April 2011

25 Apr 2011 03:21 am

vortex Every presentation I do is customized for the audience in the room. That means I get to spend loads and loads of time across many industry verticals, see many many campaigns, translate many many foreign websites (thanks Google Chrome for auto-translate!) and meet many many many executives and hear about their digital marketing strategies, challenges and outcomes.

That means I experience a lot of really great stuff, and repeatedly see things that cause me deep and profound pain. This latter category contains things that are so obviously sub-optimal that no one should be doing them any more. Yet there they are.

The issues of course include people and jaded mental models and bureaucracy and a lack of time and the missing desire to be great and org structures, and bosses.

But maybe the issue is that you (and the Marketers and Leaders. . . my beloved Digital Folks) just don't know all the ways not to, pardon me, stink.

This post is to solve that problem. I'm going to present a cluster of what I think are digital "crimes against humanity." A mighty term, used in a very unmighty sense here, but I hope it makes you sit up and take note.

How many of these things is your company currently doing. . .

1. Not spending 15% of your Marketing budget, every month, on experimenting with new techniques / channels / ideas.

We hate change. Why not keep sending emails / spending on AdWords / running affiliate programs / buying display only on MSN.  Super lame!

Our world changes at immense speed. Consistently allocate 15% of your marketing budget trying things you don't currently do, things "gurus" talk about (yes I said Guru!), ideas from your kids or neighbor. I can't think of a better way to ensure your relevancy and fat bottom-line.


2. Not having a fast, functional, incredible mobile-friendly website.

There are 6.9 billion homo sapiens on the planet and 3.7 billion of them actively use 4.3 billion mobile phones. What's your excuse for not spending a few dollars making your site mobile-friendly?

You deliberately want to stink?


3. Gratuitous use of Flash.

It is not Adobe's fault, it is your fault for using Flash for the most pathetic things mankind has known. Why? Because your agency can win an award? Because you believe that the Web is essentially TV? Slow sites make your management happy?

Remember every time you use flash on your website, a cute puppy dies. Think of the puppy!


4. Writing campaigns your website can't cash.

It is soooo easy for me run a query on Bing, click on a banner ad on Yahoo!, follow a link on an email and land on page that has no connection to the promise made in the ad.

More than that, sites are full of pages with unclear calls to action, massive pukes of fields in the checkout process, slooooooooow loading as it waits for the Facebook + Buzz + God knows what API calls to come through. WHY! Would you treat your mother like that?

Have a balance in your spend between acquisition and website. Spend loads on acquisition, but also spend loads on creating websites that deliver on your promises.


5. Not having a vibrant, engaging, non-pimpy blog.

In a world of Like and Follow where every TV ad and billboard is directing customers and prospects to third party destinations it might seem insane to suggest this.

I fundamentally believe that having a vibrant bi-directional conversation on a destination you control with policies you set and data you control is not just insurance, it is your duty to your customers.


6. "Shouting" on Twitter / Facebook.

We live in a world of "and," not in an "or" world. Having a vibrant blog does not mean not being on Twitter or Facebook (or every other place your customers congregate).

But if those accounts exist to shout a variation of your press releases, or a massive self-massage. . . then shut it. If you can't initiate or participate in conversations, close your account.  Trust me it is a lot less embarrassing that way.


7. Your SEO strategy is buying links, expired domains, et. al.

Sophisticated Search Engine Optimization is mandatory in our world of Bing / Yandex / Baidu / Google. It irritates me to no end when I hear perfectly smart SEOs stuck in the 1940s.

Life is a lot more complex (and sexy!). Evolve.


Now switching to something a bit more near and dear to my heart, analytics "crimes against humanity". . . .

8. Not following the "10/90 rule for magnificent web success."

I'd postulated this rule in 2005, it is even more true in 2011.

If you have $100 to make smart decisions on the web, invest $10 in tools, spend $90 on people. The 10/90 rule.

People matter. Even the most basic insights you need will come from people. Hire smart people. Hire smart consultants. Give them Yahoo! Web Analytics, 4Q, KissInsights, Insights for Search, AdPlanner, and all the other glorious free tools. You will almost die of happiness when the results come in.

When a majority of your budget is invested in tools and data warehouses, rather than smart people to use them, you are saying you prefer to suck.


9. Doing anything on the web without a Web Analytics Measurement Model.

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. And you'll be miserable.

Does that describe your life?

Bring a structured approach to your measurement strategy, bring some process, let a Web Analytics Measurement Model be the foundation of your program. Your children and their children will thank me for telling you this (because you'll leave them millions of dollars of inheritance from all the business success you'll achieve by following this advice!).


10. Making lame metrics the measures of success: Impressions, Click-throughs, Page Views.

They, and their brethren like video views and emails sent and # of followers on Twitter and Likes on Facebook and. . . all stink worse than Amorphophallus Titanum.

Use metrics that matter: Loyalty, Recency, Net Profit, Conversation Rate, Message Amplification, Brand Evangelist Index, Customer Lifetime Value and so on and so forth. Each a glorious magnificent metric that truly tells you that value was delivered, or delivers the swift kick in the pants that we all need when we don't. How can you not love that?


11. Not centering your entire digital existence on Economic Value.

When I look at winners and I separate them from the losers there is one thing that stands out. Winners have a sophisticated understanding of the holistic success of their digital existence. It comes from undertaking two simple steps: 1. Identifying their Macro and Micro Conversions and 2. Quantifying Economic Value.

That understanding ensures fewer digital "crimes against humanity," remarkable marketing programs used in nuanced ways, and a constant balance between delivering for the customers and the company.

It does not matter if you are a Church solving for the ultimate conversion, a B2B business solving for an 18-month sale, a non-profit targeting volunteers and donations, or a humble blog solving to change the world. Embrace economic value.


That's it. 11 simple things to avoid. Now you know, there is no reason to stink. :)

[UPDATE:] Turns out it is not just 11! Here are your additions, all smart, sharp and on the money. . . how many of these is your company doing?

12. Auto-Play videos [via Joe Teixeira]

    "Can you please allow me the right to control when your video plays – and how LOUD it plays by letting me be the one that clicks on the play button? The first thing that I do is turn it off and I have no desire to re-start it."

13. New tab / browser window opens within the same site [via Joe Teixeira]

    "I don't need 4 browser tabs open to view your web site – I just need one. I get it if the link takes a visitor to another site – but please fix your links within your own site."

14. Learning how to use your web site [via Joe Teixeira]

    "If I have to learn how to use your web site, then your web site probably sucks. Don't teach me how to use your web site – configure your web site so that I don't even have to think about it."

15. Not making even the simplest attempts to collect customer feedback [via Josh Braaten]

    "Customers are shouting their needs if we only take the time and use the tools necessary to listen!"

16. Skipping creation of a cross-channel strategy [via Shilpa Gupta]

    "TV drives Search. Display and Search drive each other. Having a properly implemented Display / Print / TV / Web campaigns is now mandatory."

17. Making website iterations based on executive opinions, but not site testing. [via Jordan Silton]

    "With testing you can prove if Executives are right or not, and maybe, just maybe figure out WHY. The WHY isn't to tell the decision maker if he or she was right or wrong, but to learn from the test and make better tests in the future."

18. Your website was created in 1996, updated slightly in 2001, and left to rot ever since. [via Theresa]

    "Websites that deliver in today's fast-paced, mobile-heavy internet market should not been seen as a nice to have!"

19. Take, bad, shortcuts. [via Ramenos]

    "You use iFrames instead of CSS to please your webmaster, host non-owned duplicate content, and use generic related links on every Page to increase pageviews."

20. (Large companies:) Your digital marketing teams are not talking to each other. [via David Rekuc]

    "Have lunch, get to know your fellow man (or woman), share reports and success metrics and goals."

21. Measurement models and data results are just "trophy wives / husbands" to you. [via David Rekuc]

    "Don't bother wasting your time in creating measurement models, or dashboards, or success metrics… if you won't believe the conclusions you draw from your data."

22. Your analytics / marketing team uses the word Engagement. [via Jaime Solis]

23. (Rephrased by me) You sacrifice functionality at the altar of sexiness. [via Landin Gee]

    "Your company focuses on design rather than creating sites that your customers can actually use. The site is beautiful, but it takes forever to find what the user wants. Bad karma."

24. Inconsistent blog, Twitter, anything, publishing schedule. [via Brian Whalley]

    "Don't be the company that puts up a blog post once every three months, even if it's a great one every time. Don't forget about Twitter for two weeks and then use it for a day and then disappear for two weeks again. People will forget you exist in a heartbeat if you let them."

25: You believe more is better. [via Jody]

    "More is NOT better. There is no law in any country that penalizes you for white-space on your website. Make your website look more like a modern living room with clean lines, plenty of happy white-space. Clutter is clutter. No one likes to visit a website that looks like a trailer park knick knack shelf." (I LOVE this one! -Avinash)

26: Not having site search on your website. [via Dan Grainger]

    "No-one should just assume that their site is great, user-friendly and easily navigable, so having site search is simply a no brainer."

27: You are going crazy with SEO optimization. [via. Dan Grainger]

    "There's surely a tilting point between having an SEO optimised site that delivers visually and having one that simply stuffs keyword optimised text and links everywhere. For me, Adept Scientific are a big culprit of this."

28: Jumping into acting before analyzing impact vs. resources required. [via Andreas Daun]

    "Before you act or change something, consider, just for a moment, the impact. Or at least have a plan to measure * something*. Example: Spending $50,000 on building links when you can't measure ROI."

29: Your "About Us" page is missing or misleading. [via Trent Blizzard]

    "We want to know who you are, where you are located and what great people power your organization. Not having these three things clearly accessible on your site puts you on par with people selling generic Viagra!"
    (Full disclosure: I've written that description and not Trent. : ) -Avinash.)

30: Not addressing the accessibility of your digital presence to all users, including those with disabilities and the aging population. [via Jennison Asuncion]

Now, as always, its your turn.

What would you have on top of your list of digital "crimes against humanity?" What ticks you off? What is it that you can't get your company to stop doing? If you've successfully stopped any of the above crimes, what did it take? How many of these "crimes" is your company currently committing?

Please share your favorites and secrets with us.

Thank you.

04 Apr 2011 02:30 am

ComplexSimple Someone asked me this very simple question today. What's the difference between web reporting and web analysis?

My instinct was to use the wry observation uttered by US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in trying to define
po rn: "I know it when I see it."

That applies to what is analysis. I know it when I see it. : )

That, of course, would have been an unhelpful answer.

So here I what I actually said:

If you see a data puke then you know you are looking at the result of web reporting, even if it is called a dashboard.

If you see words in English outlining actions that need to be taken, and below the fold you see relevant supporting data, then you are looking at the result of web data analysis.

Would you agree? Got an alternative, please submit via comments.

I always find pictures help me learn, so here are some helpful pictures for you. . .

This is web reporting:google analytics report

And so is this, even if it looks cuter:


And while you might be tempted to believe that this is not web reporting, with all the data and the colors and even some segments, it is web reporting:

excel report

See the common themes in all the examples above?

The thankless job of web reporting, illustrated vividly above, is to punt the part of interpreting the data, understanding the context and identifying actions to the recipient of the data puke.

If that is your role, then the best you can do is make sure you have take the right screenshots out of Site Catalyst or Google Analytics, or charge an extra $15 an hour and dump the data into Excel and add a color to the table header.

So what about web analysis?

The job of web analysis mandates a good understanding of the business priorities, creation of the right custom reports, application of hyper-relevant advanced segments to that data and, finally and most importantly, presentation of your insights and recommended action using the locally spoken language.

See the difference? It's a different job, requires different work, and of course radically different skills.

Examples of web analysis? I thought you would never ask. . .

This is a good example of web analysis:

executive management dashboard

[And not only because it is my work! Learn more about it here: Action Dashboard.]

Notice the overwhelming existence of words. That's not always sufficient, but I humbly believe always necessary.

When you look to check if you are looking at analysis or reporting look for Insights, Actions, Impact on Company. All good signs of analysis.

Here's another example of really good web analysis:

bwt site traffic analysis sm

[Click on the image above for a higher resolution version.]

Ignore how well or badly the business is doing. Focus on approach taken.

Here are some things that should jump out. . . . A deliberate focus on only the "movers and shakers" (not just the top ten!).  Short table: just the key data. Most of the page is taken up with words that give insights and specific actions to take.

Another example that I particularly like, both for the style of presentation and how rare it is in our world of web analytics. . .

web data analysis example sm

[Click on the image above for a higher resolution version.]

No table, no rows, no pies. And yet data holds center stage with clearly highlighted actions.

Normally, we all do the column on the left (it might look different, but we have it). Unfortunately we don't appreciate is the power of the middle column ("segmentation reveled"). That is super important because it gives the recipients exposure to the hard work that you have done and in a very quiet ways increases their confidence in your work. Guess the outcome of that? They take the actions you are recommending!!

Analysts constantly complain that no one follows any of their data-based recommendations.  How do you expose your hard work? In a garish Las Vegas show girl fashion where all the "data plumes" are, unsexily in this case, hanging off the body? Or, in quite concise ways? Only one of those two work.

One more? Okay here you go. . .

search data analysis example sm

[Click on the image above for a higher resolution version.]

Diana has loads of observations, supported by visuals (sometimes it really helps to show the search results or the emails or the Facebook ad) with highlights (actually lowlights) in red, and finally recommendations.

And note the tie to outcomes (another common theme in all examples above). In this case, the search improvements are tied to the increase in donations I can make because of sales of my book. 1.5 extra smiles per month! (All my proceeds from both my books go to charity.) A good way to get attention from the "executive" and get him or her to take action.

Do that. A lot. Be creative. Yes it is hard work. But then again glory is not cheap, is it?

Exceptions to the rule.

Not every output you get from your Analyst, or "Analyst" :), with loads of words on it, instead of numbers, will be analysis. Hence my assertion that "I know it when I see it." Words instead of data pukes is just a clue, read the words to discern if it actually is analysis or a repeation of what the table or graph already says!

In the same vein not every output that is chock full of numbers in five size font, with pies and tables stuffed in for good measure, is a representation of web reporting. It is hard to find the exceptions to this rule, but I have seen at least two in nine years.

Top 10 signs that you are looking at / doing web analysis.

Let's make sure this horse is really and truly dead by summarizing the lessons above and using a set of signs that might indicate that you are looking at web analysis. . .

    #1. The thing that you see instantly is not data, but rather actions for the business to take.

    #2. When I see Economic Value I feel a bit more confident that I am looking at the result of analysis. Primarily because it is so darn hard to do. You have to understand business goals / outcomes (so harrrrrd!) and then work with Finance to identify economic value, and then you have to configure it in the tool and then apply advanced segments, and then figure out how things are doing. That is love. I mean that is analysis! Or at least all the work that goes into being able to do effective analysis.

    #3. In the same vein, if you see references to the Web Analytics Measurement Model (or better still, see it in its entirety on one slide up front), then you know that the Ninja did some analysis.

    #4. Any application of algorithmic intelligence, weighted sort, expected range for metric values (control limits), or anything that even remotely smells of ever so slightly advanced statistics is a good sign. Unknown unknowns are what it's all about!

    Also mere existence of statistics is not sufficient. All other rules above and below still apply. :)

    #5. If you see a Target mentioned in the report / presentation, then the Analyst did some business analysis at least. See the top right of the picture immediately above.

    #6. Loads and loads and loads of context! Context is queen! Enough said.

    #7. I have never seen web analysis without effective data/user segmentation. I think this statement is in both my books. . .  "All data in aggregate is crap." Sorry.

    #8. If there is even a hint of the impact of actions being recommended then I know that is analysis. It is hard to say: I am recommending that we shift this cluster of brand keywords to broad match. It is harder to say: I am recommending. . . and that should increase revenue by $180,000 and profit by $47,000. Look for that.

    #9. If you see more than three metrics in a table you are presented with then you might not be looking at analysis.

    #10. Multiplicity! If you see fabulous metrics like Share of Search (competitive intelligence) or Task Completion Rate (qualitative analysis) or Message Amplification (social media) then they are good signs that the Analyst is stepping outside Omniture / WebTrends. I would still recommend looking below the surface to ensure that they are not just data pukes, but the good thing is these are smarter metrics.

    User Contributions:

    #11. From Carson Smith: If someone looks at your analysis / report / presentation / dashboard and has to ask "and… as a result?", then it might be reporting. What happened should be obvious.

    [I love applying the "Three Layers of the So What" test to any analysis I present or see. I ask "so what" three times. If at the end of it there is no clear action to be taken then I know it is just web reporting, not matter how great it looks or how much work went into it. Ask "as a result?" or "so what?" to your work!]

    #12. From Chuck U: 1) If it can be automated, it's probably not analysis 2) If your data warehouse team says they can automate it for you, then it's definitely not analysis. [#awesome! -Avinash]

Can you think of other signs? Please share your suggestions via comments. I'll add the best ones to this list.

In the list above, and in the examples in this post, you see my clear, and perhaps egregious bias for business analysis and business outcomes and business actions and working with many parts of the business and business context. But I've always believed that if you and I can't have an impact then why are we doing what we do?

I hope you've had some fun learning how to distinguish between web reporting and web analysis. It is a fact of life that we need both. The bigger the company, the more they want data pukes, sorry, reporting.

But if you have "Analyst" in your job title then you perhaps now have a stronger idea of what is expected of you to earn that title. If you have hired a "web analysis consultant" and are paying them big Rupees then you know what to expect from them. Don't settle for data pukes, push them harder. Apply the rules above. Send their "analysis" back. Ask for more. Raise your expectations!!

I hope now "you'll know it when you see it," and have more datagasms!

Okay, it's your turn now.

How would you answer the question about the difference between web reporting and web analysis? What signs do you look for when evaluating the work of your Analyst or Consultants?

Please share your thoughts via comments below.


PS: In case you are curious here's the current official definition of po rn, as outlined in Miller v. California:

(a) whether the 'average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,

(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and

(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.