At Abraham Harrison, we’re exchanging ideas with NetVantage, a Michigan based SEM and analytics firm. Adam Henige will be guest blogging here from time to time. We’re honored to have him here.
If you are a marketer, you should inherently love data. In my own customer experiences (as well as my professional experiences) I’ve come to realize that many market research and data collection initiatives are focused on asking the question “Why?” This question is asked to understand the triggers that make people perform a given action which is then used to generate plans to capitalize on those insights by reaching more of that target market.
Unfortunately, traditional methodologies for obtaining this data can be time consuming and costly, and typically do not correlate well with the different shopping and/or brand experience of a company’s web presence. So if you’ve spent a lot of money on a website, you’re likely doing some basic tracking to understand where your traffic is coming from (particularly if you’re doing paid search or other forms of online advertising) and how well your site is converting visitors to customers. However, if your site’s not generating business, or if you would like it to generate more (and who doesn’t?), you need to be looking into ways to ask your customers “Why not?”
I recently began working with a client to provide paid search management, search engine optimization and web analytics for their recently launched web store. For the client it was their first venture into online retail, and they had no idea what to expect. Upon our initial engagement, I was extremely impressed with how intelligently they had approached this initiative. They chose an experienced developer who had put together a site which was aesthetically strong, had a logical navigational structure, and a robust content management system. Upon first glance it appeared I would simply have to drive some qualified traffic to the site and the cash register would start ringing.
Not long after the contract was signed we had our SEO and SEM initiatives underway. Traffic increased by over 500%, average page views and time on site were strong for visitors reaching the site directly as well as through organic and paid search. We had only one problem…no one was buying. The question, of course, was “why not?”
I began scouring the data available to me. All of the baseline website health metrics, aside from sales, looked good. So what was the issue? The answer was found in a scenario analysis of the site’s shopping cart system. Using most web analytics software these days allows the administrator to set up scenarios, or funnels, of defined steps users take through a process whether it be through a series of product pages or the steps to purchase through a shopping cart.
In this instance, there were six pages through the purchase process from adding a product to the shopping cart to the final step which was an order confirmation. When we took a look at the funnel, we saw that a large percentage of visitors were successfully getting through the first three steps, but when users got to the billing information page, 100 percent of users were exiting. So we quickly jumped into the purchase process on the site and when we reached the billing information page, we put ourselves in the users’ shoes, and found the data had led us to the reason users were not buying. At this exact step users were being asked to input their billing info after they had already input their shipping information, with no ability to mirror that information (a simple radio button saying “check here if the same as shipping address” would have sufficed). This was redundant and annoyed users enough to make them not purchase despite the fact that they were halfway through the buying process. Immediately after we fixed that step in the shopping cart, sales started steadily increasing and over time the funnel has continued to improve dramatically.
So in this instance, we were able to utilize web analytics to take data and determine the answer to “Why not?” However, in sites that have more ambiguous goals, it can sometimes be hard to statistically measure if users are having successful visits. In these cases, you may literally need to ask the question of visitors on your site. Companies like Foresee Results have had great success instituting in site surveys to gauge customer reaction and generate a constant flow of feedback (you will run into this on sites like bestbuy.com and many others) for a broad array of organizations. These solutions have been well received by clients, but in many instances, a much less intensive (read: free) solution can provide enough information to gauge your website’s pulse, and its ability to ask your visitors “Why not?”
One such solution I have used in the past is iperceptions’ 4Q, an in site survey tool that allows you to gather qualitative data to supplement your quantitative analytics data and help you answer some nagging questions about your site’s performance. The tool itself is very easy to install, and once installed, provides a handful of customization tools to select the frequency of visitors who will be presented with the option to take the survey, select alternate answer sets, etc. The 4Q survey asks users five questions, asking them to rate their experience, define the purpose of their visit, whether they were able to complete that purpose, what they value most about the website, and whether or not they were able to complete the purpose of their visit (here’s where you’ll find your “Why not?”).
At Netvantage we constantly trumpet the Internet’s ability to generate accountable marketing decisions, and this is a prime example of what we mean. Through the fluid ability to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data, you can ask non-converting prospects “Why not?” With this information you can continuously optimize your site and your online marketing efforts to break down those barriers and convert more prospects into loyal customers.
Apparently there was just a one day problem over at Sterling Cooper. It seems the office is back to normal and every one at home is safe.
I’ve been seeing Don Draper, Peggy Olson, and Joan Holloway about. A one day leave from the office. Paul Kinsey is back from working on another office for a few hours. Sal Romano, who never left us, is happy to have his co-workers back.
Betty Draper is safe at home and her neighbor Francine Hanson introduced herself to me today.
Oh, and Bobbie Barrett is still hot to trot as well.
This is a good development in the world of advertising.