral marketing. Snapchat is useful for generating excitement around a new product or feature, or driving specific marketing actions, such as promos or discounts. Many companies (Food Network, Vice, BuzzFeed, Mashable, Cosmo, ESPN, to name a few) are capitalizing on the younger generation, aka millennials, who flock to Snapchat where they can consume content that feels ‘straight to the point’ and, where they can access ‘limited access content’, that is content with an expiration date - read as: exclusive.


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Recommended class: Trending Social Apps: Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat  by Kelsey Jones owner of MoxieDot


3) Content Remains King

Think content is only used to strengthen SERs? While that is absolutely one of the key reasons you should be creating regular, original, relevant, brand enhancing and engaging quality content, check out these statistics that tell a compelling story about the other important roles content plays.

  • 90% of customers find custom content useful while 78% believe that companies with custom content are interested in building positive relationships
  • Content marketing costs less than traditional marketing, 62% less per lead, to be exact

Content builds brand trust and loyalty, and helps define you as an expert in your field. If you don’t yet have brand advocates upping your credibility, you’ll have to be the one to do that - and one of the best ways you can accomplish this is with content. In 2016, if you don’t have the budget or resources to create a robust brand advocacy strategy, think about getting influencers on board to help tell your story. It comes down to this, if you’re not doing it, your competitors are, and as content and consumption becomes a larger part of the buyer's journey, if you’re not making noise with your content, you’re getting drowned out by the noise of others.

Recommended class: Content Marketing for Social Media by Neal Schaffer, Founder of Maximize Social Business


4) Location Based Marketing Technology

Location based marketing is particularly important if your company regularly hosts events. Through the use of fancy tech (Radio Frequency Identification - RFID) marketers can utilize wearables, applications, or even cards with a unique RFID identifier, to amplify social sharing by creating a seamless and integrated consumption and sharing experience.

Although a lot of the freshest and coolest location based marketing is geared towards events, location based marketing isn’t just for event marketers. Other location based services and technologies have been created to locate nearby devices that can detect prospects at the time of engagement with a particular product or retail establishment.


Minority Report? Anyone?


5) Relationship Marketing

This boils down to creating loyalists (brand advocates) instead of focusing on quick, short-term sales and aquisition. The focus is on long lasting customer relationships. Those companies that do this well are the envy of many, having created an ecosystem where customers are creating brand awareness that feels organic, authentic and credible.

Coca-Cola kills it when it comes to relationship marketing. This is one of my favorites (of hundreds) of relationship campaigns they’ve run all over the world.

Coca-Cola caps as currency - genius. Not to mention, this one’s a real tear jerker.

Recommended class: Improve Relationship Marketing Using Social Media by Brian Basilico, owner of B2B Interactive Marketing, Inc.  


6) Marketing Automation

Marketing automation has become increasingly necessary as more and more companies are understanding the importance of content and leveraging content as a leading tactic for led gen. Automation tools make it easier to manage everything from blogging to the customer/prospect lifecycle. Curious about what tools are out there? Check out this list of The Top 50 Marketing Automation Tools and Apps.

Recommended Class: Marketing Automation Best Practices for Success by Carlos Hidalgo

7) Virtual Reality

Virtual reality will emerge, and has the potential to change the way we tell stories. Obviously we expect 3D to take off first in the game industry, however, the benefits this tech add to the customer journey are intriguing. Imagine taking your next car out for a test drive or taking a tour of a potential vacation home, without leaving the comfort of your own living room? As personalization continues to be top priority, savvy marketers will find ways to bring their products and stories to life. Whether this will be a massive game changer remains to be seen, but with billions of dollars of funding around, it surely will be entertaining to watch it all unfold.


8) Wearables and the Internet of Things

What has felt like a slow and steady burn for wearable tech popularity in 2015, will likely continue into 2016. What this means for marketers is even more opportunity for targeted marketing, data and behavior driven marketing. It also means you may be making marketing choices based on the day-to-day behaviors of your potential consumers. Wearables will also change the way people share content, so the whole social landscape will shift accordingly, plus more wearable tech means less dependence on RFID’s or ibeacons for geo-location marketing efforts.


9) Video or Bust

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? The number of searches on YouTube tops Bing, Y!, Ask.com, and AOL combined. YouTube also boasts an audience reach of more US adults ages 18-34 than any other cable network. Makes you squirm a little thinking about all the search you’re missing out on - doesn’t it? Live streaming takes video to a new level entirely. With ephemeral marketing gaining popularity, anyone with a smartphone can capture ‘exclusive’ content. In 2016 make sure you’re exploring snapchat, periscope, and Facebook and seeing where you can incorporate live streaming into your marketing strategies as well as planning for a YouTube presence if you don’t already have one. Check out this article for examples of these 8 brands live stream video for innovative marketing.


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10) Optimized for Mobile

At this point, mobile and responsive websites should be a no brainer. For the past few years, we’ve been sprinting towards mobile dominating desktop, and we’ve passed it. Mobile has officially passed desktop browsing. What does this mean for you? In 2016, a mobile-optimized site will be an acceptable placeholder for an app, but not for long. An app can (read: should) do everything your website can do, just in a more accessible, intuitive and convenient way. Not to mention, an app is both touch screen (read: less barriers to clicks) and is a advertisement/reminder of your product that goes with your user everywhere they go. Talk about location based marketing 😉 2016 is the year to create a plan and market strategy for your app, get familiar with the latest app indexing best practices, and get an app to market, that for all intents and purposes, could replace your website.


Which trends and strategies do you think will dominate 2016? We’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to share!


Happy Holidays!



Small-Budget Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season



Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us in no time and every self-respecting business will be sending out letters, greeting cards, emails or logo-stamped gifts. Direct marketing is one of the most fascinating branches of marketing. From the days of yore, it has made people talk, share and take action. With so many messages thrown at people throughout the day, direct marketing provides one of the least risky – and anticipated and accepted, if a bit interruptive – ways to connect with customers. I love creative mailers that come through my door. Some are thoughtful, some are clever, and some are downright cheeky. However, one common point amongst all these mailers is they are all prohibitively expensive for small businesses.

This is where small budget ideas come in. These ideas make it possible for small businesses to connect with their customers in surprisingly affordable and effective ways.

Holiday Vines

Vine set the precedent in making hastily-shot amateur videos all the rage. With Instagram and Periscope only confirming that video-clip marketing is here to stay, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to post a series of Vines leading up to Christmas and New Year. All you have to do is grab your smartphone and look around for cute and quirky opportunities to make a video.

Check out this cute and funny Vine made with zero dollars’ investment:

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Embed Vine: https://vine.co/v/OgIwBEnLKPv

Take a look at the other videos on Christmas Channel – the channel that hosts the above video for more amazing ideas.

Top Tips

  • Share your Vines on other social platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook.
  • Embed links to your Vines on product pages on your website, blog posts, and email.
  • Make a series of Vines on a particular theme. For instance, think Harvey Nichols’ famous “I Spent it On Myself” commercial, break the idea into smaller videos – and you have a series!
  • Scour the app store for video editing apps that come with tons of effects to make your videos funny, creative and cool. Use these liberally.

Holiday Emails

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Inboxes are invariably flooded with the same old “formulaically creative” emails during holiday times. So the chances of your email being read are infinitely small.

But with a little proactive and out-of-the-box (we desperately need a more out-of-the-box word for out-of-the-box) thinking, you can ensure your holiday emails are read.

Top Tips

  • First things first – stop being stingy when it comes to photos. Say goodbye to the ubiquitous boring vector backgrounds and illustrations, and invest in high quality pictures; or better yet, hire a good photographer. Yes, this still counts as “small-budget.” You can borrow creative “ideas” instead of “images” – Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration.
  • If you are short on time, try online email creators. They are intuitive and easy to use, and you are done in minutes. Plus they come with a lot of beautiful, seasonal templates and forms, so you can create highly engaging emails with designer-like finesse. Most likely, your email marketing suite has such features too.
  • Don’t leave it for too late – start emailing at least weeks in advance.
  • Include creatively modified photos of your staff for more personalized email greetings. Other than being great for employees’ morale, it also lends a face and identity to your company.

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Web Banners

Turn the banners on your homepage and category pages into online billboards. The banner or slider on your homepage is the first thing your visitors notice, so it makes sense to create one specifically for holiday season. Personalized card and gift item retailer FunkyPigeon.com is known for putting out banners with timely messages relevant to upcoming events, days or seasons.

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More effective than just banners are entire landing pages with customized elements, each of which appeals to customers’ holiday moods. You can do this (without much coding) using DIY ecommerce platforms such as Spaces, which allows you to create product pages or even single-page websites with mobile-optimized, easy-to-A/B-test banners that give you more room for creativity while showcasing your merchandise.

If all your DIY or in-house efforts fail, you can always fall back on community-powered design marketplaces like 99Designs to not only get yourself a customized banner but pick and choose from dozens of entries submitted by the community.


In perfecting your means, don’t forget your message. Content marketing still remains the #1 small-budget marketing medium. Done right on your email and social media, and especially on your blog, content allows you to drive traffic to your business.

However, you need to start early. Create indirect branded content (including infographics) on holiday themes, such as:

  • X Things You Can Fill in That Dog Christmas Stocking (for a pet food company)
  • X Original Setups to Capture Awesome Christmas Selfies (for a camera or smartphone company)
  • Why Santa Is Going To Pay Us an Extended Visit This Year (for anyone to share their annual success stories)

Send teasers through emails and share them on social networks from at least a month before, while there is still ample chance for them to be read.

Smart Gifts

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Though content and email marketing have proven to be highly effective ways of marketing, it is always a good idea to send out physical gifts during holidays.

But you need to think beyond personalized pens to logo-engraved mugs – there never seems to be a shortfall of such boring “corporate” gifts.

And what’s more, these gifts are just that – gifts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take on the festivities with more smart (read eco-friendly) and creative ideas for direct marketing (without the overwhelming expenses, of course)?

So here’s a thoughtful gift idea for which clients and customers will remember you for a long time:

Costing just around $2, plantable paper can make awesome gifts to help your customers stay focused on their goals. Simply send a letter with the plantable or seed paper (with your own custom messages such as “Hope our association grows stronger by the day!”) that explains the concept of your gift and how to use it, and you are done!

Plantable papers are available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get hold of it.

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The best part about such gifts is you can follow up with timely cross-sells or reports and cement your relationship in the process.

Over to You

The new truth of marketing is that no single channel is enough these days. You cannot say with conviction that you’ll be successful just by milking a channel you’re good at, whether it’s email, social or television ads. You need to create a multi-channel marketing mix with all the ingredients perfectly mixed together to create awesome holiday season campaigns.

With mega-sale days just round the corner, don’t waste much time – start experimenting with as many guerilla-budget campaigns as you can. Like, now!


2 Easy Ways to Start Tracking Social Media with Google Analytics


By now, even the smallest of small businesses know that an active social media presence is necessary to appeal to web savvy customers in the digital age. But for many, the strategic thinking ends there. The built-in analytics/insights that come with most social platforms really don’t help the problem, since they’re typically not results-oriented enough to drive strategy.

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That’s where Google Analytics can help. The versatility and customization available through this great (and free!) set of tools is well worth the effort of learning how to use them. And if you’re already using Google Analytics for your website analytics, it’s a simple step to extend that to social media platforms.

The major flaw in almost all Insights that come bundled within a social media platform is the lack of customization. Think about your Facebook Insights dashboard:

Google Analytics comparison

It's very big picture: there’s no way to quantify specific content marketing efforts, to follow clicks through to their end result, or to even adjust the layout of your Insights so they fit the data you’re interested in. Facebook Insights (and Pinterest Analytics, Twitter Analytics, etc.) are only interested in the kind of results you can achieve within the platform, like post views, shares, clicks, likes, retweets, repins, and comments. But you’re running a business, not a social media extravaganza. You need to be able to quantify results beyond all that, to determine what types of content and marketing efforts work best for your bottom line.

1.     Track social media visitors using customized URLs.

You’ve probably seen these types of long, complicated URLs before – they often have the name of the post or website included, and then a lot of garbled text and symbols at the end. These are called UTM parameters, and they allow you to send data back to your Google Analytics whenever someone uses that specific link to reach your page, maybe by clicking on a link in your Facebook post or tweet. Create your own trackable URL with Google’s easy to use URL Builder.

Related Class: Introduction to Web Analytics

There are many advantages to keeping track of clicks through UTM parameters rather than through the Insights/Analytics that come with each social channel. Google Analytics will give you one easy place to compare clicks across all your platforms, so you can see which types of content or offers perform best on which of your platforms. This makes it easier to think strategically about content, instead of blanketing all off your social channels with the same posts. You can also use UTM parameters to track things like sponsored posts, advertising campaigns, etc., so it will be clear which ad keywords or images are performing best for you.

2.     Set goals to get results-driven data.

When Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics shows me that several people clicked on a link to a landing page that I posted/tweeted, I’m glad to hear it. But it’s not exactly data you can take back to the CEO or sales team to show your success in social media. Using Google Analytics to set goals will help you keep track of the behavior of social media users once they get onto your site, and can give you much more detailed, actionable data than you’ll get from social media insights alone.

Related Class: How to Measure Social ROI

Since you create your own goals in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to identify exactly the behaviors you’re interested in. For example, if I wanted to test the success of a blog post, I could set a duration goal to monitor when visitors stay on the page for over 45 seconds or 1 minute. Or if the blog post drives readers with a CTA like downloading an eBook or reading more on another page, I can set a destination goal for when they click on the link and land on that specific page. If your interest is in specific actions (signing up for the mailing list, downloading a product guide, playing a video) you can create event goals associated with those actions.

social tracking

If you’re already using Google Analytics, I don’t need to tell you that there are many, many more ways to use this free service to track your efforts and refine your strategy. From A/B testing ad buys to focusing the content you share, these tools are more specific, customizable and ultimately useful than the built-in insights you get from Facebook and other platforms. Use both together to get a big picture and close up look at your social media efforts and their results.

Interested in more ways to track social media with data? Check out this class, Measuring the Value of Social Media Using Simple Analytics, to learn about best practices for integrating Google Analytics with your social media channels.


5 Tips for Defining Key Performance Indicators


In this blog, I will reveal five lessons learned from the course, “Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).” According to the instructor Bill Bruno, CEO of Stratigent, there are many metrics that are important to track, but only a few are KPIs. A metric is a KPI if it meets two criteria: it is tied directly to a business, marketing, or campaign objective; and there are time-sensitive targets that can be measured and rated.

1. Useful KPIs Trump Actionable KPIs

How do you determine which KPIs are the most important? This chart shows that the most useful KPIs provide a high amount of insight and have a short-term impact. In contrast, it’s better to avoid KPIs that are low on the insight and actionable scale.

For example, below are long-term vs. short-term insightful goals:

  • Long-term: “Create a fully customized unique experience for my visitors.”
  • Short-term: “Start by monitoring the number of people who come from our partner site and see how they interact on our site, in order to create a unique experience for subset groups of visitors.”

What KPIs do you use to measure your marketing campaign performance? It’s important to keep this framework in mind when defining KPIs.

Related Class: Defining Key Performance Indicators

2. Metric Types Classified by Use

In terms of metric types, the chart below indicates five types of metrics and examples of each. These help to answer questions such as: How well am I doing? How can I do better? What am I doing poorly? Will I do better? Where is the opportunity?

In addition, while some metrics inform your short-term tactics (Key Performance Indicators), others inform your long-term strategies (Provide Keen Insight). Bill recommends a balance of metrics across all of these levels. What type of metrics do you use in your organization?

3. Strategic KPI Definition Process

KPI identification typically involves a three-step process: get clarity and consensus on website goals; align your web analytics and website goals; and identify what is important to measure. The framework below illustrates five steps in defining strategic KPIs.



It includes the following: articulate the objective; define the measures of success; identify diagnostic metrics; gain stakeholder buy-in; and finalize business, technical, and process requirements. 

4. Interim Metric Identification Process

However, more commonly in organizations, the three-step process is executed backwards: identify what is important to measure; align your web analytics and website goals; and get clarity and consensus on website goals. While this isn’t the ideal process, below is the suggested framework for organizations that use the backwards process.


This process includes: identify report goals; identify your target audiences; determine which metrics help to achieve the report goals; and finalize business and technical interim requirements. What approach do you use for developing KPIs?

5.  Global KPIs for Complex Businesses

For complex global businesses, it is important to look for commonalities; remember that no KPI is an island; look for overarching objectives; and use targets/goals rather than raw numbers. Below is a great representation of a KPI dashboard.



It covers performance goals by business; overview section with basic analysis; different activity markers; and metrics that are important to the business (visits, average visit duration, opt-ins, and brand health). While the business is complex, this dashboard provides a simple and easily digestible interface covering KPIs.

In conclusion, measurement is the reduction of uncertainty about a quantity through observation (in order to understand something, you need to measure it!) To learn more about this topic, check out the book “How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business” by Douglas Hubbard.

Lastly, here’s a quick exercise to identify and prioritize key metrics. From your existing reports, select the key metrics that should be included on a dashboard for your target audience and determine which key metrics should be highlighted. How will you modify or continue reporting on your KPIs? What tools do you use for tracking metrics? I hope this blog provides you with some valuable insights on how to define, measure, and optimize your digital marketing efforts.


For practical web analytics and measurement training on how to implement proper tracking and measure and analyze data to optimize your website and marketing campaigns to improve ROI, sign up for the Online Marketing Institute Web Analytics Certificate program. Enroll today to learn the step-by-step process you need to identify actionable KPIs and translate these metrics into a solid business ROI.


Data Driven Marketing, is 2014 the Year?


After reading the great predictions post  from our friends at Anametrix, I could not help but think, "Is this the year we see data driving the direction of marketing, programmatic advertising and retargeting, predictive CRM,  pervasive use of attribution modeling and all the goodies that now famed "big data" can provide?"

I think yes. And here's why.

Smart companies like NetApp, Cisco and thousands of other smaller organizations are actually seeing success. They are using the tools, mapping the strategy and clearly gaining results to the tune of 300%+ lift when making data work for them. Moreover, planning around big data will quite simply be the difference between the winners and loser in the race for greater market share in any vertical market, and the ultimate weapon of competitive differentiation for the mid-tier company to blow the socks off the incumbent.

Word of advice, take the blue pill and dive into the "data matrix" thinking strongly about predictive, data analytics and focused use of big or third party data.

See the what the big boys have to say about data driven marketing in 2014 below and decide for yourself.

Pelin Thorogood − CEO, Anametrix

@PelinT Pelin is a new media marketing and analytics expert who is CEO and a board director of Anametrix. She also serves as an Executive-in-Residence for the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Her predictions for 2014 include:



  • Marketers will move beyond “current state” reporting, that all too often passes for analytics, to discover the actual levers of change in their increasingly complex environments. They will ask their data specific questions for the insights to make time-sensitive business decisions.
  • Right-time marketing will become more and more common as businesses are able to combine and make sense out of consumer breadcrumbs across all channels of engagement in a timely manner.
  • As marketers begin to understand their data and begin to predict behavior, they will be more like the “quants” on Wall Street with automated trading algorithms − but with one caveat. New tools will enable not just the “data scientist,” but also the average marketer to easily create forecasts, determine optimal approach, automate all necessary consumer-facing actions, observe actual outcome, learn and repeat for improved results!

Advances in analytics technology AND marketers’ acceptance of this technology will deliver data not just on the “what,” but also the “why”, the “when” and the “what if” for true decision support. This next-gen approach will require access to real-time, granular multichannel data that can be analyzed in real time to reveal hidden relationships and shed new insights into critical business decisions. The good news is that we are moving into an era when we can monitor, analyze and, most importantly, act on the high volume, variety and velocity of data ever more rapidly to enable right-time marketing. And, those businesses that leverage analytics for decision support in 2014 will reap tremendous benefits.


 R. Ray Wang – Principal Analyst, Founder and Chairman, Constellation Research

@rwang0 A thought leader focused on enterprise strategy and disruptive technologies, Ray advises organizations worldwide on diverse business and technology topics. Ray defines three “rules” for successfully using data in 2014:

  • Data driven marketing is changing as folks realize that “Rule 1” is to use the data you already have very well, rather than worry about big data. We already have a lot of information at hand. We’re not even taking advantage of that.
  • “Rule 2” is that context is king. How we bring relevancy to users helps us make the data relevant. So role, relationship, location, time, sentiment and even intent play a key role.
  • “Rule 3” means we have to democratize decision-making to the every end point. The CEO and the event marketer should be able to make a decision based on the data at hand with confidence.

In 2013, everyone cried out about the need of a data scientist. The reality is that there are not enough qualified folks in the field. What we see in the future are systems that make it easy for the everyday user. From improved user experience to mobile access, we see marketing technologies advancing at a rapid rate. We also see the incorporation of social tools that allow for the rapid collaboration required for today’s shorter cycles.


 Joe Pulizzi − Founder, Content Marketing Institute

@JoePulizzi Joe is a content marketing evangelist speaker, author, coach and entrepreneur, as well as founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which Inc. Magazine recognized as the fastest growing business media company in 2013. Here’s his take on 2014:



  • We are in the middle of a transformation of the marketing department looking and feeling like a publishing operation. That means that our in-house journalists and content creators have to know what makes customers’ tick, what their pain points are, and where their interests are going and why they behave in certain ways. That takes a lot of information, and people that know how to break down that data into usable chunks.
  • While we have more data and information about our customers, so does our competition. The brand that can take that data and deliver the right information to customers at the right time will be the winner. Easier said than done. Most of the content created and distributed by brands is less than acceptable and highly tactical. Documented content marketing strategies are needed (most brands do not have documented content marketing strategies).
  • Brands continue to wrestle with multiple technologies: content workflow tools, insight tools, marketing automation tools, CRM systems, content discovery and amplification tools and more. In many cases, brands are still at an experimental stage with many of these technologies, and bought many too early in the process. The good news is that these technologies are necessary to really using our content to enhance or change behavior. Could the marketing technologist role be on the rise?

 Jay Baer – Founder and President, Convince & Convert 

 @jaybaer A well-known social media and content expert, Jay is also a frequent speaker and author, his most recent book published in the past year: “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype.” He cited these notable trends for 2014.



  • Data interpretation will continue to increase in importance in 2014, as data availability becomes “table stakes.” Ultimately, data without context and understanding has very little use, so data analysis and the ability to launch marketing experiments based on data-driven insights will become critical.
  • On a related front, a second big move will be toward data aggregation. The best insights come when smart marketers can evaluate information pulled from the widest possible array of sources, looking for patterns of correlation or causation that tell truths and boost efficiencies. Platforms (and human analysts) that can combine and parse data from disparate systems will be gold next year.
  • Lastly, with so many marketing initiatives moving online to venues with open APIs, this is the year that competitive analysis and comparison data becomes commonplace. Monitoring the marketing behavior (and outcomes) of the companies in your category, and benchmarking your own results accordingly will drive a lot of decisions – and bruise some egos – in 2014.

 Jim Sterne − Founder, eMetrics Summit and Digital Analytics Association

@jimsterne Jim is an international consultant and the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association. He also produces the eMetrics Summit. Here’s what Jim told us after looking in his crystal ball for 2014:



  • Data-driven marketing will stop being a fad, a “thing,” a cause to celebrate. By the end of the year, it will be as expected as social media participation by brands is today. We’ll no longer hear about its potential or possibilities, or even see articles lamenting how few are doing it. Instead, we’ll read about the rigors of making it work and the big gains made by those who are doing so.
  • The focus will shift to third-party data as never before. With everybody and his brother capturing more and more data about, well, everything, it will become a much more fluid marketplace. This will spawn a rash of data-gathering start-ups that will then be consolidated in a “Few Big Payers.” Google will have a tough time in this arena due to trend #3, which follows.
  • There will be a privacy event that will be more compelling than the NSA/Snowden affair and finally kick corporations into taking a stand on customer data from a brand perspective. In the same way the government couldn’t make corporations “Go Green,” privacy will never be won through legislation. It will only be truly adopted by corporations when it makes sense from a public relations perspective. Privacy will be embraced when customers kick up a fuss. Until then, laws will be discussed and lobbyists will continue to rake it in while subverting the legal system.

Marketing has always been a collaborative effort requiring many, diverse talents. As a result, an infrastructure of creative agencies and media planners and development organizations has grown around the needs of the marketer. Now that people have stopped complaining about the term “Big Data,” we can simply get on with making the most of it.


 Andrew Edwards − CEO, Managing Partner, Efectyv Digital 

 @AndrewVEdwards Andrew is a senior digital analyst, author, speaker and director emeritus of the Digital Analytics Association, as well as a founder of Efectyv and the consulting firm, Technology Leaders. Here are his digital predictions for 2014:



  • 5 million people will subscribe to Obamacare, using a much-improved interface at the government’s www.healthcare.gov website.
  • At least two major newspapers will cease print production because of the impact of digital distribution of news.
  • Despite NSA revelations, the public will care less and less about privacy.
  • Cloud-based universities will experience explosive growth.
  • Insurance companies will introduce digital dashboard cameras in exchange for reduced rates.
  • Tag management will become standard practice for most large digital assets.
  • Amazon will deliver a package before it is ordered, upsetting our notion of the space-time continuum

 Josh Manion − CEO, Ensighten 

 @joshmanion Josh is leading a revolution in tag management as CEO of Ensighten, a company he founded in 2009 to deliver breakthrough technology to clients. He shared three trends for the industry in 2014: 



  • First, omnichannel will continue to be very important to how consumers interact with brands. Consumer interactions will continue to be spread across many digital touch points, including mobile apps, kiosks, game consoles and an ever-increasing number of smart devices.
  • Next we see data ownership and brands maximizing the value of data, but insisting on owning it. Businesses have found it difficult to define digital interactions with their customers because data has been stored in third-party cookies owned by varied vendors. In the future brands will take steps to own their data. Customer profiles are an asset that accrues to the benefit of the brands and not third parties.
  • And last, best of breed technology will rule for the CMO. The rapid evolution of interactive marketing technologies continues. CMOs will benefit from selecting a portfolio of independent, best-of-breed technologies. Those that maximize ROI in these investments and allow their marketing organization to be agile will see benefits, including growth in revenues and market share.

 Aaron Kahlow − Founder & CEO, Online Marketing Institute 

@AaronKahlow A digital marketing and social media thought leader, Aaron has founded and built three prolific digital marketing companies in his career. He now leads the Online Marketing Institute. Here’s his view on what data-driven marketing will require in 2014: 



  • Being Smart − means attribution adoption by thoughtfully looking at data from the buyer’s perspective and not leveraging our simple, linear analytics reporting to tell us the story. I believe attribution modeling tools will finally start to be more universally adopted, in contrast to “last click.”
  • Being Resourceful − using predictive “Big Data” in “Little” ways with existing CRM data available to map back to on-site analytic buying behavior. Businesses will also use Lead Scoring Data to map and predict sales, increase sales opportunities, and use internal data, as well as third-party big data, to leverage time and money spent. Tools like Lattice Engines, 6sense and the overlays onto Marketo and Eloqua will really drive better decisions.
  • Being Mature − growing up a bit when it comes to marketing in digital and spending the time “sharpening the saw” to learn how to do this right. Folks are getting fired, and rightfully so, for saying “Social Media doesn’t work for B2B.” What companies are telling us “mature” marketers is they are not tracking right or executing right, and haven’t grown up past 2009. Of course events like ClickZ Live and eLearning platforms like the Online Marketing Institute would fit that bill.

I believe that marketing teams will become more operationally organized around driving demand and measuring demand, and then learning how to create content for more demand. The blend of Content Marketing Management tools with the use of Marketing Automation tools to map content to leads and leads to sales is going to be huge. The really smart companies will then find good Predictive CRM tools to map all the third-party data to their own to get a clear and accurate picture of what’s working.


 Bill Bruno – CEO, Stratigent

 @BillBruno A leader in the multichannel analytics space, Bill is CEO of Stratigent, a digital marketing consultancy, which last year was acquired by Ebiquity, an international agency advising global media and the marketing community. Here’s what he told Anametrix about trends for 2014:



  • Companies will realize that ‘big data” does not mean throwing all of their information into one place, but rather getting the right data to the right people at the right time to allow them to make decisions in real-time.
  • Responsive design will continue to pave the way for a much more focused testing and optimization program that spans across all devices and channels.
  • Niche vendors, such as mobile analytics, will pave the way for cross-channel personalization − and the ability to deliver relevant offers in these channels based on a much more complete “history” of each individual or group.

As a result of these trends, I expect to see marketers becoming much more comfortable picking the right solution for each of their business needs, instead of looking for an all-in-one solution. We are seeing a lot of this with clients, and quite frankly the ones that we have moved into this mentality are having the most success with improving the customer experience. I also expect to see a lot of consolidation within the retargeting/remarketing and attribution sectors since other technologies are chipping away at the capabilities of these solutions each day.

 @abehnam Ali co-founded Tealium in 2008, helping to design and launch the company’s enterprise tag management platform, Tealium iQ. He’s a long-time expert in online marketing, web analytics and tag management. As to 2014, he put a spotlight on two important trends:




  • Mobile & multi-channel growth: Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosive growth in usage of mobile and tablet devices, surpassing the time people spend on their computers. Yet mobile marketing lags online marketing in terms of both adoption by companies and spend. Mobile marketing is bound to grow, as more companies will look to make mobile an integral part of their marketing plans. This also means the growth of technologies allowing companies to better understand the customer journey across channels. This is will allow better personalization and a consistent brand experience.
  • Data activism:This one’s dear to my heart. Having been involved in the analytics space for almost 14 years, I’ve seen many companies spend time and resources generating more reports and dashboards without being able to take action on the data. The maturity of the space means that more companies will increase their investment in systems, people and processes to start taking action on the data and getting more value from their analytics. This is referred to as data activism.


5 Web Analytics Truths for Smart Digital Marketing


web analytics truthsIn the past, marketers were always looking for useful data—analytics data that would justify the dollars (and time) spent advertising and promoting their product or service. But now, there is often an over-abundance of data. It’s everywhere—web, mobile, social, offline etc. So where do you start? What do you do with the data? Here are 5 fundamental analytic truths you can follow to get you where you want to be.

1. Think People and Process, Not Just Technology

How do you measure ALL the data you have coming in? Well, in addition to the analytics tools (as we all seem to be obsessed with technology), it’s important to have the people and process in place too. Know how, and when, to bring in (or build) a digital analytics team. From there, develop a measurement plan for each of your marketing initiatives. This plan should be outcome-focused, and should include input from your various stakeholders to understand what matters to them. For example, your digital marketing manager would be interested in metrics such as visits by campaign, user interactions (engagement), conversions, and maybe repeat customer behavior. Your support manager, on the other hand, is probably not interested in any of the above. They want to know if those visiting the support portal are finding answers to their questions quickly, so KPIs such as issue resolution time would be very important to them. Take time and care to thoroughly understand your stakeholders’ measurement needs. RELATED TUTORIAL: How to Create a Data-Driven Culture

2. Segmentation—Do or Die

Today, there’s more to data than just total number pageviews (yes, many organizations unfortunately still report on total pageviews and miss out on all the non-pageview interactions such as video, downloads and rich media). Today’s analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, MixPanel, Flurry and others, are very powerful and allow us the ability to go beyond simplistic hit collection, and really dive into rich data and patterns. You can easily report and derive insights with visitor segmentation, have quick visibility into buyer or non-buyer behavior, group content by asset type, measure gated or ungated content consumption, and relatively easily run a cohort analysis. These are just a few views that could be utilized when segmenting your data. There are so many ways to slice and dice the data to help you gain the most beneficial insights on your visitors. Just find those that best suit your needs.

3. Gone Are the Visits—It’s All About the Visitors

With all this data readily available, we need to look beyond visit-based (or session-based) analytics to a more user-centric view. Again, the analytics platforms today provide the means to examine the entire visitor experience and user cycle. Explore data such as where visitors came from, what course they took between pages while on your website, and where they spent the most (or least) time during their visit and then in 2 or 3 visits later they converted and become customers. With this information, you’re able to gain increased awareness of visitors and how they interact with your content throughout the buying cycle. And, for the marketing ninja’s out there, bringing offline visitor interaction into the mix is not beyond reach these days.

4. Optimize What Matters Most

As we mentioned earlier, it’s past the time of just tracking click-thrus or pageviews. Now you want to optimize conversions on the all things digital. Take it one notch higher and optimize on the Lifetime Value of a customer. Put into place a system that gives you the ability to measure behavior and interaction across multi-devices and multiple channels for (most) users that come from mobile, web, etc. By tracking this way, you’ll have a more complete view of how each visitor interacts with your business a whole.

5. Deriving Insights Cannot Be Done in a Vacuum

You’ll maximize the return on gathering, reporting and analyzing data, when you do so consistently. Commit to the process and develop a list of priorities and a measurement “roadmap.” Audit what you have periodically. Websites and mobile apps are constantly evolving, so ensure your analytics implementation is in-line with such changes. Then, save time (and frustration), and move from manual to automated reporting. If you are not testing, it’s never too late! Go after some quick wins and shine like a star! Leverage data visualization tools such as Tableau and enable your stakeholders to have a clear path to insights.

Take your web analytics practice to the next level.

Watch 5 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths for a Data-Driven World with Feras Alhlou, and learn how to develop a web analytics practice that enables you to optimize what matters most to your business, and ignore the rest. Access it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute.  Get instant access now.


4 Steps for Creating an Effective Website that Visitors Love


Website Visitors LoveIn my last post, I explained the importance of website usability. In this post, I explain what it takes to make a website so easy to use that your audience will love—and return to again and again because the experience is simple, painless and quick. Let's dive in and explore 4 steps for creating an effective, usable website—that is to say, usable by the people you are targeting.

1. Identify your target audience.

As with everything in communications and marketing, creating a website that is tailored to your audience first requires identifying that audience. Most businesses are clear on who they are targeting, but may not have considered all aspects of how users will use their website. Rather than hoping that your customers will do what you want them to do, you must guide them to the desired action through website design.

RELATED TUTORIAL: B2B Website Redesign

2. Determine what your audience is looking for.

Be very clear about what you want users to do on your site. You may have more than one kind of user, and the different users may be looking for different things when they arrive at your site. What stage of the buying cycle are they in when they arrive? There are several sources of data open to you that can help determine what the users’ goals are:

  • Support call data
  • Field surveys
  • Speaking with current customers
  • Analyzing web traffic patters on your current site
  • Look at referring data from search engines and other sites

3. Set goals for your site.

If your website isn’t designed with specific objectives in mind, it’s unlikely to fulfill your expectations. Here are some typical things you may want your site to achieve:

  • Sales
  • Awareness
  • Support
  • Lead generation

If you are a non-profit charity, the list might look like:

  • Donations
  • Awareness
  • Volunteers
  • Education about the charity’s focus (such as heart disease, childhood hunger or animal rescue)

It’s fine to have multiple goals, but map them out before you begin development (or redevelopment) so that you can influence how users behave on the site.

RELATED TUTORIAL: Measuring What Matters: Analytics Tips for Success

4. Understand how users interact with the site.

Understand how users currently use your site (this is an ongoing effort). A friendly site will anticipate what users want to do and make it easy for them. There are a number of different tools that can be used to gather this information, including:

  • Eye tracking
  • Web analytics
  • Focus groups
  • Individual user Q&A session

Here’s a short list of online tools you can use for analysis. Some of them are free:

  • Google Analytics: Google makes a complete set of web analysis tools available for free. These tools can tell you who visited your site, how long they stayed, which pages they looked at, and how long they stayed on each page. They can also tell you where the visitors were referred from, what they do while on the site, and much more.
  • Google Content Experiments: Formerly known as Google Website Optimizer, this tool compares how different web pages perform using a random sample of your visitors. Up to five different versions can be tested, allowing you to define what percentage of your visitors are included in the experiment and choose which objective you’d like to test.
  • Autonomy Promotes/Optimost: This allows you to leverage real-time data sources from social media, customer feedback, web comments, call center calls and more to define the best keyword bid strategies for online advertising and improve campaign elements to be more effective with the target audience. It also consolidates all of our social media and unstructured customer data to allow higher conversion rates.
  • ClickTale: This in-page analytics program records every visitor’s mouse move, click and scroll to reveal how they use your site, including heatmaps that show where your visitors’ eyes move on the screen and also analyzes where and why visitors leave your conversion funnel, allowing you to increase conversion rates.
  • UserTesting: This service uses real visitors to test your site for usability.
  • CrazyEgg: Tests eye tracking and heat maps on your site to understand where users’ eyes move to on each page. If their eyes are always going to a lower-value area instead of to the sweet spot where the sales happen, you’ll want to change that!
  • AttentionWizard: Also tests eye tracking and heat maps.

In the next post in this series, we will explain some of the techniques introduced here, such as eye tracking, and provide some examples to illustrate how and why these techniques can be used to turbo-charge the value of your website to your business.

Learn how to convert more visitors into customers with better usability. 

Watch the tutorial—Convert More Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics— and discover proven best practices for maximizing website conversions. Access it FREE with a 7-day trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Activate trial now.