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Landing Page Testing: Bounce Rate Isn’t Your Only Friend

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Optimized landing pages are a critical component of analytics. After all, there’s nothing more annoying for customers than searching for a specific product only to be directed to a homepage that has nothing to do with their search term. So, why not improve the user experience and tailor content to their needs?

Help your customers find exactly what they are looking for in as little time as possible.

Optimized landing pages help you engage your customers and guide them through your site’s conversion funnel. It’s simple, really – you help your customer find exactly what they are looking for in as little time as possible.

Of course, when it comes to building landing pages, everyone seems to have a different opinion of what works and what kind of layout will resonate best with customers. This is where testing comes in.

Testing eliminates the uncertainty of guessing and hoping things will work out down the road; instead, you let your customers – along with hard data and numbers! – decide for you. A/B testing, for example, presents visitors with multiple versions of a page and helps determine new layouts. Once A/B testing identifies a winning page, you can move on to multivariate testing: that is, identifying the individual page elements – ranging from images and calls to actions to headlines and buttons – that have the greatest impact.

But before you start, you need to choose a success metric to use as a barometer. Oftentimes, bounce rate is the go-to indicator of success – but it doesn’t always tell the whole story.

For instance, many people seem to believe that if a new page has a lower bounce rate, that means fewer visitors are leaving your site and are therefore more engaged. Success, right? Well, not quite yet. What many forget – or refuse to acknowledge – is that the new page is naturally going to have a lower bounce rate; after all, you built this page with specific, targeted offerings and fewer calls to action. And with fewer links to click on, it’s more likely a visitor to that new page will move beyond the entry point.

Therefore, it’s important to get the whole picture of what’s going on on your site by expanding your view to include other key metrics, such as the conversion rates of particular actions on your site, returning visitors, page views per visit, and continuation rates in a scenario funnel. Bounce rate isn’t your only friend in the usability world, so go ahead and friend the others – the more the merrier!

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5 Ways to Create a Data-Driven Culture

By Web Analytics No Comments

Analyze a campaign? No problem. Optimize a conversion funnel? Sure thing. Sell the value of search and analytics to the CEO? Um…what?

Let’s face it: getting buy-in from key stakeholders can be difficult at best, downright daunting at worst. But more and more, it’s becoming a task marketers need to be adept at, especially in an economy that demands accountability from every dollar. Moreover, stakeholder buy-in is a critical factor for success – organizational support and resources often play a key role in determining the effectiveness of a campaign or engagement – and therefore needs to be an integral part of the marketing toolbox.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways you can start creating a data-driven culture today:

1. Tie Data to Revenue.

It’s much easier to get stakeholders’ attention and buy-in when they understand how changes in a particular variable can affect their bottom line. Web analytics – like any other marketing channel – must consistently prove its worth, so be sure to present data in a way that clearly demonstrates its contribution to ROI.

2. Paint the Big Picture.

A caution: don’t place too much emphasis on single session data in isolation. Instead, show how an analytics view that ties together multiple sessions and a more holistic perspective can provide the most accurate insights. After all, while isolated sets of data can seem as different as apples and oranges (when compared to one another), they may in fact be telling the same story if they’re both rolling down the hill, so to speak.

3. Avoid Analysis Paralysis.

Build custom reporting dashboards so that stakeholders see only the metrics important to them and can make decisions accordingly. Too much data can equal information overload, clouding key trends and preventing decisive action.

4. Unearth the Holy Grail.

Discover that “one thing” stakeholders have been unable to successfully measure for years…and find a way to track it. Once you’ve helped them with their Holy Grail, they’ll be much more willing to look at other data you have to offer.

5. Share Your Successes.

Promote instances where analytics was used intelligently to drive ROI and smarter business decisions. Be sure to also spotlight big wins – a little publicity can pay huge dividends.

As digital marketers, we’re in a unique position to help create and grow a data-driven culture. In many cases, the numbers speak for themselves; it’s more a matter of communicating these successes and bottom-line benefits in a way that resonates with decision-makers. So don’t be shy. Search and analytics flourishes the most when stakeholders are all on the same page, and with a little persistence – and a clear voice – you’ll be well on your way towards getting the buy-in you need to succeed.

If you need any help or have any questions, contact us at [email protected]

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Real-Time Reporting: Does Anyone REALLY Care?

By Web Analytics No Comments

My Dad always told me the secret to happiness was “to have all of the things you need and a few of the things you want.” But can the same be said for web analytics tools?

In order to measure the intricate behaviors occurring on your website, you really do need insight. But where do you draw the line between what you “want” and what you really “need” in a web analytics tool?

For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on one such feature: real-time reporting. (Debating over all the features teetering on the line between “want” and “need” could take ages).

Where do you draw the line between what you want and need in a web analytics tool?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I thought “real-time reporting” was the coolest thing since sliced bread when it first hit the market. I mean, I could see live data flowing straight into my tool – no data delay! I could put my finger on the pulse of my consumer! No more waiting for a day or so to see my web stats – it was all there NOW!

But real-time reporting is a a bit like Hypercolor t-shirts and Tamagochis in the 90’s – they seemed pretty awesome at the time, but once you got to play around with them, they weren’t half as awesome as you first thought. (Although, just for the record, Hypercolor “awesomeness” is reversely proportional to the number of randy boys in your high school with hot hands!)

In the same vein, “real-time data” has been revealed to be a costly and underused feature. Even when utilized, it often only provides limited actionable insights.

So why do we want real-time data so badly?

I call it the “Christmas Complex”: you’ve invested blood, sweat, tears and bucks into a campaign or website and you want to see results now – just like presents on Christmas Day. But you need to ask yourself: What is truly actionable about real-time data?

Any strategist worth their salt will tell you it’s risky to make any sort of optimization effort after only looking at a little bit of data. It takes time for trends to emerge; you risk missing them by reacting quickly to every little bump in the road.

Moreover, having real-time data available is an enormous and costly undertaking, one that demands massive capacity in support during peak load times. It’s a bit like energy companies: most of the time they only run at 50% capacity, but they need the extra capacity for those times when everyone uses their AC. It’s not the most efficient way to be allocating and investing in resources (for electrical companies or Web tracking tools), but like it or not, these associated costs get passed back to you in monthly usage fees from your web tracking vendor. Therefore, if real-time data isn’t essential to your business, you can likely
save significant money by opting to go without.

Of course, there’s always a “but,” so let’s cover it here: Real-time data can be critical to the success of certain sites, such as media and current event sites, because these guys care about what happens on their site on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis and optimize accordingly.

It can also be useful as a QA tool, to make sure campaign data is coming in correctly without having to wait a day to see your test clicks. But as long as you know about a campaign 24 hours in advance, real-time reporting isn’t really necessary.

Invest 10% in a tool and 90% in people who can interpret what it says.

What is necessary though, regardless of the tool you use, is having experts able to glean actionable insights from the data you collect. You know what they say: “Invest 10% in the tool and 90% in people who know how to interpret what it says.”

Your data is a story waiting to be told. It can tell you what customers want, what compels them to act and what language resonates with them. In short, it’s the keyword and customer intelligence we marketers strive after in our quest to better reach customers. But a tool alone can’t turn data into intelligence. Only expert analysts can do that.

At the end of the day, successful analytics isn’t dependent on a tool; it’s dependent on having the right people, people who know how to use it and extract valuable insight. A much-hyped feature like real-time reporting might sound flashy and grab your attention, but it’ll ultimately pale in comparison to the value of the human touch and the power of intelligence expert analysts can deliver. So if I had to decide where to invest, I’d choose grey matter over real-time data any day.