Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Looking back, peeking ahead

Year end is a good time to think back about what we did. This seemingly simple introspection is a critical step toward the future.

From a professional perspective, I ask 3 simple questions:
  1. Am I increasing my value in the market?
  2. Am I bringing the right value to my employer/clients?
  3. Am I being rightly compensated for my value?
From a personal perspective, the most important questions is "Am I happy at work?"

In this post, I will cover those point and propose to think about "employee engagement" as a method of self assessment.

Increasing market value

My career as taken a huge step forward since I got involved more deeply in web analytics and especially over the last 12 months. For me, the pieces of the puzzle were:
  • Consulting: Sharing, coaching, helping out companies and other web analytics practitioners understand the value of process optimization and analytics.
  • Teaching: Tutoring 3 of the 4 classes for the UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics and a 4th one related to business process analysis. I'm also working on a full semester class I will start teaching next fall at Laval University (Quebec city).
  • R&D: The web analytics field being so young, there are opportunities in several areas. WASP is certainly my most known initiative, but I'm also interested in other aspects such as the web analytics maturity model I'm developing, and I have a ton of other ideas to work on.
  • Learning: I think we should never stop learning. Over 5 years ago I embarqued on a long journey to do an ebusiness MBA. Despite the fact I didn't have a University degree; I opened the right doors and demonstrated I could do it: I'm proud to be on the honor roll for achieving an average grade of over 90%. Formal education isn't all, I'm learning everyday as I work with my clients, teach, read, explore and try new things.
  • Starting my own business: This is what I had to do to step into the driving seat of my career, and it turned out to be the best move I could do.
Looking back, the piece of the puzzle fits perfectly together. Of course, the choices should be different for everyone.

About you: Think about your motivations, what drives you out of bed in the morning. In the current economic situation, what would be your winning cards if you were suddenly faced with change?

Bringing value

Did I do a good job bringing value to my clients and students? I think so, but they are obviously the best ones to tell! Voice of Customer isn't just for others! Each class I'm tutoring includes an evaluation form, and I'm closely listening to my clients' comments and feedback.

I know there are some aspects I could improve. Some of them are certainly the consequences of my own personal interests, the numerous opportunities and the workload. At one point, accepting to work with a lot of clients is stimulating but impacts my ability to strengthen the relationship and increase the "share of wallet" with existing clients. However, it's also part of my model: coaching and on-demand consulting rather than retainers and long term engagements.

About you: Do you feel you know what is expected from your work? That you have the right tools to deliver? Do your opinions seem to count?

Compensation

This is certainly a tricky topic. When some people inquired about consulting rates on the Web Analytics forum the topic was promptly aborted by fear of being perceived as a legal or ethical misconduct. I personally made about 1.5 times the salary of last year despite spending a fair amount of time working on WASP (which isn't bringing significant revenues for now).

But hourly rate isn't what I'm referring to when I think about "compensation". Compensation is something of value you are getting out of your work. It can be an outstanding and pleasant working environment with friends, it can be flexible hours, lots of vacations, excellent insurance and retirement plans. Or it can be as simple as being gratified and feeling good about what you do. It is, in a way, being "happy at work"!

About you: What are your drivers in life? Family? Being healthy? Having fun with friends? Becoming rich? You should strive to work in an environment that offers the right compensations for your personal values.

Conclusion: The Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement survey

The year ahead looks like it will be challenging. The economy is certainly going to affect the way web analytics is being conducted and your job is certainly going to be impacted.

While working for a web agency a while back, and as part of a MBA class entitled "human dimensions of management", I was exposed to the Gallup's Q12 Employee Engagement survey. I conducted the survey internally, anonymously, and the results were catastrophic! Employee retention was really bad, productivity and motivation were low, errors were rampant, profitability wasn't always there and management refused to take action based on the survey results... I left the company a couple of months later.
Proven methodologies and quantified results are not always a guarantee of action!
Being interested in statistics, I would love to know the score for our industry, and the trend over the past couple of months.

The questions are straightforward. As an employee, they should serve as a good starting point for your introspection. As an employer, I would encourage you to ask your employees to take the survey (anonymously, of course!) and take action:
How satisfied are you with your place of employment as a place to work? (Rate 1-5)
  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development. 
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
(You might also want to check out what The Dashboard Spy has done a while back.)

I think one of the key word in 2009 will be "adaptation". We will need to be able and ready to adapt to an even faster changing environment, handle significant shifts in what our clients demand and expect. I also think experience and being able to handle the multiple aspects of web analytics will become even more important. The dimensions of analytical skills, technological knowhow, communication acumen and broad web knowledge will be leveraged to their full potential.

I could wish you "best of luck in 2009", but luck doesn't always have much to do with it. Our future is in our hands. Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Google Analytics Feature Activation: Event Tracking

"We are happy to let you know that the Event Tracking feature is now available in all profiles for the following Google Analytics Account ID: 123456"

This simple phrase means a lot. It means Google is enabling another feature that raise the bar to a new level and continues to significantly alter the playing field for any low to mid end competitors.

We are not bound to measure page views, visits and visitors anymore. We can truly measure significant activities going on our sites regardless of the way we decide to implement them: AJAX, Flash, Silverlight, widgets or others. Although there was ways to track downloads, video plays and other tricks using the regular page views, the side affect was also that some reports and metrics were affected. With events, a page view is a page view and an event is clearly an event.

Using event tracking

  1. Update your ga.js file
  2. Use the _trackEvent(category, action, optional_label, optional_value) function in your code.

    • The category is pretty obvious: Videos, Download, etc.
    • Action should be something like "Play", "Pause", "Stop", or a timestamp
    • The label allows you to distinguish, for example, which video is being played
    • The value is a way to tell Google Analytics about a timestamp, a count, or any numeric value that will be summed and averaged for each action and label
  3. See the results under Content/Event Tracking in Google Analytics

Other cool stuff

A set of new event timer functions _recordStartTime(), _recordEndTime() and mouse over event tracking _trackMouseOver(). I can already imagine scenarios where those calls will come in handy!

Caveats

  • Max of 500 events per visit... however, this should be plenty!
  • If an event is fired on the first page of a visit, the visit will never be counted as a bounce. A bounce is usually defined as being a single page view, but since you fire an event, there are now two things happening, thus this visit isn't a bounce anymore. That one is a bit more tricky and could significantly affect some reports, segmentation and other calculations.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hillstrom's open letter

I've been following Kevin Hillstrom's blog for a while. Kevin is a very experienced consultant in the field of multi-channel retailing and data mining, having worked for well known brands like Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, and Lands' End. Today, Kevin posted "An Open letter to the Web Analytics Community" where he ventures in some aspects of what I had covered in "Is Web Analytics too marketing centric?"

Kevin knows his stuff, you should definitely read his open letter. And I must say I agree with everything he is highlighting in his post:
  • data integration across channels becomes a must
  • move from reporting ratios to reporting revenues, benefits and costs. As he puts it "You will have to become good at calculating profit"
  • become political by crafting "a story that blends their (executives) challenges with your vision, providing a compelling narrative that the executive takes on as her own vision"
  • learn about all channels, not just the web
  • if something doesn't exist in your current tool, "make it happen", go beyond the tool
  • "stop doing what Google tells you to do", "start looking at your business the way your CEO or CMO wants to look at the business"
He concludes with "success is tied into your ability to link together all data within the company, to be able to tell a compelling story, and to be able to have executives trust you enough to make key business decisions based on your recommendations.". Very well put Kevin! :)

My take

I think one of the issue, just like in the early days of the web, is anyone and his dog becomes an expert at web analytics because they recently stumbled on Google Analytics. Web analytics has a good buzz, it's in high demand, and is quite young... so there are mistakes:
  • seeing the web as a silo, floating by itself in the deep ocean of the Internet, rather than leveraging its unique characteristics to listen to customers wants and needs and continuously optimizing the business
  • pouring money into marketing without optimizing processes, simply because measuring ROI on a PPC campaign is a lot easier than fixing that darn business process
  • thinking in terms of visits instead of being truly customer centric, just because the tools make a poor job at integrating with other sources of data and reports their numbers in visits or inaccurate number of visitors
  • thinking anyone in the office can be their web analytics guru without the proper experience, training, authority level and empowerment
When I do a web analytics maturity level assessment (see here and here), those are the types of issues I can uncover and for which I can propose realistic recommendations.

Kevin, you are right on, and I hope web analytics "experts" will embrace your recommendations as goals for 2009.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Online Customer Engagement Report 2009

For a third year, the Online Customer Engagement Report conducted by e-consultancy and sponsored by cScape Customer Engagement Unit is now available as a free download.

My take

I'm honored to be a contributor to this report. You can read my comments and those of other experts in the field: Alex Smith, Andy Beal, Backy Carroll, Ian Jindal, Jim Sterne, Martha Russell, Matthew Bailey and Peter Mortensen.

What strikes me is the growing gap between those who have defined a strategy and are taking control of it in-house, and those who are just seeking help from external agencies. While the first have established long term goals and will pursue the strategy despite the economic downturn, the later are much more likely to ditch their plan and focus on the very short term. Guess who will get the advantage!

Highlights

The third annual Online Customer Engagement Report is based on a survey of 1,300 respondents carried out in September and October 2008.

While the importance of customer engagement is widely acknowledged, fewer than half of organizations (45%) have defined a customer engagement strategy. Many are still unsure about how to implement a coherent and practical plan of attack. Only about half of respondents (51%) said that the deteriorating economic climate had resulted in a greater focus on customer engagement.

The essence of customer engagement is seen as being about creating relationships which result in value both for customers and for organizations. Asked about their organization's interest in online customer engagement, 38% of respondents said that it was about "increasing long-term customer value" while 34% said that it was about "increasing value delivered to the customer".

Get more highlights from the report.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Web Analytics Maturity Model: requirement gathering & risk assessment tool

Following yesterday's post, I got an email saying "Your model is very interesting as it helps visualize where any company stands and where it should go (and focus effort). This could help me illustrate the gap between our current situation and an "ideal" one. I was wondering if you could share some more insights about it"

Criterias & meaning of each score

Part of the challenge was to come up with "normalized grades" so the criteria for each level of each dimension are well calibrated. And it seems to be making sense so far.

I’m using this expertise as a value-add for my clients and a potential source of consulting revenue, so I'm not really open to share the underlying rules for now. But I can share another example to illustrate the concept.

Fit gap & risk assessment

In yesterday's post, I had included a graph showing a real client who had really unrealistic expectations. This other, more positive example, is form a client I met recently. The stated project requirement was simply to move from a log-based solution to the tagged version of the same tool. The assessment revealed a good and fairly well balanced web analytics maturity. We used the model as a business requirement information gathering and project risk assessment tool.

The graph bellow was part of a ten pages analysis report:



Doing the exercise, we clearly demonstrated the project wasn’t “only” about implementing tags. If they had been pushing in all directions, or seeking to move more than 1 grade level into a direction, it would have been a warning flag. Jumping ahead two grades is usually a sign of high risk!

Service offering

The Web Analytics Maturity Evaluation (WAME) process involves:
  • Presentation of the model and information gathering
  • Additional research on my side
  • Writing a customized report
  • Presentation of the results
  • Adjustments & clarifications
If you are interested in getting your own evaluation, please contact me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Web Analytics Maturity Model and Critical Success Factors

Update: White paper, self-assessment & more at immeria.net/oamm
During the Industry Insight day at last month eMetrics in Washington we did a round table where we were tasked by Jim Sterne to answer three key questions:
  • What's the hard part?
  • What do we need from the tools?
  • How do we convince upper management?
Since I already took position regarding the concept of "web analytics is hard", I figured I should look at something else...

We got interested in "showing a long term goal and a map", basically, "use a maturity model to show what we can achieve". I had already used the excellent maturity model from Bill Gassman, of Gartner (click picture thumbnail) as a starting point with my clients. But speaking with Bill himself, and a few others, I came to the conclusion there could be a model looking further than the level of use of the analytical tools.

Critical Success Factors

What I want to develop is a web analytics maturity model encompassing the most important factors of success, basically, the Critical Success Factors of web analytics.

Wikipedia defines a CSF as:
Critical Success Factor is a business term for an element which is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission. They are the critical factors or activities required for ensuring the success your business. The term was initially used in the world of data analysis, and business analysis. For example, a CSF for a successful Information Technology (IT) project is user involvement.
Isn't it nice? A close relationship between data analysis and business success! While we focus a lot on KPIs, I think I have never heard anyone talking about CSF in web analytics!

The concept of CSF is also close to SixSigma, a methodology for continuous business process improvement by eliminating defects, and a strategy I recommend for web analytics.

Web Analytics Critical Success Factors

As a web analytic advocate, I get asked about Google Analytics vs other tools all the time. I kept on saying "it's not about the tool, it's about the craftman", but that wasn't enough. I think the tool should really be the last of our worries.

So now, I use a Web Analytics Maturity Model of my own to evaluate the current "state of the union" and manage more realistic client expactations. And the results are shocking!

It's a work in progress, but I have so far identified six critical elements of success, each scaled from 0 to 5:
  1. Management: do you have a web analytics champion? At which level within the company?
  2. Ressources: are you staffed correctly? Do they have the right background and training?
  3. Objectives: can you define SMART web analytics objectives?
  4. Scope: do you aim to do web analytics to measure the marketing performance of a micro-site or reengineer your business processes to optimize your online business?
  5. Process and methodology: do you improvise or use a proven methodology for continuous testing, learning and improvement?
  6. Tools and their use: now it's time to talk about wich tool is the best... for this specific situation!
I have defined a set of criterias for each dimension and scale. I'm actually working on developing recommendations for each scenario.

Using the model

Tell me, where is web analytics most succesful?


 
The first one is theory, the second one is a real case!

Out of the initial evaluation, I can quickly identify:
  • if the current web analytics culture is at risk
  • if the goals (the reason the client called me in the first place!) is realistic
  • recommendations that goes beyond selecting a tool and implementing it...
  • (if I really want to work with them!)

The next steps

First and foremost, as a web analytics advocate interested in the field of education & research, it's an area I want to explore further. In the coming months I will evaluate each of my clients and others who are interested. I will also present this topic at eMetrics Toronto, on March 29th, and a longer version at eMetrics Sam Jose on May 7th.

To finance this study, I'm also offering to evaluate your own business and deliver a comprehensive analysis & recommendations: contact me if you are interested.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

EpikOne Google Analytics Seminars for Success coming to Montreal

Got a note from EpikOne: their popular Google Analytics Seminars for Success is coming to Montreal, December 8th & 9th at Le Centre Sheraton.

The seminar will be led by Justin Cutroni, Director of Web Analytics and has been developed in conjunction with Google.

The seminar covers the basic setup but also advanced visitor segmentation and keyword optimization, including new GA Enterprise features. The first day covers introduction & user training, while the second day looks into advanced features and technical implementation ($498 USD for both days).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why do we start to hate Google for building fences around us?

My post entitled "Some controversy in the field of web analytics... at last!" raised interest, and it was exactly my intent when I wrote it. Without discussion and debates, we are just a bunch of nerds all agreeing on the topics that we are often the only ones to understand (we must admit "web analytics" is a nerd field... isn't it?)

One of my statements got the attention of Brian Clifton, author of "Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics" and a former Google UK employee:
I haven't been following all the Yahoo forum threads, so out of interest, what you mean by "we start to hate you [Google] for building fences around us, then slowly turning them into cages walls."
Over the years, people began to hate Microsoft because of its sheer power in the marketplace. Slowly, Google power is growing and the number of people who, for good or bad reasons, will tag Google as "bad", "wrong" or maybe even "evil" will increase. I think this is unavoidable.

Regarding web analytics, on one end Google is helping the industry by raising awareness and bringing free features to the mass, on the other side, it will gradually kill lots of players in doing so. I'm sure they won't really love Google for that... but it's also the hard laws of the market (or is it? Isn't it becoming unfair advantage to offer so many things for free? Some would certainly say so...)

As we move so many of our "stuff" toward Google we become vulnerable to the will of God (or Google, as you wish)... Here's what I currently use from Google:
  • Google Mail
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Docs
  • Youtube videos
  • AdWords & AdSense
  • Google Analytics
  • Google is primary source for search
  • Google News, including world news, local news, economy, companies, products, etc.
  • Google Finance
  • Google Trends
  • Google Reader
  • Google Forum
  • Google Maps
  • Google Apps for my domain
  • even this blog is using Blogger
  • I might be forgetting a couple...
  • who knows what's next...
All of that for free? With no master plan other than "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."? Just "make money without doing evil"? In history, have we ever seen such a concentration of power not derail at some point?

I'm sure most of you have seen the video Epic 2014 and 2015, or "Googlezone"... it already dates a couple of years, but the essence of the message is even stronger now than it was 5 years ago.



Am I the black sheep for being somewhat scared of the concentration of power?

Monday, November 10, 2008

WASP v0.73 released

Making my way toward WASP v1.0, here's another interim release, WASP v0.73.

What is WASP?

WASP is the Web Analytics Solution Profiler, a specialized Firefox extension aimed at web analytics specialists who wants to do quality assurance and understand how their web analytics solution is implemented.

WASP personas:
  1. Convenient sidebar for Web Analysts
  2. Powerful site auditing and crawling feature for implementation specialists
  3. Market Research features for vendors, market and financial analysts

Changelog for v0.73

General improvements:
Sidebar:
  • New! copy values in current tab to clipboard
  • Enhanced: show Google Analytics cookie details as 1st party cookies
  • Enhanced: added menu to sidebar for easier access to all features
  • Enhanced: cosmetic changes to the About tab
Site audit/crawl:
  • Enhanced crawl: option to disable loading of images, CSS and Flash when crawling, for faster processing
  • Bug fix: database set & create were improperly configured
  • Bug fix: now correctly accept short host names such as http://localhost as crawl starting point
  • Bug fix: won't hang on single page crawls
  • Bug fix: database field disabled to avoid bad references (i.e. must use Open or Create buttons)
  • Bug fix: fixed element help when no help is available
Reporting & export:
  • Enhanced: faster processing of built-in data browser
  • Bug fix: fixed page browsing, sorting, column filtering & reordering
  • New: export to Google News sitemap.xml format

Get it now!

Visit WebAnalyticsSolutionProfiler.com and click on the "Add to Firefox" green button.

Some controversy in the field of web analytics... at last!

When a group of people all agree and nod their heads to any opinion that is theirs, "wisdom of the crowd" sometimes becomes "stupidity of the mass"... No surprise, the web analytics industry follows the same pattern. Let's look at three hot topics:
  1. The economy
  2. The (free) holly grail of web analytics
  3. Hiring: dumb & dumber

1. The economy

We comforted ourselves in saying "when the economy is hard, web analytics is even more important". As a group, we all agreed with big "YES!" head signs. It seems we just forgot to tell everyone else outside our group! In this economical tsunami, our industry is getting hit like any others. Vendors sales are going to dramatically slow down, agencies are going to see some of their tasks be relegated to a later time or simply canceled, and analysts are likely to suffer unless their employer is already deeply involved in analytics and is already getting a big ROI on it.

2. The (free) holly grail of web analytics

Google... Google... as much as we love your free love, we start to hate you for building fences around us, then slowly turning them into cages walls. As a herd, we look at the great pasture of free stuff and we all move into that direction.No abyss to cross, just easy stuff, the path is straight and we just have to follow it.

Then there are some black sheep troublemakers who try to tell us it's a trap. It can't be true! There's always a cost! Nothing is free! And they are right, because once we are all nicely parked within the boundaries set by Google, grass will eventually become less tasteful and so scarce we won't be able to survive unless we eat each other.

As much as Google Analytics is great and raise the bar, I don't think it's the magic solution some people would like us to believe. Don't get me wrong, GA is great in some cases, not all. There is still lots of room for other players, but the playing field is getting smaller as Google gradually grab a large chunk of the prairie for itself. We haven't seen such a great thread on the Yahoo! forum in a long time. Like other things in life, what worries me are the uneducated, almost extremist believers who have never been exposed to other web analytics solutions, large projects and business cultural changes and who are becoming experts in the field after "discovering" web development, online marketing, ebusiness strategies and business intelligence web analytics just six months ago.

3. Hiring: dumb & dumber

Another great thread on the Yahoo! forum: Web analytics hiring questions.
  • Rule #1: diploma is no proof of intelligence: Some of the replies reminds me of the days when I had a college degree and was told by some potential employers I was too stupid for them because I didn't have a graduate degree (not how they said it... how I felt!). In highschool I had poor grades, in college I was among the top students. Years later, I've almost completed my MBA and so far I've been on the honor roll twice for being among the 5% top students.
  • Rule #2: admit you don't know everything: I once had a full day round of interviews with a bunch of tests like some people sugested in the thread. Clearly abusive to spend a whole day doing that... Anyway,  by the end of the day I met the CFO, who asked me a very specific question about finance I couldn't answer. I did my best to offer a logical answer and clearly said if I had the job I would look for the answer and get back to him. Thus, I admitted I don't know everything... that's the single thing that failed during that day and the HR person was really sorry to tell me I didn't get the job because of that... looking back at this, I'm glad I didn't get it!
  • Rule #3: broader experience might be better: web analytics is a very young field of expertise, taking from traditional marketing, statistics, information technology, management and a whole bunch of others. As such, I think it's better to demonstrate a strong sense of autonomy, desire to learn, leadership, analytical mindset, communication skills and political acumen rather than acute knowledge of a tool such as SAS or any specific vendor, or concepts such SQL and Web 2.0.
Anecdote: Can you believe in my early days as a programmer (20 years ago!) an employer asked me to cite all the keys on a keyboard, in order please! Asking a specific SQL sentence is the same type of stupid question - and yes, I can answer that later one, but I still can't recite all the keys on my keyboard!

I would rather look for someone who can take an ebusiness challenges, identify the problem, find out the underlying issues, understand and/or define the objective and goals, how they would measure success and what kind of recommendation they would make.
    Debate is open! Pick you topic and fire at will :)

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    WebCom - Nov. 12th, Montréal

    For those interested, WebCom is coming up on November 12th, in Montréal. The conference program is built around three tracks: marketing, communication and technology with a slant on social media. It's always interesting to hear local speakers, because they are often closer to our realities, and at the same time, the international speakers often bring views that stretches the envelope.

    Among the sponsors there are local web agencies and large corporations, including the French web analytics vendor who recently opened offices in Montréal, AT Internet (formerly Xiti). In pure French tradition, Dennis Varganyi, Country Manager for Canada, told me they will be giving away a vintage bottle of Bordeaux wine :)

    Note that Web Analytics Association members can get a 15% discount!

    I had the chance to be a speaker at a previous one, this time my schedule doesn't permit me to attend, but I look forward to hear about it!

    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    WASP Market Research: behind the scene of the Top 500 Retail Sites study

    In my previous post, I shared my PowerPoint presentation from the recent eMetrics Industry Insight in Washington. This time, I want to highlight how the WASP Market Research feature was used to conduct this study.



    You can download the input file here.
    You can get the raw CSV results here.

    Analysis

    WASP expects a list of URLs as input, the WASP Market Research feature automatically takes care of resolving the company names to their corresponding URLs. Once the analysis is complete, you can use the built-in data browser or export to CSV. In this case, using Excel sorting, filtering, Pivot tables, it's easy to spot:
    • The type of tools found on those sites
    • Which vendors are the most popular
    • Which tools are the most popular
    • What is the level of "double tagging" between various tools
    • "Affinities" between various products such as Voice of Customer, Behavioral Targetting, Multivariate Testing, etc.
    • Possible relation between the type of tool and the financial results (this data would have to come from a different source)
    • etc.

    Additional information

    WASP Market Research is a service included in the Professional licence of WASP, currently available to vendors, agencies and market analysts. I'm also offering confidential/custom market research data as part of my consulting practice. Contact me or visit WebAnalyticsSolutionProfiler.com for more information.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    WASP Market Research: Top 500 Online Retail Sites

    My contribution to last week eMetrics Industry Insight was a short 10 minutes presentation based on WASP Market Research feature. I shared the results of two analysis I've done:
    1. The web analytics tools used on a random sample of 120,000 websites visited by web analysts
    2. An analysis of the Top 500 Internet Retail Sites in the US.

    WASP - Web Analytics Solution Profiler Market Research

    If you don't see the presentation below, you can get view it on SlideShare.
    I have just done minor edits to comment some slides and the design was slightly altered by Slideshare.

    The shakedown

    Remember that was two days before the announcement of Google Analytics new features.

    In my presentation, notice the strong shares of Google Analytics. On slide 10, it's even more interesting to note how often Google Analytics is along with another tool. If I'm Omniture or Coremetrics and I see a growing overlap with GA I would get worried. If I'm one of the 120 other players and Google Analytics is always there... I'm scared like a kid in a haunted house at Halloween!

    If you look at the retail sites, 78% of them are already engaged in web analytics. I'm afraid the 22% who aren't will get hit much harder by the economical meldown (slide #8).

    The brighter side

    On the brighter side, slide #5 indicates "39% of unknown or none", a minor 1% improvement over the presentation I did at the previous eMetrics San Francisco in May (although not significant).

    Slide #6 shows the concept of "multiplicity" proposed by Avinash Kaushik isn't quite there yet and there are lots of opportunities for market growth.

    The shear reality of the economy

    Based on numerous conversations I had at eMetrics, be it with market analysts, vendors or web analysts at companies or consulting agencies, I think we can expect the following:
    • Vendors will see a major slowdown. Companies who are already engaged in web analytics probably won't deploy new solutions for a while. They will do with what they have. Those who aren't and really want to get in will jump on Google Analytics.
    • Consulting agencies will see a slowdown and change in type of service they provide. Often overloaded, some slowdown might be welcome (but not too much!)... agencies will be solicited for shorter, narrower mandates.
    • Web analysts at mature companies. If you are lucky enough to work for a company with a somewhat mature analytical culture, the long term objectives remain and budget shouldn't be slashed radically because the benefits are already proven. As we like to say, it's even more important to do web analytics when the economy goes crazy...
    • Web analysts at early stage. If you haven't demonstrated good ROI and are still strugling with implementation, internal politics and such... good luck!
    • Education and conferences... if your budget for education & conferences is not already slashed to nearly zero... expect it to be pretty soon!
    What's your take? Any comments about the presentation or my views of the market are welcome!

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Seeking a Top 1000 site list for study

    As you might know, I'm not only tutoring for the Web Analytics Award of Achievement at UBC and working on WASP, I'm also very interested in research & education. As part of my involvement with Laval University eBusiness MBA program (Quebec city, in French), I would like to conduct a research on something that have never been done before.

    What is the true value of web analytics?

    The goal of the study is to find out and quantify how much of an impact web analytics might have on the bottom line, and predict expected ROI. Some possible questions:
    • Are top performers using more sophisticated web analytics tools?
    • Are companies with a more mature analytical culture more profitable?
    • Are they achieving significantly higher online conversion rates?

    Seeking Top 1,000 online sites

    I need your help!

    I'm looking for a "Top 1000" list of some kind (top online retail sites, top UK sites, etc.) ranked by traffic, or better, by benefits or conversion rates, with available public information. If I can get more then 1000 sites it would be even better since I want to create a predictive model out of this data.

    I'm thinking of Compete, Comscore,  maybe Bill Gassman from Gartner or John Lovett from Forrester/JupiterResearch have such a list? Of course... I simply can't afford to pay for that data... But I would be delighted to work and share my results with whoever can get me this list! :)

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    eMetrics Toronto is next!

    This week in Washington, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit announced the date and call for speakers for its Toronto, Ontario conference. We aim to build upon the success and lessons learned in the 2008 eMetrics Summit Series offering a big-picture view of optimizing online marketing value and improving overall business strategy.

    The two-day conference (March 29 - April 1, 2009) agenda covers a wide range of topics to provide a holistic view of web marketing optimization, including but not limited to:
    • Discovering the metrics behind opinions and conversations
    • A/B and multivariate testing
    • Online marketing analytics: campaigns, promotions and e-commerce
    • Consumer-generated content: turning threats into opportunities
    Marketers and analysts will learn from industry leaders within the online publishing, retail, education, government and non-profit sectors. Experts will share their experience and deliver real-life case studies and more. Attendees will gain firsthand knowledge from in-depth sessions covering search analytics, monetizing online behavior and best practices for measuring results and optimizing the purchase process.

    Call for speakers

    We are seeking presentations on the nitty gritty of web analytics and marketing optimization as well as sessions on search analytics, email marketing optimization and behavioral targeting. The deadline to submit a proposal via the online form is November 15, 2008.

    Advisory board

    The conference is co-chaired by Jim Sterne, conference founder and chairman of the Web Analytics Association, and Alex Langshur, president and co-founder of PublicInsite. The advisory board is comprised of the best and brightest in the marketing optimization field, including:
    • Stephane Hamel, consultant and blogger for immeria.net;
    • Brent Hieggelke, web analytics evangelist and president of Throttle Marketing;
    • Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image;
    • June Li, managing director of ClickInsight;
    • Mike Sukmanowsky, analytics and insight specialist for Rogers Media;
    • Simon Rivard, vice president of marketing for Quebecor Media - Canoe;
    • Jacques Warren of WAO Marketing Inc.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Fun: the ultimate cart abandonment

    We all know how web analytics and cart optimization goes along. Looks like someone found the ultimate way to dump the cart altogether! Literally!



    Now... for the marketing slant... notice the ad on the side of the other truck: "Target: expect more, pay less"

    That would make for a nice viral campaign! :)

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    WASP: v0.70 is available!

    It’s nothing compared to todays Google Analytics announcement, but I’m doing my own little contribution to the web analytics community: WASP v0.70 is now available from http://WebAnalyticsSolutionProfiler.com

    Bug fixes & enhancements

    • Enhanced crawling wizard
    • Faster crawls
    • Crawl data policies: resume, restart, refresh
    • Can handle much larger sites
    • Slightly enhanced reporting (more to come!)
    • Reports now includes meta keywords & description
    • Stealth mode for Google Analytics & Omniture SiteCatalyst
    • Couple of additional tools detected
    • Export to regular sitemap format or special News format
    • Another round of bug fixes

    WASP Professional available in closed beta

    The full-featured version of WASP is available to vendors, consulting agencies and large organizations. Check out the details.

    Upgrade

    Get it NOW! Visit WebAnalyticsSolutionProfiler.com and click on the "Add to Firefox" green button.

    eMetrics: Google Analytics now more enterprise sassy!

    Right from the eMetrics Washington D.C. floor, Avinash Kaushik just announced new features for Google Analytics. Hold on to your hats, as I said earlier, the wind is changing!
    • UI improvements: Minor visual refreshes to “makes it look better” as Avinash puts it (ok... nice)
    • Account management: New account management interface, snapshot of all your sites KPIs and easier multiple-account management (quite useful)
    • Integration: new Ad Sense integration (just makes sense!)
    • Data visualization: bubble motion charts showing 3 dimensions over time! Overall, you can play with 5 dimensions of data at the same time! (this one is really cool!)
    • Custome reporting! As Avinash puts it, “web analytics is intensely personal”, so you can now drag & drop any metrics and create your own reports
    • Advanced segmentation: just as with custom reports, create live segments on the fly!
    • Historical data: everything announced above is available with your historical data
    • API: the long awaited Google Analytics API is finally available. Yeah! So obviously, this also includes feeding Google Analytics custom variables

    Raising the bar

    As the entry-level bar is raising, (and boy! did it raise today!) the mid-product market will get squeezed and will have a harder time competing with “free” and “more powerful”. Without the same level of resources and visibility Google has, and in face of the actual economic situation, lots of players are doomed. In Europe, where there are lots of smaller web analytics vendors, the value offer might include strong benefits such as awesome service and focus on the local environment characteristics. Otherwise, good luck...

    Pushing the envolope

    At the same time, innovations in the higher-end of the spectrum will be harder to come by, forcing those vendors to expand horizontally. We already see that happening with Omniture’s purchasing frenzy. At one point however, the “suite” approach will tip on the toes of much larger fishes (as Gartner’s Bill Grassman put it during his Industry Insight presentation) and might eventually become to pray to BI, or more likely, top retail engines, portals and CMS’s.

    The Big 3

    However, Google isn’t alone with a great “free” and “powerful” solution. We have to admit Yahoo! Analytics (formerly IndexTools) will be a contender in the hearts of web analysts. While speaking with Dennis Mortensen, founder of IndexTools, we touched on the difference in approach between the two companies. Just as Google is using Google Analytics hook people on spending more on ads, Yahoo! is also seeking customers who will be engaging with value-added services such as Yahoo! Store. For the 3rd player, Microsoft Gatineau, I must admit I’m not too sure it’s really picking up and what's the strategy there.

    Web Analytics channel on alltop.com

    Alltop, all the top storiesAlltop allows you to "explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web".

    And now it gots its own web analytics channel at http://webanalytics.alltop.com/

    eMetrics: the wind is changing

    I got in Washington D.C. for the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit conference on Sunday, in time to join a happy bunch of kite fliers wannabees and an expert in the field, my friend Joseph Carrabis. It was lots of fun and a good opportunity to chat, switching topics as the wind changed, got us all excited when it picked or crashed our kites when abruptly stopping.

    We can draw some similarities between kite flying and the way people address web analytics. Getting overly excited, sometimes losing control or losing faith we can make it fly when faced with challenges and turbulence. But that’s not how it should be, as with kite flying, web analytics as some basic principles, you can start small and gradually master the science and techniques to become an expert. And as with kite flying, we learn a lot from more experienced people. But regardless of what we do, even when the wind is blowing steadily, we need to be ready to react and pull the right line to keep control. And it's also true that in the absence of any resources, in the absence of any wind, it's virtually impossible to make a kite fly!

    (more pictures from Emetrics Washington DC 08 KiteFlying)

    More news from eMetrics to come...

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    SiteBrand and First Time Visitors

    This month Web Analytics Wednesday was sponsored by Sitebrand. Senior Analyst Jim Cain presented a very interesting summary of his white paper "First Time Visitor: A Marketer-Oriented Approach to Optimizing Online Conversions" (get it for free!)

    First time visitors are "special"

    The topic raised interesting questions and everyone could readily see how important it is to address the specific needs of first time visitors. Why is it what we take for granted in real life seems to be so hard to apply in the online world? Why do so many sites welcome everyone in the same way, regardless of their interest, location or level of engagement with us?

    Ask the obvious

    Jim explained some of the most important questions to ask about first time visitors:
    • What percentage of your traffic is 1st time visitor?
    • Where do they come from?
    • What are there entry and exit points?
    Some might argue that cookie deletion, or geotargetting errors could make the approach difficult to apply. But what about the more than 80% if not 90% or 98% of the time where it works? Why put everyone in the same "unknown" basket when you can at least try to better serve them. Seems obvious to me!

    Sitebrand's solution

    And that's where Sitebrand comes in: their service makes it easy to create targeting rules based on various criteria. In my experience, even basic behavioural targetting is hard to get done by internal IT teams, so why not outsource this function to Sitebrand. The nice thing is the solution will cooperate with your web analytics solution of choice (actually the behavioral data is collected by Sitebrand, but in the future it will be integrated directly with your existing web analytics solution). Lots of companies are a bit afraid of behavioral targeting costs and complexity, but what I've seen with Sitebrand makes it very easy and affordable.

    Sitebrand and WASP

    WASP already detects Sitebrand, but with the help of Sitebrand's team, the upcoming release of WASP will highlight the targeting area directly in the page. Click on the thumbnail bellow for a larger view, basically, the behavioral targetting areas are automatically highlighted when the WASP sidebar is open.

    Where will it stop? Omniture Developer Connection announced

    Just days after purchasing Mercado, Omniture makes another announcement: "a community Web site designed to help our customers build applications that use their Omniture data".

    Opening the kimono: Omniture Develop Connection


    I went straight to the Omniture Developer Connection and had a look: it's promising! Like one of my old boss said, "opening the kimono" is a good thing! This will give heavy users and partners of Omniture an opportunity to collaborate & share useful enhancements and ideas. A quick look at the API documentation reveals a clear and simple set of calls to make interesting use of reporting, imports/exports, data warehouse calls, SearchCenter and Discover. Let's hope there will be a sufficient number of advocates to make it work!

    Possibilities for WASP

    I already have lots of ideas for additional vendor specific features in WASP. But this will have to wait until "post WASP v1.0 launch". I'm seeking to enroll at least 2 vendors and 2 agencies before launching WASP v1.0. Of course, the economic downturn is playing me tricks, but vendors who participate in my Corporate licence program will have the opportunity to influence WASP features for enhancements specifically targetted to their users.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Yahoo! Web Analytics and WASP

    Last week, most influential bloggers relayed the information about IndexTools being rechristened as Yahoo! Web Analytics. Dennis Mortensen reputation and charisma are legendary, so it was easy to mention it. Dennis even took the time to send me a personal note saying "As you tend to be first with news and as I wanted to make sure I remembered to let you know, so we can be in WASP with the new code". When I saw how many other bloggers were enthousiastically talking about Yahoo! Web Analytics, I figured I could wait a bit instead of just doing a "me too" post. So here's my slant on IndexTools, I mean, Yahoo! Web Analytics.

    Hands on experience

    I have used or implemented several of the leading web analytics solutions but never had the chance to play with IndexTools. I'm grateful to Miles Bennett, an Indextools Alliance Partner in the UK, who provided me an account for my site so I could see the power of Yahoo! Web Analytics by myself. It's been just a couple of days since I tagged my site, but I can already see why so many people are raving about this solution. Beyond what anyone would expect from a web analytics solution, there are some very powerful features like the dashboards, custom report interfaces and segmentation capabilities that raise the bar for any other free (and some for-a-fee!) competing products. I just played a bit with those features, but this is definitely a difenrentiating factor, and a big one!

    IndexTools and WASP

    Of course, WASP detects Yahoo! Web Analytics correctly, as well as about 120 other solutions (click on thumbnail for bigger view...). The upcoming release of WASP will make it even easier to do quality assurance of your web analytics implementations by easing the crawling process and offering enhanced reports.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Web Analytics on European automotive sites

    Michael Notté, a Web Analytics Specialist working at Toyota Motor Europe, just published "Automotive & Web Analytics in Europe – what are they using?, a quick study he did with WASP.

    His results are similar to private studies I've done for other vertical markets, where Google Analytics is leading the pack, then a slew of other tools. But it also shows a large proportion of those sites don't appear to be using any web analytics solution, something very surprising for such a competitive industry where optimization and behavioral targeting are key.

    Click on the image to read Michael's full post.

    Note: in his comments, Michael notes WASP isn't detecting correctly eMetrics from Sophus3. This is fixed in the upcoming release.

    Omniture is at it again: Mercado

    From my inbox "We are excited to let you know that Omniture has agreed to acquire the assets of Mercado, a leader in site search and merchandising and a long-standing Omniture partner."

    While I see a polarization toward Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst in the web analytics market space, the strategy are radically different. Google Analytics will continue to enhance its product and offer more features, grabbing some Omniture market, but hurting much more the lower to mid-market solutions. Rumors of a long awaited Google API, more advanced segmentation and other features are surfacing. But ultimately, Google Analytics mission remains to sell ads, either through AdWords or AdSense.

    Omniture is playing a different game, they are expanding their portfolio of solutions horizontally, slowly but surely building the infrastructure to commoditize the whole online optimization process. With the acquisition of Mercado, they are adding another poweful site search functionality, but also a very powerful ecommerce platform. It remains to see how it will cooperate with SiteSearch & Content, or if one of the two will be doomed to extinction, but when it comes to merchandising, onsite search can make the difference between survival and growth... or extinction under economical turmoil.

    As a senior web architect I have worked on a couple ebusiness ecosystem overhaul, consolidating dozens of websites and repositionning outdated technologies on new platforms. At the time, if Omniture had offered the current CMS, Search, eCommerce, behavioral targeting & testing, Survey and call center/retail analytics, I would have seriously considered it as a viable solution to lower the technological aspect of website development and focus more on the online marketing optimization aspecs.

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    WaW: Montreal, Oct. 15th, a free seminar worth a lot!

    I've been organizing local Web Analytics Wednesdays in Montreal for over two years now. People have frequently expressed interest to have monthly topics and learn more about what is being done and what is possible.

    This month Web Analytics Wednesday, shouldn't be missed!

    Come & learn, for free!

    Sitebrand, a leader in online marketing solutions, is sponsoring our next Web Analytics Montreal.

    Speaking at Web Analytics in Montreal, QC, on October 15, 2008 is Jim Cain, a Senior Analyst at Sitebrand who also serves on the Standards Committee of the Web Analytics Association. As author of a newly released whitepaper titled First Time Visitor: A Marketer-Oriented Approach to Optimizing Online Conversions, Cain sees increasing demand for more insight on the topic of web personalization. "The recent surge in website testing practices shows digital marketers have evolved past traffic generation and into site optimization," says Cain. "I’m really excited to be part of this event so I can explain how any marketer can create a profitable dialog with their most underperforming and under-serviced traffic segment, aka the first time visitor."

    As part of the session, which will focus on web personalization and visitor persuasion, Cain will reveal how first time visitors to a website are a unique traffic segment that can – when properly understood and messaged to – have a profound effect on site outcomes. Based on research and proven client successes, Cain will also be speaking about the uniqueness of this visitor type, along with best practices for analyzing and optimizing over time.

    Event Details

    Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2008
    Time: 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
    Place: Le Local
    Address: 700 William, Montréal, H3C 1P1, 514-397-7737

    Sponsor: Sitebrand

    About Sitebrand

    Sitebrand.com Inc. (TSX-V: SIB) Sitebrand Inc. (TSX-V: SIB) provides online marketing solutions and related services to major retailers across North America and Europe. Based on its proprietary software, Sitebrand’s Segment&Serve™ personalization platform delivers personalized online marketing campaigns for websites, email, search engine marketing, blogs, banners, point of sale, or any other web medium. Using Sitebrand, online retailers are able to develop customized marketing campaigns that leverage anonymous web analytics and visitor behavior, providing each visitor with a personalized experience to that particular visitor in real-time—generating more customers, more profit per customer, more customer loyalty, and more conversions. Sitebrand was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Gatineau, Quebec..

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Announcing: Web Analytics Conversations, enhanced and revamped!

    Ever wanted to know what are the "best" web analytics blogs? Want to praise yourself for being among the Top 10 web analytics bloggers?

    Web Analytics Conversations

    I'm introducing the Web Analytics Conversations, a Technorati and Google Blog Search mashup of over 150 web analytics blogs. Not only does it automatically rank blogs by Authority, Freshness and level of Activity, it also shows blog title, description and latest posts. The interface makes it very easy to sort blogs by any of those criteria, plus another one, called WAC ranking!

    You can also search any of those blogs with the official Web Analytics Association search engine, which I'm also maitaining, or subscribe to a master RSS feed of all those blogs!

    [WAC] the Web Analytics Conversation rank

    Blogs can be ranked by WAC scores, which is the sum of the following underlying metrics:
    • Authority, as defined by Technorati, is the number of incoming links in the last 60 days
    • Freshness is the relative recency of the latest post
    • Activity is the number of posts in the last 60 days
    The concept is similar to RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary value), where each metric is classified into quintiles: slices of 20% each. In the example above, Hitwise is actually shown at first position, with the highest Authority (821/821), a Freshness of 29/51 and an Activity level of 323/390. Each metric is brought back to a 5 grade scale and added up, for a WAC Score of 11/15.

    Limitations

    • The underlying data is automatically cached every day. If you ever happend to be the first person hitting the page for that day, the update process takes about 1 minute... Just be patient and it will get there!
    • There are sometimes bad character conversions, leaving some weird artifacts in titles and blog posts.
    • There is actually some dead wood, blogs that haven't been updated for a year.Those will be more apparent if you sort by lowest scores. I will remove them in the coming days.
    • If your blog isn't listed, let me know and I will add it!

    Why I did it?

    My primary focus is on WASP. WASP includes some reporting features and I wanted to get more acquainted with the Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI). Also, since I'm already maitaining the WAA search engine and have been keeping a list of web analytics blogs for over two years, I thought I could automate some maintenance aspects of it. Now, my VP of Finance (read: my wife) would ask me if this is bringing any revenue... well... No... Unless someones find a nice way to monetize it!

    Try it out, and let me know your thoughts. What would you like to see there? Any ideas or critics are welcomed!

    [Job] Nuance Communication: analytics & BI for voice recognition!

    I had a quick email exchange with Jeff Marcus, who has the cool title of "Manager, Applied Data Analysis" at Nuance Communication, a company headquartered in Burlington, MA with offices in Montréal, Québec and throughout the world.

    Ever heard of Dragon Naturally Speaking? That's one of Nuance flagship’s products. If you have one of those cool cars with voice recognition, there's a chance there's some Nuance inside. And when you call an airline or phone company and you get to actually say what you want rather then listening to endless prompts such as "Press 1 for sales, 2 for service...", that’s likely Nuance’s too. The job here is to build better models of how callers use those systems so they can be made better and more responsive.

    Although we're a lot into web analytics, there are lots of great companies employing data mining for cool and advanced situations. Here's a brief overview of a very cool job.

    Job overview

    Nuance Communications possesses one of the world's largest sets of data collected from automatic speech recognition applications. We are looking for a research analyst (based in Montréal, Québec, Canada) to mine this data to get more insight into how callers use our systems. We will use the results of this work to drive our application designs and to focus our technology teams on the most critical problems. The results of this work will lead to systems that better adapt to callers and broaden the appeal of this fast-growing technology.

    As a research analyst you will work with our application designers and engineers to build models of caller behavior. You will integrate data from various sources and use tools such as Excel and R. Finally, you will communicate your findings to our design, engineering, and marketing teams as well as to selected customers.

    A background in statistics, engineering, or linguistics (with emphasis on data-driven methods) could all be suitable for this role.

    Responsibilities

    • Carry out investigations (a typical example: "What kind of prompt elicits a useful response from the caller?") - this will involve a combination of scripting and manual entry to load data into our analysis tools as well as writing macros and formulas to conduct the analysis
    • Communicate findings clearly and compellingly
    • Be curious - find unexpected patterns and suggest new investigations to the team

    Qualifications

    • Advanced degree in Computer Science, Statistics, Linguistics or related field.
    • Curiosity
    • Analytic mindset
    • Quantitative skills
    • Experience using formulas in Microsoft Excel
    • Experience with Perl or Python
    • At least an introductory statistics course
    • Ability to work independently
    • Research methods experience is a plus
    • Experience with SQL a plus
    • Experience using statistical analysis packages like R or S-Plus is a plus
    • Excellent communications skills
    View details about this job on Nuance website or apply online.

    Note for employers: If you have open positions, I will be happy to forward your job offers, especially if they are in Québec.
    Note for job seekers: You have experience in the web analytics field? There are lots of job but you need to know where to hunt. If you are seeking a job and would like to get featured on my blog, drop me an email and I'll see what I can do.

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    If everyone is looking down, are you looking up?

    Several months ago I participated to an electronic book entitled "Winners and Losers in a Trouble Economy". If you haven't read it yet, maybe now is a good time!

    2009 Annual Online Customer Engagement Survey

    cScape is actually conducting their "2009 Annual Online Customer Engagement Survey", please take a few minutes to fill it out.



    The questionnaire takes five minutes to complete and including questions on:

    • Customer engagement strategy

    • Tactics and initiatives

    • Customer engagement and the economic climate

    In return for your efforts, cSape will publish the in-depth report on the E-consultancy website in November.

    Tough Times Call for Tough Measures

    Speaking of surveys and troubled economy, Web Analytics Association Chairman and eMetrics grand master, Jim Sterne himself, wants to know about the impact of the economic situation on your marketing dollars (or lack, thereof...).



    Take the survey now!



    .

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Web Analytics Wednesday: Montréal, October 15th, sponsored by SiteBrand

    Last month WaW was a great success, we'll repeat it again! This month our event is sponsored by Gatineau-based SiteBrand.

    When: Wednesday, October 15th, 5:30pm - 9:00pm
    Location: the greatest place to host a WaW: Le Local
    Where: 700 William, Montréal, H3C 1P1, 514-397-7737
    RSVP: >>> RSVP through WebAnalyticsDemystified service <<<
    Sponsor: SiteBrand

    This month topic: Personalization & Visitor Persuasion

    First time visitors to a website are a unique traffic segment, that when properly understood and messaged to can have a profound effect on site outcomes. Jim Cain, Senior Analyst at Sitebrand, will be speaking about the uniqueness of this visitor type, along with best practices for analyzing and optimizing over time.

    Please sign up now!

    Web Analytics Conversations: an experiment

    As an involved volunteer for the Web Analytics Association, I've been maintaining the official WAA Search Engine and several widgets you can use on your own site. I also published a couple versions of the Web Analytics Conversations, a list of dozens of web analytics related blogs grouped into one master RSS feed. New blogers around the world are submitting their blogs for inclusion in this growing list.

    But I had another pet project in mind...

    Web Analytics Conversations v2.0!

    Something annoyed me in the fact of simply listing blogs. How can we easily identify top blogs? What IS a top blog anyway? Is it because of authority? Is it keeping it fresh and publishing often? What about quality of the posts?

    I've been working on a mashup of Technorati, Google Blog Search and other sources of information to create a dynamic tool that shows top web analytics blogs by Authority, Freshness and Activity. It's not ready for prime time yet, but click on the image below for a larger view.


    As you see, it's dead easy to see the top authorities in the field of web analytics, and what they are talking about. Base on the snapshot above, what else would you expect to see in this tool? But first, would you find it useful and use it?

    Defining an Attention or Engagement metric for blogs

    I'm a huge fan of the concept of Attention Economy, and on the other end, "engagement" is a hot topic in web analytics. The base metrics are:
    • Authority: Technorati's authority estimate, based on number of inbound links over the past 6 months,
    • Freshness: or Recency, how long ago the blog was updated,
    • Activity: How many posts in the last 30 days
    If you've done your Marketing 101, you will quickly see those metrics are very close to RFM (Recency, Frequency and Monetary value), the later being replaced by Authority.

    The tool shows the blog title, description, author and blog picture, recent posts and allows to sort by any of the 3 metrics.

    Now, how would you calculate an engagement metric? What's your pick:

    a) I would take the sum of  relative % for each metric (this would be close to an RFM scoring)
    b) I would use a weighting factor because one metric is more important than the other
    c) I would calculate it in a totally different way
    c) It's impossible to automate an engagement metric, you're crazy!

    I would love to hear your feedback about the sneak preview and how you would like to see the ranking.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    eMetrics Washington DC: speaker at Industry Insight day

    After two appearance in San Francisco and one in Toronto, this is going to be my first time speaking at eMetrics Washington.

    In the spring, for the first edition of the Industry Insight day, I presented early results of market research conducted with WASP. Industry Insight is a pre-conference event for industry analysts, leading analytics authorities, experts consultants or deeply engaged practitioners, journalists and bloggers. Not too sure in which category I fall, but I'm delighted to be invited again!

    I will bring more data and insight on which web analytics tools are in use by websites visited by web analysts (got that?). The data will be based on hundred of thousands of sites visited by hundreds of web analysts who have downloaded WASP. Representative sample you ask? The data represents a steadily growing user base of over 8,000 users who have visited between 350,000 and 500,000 sites over the last 3 months.

    As in previous posts about Web Analytics tools used by UK Universities or Top Retailers in the US and Canada, I will also offer some high-level details about a selected verticals and geographic segments, but with much more data. If you are going to be at the Industry Insight and there are specific tools, verticals or geographies you would like to see, send me a note!

    As Jim Sterne puts it:
    "The early results delivered in May in San Francisco were indicative. This time, they will be significant."

    It was September WaW, sponsored by AT Internet!

    Monday night was our Web Analytics Wednesday on a Monday. What a great evening we had! We were guests of AT Internet whom most of you know as XiTi, the leading France-based web analytics provider who is now venturing in the North-American territory. In terms of location, I think I can safely say the 30 guests were all pleasantly surprised by our new spot: Le Local, a trendy Old-Montreal building conveniently located in the Cité du Multimedia. You know I can't resist good food, and the "hors d'oeuvres" were simply amazing!

    Back to our sponsor: AT Internet

    I talked about their product, Analyzer II, couple of weeks ago, but you have to see it in action to appreciate its power and some of its pretty unique features. Of course, it has what you would expect from any web analytics tool, but there are a few features I found particularly interesting:
    • Groups, Sites and Sub-Sites: Particularly well suited for multi-sites and very strong in the media vertical. The Sites and Sub-sites feature are exactly what you would expect: a hierarchical sub-categorization of your sites, so you can view reports and grant permissions on specific areas of larger sites. But the Grouping feature offer a very interesting possiblity: horizontal grouping of sites and sub-sites. For example, if a company has several sites with ecommerce enabled areas, they could all be grouped into an eCommerce vertical.
    • Time selection: who decided we only wanted to view days, weeks and months? The calendar feature allows you to pick only Mondays, or maybe you prefer weekends, or consecutive weeks excluding weekends and an holiday, etc. Neat and efficient.
    • Segmentation: The segmentation module is also very powerful. As you drill down into reports, it automatically creates new segments, so from that point on, all the reports are based on it. You can also pick and chose dynamically from 300 metrics to create new segments on the fly (although the limit is on 3 months of data).
    • Did you say "engagement"? Analyzer II picks some relevant metrics to create a Behavioural Quotient scoring indicator, or what some would refer to as "an engagement metric". The next release will allow you to select the metrics and give them some weight to create your own aggregated metric.
    • Near Real-time, rich-media, heat maps, monitoring... check out my previous article: XiTi: robust mid-range alternative for more details.

    AT Internet in Montréal

    AT Internet is joining other analytics related companies in Montréal: Neuralitic, iPerceptions and Coradiant. Their strong Professional Services approach has contributed to their success in France and their mission to deliver ‘On Line Intelligence’ to their clients. Head-quartered in Bordeaux, France, they also have offices in the UK, Germany, Spain, and partners in Asia. Local specialists will help with implementation, support, coaching and even conduct analysis for you if you need to. In the coming months, AT Internet will be moving to larger offices and grow a team of 10 people to help them out in Montréal.

    My take

    Most of the time, conversations revolve around the differences between Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst and we forget about other alternatives that are really worth looking into. It's not a matter of tools; it's much more about the needs and the persons using the tools. With a robust web analytics platform and a clear focus on client relationship, I think AT Internet’s solution is more powerful than Google and certainly less expensive than Omniture.

    Neuralitic: mobile analytics got money!

    Disclaimer: I'm on the product advisory board of Neuralitic.
    Yesterday, Neuralitic Systems, the mobile analytics startup located in Montréal, announced another round of financing, raising $7 Million with Vertex Venture Capital, BDC Venture Capital and Go Capital Fund.



    I've seen Neuralitic technology at work and it is nothing like the basic information traditional web analytics vendors provide about mobile visitors. The comment from Robert Genieser, Managing Partner, Vertex Venture Capital, is right on the spot: "There is a tremendous need for carriers to better understand their customers' usage of wireless data services. Neuralitic's solution provides real time feedback on what the subscriber wants, allowing the carrier to tailor specific services to meet the subscriber's needs. This is a very powerful platform that will be used to increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn and allow carriers to deploy new revenue generating services, as they can now easily measure results."



    I think not only will carriers get very interested in this technology, traditional web analytics vendors could offer much more powerful mobile analytics integration. Basically, Neuralitic is not about mobile visitors viewing your website, it's about how mobile users are using their mobile device. This includes knowing about which applications are being used: emails, SMS, games, and yes, phone calls too. Knowing about communication methods, frequency, point-to-point location and geomapping, demographics and even the possibility for mobile carriers to hook that information directly with the client account.



    For more information, check out the press release and the Neuralitic site.

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    WASP Market Research: what are the top resellers using?

    Update: this post has been updated on 2008-09-22 based on new information about eBay.
    For some time now, the good folks at GrokDotCom, the Futurenow blog, have been publishing monthly stats and their opinion about the Top 10 Retailers by Conversion rate. Let's use WASP Market Research feature to check what are the top performers using when it comes to web analytics.

    Top US Retailers Web Analytics usage

    US eCommerce SiteTool
    1. ProFlowersOmniture SiteCatalyst
    2. 1800flowers.comCoremetrics
    Google Analytics
    3. QVCCoremetrics
    4. Blair.comCoremetrics
    5. L.L. BeanOmniture SiteCatalyst
    6. Lane Bryant CatalogOmniture SiteCatalyst
    7. RoamansOmniture SiteCatalyst
    8. The Sportsman's GuideNone
    9. Office DepotCoremetrics
    10. eBayOmniture SiteCatalyst*

    In the US, Coremetrics and Omniture SiteCatalyst are pretty much head to head. However, while SiteCatalyst is often more widely used then Coremetrics in other verticals, the fact they are so strong in retail might be a good indication of features specifically well geared for this market. Based on my personal experience with both products and independent evaluations, Coremetrics is often cited as "being strong in retail".

    eBay has been using Omniture for a while - you have to be in the measured sample to see that they are.  It is roughly 1 in 100 that are sampled into the analytics grouping.

    Top Canadian Retails Web Analytics usage

    Canadian eCommerce SiteTool
    1. eBayOmniture SiteCatalyst*
    2. Apple Inc.Omniture SiteCatalyst
    3. AmazonNone
    4. Shopzilla.comNone
    5. Best BuyOmniture SiteCatalyst
    Google Analytics
    6. American Greetings PropertiesOmniture SiteCatalyst
    7. Wal-MartOmniture SiteCatalyst
    Google Analytics
    8. Sears.caOmniture SiteCatalyst
    Google Analytics
    9. Bell.caOmniture SiteCatalyst
    10. CanadianTire.caOmniture SiteCatalyst



    At first glance, I'm surprised by this ranking. While some of those entries are clearly Canadian, what is Shopzilla.com doing in there? To my knowledge, it is not even a retailer site per say, but a comparison engine. Sales are not conducted there since users are redirected to Shopzilla partners. Furthermore, Shopzilla isn't even a site specifically doing business in Canada!

    The other surprising things are the absence of Coremetrics and the number of sites using both SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics. While it seems Amazon might not be using any of the popular web analytics tools, the fact of the matter is that they are using proprietary solutions (unless someone can confirm otherwise).

    My take

    Looking at ten sites in two regions is interesting, revealing some some interesting information. If I was responsible for a retail site this would give me some good cues. However, for more in depth analysis, vendors and market analysts can use WASP to analyze tens of thousands of sites at once.