Web Analytics: Getting Marketers to Act

Why is it so hard to get marketers to test things and act on analytics data?

This was the theme of the feedback for my recent column, “Web Analytics: Forecasting the Impact of Change.” It focuses on forecasting the business impact of changes you make to your Web site, campaigns, or landing pages. It also mentions much of the insight gathered through behavioral, attitudinal, and competitive data can help determine where to focus efforts, as well as what sort of lift you might expect.

I had an interesting conversation with Raquel Hirsch from Hirsch Strategies about some of the things she sees and hears in the marketplace relating to that column. She said two great things that I want to share with you. First:

How do you explain the reluctance of marketers to test? I find this so very frustrating! They will spend millions on advertising but cringe at the thought of landing page or home page optimization.

I’ve heard this same frustration from others and experienced it myself. Companies throw all sorts of money on PPC (define) and online advertising campaigns and often point them to landing pages and sites that under-perform.

A few months back, I wrote about allocating 5 percent of your overall advertising budget (online, or on- and offline) to optimize your site to achieve a higher conversion rate and thus, ROI (define), on the advertising spend. Companies soon realize the 5 percent pays for itself very quickly and increases the ROI on the other 95 percent they’re spending. This often helps them truly understand campaigns’ differing behaviors. It also provides insight on the different conversion triggers per campaign and on how to allocate the other 95 percent of the budget to improve ROI.

The key is to conduct a few tests that demonstrate the value of optimizing a landing page or another key campaign page. Once you can demonstrate how a small test can move the dial, you can begin to extend that work to other site areas.

Hirsch’s second comment was a little more direct:

In my experience, marketers get what they deserve. They focus on the flashy/creative stuff and not on the business model, and then get upset that they get no respect at the C-suite.

This is a common problem. And to make things more challenging, C-level execs are becoming more educated about the Web’s possibilities. Those running the Web channel are going to come under increasing pressure to perform and constantly tune the Web channel to deliver results. We’ve seen this trend over the past 18 months, and it seems to be picking up speed.

Marketers are finally starting to get it. They’re beginning to see this needs to be a part of a Web strategy. We’re now seeing specific line items in budgets and RFPs (define) for ongoing site optimization. But that number’s still relatively low.

Hirsch’s frustrations are well founded and quite common among people in the Web strategy, analytics, and optimization space. The good news is attitudes are changing as more people start to see the power in testing.

Meet Jason at Search Engine Strategies in San Jose, August 7-10, 2006, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

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