Incorporating Web Analytics for Greater ROI

A few columns back, I wrote about prioritizing the opportunities you identify within your Web analytics process to determine where to focus resources to get the most out of your site. I received a fair amount of feedback on it, much of it asking how that can be achieved with Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics, or HBX.

It got me thinking more about the silos that are often created around Web analytics data and the need to incorporate the data and findings to really get the most out of the insight.

There are a number of ways to strengthen your analysis and decision making when prioritizing opportunities to optimize a site. Once you identify your opportunities, there are two primary steps you must take to be able to select the best opportunity. First, estimate conversion lift. Second, determine the lift’s value to your business.

Estimate Conversion Lift

First, determine what type of lift you think you can get from your page or process optimization. We often do this by figuring out what the issues are with the current process. Once you understand the problems, you can begin to estimate a realistic optimization lift. In the beginning, this will be nothing more than a calculated guess. Over time, after more tests and optimization work, you’ll be able to understand realistic targets better and hone your ranges for each opportunity.

We look for a number of key areas when trying to better understand a given issue’s drivers. Depending on the issue at hand, we’ll look at different things, including:

  • Analytics. By considering the behavioral data, you can determine where people are going and where they drop out of the ideal process flow. You can also offer insight into what may be causing them to leave the process.

  • Attitudinal data. Through surveys and other methods, you can better understand the “why” behind the patterns of behavior you see.
  • Competitive data. Compare your site with your competitors’ by using competitive data from such companies as comScore and Nielsen. This is a great way to compare what you’re doing within a specific site section with what others in your industry, even other industries, are doing. You can learn from your competitors what truly works in the industry.
  • Web strategy, information architecture, and usability professionals. Work with others within your organization to share your insights and discuss possible problems that lead to the issue, as well as to solutions.

Combining these key areas’ insights can help you determine the issue as well as what size the potential upside is on the conversion. You’ll typically look at a range for the upside target that you think you can fall within.

Determine the Lift’s Value to the Business

Once you’ve estimated the potential upside, you must determine the lift’s value to the organization. You’ll need to identify the behavior’s value and the cost to optimize that specific opportunity.

Whether you want to sell more products on your site, generate more leads, or improve customer service effectiveness, you should be able to determine the value to the business. This isn’t always easy, but it’s imperative to help determine where to focus your efforts. Do you know the average profit from a sale on your site? Do you know the value of a lead to your organization? Often, you must work with other departments to determine the value of some of these behaviors. Trust me, it’s worth the effort. It will help you on all your optimization efforts going forward.

Once you know the behaviors’ value, determine the cost for optimizing each opportunity. Consider both internal and external costs to perform the optimization work.

When you know the behaviors’ value and the level of effort, you can overlay them with the potential conversion lift to determine the best ROI (define) and the greatest upside.

The analytics tools are great, but the data and ROI you can get are so much greater when the data is shared and used in conjunction with other insights and processes. Now that you’ve identified your best opportunities, it’s time to move into the testing process through either multivariate testing or A/B testing using a tool like Offermatica. But just like the analytics tools, an optimization tool is only as good as the opportunities you identify and the insights behind the solutions to those opportunities.

Meet Jason at Search Engine Strategies in New York City, February 27-March 2.

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