Friday, August 31, 2007

Jupiterize Me

I spent this week in the Jupiter NYC offices getting indoctrinated to the JupiterResearch family. The process involved acclimating to the environment, meeting my new colleagues and getting right to work. I’m a strong believer in rolling up my sleeves and jumping right in and this week was no exception. Day one was consumed by HR paperwork, configuring laptops and meeting all the new faces. But by day two, I was participating in vendor briefings and collaborating on client inquiries. Later in the week, I fielded my first press inquiry as a JupiterResearch Analyst, began locking down the research calendar for the rest of the year and started on survey development for my upcoming research. No honeymoon period here – and that’s the way I like it.

I must admit that the onboarding process invigorated me. This place just oozes research. There’s an open exchange of ideas and an inescapable stream of information about what’s new in technology, what’s happening in the markets and how consumers are reacting to all of it. JupiterResearch has world-class talent across its entire organization, which ratchets the collective mindshare even higher than the brilliance of its individuals. I am very excited to be a part of this team and eager to start producing research under the JupiterResearch brand and methodology. Stay tuned for more from JupiterResearch’s new Site Technologies and Operations Sr. Analyst.

Friday, August 24, 2007

WAA Standards Announced!

If you’ve been waiting since late 2006 for the publication of the WAA Standards definitions, yesterday’s announcement is big news. Yet for the majority of the world, this new set of standards will fly way under the radar. For those intimately involved, the definitions represent a milestone in the development of web analytics. For those who missed the news…well let’s just say they’re not going to lose any sleep over it. I commend the Standards Committee for pulling together this comprehensive list of 26 definitions, yet the terms and definitions are nothing new. What is new is the fact that the institution responsible for guiding the direction of web analytics agreed upon a set of common definitions to talk/measure/calculate web metrics. Although I believe that the real challenge lies in getting outsiders, new entrants and current users to adopt these common characterizations.

The thirty-four page report identifies the “Big 3” definitions most important to the industry as: Unique Visitors, Visits/Sessions and Page Views. These metrics comprise most web analytics definition roots and thereby needed to be standardized first in order to proceed from common ground.

I very much like the way that the report sets up the framework for its definitions by Type, Universe and Definition/Calculation. The report describes four metric Types as: counts, ratios, KPIs and Dimensions. The Universe is measured as the dynamic of visitors to the site such as: Aggregate, Segmented or Individual. Both of these classifications are used to define all metrics within the report.

The report is certainly worth a read, if only to reaffirm the definitions you are already using. It will also serve as a useful tool for educating co-workers and superiors to the inner workings of analytics and possibly provide them an introduction to your world.

Here’s a link to the full PDF containing all definitions:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

WAA Base Camp – An Analysts' View

I was lucky enough to win a complimentary entrée to this valuable event that was a hybrid interactive working session and web analytics conference. The morning format was logically divided into three working sessions which can be summarized as follows:

  • Intro to Web Analytics, led by Jennifer LeClaire, was designed to initiate users into the discipline of analytics with definitions, explanations and methods for getting off and running with analytics.
  • The next session, Online Marketing Campaign Measurement, was led by Anil Batra who educated participants on ways to lead visitors to their sites and how to effectively capture their hearts and minds.
  • Finally, Web Analytics for Site Optimization was led by June Li, who focused on site operations and the process of using analytics to create a more relevant and impactful user experience.

I attended the Site Optimization session and my only regret is that I couldn’t have been in more than one session at the same time!

In our morning session, June Li outlined some baseline information for us on page views, visits and sessions to ensure that we were all on the same page. This was followed by an engaging discussion on the use of personas and their value to site operators. We formed breakout groups and proceeded to develop our own personas with associated goals and measurable KPIs to track their progress. This exercise was extremely valuable because it forced a group of very different individuals to agree on common goals and a method to measure the success of these goals. Our group was challenged with some turbulence and a fair amount of animated discussion. I equate our experience to a realistic corporate exercise, where various stakeholders each have their own agendas and goals. For attendees taking this information back to their offices, it provided a valuable lesson of how to introduce concepts and effective ways of demonstrating the value of analytics as a site optimization tool to peers and superiors.

Lunch consisted of an intimate setting that was well suited for networking and getting acquainted with some truly expert analytics professionals and web analysts in the field. After lunch, we wrapped-up the individual sessions and the Base Camp attendees converged to learn from the Gurus of Marketing Optimization. The first presentation was delivered by Jim Sterne, arguably the Godfather of web analytics and the Grand Pu Bah of the WAA Base Camp tour. If you have never heard Jim Sterne speak, you are missing a very entertaining show and he did not fail to impress on this session as well.

Jim Novo dazzled the crowd with his presentation next through a combination of insight into his years of industry expertise and words of caution about getting too close to the data. He advocated seeking patterns in the data from a macro perspective and quoted a wise posting from a Yahoo! Forum that I will undoubtedly butcher in my paraphrasing, but here goes. When your data shows something revealing, don’t smash it with a hammer and shatter it into a million pieces looking for more, because it will fall into the dark corners and disappear revealing nothing.

The Guru Sessions closed with an entertaining and informative presentation by Jennifer Veesenmeyer called P.I.M.P. My Reports. I happened to miss this presentation at Emetrics in San Francisco this spring, so was glad to hear it at Base Camp and fortunate because Jennifer informed me that delivering the same presentation twice was against her nature, but she acquiesced to Jim Sterne’s influential plea. I walked away with actionable tactics for improving my charts and delivering more effective reports.

Overall the WAA Base Camp was an extremely worthwhile investment in time and education. The presentations were interactive, informative and entertaining - leaving me wanting more. I applaud Jim Sterne’s tireless efforts at organizing and providing access to the industry’s best and brightest stars of web analytics.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Segment v. Persona

There is a great deal of ambiguity surrounding the definition of a segment in the industry today. In my most recent research on online personalization, I recognize a need to differentiate between a segment and a persona.

My method of describing a segment is a non-emotional characterization of a subset of site visitors. Examples include: gender, geography, IP address, new visitor, returning visitor, etc.

Alternatively, a persona implies a deeper understanding of the site visitor based on psychographic characteristics. These may include: likes and dislikes, preferences, affinity towards certain products, etc.

Stay tuned for more to follow on segments...

Better yet, what's your definition?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

“Searchandising” Still Buzzy

I first used the term serchandising in an article for eCommerce Times back in March, 2007 and promptly received a cease and desist notice from Offermatica. Their CEO, Matt Roche emailed to inform me that I was infringing on their trademark and that he needed to protect his IP. The letter actually opened the door to a great conversation with Matt, whom I’ve come to know quite a bit since then.

However, I responded to Matt by stating that I was surprised that I didn't come across their trademark registration. I did my diligence at the US Patent and Trademark office and did not see a registration for Offermatica, but rather an abandoned application for the term Searchandizing with a "z" from Fort Point Partners, Inc. He responded that Fort Point was acquired by Offermatica and after some checking by his attorney, finally acquiesced that they did not in fact hold a trademark on the term any longer. Since then, my friends over at ATG mentioned that they were pursuing the term, but that may still be under wraps.

Anyway, the term popped up again in the August issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, for which I was interviewed back in March as well. MSNBC also picked up the story and basically did a reprint of the Entrepreneur story.

The sound bites are as follows:

"It's no secret that e-commerce search and online merchandising have a magnetic attraction."

"These applications morphed into the e-commerce lexicon as searchandising, enabling merchants who integrate search and merchandising to realize higher levels of customer satisfaction and returns."

"Search and navigation are inextricably tied, to have an efficient search system, you [need] an effective navigation scheme. In short, if your site is unorganized, it makes information discovery difficult."

Here’s the full story:

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Online Content Speaks Volumes

As published on the Aberdeen Group web site in June, 2007.

Online content is information delivered via the online channel to entice, educate and drive action on the part of consumers. Sixty-two percent of respondents deliver online content to specific market segments, compared to 34% that deliver to a general audience. That leaves only four percent that are tailoring content for unique individuals at this time. But as with all things Internet, expect change. Effective web content provides targeted messages to attract customers into a web site followed by consistent, timely and relevant information to guide them through the online experience. The goal of these actions is to culminate in a desired result such a sale, qualified lead or submitted application. The objective of this study is to explore methods that companies use to build the efficacy of their web content management and delivery efforts with the goal of increasing revenue, maximizing marketing effectiveness and delivering a better online customer experience.

Click here to view a PDF of the entire report.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Web Analytics: The Crystal Ball of Customer Behavior?

As published on the Aberdeen Group web site in April, 2007.

Web analytics provides a window into customer behavior, actions and intentions that can be harnessed to improve the customer experience and impact revenue. Recent Aberdeen research revealed that the predominant strategy identified by 44% of all online web sites is to use web analytics to gauge customer behavior and drive operational changes throughout their organizations. These online merchants will use analytics to deliver more personalized services (identified by 47% of C-level executives surveyed in the upcoming Aberdeen Report as a top strategy for making the customer experience easier and more profitable) and improve performance across three specific areas of the customer lifecycle: Attract, Convert, and Retain.

Click here to access a complete PDF of the report.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Web Site Search: Revenue in the Results

As published on the Aberdeen Group web site in April, 2007.

Web site search is a minimum competitive requirement for online commerce as indicated by the 96% of eCommerce web sites that currently have or will have a search tool in place in the next twenty-four months. Differentiation in search tools will surface among companies that focus on key customer service tools that make the online shopping experience more efficient and more gratifying. Eighty-six percent of companies achieving the highest returns from their web site search applications conduct moderate to extensive customizations to fit their specific products or services. The payoff in the eyes of 83% of leading online companies is a positive return on investment (ROI) from their web site search applications.

Click here to view a PDF of the entire report.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Clicks to Customers: The Real ROI in B2C eCommerce

As published on the Aberdeen Group web site in December, 2006.

The online Business to Consumer (B2C) marketplace is increasingly impatient, which is a reflection on the pressures merchants feel from their customers. Online retailers expect their technology solutions to flex, bend and meet their complex needs and become prof-itable in short order. Rather than expecting to realize a return on investment over the course of time, retailers want instant gratification and Return on Investment (ROI) in typically less than six months. Twenty-one percent of retailers expect to see revenue results from their online tools (e.g., site search, interactive product imaging and Web 2.0 technologies) within weeks. Only 22% are willing to wait more than six months to realize a return on their online tools.

Click here to view a PDF of the complete report.