How Web Intelligent are You?

Copying this over from an old blog of mine..
Part 1
Wondering how far along your enterprise is with real, actionable web intelligence? Use this guide to pinpoint where you are now, and where you need to go to achieve your targets and greater online success!

1) You have a website with log stats

Where you are: You have a web site, but it hasn’t really made it out of the 90s. It’s only there because your company expects to have some kind of site, but it rarely gets updated, and when it does you need an agency to do it for you. Likely your provider gives you some basic site traffic stats in an email once a year, which you promptly delete.

Where you need to go: If you actually expect to recruit new customers or keep new ones, you need to step it up. Get a web marketing coordinator or at least a webmaster and welcome yourself to the year 1997. If you’re this far back, you’ll need some specialized help, a complete redesign of your site, and a company commitment to the web. If you can’t or won’t get it, prepare to be left behind.

2) You have basic web analytics reports

Where you are: Ok, you’ve got a website, you have a department responsible for it, and you even have a web analytics tool installed on it. By basic I don’t necessarily mean free or low cost (Google Analytics for example, which isn’t basic at all), I mean basic analysis. Maybe you spent $100G on an enterprise level implantation of WebTrends or SiteCatalyst. A bunch of your employees then went for training on the tool, then went back to their normal day-to-day duties with the expectation that the tool will tell them something useful.

Shockingly, nothing changed since then, except you’re down $100G in budget. Marketing campaigns are plodding along, and your executive team gets a report once a month exclaiming “visitors, visits and page view numbers are flat.” Well that’s deep. CEO then calls the VP marketing into the office and asks why the “visitors, visits and page view numbers are flat.”

Umm.. we’ve reached full market penetration?

Two things are wrong here: 1 – the company as a whole and the executive team in particular don’t understand the web as it affects the business, and 2 – the people responsible for the website are usually so engrossed in their everyday activities that analytics becomes an unimportant to-do task once a month.

Believe it or not, a lot of very big companies with very big websites that do a lot of business on the web are in this stage.

Where you need to go: You need a web analyst, or a web analytics department to start you on the road to real web intelligence. A dedicated resource who a) understands the software and technology being used, b) understands your business, and c) can relate not only basic stats but meaningful analytics information to a variety of key stakeholders at various levels. Where does this person come from? A lot of enterprises snagged someone out of IT for this role. They’re great with software, technical implementations and spreadsheets. Unfortunately a lot of these folks, great as they are, have never been required to understand marketing in any sense. As a result, they may not (or they may, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that no IT person could ever do this, I’m just generalizing) have the critical understanding of eMarketing and the actual business goals to truly interpret the data.

In my experience, try for an experienced web analyst with a marketing background. Alternatively, find an extremely geeky marketing person and get them training on the technology. The key is that the person been naturally analytical and have a curious mind. There is no more critical question in the world of web intelligence than why?

3) You have a Web Analyst(s)

Where you are: Great, you have a web analyst(s) who understands your business and is producing reports with actionable recommendations. You’re ahead of 90% of other web businesses. Whether anyone in your company listens to them is another question, but at least you’re there and your company is making the shift from HiPPO (highest paid persons opinion) decision making, to data driven decision making when it comes to the web.

You will start to see wins now. More customers will come; marketing campaigns will be more effective. If your analyst is good, you’ll even start doing A/B and multi-variant testing to tweak your site.

A web analyst can tell you WHAT is happening on your website. They can also make a lot of inferences about why things happen the way they do. The answer to the question of WHY though requires a simple technique.

Where you need to go: Ask the customer.

Better yet, give them the opportunity to tell you without being annoying about it.
Welcome to the world of Voice of Customer. Feedback forms, surveys, and usability testing all fall into this category. While I’m not here to plug any one technology, I will point out one that I am familiar with that seems to stand above the crowd. OpinionLab offers electronic comment cards on every page of your website. The trick is though that the comment card is linked to, and can be specific for, that particular page.

Comment cards let users rate a particular page, section or site as well as provide feedback. Customers can actually tell you that information is missing, forms don’t work, or data is out of date. The reporting is also very sophisticated so you can look at your website as a whole and pick out specific sections or pages that need improvements. If you have an enterprise level web analytics tool like Omniture or WebTrends, you can even display all the Voice of Customer data in the same interface alongside your web analytics data.

Suddenly, you start to notice that the parts of your web site that you thought were just fine are ranking really poorly. Several comments tell you what’s wrong with it, and you can go about fixing it.

Bingo, now you know what is happening (web analytics) and why it’s happening (voice of customer).

4) You have a Voice of Customer Tool

Where you are: Sweet, you’re now ahead of 95% of enterprise web sites. You have a web analytics department and you’re letting customers tell you what needs fixing on your site.
Yet we’re only halfway up our scale. Is 50% good enough for you? If so, then pop the champagne! Wondering if there is more you can do? You bet there is.

Check out part 2!

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