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Archive for July 2009

The Open Campaign, Transparent Data Makes for Awesome Marketing Idea!

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the open campaignI was reading Billy’s Blog earlier in the week and he had an interesting post about something called The Open Campaign.  It’s a joint promotion between Widemile, WebTrends and a few others (not totally out of left field WebTrends just purchased Widemile).  In any case the idea is for these conglomeration of online marketing and analytics experts to post their campaign methodology and results publicly – very cool!!!

Billy talks about some of his initial testing ideas with Widemile – nothing earth shattering yet but practical application is nice to see.  They are also using ForeSee as their survey vendor which I think is a great idea.  I used to be extremely skeptical about the use of opt-in surveys in conjunction with analytics data but I’ve come full circle in the last year.  We layer in survey results with our click tracking behavioral analysis to really create a powerful optimization roadmap.  I’m looking forward to seeing how The Open Campaign uses the survey data.

Be sure to check The Open Campaign often for updates, I’m looking forward to learning a lot from this project.  (and BTW, what a great marketing idea!)

If you’d like to learn more about optimization pick of a copy of Landing Page Optimization For Dummies (For Dummies)

landing page optimization for dummies

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Written by Greg M

July 31, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

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don't make me thinkDon’t Make Me Think by usability guru Steve Krug does an excellent job of simplifying the complex when it comes to website design and performance.  Yes, many tips and tactics seem somewhat obvious but time and time again credible pros miss the mark in optimizing their website designs for maximum performance.

The one takeaway from Don’t Make Me Think that I think I’ll remember for the rest of my life is when Krug talks about a study in decision making that was conducted by looking at fire chiefs.  The group performing the study was curious about a fire chief’s decision making process given the very limited time they had to weigh alternatives.  They believed they would start with a very short list of possible solutions prior to executing a plan.  They were quite surprised by the findings – fire chiefs only ever weigh one alternative before executing a plan!  In other words they formulate a plan on the fly, if the fire chief finds no obvious holes in it they execute and adjust along the way.  In other words, they invest 0 time in weighing alternatives.

Web consumers are somewhat similar.  People to continually weigh alternatives and invest significant time in producing qualitative analysis every time they buy, research or read online.  They drive to a point where the solution is ‘good enough’.  Obviously this varies greatly given the degree of consideration required – downloading a song for $1 from iTunes is a little different than buying a car – but in either case don’t assume a complex decision making process, especially when designing your website or landing page for maximum usability.

You can learn more by picking up a copy of Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition (Voices That Matter) at Amazon.com today!

Written by Greg M

July 26, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Posted in Books

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Interview: Evan LaPointe of Atlanta Analytics

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atlanta analyticsIn the first of a recurring series, here’s a miniview (mini interview) with Evan LaPointe of Atlanta Analytics.  I posed 3 rapid fire questions to Evan to get his take on analytics today.  Be sure to check out Evan’s blog www.atlantaanalytics.com.

PMT:  Since you’ve been “doing stuff” online for 15 years (about as long as I have), what is the most profound change that you’ve seen in the use of data in the digital space?
EL:  I think the most profound change I’ve seen is people FINALLY starting to reject data without context.  Just this week, I’ve been working on a client obsessed with exit rates.  But visitors have to exit somewhere.  Without the context of whether the page provides an appropriate circumstance for exit rates or not, they tell you nothing – and sometimes, dare I say, certain pages with insanely exit rates are GOOD!.  I’m glad to see the days of metrics without context slowly disappearing.

PMT:  What is your favorite KPI and why?  (please elaborate or this will be a really short interview)
EL:  Favorite metric? I hate to do this, but it’s got to be bounce rate.  Why? Because it is the ultimate “content rejection” metric.  When I use bounce rates in the context of inbound traffic sources, and especially keywords driving traffic to this page, it’s usually immediately actionable.  If we’re not offering clear calls to action based on what the user has already said they’re looking for, we’re running the wrong way around the track from the very second the gun is fired.  Making small changes to align the page with what visitors expect can have enormous revenue impacts.

PMT:  What do you think is the hardest thing to measure and analyze that could provide the greatest amount of value, especially if it were easy to track? (I’m fishing around the ‘engagement’ watering hole on this one so please try to come up with something new and totally mind blowing)
EL:  What is the hardest thing to measure that would have the greatest value? Well, you’re clearly shifting material that should be on my blog to your own, but I’m okay with that 🙂

I’d say that answering the “why” questions would provide tremendous value.  If we could have less-intrusive survey [qualitative] data to layer against web analytics [quantitative] data (like 4Q survey, but where we don’t just get polar love/hate participation), not only would it mean great data, but it would more importantly mean fewer arguments in the conference rooms which HAVE to account for millions upon millions of dollars of lost productivity every year before we even consider the performance impact on the site.  This industry is rife with terrible opinions and otherwise very talented executives who are clueless about online behavior, paired with a huge absence of data to help the enlightened to make their case definite.

How we get that data, I haven’t a clue.  Hopefully, everyone will begin trusting analysts’ assessments of why things happen and these arguments will be solved through multivariate testing rather than hours of blabber.  A few sites do surveys well, but participation is always going to be an issue, if I’m being realistic.

If we’re looking at measuring “engagement,” I’d just quit.  The only way to get something simple is to degrade the insight of each of the points that make up engagement.  A great example is Peterson’s effort to create this crazy ass engagement metric.  The formula looked like we were trying to predict the trajectory of the lunar lander, not help a web site.  The truth is that this metric is ultimately useless because we lose sight of the details that make it up – and details are what we’ll act on. Creating a mushed-up metric takes us backwards, in my opinion.  It’s like having a number to assess the performance of your car’s parts.  If that number drops, we are no closer to diagnosing and fixing the problem. We just know that something, somewhere is wrong – which is less helpful than it sounds.

To learn more about analytics pick up the Kindle edition of Web Analytics: An Hour a Day from Amazon.com!

Written by Greg M

July 26, 2009 at 11:51 am

Optimization KPIs for Testing a Checkout Process

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funnelMulti-step checkout processes and conversion funnels present some unique testing and optimization challenges. Most complex conversion processes like these track campaign and website success across multiple dimensions – conversion rate, number of items bought, total dollar value, gross profit, etc. In a testing environment those items are sometimes way downstream (I once worked on a site that had 29 steps – yikes!!!). Using both a primary and secondary KPI can help you achieve statistical significance faster in your testing and optimization program.

A continual challenge for site side multivariate and A/B testing is that statistical significance can be tough to reach in a reasonable length of time – 2 to 4 weeks is the general range. Using a primary KPI like click through rate on the test page will yield a much greater sample size since it’s further up the funnel. In most cases it’s substantially faster than waiting for an adequate sample size to shake out downstream.

The secondary KPI will be used to validate that we’re sending quality traffic through the funnel with our optimization program and not just tricking people to click on a bright shinny object. In this case we could use total dollar value and compare that against our website’s historical benchmarks. Statistical accuracy isn’t as critical at this point, we just need enough conversions to see if our optimized page is in the ballpark of the norm – 80% confidence or less would be fine if you see enough life on your primary KPI. If these validation KPIs are way off then we need to let the test run longer to gain more significance and start analyzing the pages to determine why we’re generating a lot of low quality clicks. Overall this should greatly boost the testing cycle time of your optimization program.

To learn more aboiut web analytics and KPIs pick up a copy of Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics from Amazon.com today!

Written by Greg M

July 24, 2009 at 10:59 am

Posted in Tips

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Book Review: Life After the 30 Second Spot

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life after 30 second spotWhen Joseph Jaffe released Life After the 30-Second Spot back in May of 2005 I was treated to one of the finest books that I’ve read on new media. Despite being more than 4 years old I think it’s still highly relevant in today digital and performance marketing environment.

The overall structure of the book was fantastic. Jaffe would begin to build his case and in every chapter would walk me to the edge of the cliff while letting me think “he’s nuts”. Then time and time again he’d roll out the data and lock up his case. Life After the 30 Second Spot used data to tell it’s story as good as anything I’ve read (with the possible exception of Moneyball).

Essentially Jaffe points out that TV and traditional mass marketing is dead and that while reach continues to erode, costs continue to rise or stay flat. Jaffe beckons doom for the traditional advertisers who’s business model is about to collapse. He also spends a good deal of time discussing engagement and out of the box marketing ideas that have the potential to penetrate today’s media burdened consumer – while some of these tactics have undoubtedly changed since the writing of Life After the 30-Second Spot
the fundamental principles still remain.

Order a copy of Life After the 30-Second Spotfrom Amazon.com today!

Written by Greg M

July 24, 2009 at 10:50 am

Posted in Books

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Rethinking the 1 to 1 Marketing Promise

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dishy mixListen to Shiv Singh of Razorfish discussing Social Influence Marketing on DishyMix


Recently the head of social influence marketing at Razorfish, Shiv Singh, was interviewed on the DishyMix Podcast. While they covered a lot of social media ground including mobile and friendsters, one compelling notion connected in my head – the age old (or about mid-90s old) promise of 1 to 1 marketing (thanks to the arrival of the internet) is wrong!

Everything that people do is social. Whether we’re buying a shirt in the store, a book on Amazon, or figuring out what to do for lunch there is always some sort of social context that we take into consideration. When Shiv talks about Social Influence Marketing it’s another way of saying 1 to small niche marketing.

Due to evolving social barriers that these micro societies may have, it may be even more difficult to penetrate than 1 to 1 marketing because there’s a lot more to it than just technology. However, the ripple effect can be much more influential than merely connecting 1 to 1. Social relevancy needs to be provided and personalized at the group level – only then will the individuals have the context to act and in turn influence others to act.

To learn more about marketing with social media pick up a copy of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day at Amazon.com.  social media marketing an hour a day

Written by Greg M

July 23, 2009 at 12:08 am

Posted in Podcasts

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SEM Optimization, Dynamic Ad Text with Dynamic Landing Pages

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google simpsonsFor years Google and other pay per click search programs have offered dynamic keyword insertion for ad text as a way to promote click through rate and improve campaign performance. The closer your ad text matches the ‘semantic map’ the potential paid search visitor has in mind the more likely they’ll be drawn to your ad and click. This can be an especially helpful technique for long tailed phrases that can be virtually impossible to manage on an individual basis.

But most search marketers stop there – what happens when the searcher reaches your landing page? Most testing tools offer personalization capabilities that will customize the landing page based on behavioral criteria such as referring search phrase. This entails setting up a site side campaign and defining what elements to customize. I think a good place to start is in the page header as the eyes will tend to check there first.

Having both your ad text and landing page header personalized to match your site visitor’s specific search phrase will create greater continuity for your SEM campaign. By consistently matching a searchers ‘semantic map’ you’ll increase engagement and bottom line marketing results.

To learn more, try reading The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Marketing: Pay Per Click Advertising Secrets Revealed

Written by Greg M

July 22, 2009 at 12:54 am