Friday, May 9, 2008

eMetrics Wrap-Up

I’m on the plane returning from the eMetrics Marketing Optimization summit in San Francisco. Rather than blogging live from the event, I decided to post a retrospective, allowing my thoughts to congeal. Here are a few of my takeaways.

It’s About Relationships and Experiences
Event organizer Jim Sterne added an Industry Insights day to this year’s event and invited a small group to bring their biggest and most forward thinking ideas to the table for discussion. I shared my thoughts on the fact that the traditional customer lifecycle: Acquire, Convert and Retain is defunct. I supported this with Jupiter research demonstrating that customers no longer traverse the Web in linear fashion (if they ever did), from consideration to purchase. They’re bombarded by choice, assaulted by advertising and rarely pay attention. Consumers are visiting multiple sites, multiple times prior to purchase and are twice as likely to value the advice and opinions of “friends” over brand driven content. All of these factors contribute to a fragmented online experience, where content is consumed in snack-size pieces and picked up from convenient locations across the web. To quantify this behavior and glean some semblance of understanding from erratic consumers, I proposed a new method for measurement based on Relationships and Experiences. Simply put, by quantifying these two aspects of customer interaction, you can enhance, improve and optimize the digital channel. I’ve built out a framework for quantifying these characteristics, so stay tuned for more on this topic in upcoming research.

All Business is Becoming eBusiness
One topic that surfaced on several occasions was that eBusiness and Web metrics are finally taking a seat at the boardroom table. Organizations are dissolving the silos that sequestered the online channel from the rest of the business and allowing these metrics to permeate throughout the enterprise. This is due largely to the accountability that Web analytics delivers to business metrics. The Web is infinitely measurable and now more than ever we have data to support our marketing assumptions. Although this data represents only 5% of all spending, it’s a start. Although the truly data driven organization is still a distant hope for many, we have reached the point where Web analytics has entered the lexicon of even the largest HiPPOs. At the Insights day, we discussed analytics moving from tactics to strategies and that the importance of metrics is growing throughout most organizations. The conversations about Web analytics are also moving through a maturity cycle. Originally only the CIO was interested, then CMO’s took notice and most recently the CFO is asking the questions. The value of analytics is working its way upstream.

Old Concept, New Yardstick: Attribution
Creating the perfect marketing mix is nothing new, but attribution has emerged as a method for quantifying customer touch points throughout a given campaign to allocate credit across initiatives. Historically, the last click gets all the credit for an online conversion, which is often the branded keyword or direct navigation resulting after much research and previous impressions. Web analytics tools are well suited to quantify the multiple marketing endeavors leading to conversion and use a weighted methodology to give credit where it’s due. Stay tuned for more on this as well since Jupiter will publish on this topic in coming months.

Mindreading Technology?
One of the most remarkable presentations delivered at the summit was an addendum added for Joseph Carrabis, who never got a chance to deliver his slides on Sunday because we assaulted him with questions. Joseph’s recently patented technology can really read your mind. He is a behavioral anthropologist that applied the insights of psychology and sociology to a technology solution. It works by embedding a standard javascript tag onto a page that tracks all mouse movements and clickstream activity throughout a session. The tool can determine gender in a matter of seconds and knows when you’re happy or sad. As unbelievable as this may sound, the accuracy has been proven out at 87% and although appealed originally by the US Patent office, it won their approval last month. The creator is brilliant, but you may need an interpreter to know what he’s talking about. Not because he’s speaking Gaelic (which he’s apt to do), but because his concepts are mind boggling. Although when pressed to explain his technology, he asks simple questions that shed light: Do men and women think the same? No, well he can discern that by the way the mouse moves on the page. Are you excited? Your mouse will react differently than when sad. The technology takes all this in and is able to produce actionable recommendations to enhance the way that visitors experience your web site. By using this technology and its neurological insight, the tool does know what you’re thinking. It’s a bit Orwellian, but likely to pervade Web site technologies everywhere. This topic and the NextStage Evolution technology deserve a full write-up on their own, so stay tuned on this one as well.

In all the event lived up to its reputation as the must attend show for Web analytics. I’ll close with a few notable quotes that I jotted down throughout the four days of the conference. These are snippets and paraphrases that capture great Web analytics insight:

~ If you’re explaining, you’re losing. Bob Page, Yahoo!
~ New roles are emerging: Brand Behavioralists and Dialogue Designers. Ryan Warren, Exact Target
~ The executive is the new customer, so don’t show up with a bus full of ideas; deliver a solution. Anonymous
~ The planets are aligned for Web analytics. Tom Davenport, Competing on Analytics
~ Ever see what happens when you try to push on a rope? Bryan Eisenberg, Future Now
~ Join PALM: People Against Lowly Metrics. Avinash Kaushik, ZQ Insights
~ We’re moving from Web metrics to business metrics. Embrace the “marchitecture” (marketing and architecture). Tim Goudie, Coca-Cola
~ Asking users to predict future behavior just doesn’t work. Jacob Nielson, Nielson Norman Group
Finally the most heard question: See you in the Lobby Bar?