Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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What Do You Think? – Beyond Web Analytics

On reading this title you may be forgiven for thinking I am going to criticise the use of web analytics. You would be wrong.  As everybody knows the appeal of online marketing for many businesses is the depth of data available to commercial leaders, the transparency of results and of course the ability to optimise as a result of triggers your web analytics provide.

Web analytics also support decisions across a whole range of departments, including marketing, merchants, tech & design teams and customer experience professionals.   However with ever complicated reports being generated and increased levels of analytical power being unleashed does web analytics provide all the answers?  My truthful response to that question is No.  What web analytics provide is a great foundation to inform discussions, however as online businesses have matured so have their needs.

In the past you could probably get away with employing a very analytical skilled online marketeer to run your analytics.  Partly because the primary use of web analytics was to measure campaign and SEO performance.  As e-Commerce matures so do the requirements of businesses.  e-Commerce is now core to most medium to large businesses.  Web analytics supplies a much wider audience with huge volumes of data to inform decisions.

Even if you have managed to employ a highly talented web analyst that understands your Omniture, Coremetrics or any other system you use, they may not understand the commercial ramifications.

Every business needs to set their objectives and then set their web analytics to help provide the data and modelling to assist in their decision and development plans.  Then the modern commercial leader whether from a marketing or trading background needs to be conversant in multi-channel business and how the web analytics assist in measuring their performance.

However that isn’t enough. The leader then needs to apply old fashioned inturpretation to those figures.  When doing so they need to do so with preconceptions or being blurred by their own view.  They need to use their commercial and technical experience and match it with instinct.

Web Analytics is still one of the most powerful tools a modern business has.  The more data you have the more you can base decisions on fact rather than gut.  Remember to utilise your web analytics with your other data, such as inventory data and customer research. Put it all together and what looks a great website might get ruined by poor stock availability or negative customer feedback.  Yet looking solely at web analytics could show a rosey picture.

I will follow this post up in the future looking at how web analytics can be used for different areas of a modern business.


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Measuring Return On Social Media

Measuring Return on Social Media Presence

This has been the fear/worry/challenge/competitive edge of almost every company that has any form of social media presence.  From a simple company Facebook page to a fully integrated Social Media strategy.  Speak to a number of agencies or many online marketers and they will tell you it can’t be measured beyond the simple metrics such as number of fans or followers.  Perhaps at the incubation stage and to a degree the baby stage that was correct.  However now social media has grown up a little, into a healthy little toddler things have changed.

In theory you can’t directly measure the impact of a brand TV commercial, but companies do.  It is the same for social media.

Remember the strategy

A lot of talk is around the utopian idea of getting an ROI from your social media spend or presence.  However for some brands this isn’t just a case of pounds in the till Vs pounds handed out to agencies or media owners such as MySpace.  As with any channel development or Marketing activity, you need to understand what you want to get out of your social media presence.  Your strategy may be a simple one that only looks at your impact within the channel, therefore a basic upwards trending number of fans may suffice.  Your strategy maybe to increase UVs to your core website, as such you need to measure the referrals from your social media presence.  Like a TV ad you maye be trying to influence brand perception so you would look at traditional brand metrics such as awareness and consideration.  Some strategies require an emphasis on loyalty or ROI, these can be much more difficult to prove, however not impossible.

Just consider before developing any tactics or implementation, what your objectives and goals are.  Then measure.

Understanding the basics

When measuring against any goals you need to understand what is your norm or otherwise known as the baseline.  You need to look at any pre-strategy figures and work out your norm, or the contribution you can expect without implementing your strategy.  This baseline should be measured over a long period of time to take into account one-off fluctuations, seasonality and peaks – you should then use a trend line and determine your norm.

Once you have claculated your norm, it is easier to determine what the goals from your objectives should be.  If for instance your site has 10,000 UVs a week then to expect a 100% uplift from a strong social media strategy may not be impossible.  However if your site gets 100,000 UVs a week, it may be more difficult to gain a 100% uplift, although not impossible.  This seems really basic stuff but it is often forgotten. I have spoken to Managing Directors and Marketing Directors that think because there are millions of people on social network they should be talking telephone numbers in terms of traffic uplift, sadly it doesn’t work like that.  It may be easier to get a massive groundswell if your activity is in the channel the people use, you could get a massive following on Twitter as the people are already there and its their environment, rather than expecting them to come to you.

Anyway, once you know the norm of whatever metric you want to track you can more easily identify any uplift from your activity.  However it may not be all down to the new strategy, other factors might be in play, that is why it is advisable to implement a good web analytics tool.  Omniture is widely regarded as one of the better packages along with Coremetrics, however if you have your own site or limited budget then Google Analytics may suffice.

OK, but now what?

So you know what you want to get out of your strategy and you have worked out the basics, but now what?  Sit back and watch everything work away and drive you towards your goals or personal bonus.  Not eaxactly.  Sometimes people expect immediate results.  Stick it on Facebook and they will come.  If they don’t see an uplift straight away, the strategy has failed.  Wrong.  Well potentially wrong.  Remember when working in social channels you are entering the end users territory.  You have to earn the right to be there.  Give them something to talk about, make yourself interesting, but don’t make things up.

So what do I do?

Don’t look at things with immediacy in mind.  When you create a coupon for your affiliate network or raise your bid caps in Google you can often see an immediate (or quick) effect.  However you need a longer view with Social and you need to look at things outside of your specific influence.  A great area to explore is Social Media Influence or Buzz Metrics.  There are various tools and service with varying levels of robustness and credibility.  In the UK there are market leaders such as Market Sentinel and Nielsen Buzz Metrics.  There are also some freebie or cheaper tools such as Viral Heat and PostRank Analytics.  These cheaper tools are sometimes less robust or feature on a specific platform such as Twendz.  What all of these tools have in common is that to varying degrees they track what is being said about your brand or site on other platforms rather than just looking at core measures such as visits or upstream and downstream traffic.

The majority measure trends and SoV, some measure snetiment and others rank influence on brands and/or topics.  All of these are important as although your activity may not imemdiately increse traffic, it may improve the sentiment towards your brand, increasing peoples’ perception of your brand and in turn increase their potential to engage or buy.  These tools can also aid your search activity.  As product or brand experts you might think you know what people type in about your brand, however more comprehensive tools help you identify what people are typing or saying about your product.  Giving you more insight into which words you you optimise or focus on in paid search.

But can I make money from it?

Well as I wrote at the beginning of the piece remember what your objectives are.  The short answer is yes, you can make money from social media and yes social media can increase users propensity to buy, however your activity may not lend itself to that.  But various surveys have taken place that demonstrate you can specifically get an ROI from your social media presence.  According to a recent survey by eMarketer, c. 51% of US internet users are likely buy from at least one brand since becoming a fan on Facebook.   When it comes to would they recommend to a friend the number increases to 60%.  That is one indication of an increased propensity to buy.

Before you all clamber out and create or refresh your Facebook page, Forrester outlined a stark statistic.  More than one third of online users visit at least one brands social media presence, yet less than half rated the experience rated their experience as having a positive influence.  One method that the likes of Starbucks and Dell use within their social media presence is exclusive offers and promotions.  It is this sense of providing something special for fans that makes the experience positive and influence future buying behaviour.


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Web Analytics – how can you utilise to create improvement?

Web Analytics

In today’s economy most organisations have a website.  Most organisations invest in the design of the site.  A high proportion invest in usability.  A number of organisations invest in additional content.  A good proportion of organisations invest in web analytics, however a good proportion don’t.

Of the organisations that do invest a number don’t really utilise the full benefit.  So those that don’t realise the full potential of web analytics or don’t use them at all are really missing the real advantage of the web.  Most people love the internet because it is ‘so transparent’ or ‘it is the most measurable channel’.  However without fully utilising web analytics those benefits cannot be truly reaslised.

How do you make it work?

Most organisations completely fail to realise the full potential of their investment because they invest in the tools, however don’t invest in the resources needed to make the tools work.

The main building block to making web analytics truly work is to invest in personnel that can both operate the tools and as importantly understand the outputs, analyse and put plans into action to improve, based on the results.

Companies also need to recognise what they want from web analytics.  It may be that all you need to know are basic traffic numbers, or sales per visits.  These parameters should be set and where possible, dashboards shWeb Analyticsould be set to ensure consistency of output and easily comparable data.  In addition, this should create efficiencies within business decision-making processes.

What should you use Web Analytics to achieve?

The obvious areas are measure, analyse and optimise on your KPIs.  Simple, however many organisations fail on these basic central points.

A key reason for adopting a thorough approach to web analytics is to input into your optimisation strategy.  Let the data identify key issues that are impacting on your conversion in both a positive and negative way.

Web analytics should also allow you to track the sources of your traffic.  You should be able to track all your sources of traffic, de-dupe and prove what channels are driving traffic, sales and ultimately conversion.  With the two elements combined you should be able to optimise both your site (layout, call to action, customer journey) and your media/creative mix.

Going back to the original point, if you clearly define your objectives and KPIs, web analytics can really

The continuous improvement process

The continuous improvement process sometimes termed kaizen (Japanese for improvement) is what should underpin any web analytics implementation or strategy.  The basis of this concept is actionable measurement.  You need to do more than just measure results, feed the output back in to everything you do.  Change both the elements that are measured and review everything it impacts.  Even though you may be identifying a away to optimise your call to action buttons on your website, it may be down to the language – this in theory could influence how retail staff interact.

top5Top 5 Key considerations

1 Delve into your analytics and get past the top layer

2 Mirror the output with the objectives

3 Once the basics are cracked, undertake more complex initiatives such as multi-variate testing, which allows you to make dynamic changes to your site to speed your optimisation cycle

4 Can areas of improvement being made on the website improve other areas of the business?

5. Don’t just collect data, act upon it, optimise and review

Cost Vs Benefit

Remember, web analytics doesn’t have to be expensive.  You can get complex systems such as Omniture, that can interrogate all levels of detail and integrate into all your business systems.  However if your requirements aren’t as complex, your implementation timescales are shorter or quite simply you don’t have those levels of budget, you can get a very rich layer of information from free tools such as Google Analytics.  Whatever happens, don’t let cost be a barrier to implementing web analytics.  The benefits of a small investment will far outweigh any costs, as long as you act on what you are being shown.