August 2007

30 Aug 2007 02:30 pm

sweet thingsI recently had the opportunity to do three interviews, each from a different perspective. One with a Web Analytics Consultant, another with research and analytics Practitioner in Argentina and the last one with the CTO of a enterprise class retail systems company.

One of my key learnings after doing a bunch of interviews is that they are a lot of work! I think my perception was: its just web analytics, how different can the interviews be, I bet I could simple recycle the same words and just wing 'em.

Turns out even as each interview is on the general web analytics landscape they are all different. And it takes me a long time to write the replies and I struggle both because each question is delightfully unique and I want to send back a equally unique answer.

In this post I want to share with you key excerpts of the three recent interviews, questions that I found to be particularly fun (and perhaps you'll find something of value in them).

To start with I want to share perhaps the question I get very often:

Why should companies do web analytics?

And here I try a new answer:

Because it feels good to make lots of money, rather than staying poor, and it feels good to have happy customers who love you, rather than those who hate you with passion because your website is

What do you think? Is that compelling enough? :)

Ok here we go, "greatest hits" from the three interesting interviews by a Consultant, a Argentine Researcher and a CTO.

juan damia blog

Interview @ Juan Damia's Blog.


Juan: How would you define web analytics?

Avinash: As a member of the Board of Directors of the Web Analytics Association I would be remiss if I did not first provide the official WAA approved definition, here it is…..

"Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage."

Typically people tend to think of that in very restrictive terms, just clickstream data you can get out of Omniture or HBX or Google Analytics.

I think of Web Analytics as collection and study of any data related to the website and the web channel. In addition to clickstream it would include survey data, experimentation and testing, competitive intelligence, integrated off site and on site data etc etc. It is a much broader view to understand the holistic picture.

Juan: Which advice / recommendation would you give to a web analytics professional?

Avinash: You are the hottest commodity out there, if you are any good, ask for a raise. :)

On a serious note here are a couple of thoughts:

- If you are only well versed in Clickstream data and "web analytics tools" then it is time to expand your expertise. Clickstream is just a small part of what it takes to understand web customer behavior.

- Common sense is greatly underrated (and under applied) when comes to doing analysis. It is important to be aware of its importance (and always remember the principle of Occam's Razor).

- Get close to your marketers and website owners. Being close to the business will give you the key context that you need to 1) know where to focus your analytical efforts and 2) understand your data a lot better than you otherwise would.

- Read Juan's blog religiously, it is very good!!

Here's an excerpt from the next one…….

lunametrics blog 1

Interview with Robbin Steif: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (yes four parts!).

Robbin: How do people set conversion rate (or other) goals? It's great if the CEO says, "We have to increase our sales from our web channel by 50%” then you can just run the numbers. But absent direction from someone else, do people just say, Hmm, wouldn't it be great if we could increase our conversions by 12.45%? Do they pull out their HP 12C calculators and do an internal rate of return based on the cost of testing and the cost of money? (p. 256)

Avinash: Here is my recommendation….

1) A: Sign up for the annual study and look at what your competitors are doing. Use that as a initial discussion starter of what your conversion rate should be.

1) B: Type "fireclick index" into Google and look at last year's worth of data for conversion rate for the web or for one of the six vertical industries that they provide. It is free. Use that as a starting point for discussion of what your goal should be.

2) Plot out your conversion rates (segmented by your core acquisition strategies – DM, Email, PPC, Display, whatever) for the last year and see where things are trending. Bring this to your fireclick/ discussion.

3) Finally see where in your acquisition strategy or site optimization you are making increased investments. If you just hired a SEM Goddess pump up the goal by 50% for that stream of traffic (Goddess will deliver). If you are implementing MVT then see what that will do.

1 + 2 + 3 = An intelligent discussion.

You'll come up with a goal for the next three months. It might be wrong but persist and repeat the process three months later, you'll do better this time. In six months when you do it you'll nail it.

Give yourself permission to be wrong, trust me you'll get better so fast.

Robin: p. 312. IMO, there is no way to get competitive conversion data outside of panel data. Am I wrong? (Go ahead, you don't have to be nice.)

Avinash: You can get it from ComScore (in case you did not mean that by panel data).

You can also use the FireClick Index, they even break it out for new and returning visitors! And for the last 12 months!! And for six different industry verticals!!! :-) Compare trends over time with the index and it will give you a great feel for how things are going for you.

You can also sign up for the delightful ecommerce / conversion report, many people think of that as the bible.

Finally, yesterday I got an email from Stephane Lagrange and I noticed on his blog,, he has referenced the Top 500 Guide published by which also publishes conversion rates for top ecommerce websites. Here are some of the numbers, directly copied from Stephane's blog:

#1 3.52%
#2 9.62%
#3 Office Depot: 7.10%
#498 Broadspan Commerce LLC: 0.35%
#499 Musicnotes Inc: 3.25%
#500 0.99%

Here is a excerpt from the third interview……

variable markup blog

Interview with Michael Julson.

Michael: What are a few things that retailers should be doing with their analytics efforts that most don’t do today?

Avinash: I have a 10/90 rule and it simply states that if you had $100 to invest in your analytics efforts then spend $10 on tools and professional services and spend $90 on people who will actually understand your business, analyze the data and find insights.

Lesson One: Consider doing a quick back of the napkin calculation to see how you are spending your $$, if you are 90/10, as is often the case, then you know what the problem is.

It is very common to find retailers where analytics, specifically the pursuit of collecting data, is a afterthought. Only after the pages are released does someone say hey were is the data, well it went out with tags, or after campaigns are released it is realized that the tracking parameters were not attached (no data to measure success).

Lesson Two: Data capture and measuring success should be integral to your dna and a core part of every process to ensure data is being captured and analyzed. It cannot be a afterthought.

All of us, myself included, are full of ourselves. If you want to have a high conversion rate and make tons of money it is important to get over yourself (and the higher up the chain of command you are the more this is required). Instead shift to things of how you can involve customers in making decisions.

Lesson Three: Consider doing surveys, remote usability etc. Absolutely have a A/B or multivariate testing strategy so that you can involve customers in determining how your website should look, what promotions and messaging works etc.

Michael: In your book, you've got a great chapter on multichannel marketing campaigns. Are there proven tactics for pulling in metrics from non web analytics systems such as video analytics in the store, call center CRM call logs, and mobile web access into a single view of the customer experience?

Avinash: I think there are really only two little secrets.

1) Primary Keys: 100% of the reason why we can't do effective multi-channel analysis is the fact that we don't have the right meta data to connect our disparate pieces of information. So if you are doing multichannel campaigns then please consider investing a bit of extra efforts into creating vanity url's or unique 800 numbers of links with parameters or one of the many things I mention in my book. If you have the right primary keys (a database term) then nothing can stop you.

2) Data Warehouses: You can bring data into your web analytics tool, many allow for that, but if you are serious about this consider investing a true data warehouse environment were you will get tons more flexibility with what you can do with your data. You slap a off the shelf BI (business intelligence) tool on top of your data warehouse and you have created yourself a long term strategic data advantage.

Hope you found the above excerpts interesting, please check out the complete versions using links above.

Now its your turn. Please share your tips, tricks, war stories, critique, brickbats via comments. Thank you.

27 Aug 2007 12:36 am

outstandingPicking the right web analytics tool / vendor is perhaps one of the most critical decisions you'll make. Given the general struggle by all Practitioners in the ecosystem it is apparent that many end up making a less than optimal decision.

There are lots of different web analytics vendors comparison reports / blog posts / analyst reviews / hidden, or not so hidden, agenda pieces.

[sidebar] [update]

Here are a couple of blog posts you might find to be of value, as you are trying to decide which web analytics vendor to pick for your company.

[/sidebar] [/update]

When Eric requested me to be on the panel at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose it provided a interesting opportunity for me to think about the web analytics industry. You see the talk was part of the track: Analyzing The Analytics Players.

Creating any presentation is part labor of love and part scary adventure, this one was a bit more of the latter due to the many hats that I wear. Author, Blogger, Founder, Analytics Evangelist.

In the end it was both a huge challenge to evaluate each web analytics vendor and a lot of fun to see if I could do it in a way that was very different.

My chosen methodology was to strip away all the marketing spin and micro-nuanced pages and pages of complexity – where everyone ends up having every feature – if only after paying enough or implementing "special" code (while standing on your hands and making a omelette and solving the Iraq problem all at the same time).

colbert soundbites complexmadesimple

I call it the soundbite methodology. Take away everything so that you are just left with the essence. Two sentences that try to do justice by capturing the most essential thought.

The result, I think, is a interesting presentation that, I think, you'll find to be of value, regardless of how long you've been in the field and regardless of which vendor you like or work with. In this post I want to share that presentation with you in a screencast format.

Here is what the video contains:

  • Brief introduction to the talk & yours truly.
  • Overview of how clickstream data is collected.
  • One big problem (and three challenges) that are driving vendors in new directions.
  • Comparison of web analytics vendors / tools (Omniture, WebTrends, CoreMetrics, WebSideStory / Visual Sciences, Indextools, Unica, ClickTracks, Google Analytics & Microsoft).
  • Parting thoughts: a call to action, standards rock.

And here are some caveats:

  • Running time is 47 mins 44 seconds.
  • If from the tone of my voice it sounds like I made the video in one sitting in the middle of the night then it is true. :) 0127 hrs to be precise, I am sure you'll forgive the lack of quality production.
  • You might not agree with some, or all, of it. I request you to give it a listen and you know where to find the feedback/comments form. :)

Here is the first version of the video, a high resolution version.

Flash player 7 or better is required to view this content.

You can play / pause using the controls. To skip forward simply click on the long strip you see after the stop button.

Here is the second version from Google Video. You know what to do with this one (although because of quality I do encourage you to give the above version a try):

If you want to download the video visit the Google Video site and you'll find a handy download button there.

If you would like to embed the video on your website / blog then visit the Google Video site and click the blue "Email – Blog – Post to MySpace" button and then click on the "Embed HTML" link. Copy / paste the code into any html document and you are in business.

I would very much love to have your feedback on any aspect of it (production quality, value of the content, positions taken, what's there, what's not there….).

What do you all think? Please share your perspectives, critique, brickbats via comments.

[Like this post? For more posts like this please click here, if it might be of interest please check out my book: Web Analytics: An Hour A Day.]

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