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.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

WASP Market research: UK Universities

From a blog post entitled  "Analytics use by UK Universities" at All things Analytical:
I have just trawled through all the Universities in the UK as listed on the Wikipedia page - List of UK universities by size and record what Analytics packages that they are using.

WASP Market Research feature

This quick study was conducted manually for 167 UK Universities, but WASP Market Research feature is more powerful. For some of the private market research I've been conducting, I've done checks for 10,000 different websites picked off a file containing one entry per line. This demonstrates you can aim for a very narrow vertical market or pick a much larger sample, maybe for a specific region or vertical, and let WASP do the job for you.

Interesting comment from the author of the post, David Mackland:
While I am not surprised that Google Analytics scores so high I am surprised that there are only 8 different solutions being used.  It is also noted that some institutions run 2 solutions in parallel.  The majority of those institutions that are running multiple packages are running both Google Analytics and Nedstat.  We do that at Abertay so we have analytics to view should we decide to change our provider.  Of the 37 institutions who don’t have detectable analytics packages one would hope that the majority of these institutions are performing analytics on their web logs.  What also surprises me is the lack of use of Woopra across other institutions.  Is anybody else trying this out on their University web sites?  Have you seen it yet?

A note about Woopra

Woopra looks like a great open-source e-learning platform. Starting this fall, the Web Analytics Award of Achievement at the University of British Columbia will now be offered on this platform. Being a tutor for some of those courses, I had a demo and I played with it for a bit. As a student myself, I used other platforms such as WebCT which, according to Wikipedia, was developed by a faculty member of the UBC a while back! Woopra appears to be much more of its age, with more collaborative features, a slicker interface and a lot easier to use for students and tutors. I wouldn't be surprised if other Universities around the world also embrace this platform.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

VOC: Balance your desire to know and visitor anoyment level!

I've been an early adopter of Kampyle, the cool VOC service from an Israeli based startup. I'm using Kampyle on the main WASP site at http://WebAnalyticsSolutionProfiler.com and it really brings valuable feedback. Last night, while going through my round of feedback received during the day, I noticed an anonymous comment saying
"Sorry Stephane - I hate pop up surveys!
See: When Voice of Customer Surveys can damange your brand
Best regards, Brian"
I always try to strike a balance between my desire to know more about visitors, especially with a startup and beta product like WASP, vs. my own experience of being annoyed by pop-up/overlays ads and VOC requests...

But Brian was kind enough to leave a comment when prompted to do so and stated how he dislikes unsolicited VOC requests. In a way, this is VOC at its best! Ok, maybe Brian was kinder than other people because he knows me, but he took 10 seconds to tell me! :)

Lessons learned

Here's what I've done & learned over the last few months:
  1. Cool new tool! It started as an experiment with 100% sampling everywhere: new tool, must be cool, I will know a lot more about my visitors!
  2. Too much! I turned it off everywhere except 10% on the home page... I was getting too many feedback saying they just came to the site or just installed WASP, so they didn't have any feedback yet!
  3. Calm down! Tonight I just turned it off completely. So now people who really wants to comment can do it with the non-intrusive Kampyle button floating at the bottom-right. I will see how it affects the number of respondents and might readjust for some pages.
  4. Enhance and target! Kampyle allows to create specific surveys for specific areas of your site. The most obvious example is someone leaving the shopping cart: you wouldn't ask the same questions as other places on the site. I still have that task on my list...


That being said, I'm becoming an advocate of Kampyle and I'm chatting with one of founder, Eran Savir regularly. The startup field, especially when it comes to web analytics, is pretty small! And Kampyle is eating their own dog food: based on user feedback, they have significantly enhanced the Inbox screen to make it easier and more friendly and they made it easy to integrate Kampyle specific page feedback within Google Analytics reports.

I find Kampyle to be a very good choice, being easier/friendlier than creating surveys and providing more in depth and bi-directional communication opportunities than iPerceptions's 4Q. Although 4Q is also very interesting to understand intent and task completion/satisfaction.

Friday, September 12, 2008

WASP v0.60: enhanced site audits

The last update of WASP goes back to July, I was overdue for an update! So here it is!

Web Analytics Quality Assurance in 5 steps:

In v0.60, most of the work was focused on the crawling process.
  1. Pick a source: either a web page, an existing sitemap or load a list of URLs from a file
  2. Set crawl features: filters, number of pages to crawl, depth, load delay, follow robots rules, etc.
  3. Watch the progress as WASP crawl the site and retrieve pages and tags information. Pause, Resume or Cancel at any time.
  4. Export results to CSV, XML or Sitemap or use the built in WASP Report
  5. Analyze the data with the Excel CSV export feature or the WASP's built-in Data Browser to spot missing tags, broken links, wrong values being sent, etc.

    Bug fixes & enhancements

    • Crawler wizard: Improved dialogs, show progress information (pages crawled/left, time/remaining)
    • Crawler intelligence: new option to intercepts dialogs that could be hanging the crawler, detects secured areas and stay away from them automatically (i.e. without hanging on a username/password prompt), skip timeout pages, etc...
    • Lite weight database: WASP now uses a lite weight database to store crawling information.
    • Project files: Store crawl results into distinct WASP Tag Files (databases)
    • Post-processing: more efficient post-processing of crawl results.
    • Export: Save to CSV, XML or Sitemap significantly improved
    • Reporting interface: slightly enhanced reporting interface, although it is still preferable to save to CSV and work from there for the moment.
    • New tools: Atlas, SiteBrand, SiteTracker, TagMan, for a total of 121!
    • Sidebar: Fixed breakdown of variables which was incorrect in some cases.
    • Specifics: show SiteCatalyst report suite and code version in variable breakdown.

    I'm working on...

    • Intro videos & case studies: Create more videos and showcase of WASP in action
    • Stealth mode: Block web analytics calls for firing, so you don't inflate your stats while crawling
    • Even more advanced crawling: Continue crawl from an existing database, page sampling for automated site health check.
    • Pattern finding: when crawling, automatically detect pages based off templates
    • Analyst view: providing a non-technical view of the tags logically grouped into "Page information", "Campaigns", "Events", "eCommerce", etc.
    • Reporting tool: add easy filtering of data and default views, including a dashboard view for quality assurance
    • Sitemap generator: generate a Google compatible sitemap.xml file with automated optimization of the parameters
    • Licensing and ecommerce: preparation toward the v1.0 commercial release

    Getting it or upgrading

    Two ways to upgrade or get WASP:
    1. Get it NOW! Easiest/Recommended: Visit WebAnalyticsSolutionProfiler.com and click on the "Add to Firefox" green button.
    2. Wait some a long time...: If you already have WASP installed, Firefox will eventually trigger an automatic update and prompt you to confirm. But... addons.mozilla.org is getting an amazingly long time to approve extensions...
    And don't forget to visit the revamped WASP website!

    WASP v0.60: important message from Stéphane Hamel, creator of WASP!

    You are nearly 10,000 users of WASP and I receive great feedback and suggestions every day. I'm thankful to all the vendors, consulting agencies and practitioners around the world who are embracing the tool I started crafting over a year ago.

    WASP is still evolving everyday and although it is already very handy, there are some known bugs and limitations. However, due to high demand, I am making available only the Professional version of WASP to agencies, vendors and large sites owners.

    Purchasing now shows your interest for a product that will continue to evolve and be enhanced.

    If you are interested, check out the details on the WASP website.

    Stéphane Hamel

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Guy Kawasaki: "Plan B", immeria and WASP

    A couple of months ago I read Guy Kawasaki's "The Art of the Start". Did I learn a lot? Maybe not, but it comforted me in my choice of starting immeria and working on WASP the way I did..

    Yesterday, Guy posted "Plan B for fundraising", where he proposes an alternative to the traditional venture capital funding and startup approach. Basically, Plan B is exactly what I'm doing:
    1. Finance: I'm using my own savings and I do consulting and tutoring work to pay for bread & butter, but this slows down WASP development cycle. I received several offers, some of them very interesting, but at this point I prefer to stay focused and avoid new types of pressure.
    2. Be greedy: I cut down on expenses. I use my home office, and for attending conferences, I'm lucky enough to be a speaker, so at least it cuts down on some of the expenses. But I had to skip some conferences, like XChange, in order to focus on my work and cut down my expenses.
    3. Late product: yes, I'm later than I anticipated with WASP. I wanted to release my v1.0 much sooner, and users are becoming more impatient to get the unlocked version. The momentum is great, I need to be there! In the meantime, those who really, really are eager to use the full version of WASP can contact me and I will do the work as a consultant.
    4. Product praise & market growth: I posted "WASP Love!", and I get lots of great feedback through Kampyle and the support forum running on GetSatisfaction. My user base is now around 10,000, with nearly 50 new installs and 200,000 data points collected daily. Fellow bloggers and vendors alike are also talking about WASP.
    5. Growth options: When I left my previous employer, I had been working in parallel for about 6 months. My goal was to "be alone and have fun" for a year. So after XMas time, I will be hiring my team: business development, developers, analyst, support, admin, etc. (If ever you are interested, especially if living in the Quebec-city region, let me know!)
    And lastly, for those awaiting an update on WASP, stay tuned, I'm currently packaging it and doing the necessary final tests and site updates.