It is the general nature of consumers, business owners and human beings to want more for less. As the economic climate has forced organizations to tighten belts and look for the best ways to optimize sales and marketing operations, fleeting answers on how get more juice for the squeeze may be staring them right in the face. Is your business seeking methods to make marketing/sales more efficient, grow revenue from the right sources and understand who your best customers are? If so, I present to you Analytics.
Most of us know analytics already, but we immediately think in bar graphs, pie charts and data tables. However, we sometimes overlook amazing opportunities hidden in the numbers to identify threatening issues, uncover opportunities for growth and substantiate the value of current programs and marketing strategies.
I kept all that in mind when I was asked to speak about analytics to the advertising and marketing staff of a local publisher, The Phoenix Business Journal.
Let’s be honest though. Sitting through a PowerPoint that discusses the nuances of marketing metrics could be seen in the same light as attending a seminar in the library all about toenails. To help me from putting the good people at the Journal to sleep, I incorporated several well-known axioms from the late John Wooden. Wise beyond his 99 years of life, Wooden was a legendary basketball coach for UCLA. He was also famous for delivering classic and logical sayings relevant to athletics, life, business, and in this case, analytics.
Slide 3 : Too many resources providing analytics reporting think the work ends when a souped-up Excel file is delivered to the marketing manager. Analytics is not about pretty pie charts and line graphs. It is the science of analysis. Use that organized data to cull meaningful information that will help you determine viable next steps and make informed decisions.
Slides 4-6 : The points covered in these slides are also discussed in this post about the basics of web analytics. To summarize, 1) know your business objectives and what your are trying to accomplish to help you navigate the endless data, 2) observe and report insights about your audience, their needs and their behavior, and 3) attempt to answer the most important question we face as web analysts, “so what?” In other words, interpret the data to show how your marketing program should change, stay the same, or specific areas that require further testing.
Slides 9-10 – Wooden said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” It may sound peculiar, but in most analytics and testing programs, the objective is to find failure. Success isn’t always easy to generate, but failure can be omitted in a blink. Just like a sculptor removes unnecessary clay or stone, the more faulty elements, tasks and methodologies we eradicate, the closer we get to perfection.
Slides 11-13 – Wooden said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” Whether you employ Omniture, CoreMetrics, WebTrends, Google Analytics or any other web analytics tool, chances are you’ll have the luxury of wading in a sea of data. The trick is knowing where to look to locate relevance, importance and actionable insights. When I provide training to clients on Google Analytics for example, I walk them through some specific reports and explain the questions each report answers. However, those recommendations change with every training and every client. Think about your unique business objectives, take time to learn your analytics tool of choice and create a process you can replicate. In one instance (slide 13) a Prescott real estate community used analytics to prove the value of an offline lead source, the Wall Street Journal.
Slides 14-16 – Wooden said, “A player who makes a team great is much more valuable than a great player.” Testing can tell us which elements produce results, but really great testing programs show how good combinations outweigh any single item. Whether you are testing pages, creative or entire site flows, the objective should be to create a winning combination and avoid searching for a silver bullet.
Slide 17-18 – Wooden said, “Never mistake activity for achievement.” Similar to the point made on slide 3, simply reporting the data isn’t enough. Use it to your advantage. I also get frustrated by reports I see that focus on traffic, impressions, or eye balls without any mention of sales, new customers or dollar signs. Unless you can show how a click leads to a customer, save your time and energy. Your marketing program should make money, save money or both. If your analytics process does not prove how you are doing just that, what then is the point?
Slides 20-21 – Wooden quoted another brilliant mind when he said, “Cervantes said the journey’s better than the end. Practices, to me, were the journey.” How often do you review your analytics? If the answer is once per month, then you are missing out on some golden observations and insights. Imagine checking your email, your phone messages or your twitter account once per month. Think of all the messages you would miss. Analytics delivers important messages every day. Make it a part of your routine.