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May 31, 2012

From Online Marketing to Web Analytics

Guest Post by
Pakming Daniel Chan, Lead Consultant, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys

Introduction

Web analytics is the key component for the success of corporate digital marketing strategy. Without web analytics there is no effective way to measure the performance, test and refine their marketing campaign. Web analytics allows us to make our decision, evaluation and perdition based on facts with confidence. Here I will go through some basic concepts and how they work together to build a successful web analytics frame work for you business

Start with the Basic Questions

When people talk about web analytics, they jump to KPI quickly. However, I think there are some basic questions that we need to answer first..

Introduction

Why does your website exist? What are you hoping to accomplish for your business by being on the web? What are the three most important priorities for your site? Or other questions like it...Without a clearly defined list of business objectives you simply don't know where you are going.

Business objectives can be quite strategic and high level, such as sell more stuff, create happy customers, improve marketing effectiveness. Goals Identification is the next level of drill down. It is a task to identify the tasks/activities that to need to happen to achieve our objectives. It goes something like this...

Sell more stuff really means we have to: 1. Improve SEO and SEM plan, 2. Make use of social media, 3. run online ad on site...

Improve shopping cart conversion might translate into these goals: 1. Identify broken things in m, 2. Improve check out flow, 3. Add more incentive to check out...

Web analytics KPI

Now we have our business objectives for the site. We know what our goals are in order to achieve our objectives. Let us talk about how we use KPI in web analytics.

Web analytics is a very important tool for online marketers. It can provide you a lot of useful information about your website. However, the large amount of data or information may become overwhelm and can cause you to lose focus. KPIs, key performance indicators, are metrics that helps you understand how you are doing against your objectives. Different industries and site types will have different needs. Here are some typical KPIs.

Business Objectives

Typical KPIs

eCommerce sites

Drive site visitors to purchase product or services online

Conversion rate, order loyalty, cart conversion rate, revenues per order, average order value...etc.

Content & advertising sites

Attract repeat visitors who explore the site in depth

Page view, visits and unique visitors, average page views per visit, conversion rate, subscriptions, registrations logins, cancellations...etc.

Lead generation sites

Capture information about a visitor to use in future communications for the sales purposes

Leads, cost-per-lead, conversion rate, registrations, newsletter sign-ups, partner referrals, price quote requests, demo requests, collateral downloads

Customer support sites

Quickly and successfully answer customer questions and address customer problems online

Visits, unique visitors web inquiries, web inquiries-per-visit

(Failure Rate), percentage of successful support inquiries, call center volume (unique web number), customer satisfaction

index, file downloads...etc.

Here let us just focus in two most common scenarios, ecommerce site and lead generation site. The turning of site visitor into order placing customer or the turning of site visitor into qualified lead is not a one step process. Understanding the conversion funnel or sales funnel help us to understand all the touch points and different stages a potential customer may go through before the final conversion.

eCommerce conversion Funnel and KPI

A conversion funnel is the path a customer takes from entering your site through the checkout process and finally reaching the end goal.

Here is an example of conversion funnel:

Total visitors (%100) -> Visit Shopping area (%60) -> Place item in cart (%30) -> Make a purchase (3%)

Understanding the process and what site visitor will do in the process can help to capture a more complete picture of our customers in different stages.

Sales Funnel and KPI

The sales funnel depicts the processes or stages of contacts may go through before they turn in to a customer. Specific steps or stages in a sales process vary from company to company but generally include the following elements:

Prospecting/Initial contact -> Interested lead -> Marketing qualified lead -> Sales qualified lead -> Need assessment -> Presentation -> Proposal -> Negotiation -> Closing

Understanding the processes, the funnel type, and the stages that your leads will go through in your industry will help you to identify them at the early stage. You measure the effectiveness of each process, test them and refine them.

Important Web Analytics concepts

Before I move further, I would like to introduce a few more terms - metrics, calculated metrics, threshold/target, dimension, and segment.

Metrics

Metrics is numeric data about the web site traffic or content. It can be a count, a total or a ratio. The following are examples of metrics.

Metric Group

Metric Name

Description

Site Usage

pageViews

The number of page requests made during visits.

 

uniqueVisitors

The number of inferred individual people with one or more visits to a site.

E-commerce

transactions

The total number commerce transactions completed.

 

transactionsRevenue

The total amount of revenue from e-commerce transactions.

Calculated Metrics

Sometimes the data that you get from the reporting do not provide the information that you need directly. You may need to do some additional work or calculations in order to get the information that you are looking for. Some of the examples are.

Category

Metric Name

Formula

Description

Site Usage

Bounce Rate

bounces / visits

Calculates the rate of site visits that are only include a single page view.

 

Pages Per Visit

pageViews / visits

Calculates the average number of pages views per visit to your web site.

Threshold/Target

Your metrics are just numbers to show the current state. It can not tell you if the number showing success or file in term of achieving your business goals and objectives. Thresholds/Target are the numerical values you have pre-determined as indicators of success or failure. When we define the metrics to keep track with, you may need to define the threshold along with the metrics so that they become meaningful information to you.

Dimensions

Dimensions are usually the attributes of the visitors or your website. For example, the referring URL that your visitors come from. Dimensions usually will show up with metrics. For example the page report may show the top pages being visited for this month. Mostly likely it will show the number of visits or average clicks of that page too. In this case the page URL is dimension and the number of visit or average clicks are metrics. The following are examples of dimensions.

Category

Dimension Name

Description

Visitor

browserVersion

The version of the browser used by the visitor.

 

browserType

The browser type used by the visitor.

Ecommerce

daysToTransaction

The number of days between the first visit and when a transaction occurred.

 

visitsToTransaction

The number of visits a visitor made prior to a transaction occurring.

Segment

When you put these dimensions together with a certain constraint you can create customized reports to provide some very meaningful information on a particular subject. A segment is a collection of dimensions. Creating a segment is to gather a group of related dimensions together to create a customized report.

This segment reports about interested returned visitors locate in

Dimensions with constrains

Conditions

California

State matches exactly California

Time > 1

Time on site greater than 1

Bounce Visits

Bounce Equal to 1

Page depth > 3

Page depth greater than or equal to 3

Search referral = Google

Search Referral URL contains Google

How it all work together

You know your business objectives.
You have the specific goals that you want to archive identified.
Now you may use them to help you to identify dimensions or metrics for your KPIs and to determine the success and fail threshold. You may also use the conversion funnel or sales funnel to help you identify scenarios that you want to keep track with.
You may create segments to help you to report some specific.
Lastly you may want to put all of your KPIs, segments on a dashboard so that you can easily access to all your interested reports in one single place.
You may set up e-mail alert to have the report send to you on a specified schedule also. Now you have your complete Web analytics report framework.

Conclusion

The digital media and channel become more verity and more complicated. Web analytics become even more important to help us to keep up with changes. If we use it correctly it will be your edge to be successful in this digital age. I am seeing web analytics not only an essential component of the marketing architecture. It is becoming an essential part of the enterprise level business intelligence architecture too.

May 30, 2012

Connected Vehicles & Driver Distraction: Can Safety and Connectivity Co-exist?

Guest post by Steven P. Silver, Senior Principal - Digital Transformation, Consulting & Systems Integration/ Management Consulting Services, Manufacturing unit, Infosys Limited.,

 

 

Maybe I'm just paying close attention, but every day seems to bring a new article, study or development in the connected vehicle space. Inevitably, the blurb I keep seeing is either about consumers and their voracious appetites for connected vehicle services and capabilities, OEMs efforts to launch the latest and greatest new connected offerings, or grave concerns from the driver-distraction camp (e.g., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA]) who are concerned about the impact all this new technology is having on driver and road safety.

 

The convergence of these trends seems to indicate that consumers are unflinching in their hunger for increasingly sophisticated connected services that are delivered in a manner that supports safe driving.  For example, in a recent JD Power 2012 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study, about 69% of study participants said they want natural language voice activation functionality and 68% want wireless connectivity.

 

But can consumers, OEMs and NHTSA have it all?  The answer is likely found at the intersection of best practices in user experience design and sophisticated avionics.

 

Companies like Google and Amazon spend tens of thousands of man-hours sweating every detail of the smallest elements of their user experiences (e.g., buttons, boxes, colors, terminology) to ensure that the behaviors they desire users take (e.g., inputs, clicks and views) are done quickly, efficiently and painlessly with increasing effectiveness.  Aerospace companies through both commercial and military applications have commercialized innovative aircraft controls to aviators through new advanced heads-up displays which allow for amazing delivery of information and animation while enabling stringent pilot agility and safety requirements. 

 

The innovations in the cockpit and in digital commerce provide a true illustration of the "science of the possible" at the intersection of transportation, product engineering, and user experience and information delivery.  So if commercial and military pilots can access sophisticated information services, and consumers can be trained to act upon online cues in milliseconds ... car companies with the right skills can certainly keep consumers and regulators happy.

 

So how soon do you see the science of the cockpit and the commerce site coming together to make all the players in the telematics ecosystem happy?

 

 

May 2, 2012

Manufacturing Portal Features and Trends (Part 2)

Guest Post by
Shailesh Kumar Shivakumar, Technology Architect, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys

In my previous post, I discussed about the current trends in intranet portals. Let's look at the trends in external portal here.
 
Trends in Extranet portal
Extranet or external portals cater to the entire online world including customers, web users, partners, vendors, suppliers for the organization.

Some of trends noticed are depicted below:
ExternalPortals.jpg

  • Sales and Marketing Focus: Most often the extranet portals among manufacturing clients are sales and marketing focused to achieve goals like ease of business operations, to provide greater control to sales/marketing community and enabling the business community for quickly and effectively design campaigns.
  • Search centered experience: Search is assuming greater importance among wide variety of manufacturing clients. Some of them have even positioned search as a primary and preferred form of navigation and as a key entry point. Search centered experience mainly involves things like search enabling key functionalities and providing optimal search experience (context-sensitive, highly relevant search results) from all pages.
  • Analytics enablement: Track user activities using Web analytics tools to get deep customer insights and optimize the user experienced based on it.
  • Social Media: This is acting as a key driver to engage and collaborate customers and partners. Most of the manufacturing clients are planning to integrate with external social media platforms and provide features like feeds, blog, user communities. Involving and engaging customers translate into key business benefits including increased customer loyalty, promoting brands and creating brand awareness.
  • Channel Integration: As mobile devices and tablets are increasingly becoming popular for web access, the web site should support access over all these channels. Mobile enabling the sites and providing native mobile apps as required is gaining momentum.
  • Digital Marketing: This involves social media based marketing, micro-sites for seasonal campaigns and continued engagement with digital customers.

Other considerations

You need to consider various other things while designing an enterprise portal strategy and road map. I have discussed few of them below:

  • Performance: This forms a critical aspect of any external portal which involves performance optimization at multiple levels:
    • Optimized functionalities: The key site functionalities like search, shopping cart need to be optimized to deliver good user experience.
    • Client side aggregation: Maximize the client side functionalities leveraging AJAX based partial page rendering to improve page load times
    • Web performance optimization: Adopt performance best practices like merging & minifying JS/CSS files using CSS Sprites etc. to improve page load times.
    • Content delivery networks: Geographically distributed sites can leverage popular CDN networks like Akamai to provide to maintain strict SLAs
  • Localization: The portal should support localization to enhance customer reach. A more intuitive way is to automatically redirect the user to localized site based on user's browser locale or previously stored user's localization preference.
  • Real time monitoring: Use monitoring tools like Gomez, IBM Tivoli to actively monitor the applications in real time and effectively respond to production outages. These tools also help in analyzing performance bottlenecks and other performance issues.
  • Personalization: This is one of the primary portal use cases which involves both explicit personalization (based on user's preferences) and implicit personalization (based on user behavior).
  • Search engine optimization: Provide relevant information of the page so that relevant pages are properly indexed by search engines to ensures that site gets relevant internet traffic.
  • Disaster recovery environment: Involves maintenance of a mirror site in case of unforeseen natural disasters. Mirror site and data center will be in a different geographic location than the original production servers.
  • Intuitive User experience and information architecture: External portal should enable the user with relevant information discovery with ease and convey consistent user experience. The user interface should be responsive (minimal time for completing the requested operation) and interactive (rich UI features like drag and drop etc.)


Manufacturing Portal Features and Trends (Part 1)

Guest Post by

Shailesh Kumar Shivakumar, Technology Architect, MFG-ADT Online, Infosys 

 

 

While analyzing the portal requirements (both intranet and extranet) for manufacturing clients, few patterns and trends related to portals are noticed. I am listing few of those observations to provide insights into emerging portal trends among manufacturing clients.

 

Brief Overview of portals

Before we begin understanding portal trends, let's understand the purpose and key use cases for portals. An Enterprise portal is a framework to deliver personalized user experience by aggregating information from variety of data sources. Following are primary use cases which warrant a portal as compared to a normal web application:

·         Aggregation of information from multiple data sources

·         Provide personalized user experience

·         Provide a single-stop-stop for all enterprise needs ranging from accessing all information needs to all functionality needs

·         Provide role based and finer security controls with other security features like single-sign-on and ability to integrate with variety of security providers.

·         Provide consistent and intuitive user experience providing ability for customers to customize

You can use this as a thumb rule to evaluate if the solution warrants a portal product.

 

 

Trends in Intranet portal

Intranet portals are primarily used as collaboration platform for internal users.  The main target audience for intranet portals would be internal users like employees who use intranet portal as a communication channel and use internal tools/applications.

 

Some of trends noticed are depicted below:

IntranetTrends.jpg

 

·         Services based integrations: In order to provide a single-stop-shop experience to internal users, intranet portals need to integrate with all the in-house systems.

·         Security: Security aspects involve providing single-sign-on experience, role based functionality access, deploying security gateways for service access etc.

·         Collaboration: Acting as a collaboration platform is one of the key functionalities for intranet portals. This includes integrating with collaboration tools like blogs, chats, communities, wiki to empower internal user to share and interact.

·         Process improvements: This typically involve minimizing and automating the overall process time and enabling the self-service model wherever applicable.

 

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