Nice to Meet You [Virtual Handshake]
Hello blogosphere, please let me introduce myself like any polite person should, my name is Tyrone Anderson, and I am a Senior Sales Engineer at Omniture supporting our Conversion division, specifically, Test&Target and Recommendations. I came to Omniture via the acquisition of former Offermatica where I worked on the Client Services team, helping leaders in online business and media change their philosophy regarding online marketing to one founded on the use of data to objectively measure and cater to the motivation, will, and needs of their visitors.
Don’t Just Identify the Problem, Fix it
This experience provided me direct insight into the standard challenges online marketers face today: expensive ad spends with no ceiling in sight, landing pages about as sticky as Kevlar, conversion funnels that have sprung a leak, and a boss who provides them with the tools i.e. an analytics platform, to identify all these problems, yet no tools to fix them. A marketer with no conversion tools is like a neurologist… they are fully capable of diagnosing the problem, however that problem is often terminal and nothing can be done to fix it… a somewhat bleak reality to face. However, let me say that there is hope.
Times are a-changin’
If we take a moment to reflect over the events of 2008 in America and across the world, this rapid change is fully evident. In America, the inherent social & political psychology of a majority of Americans has shifted in an instant and the economy is in a rare state of flux with a tangible impact upon how the world does business. In the commercial realm, companies are cutting budgets, scaling back on personnel, abandoning real estate, and in many cases, simply trying to “weather the storm.” However, this moment represents a key opportunity for organizations to closely analyze their business channels and firmly establish themselves in the upper echelon of their industry while their competitors struggle to stay afloat. “When there is blood in the streets, it’s time to buy,” and buying an optimization suite is certainly what any company hoping to lead in online business should do.
Start Practicing Your Touchdown Shuffle
It is time for companies invested in an online channel to adapt to the digital age and realize that they must quantify any of their major offsite advertising efforts, while simultaneously making those advertising dollars work hard for them onsite by providing a more relevant and personalized experience dictated by the observed behavior of their visitors. I have heard a lot of talk within our client base and from analysts saying that despite the macro-economy, companies are investing more in online ad spend. This, I believe, is a direct result of the fact that online ad spend and the effects of that spend can be measured. Yet, measurement only gets us to the 50-yard line, testing allows us to stand up in the middle of the office and do the touchdown shuffle.
Adaptation or Natural Selection
A gratuitous online ad spend is simply no longer an efficient way to attract converting traffic, and just like America is realizing that living beyond one’s means is not intelligent or sustainable, that bad habit must be corrected at some point either willingly, or naturally. Competition is becoming fierce in the online space and if an organization does not adapt and begin to make quantitative, data-driven decisions to personalize their landing pages, optimize their conversion funnel, and make it easier for visitors to do what they came to do, a competitor will. So how can a company adapt and embody savvy online marketing in 2009? Here are 3 essential steps:
Monitor & Segment Your Visitors
Identify & Quantify Potential Value
Run a Test or 2 or 3 or 4…
Start to pay attention to the behavior of your visitors and identify the key visitor segments driving the most value for your business. This may be done easily via an analytics package such as SiteCatalyst. If you do not have an analytics package in place, then you are far behind in the realm of online business and it is time to catch up. Use your analytics package to monitor site performance and study visitor segments which may be defined by source (search engine, paid, natural, affiliate, email, display ad), onsite behavior (purchase history, category affinity, site engagement), geo location, temporal values (time of day, day of week), environment (OS, browser type, resolution), etc.
After taking step 1, you will most likely observe that a high volume landing page on your site has a high bounce rate, a particular step in your conversion funnel has a serious abandonment issue, one of your ad spends is driving minimal conversions, or a certain segment of visitors is simply not reacting to the current marketing on your site. You can fix all these problems and more by testing & targeting. At this point it will be easy to project how much more money your company could make by creating a simple spreadsheet showing the value of an X% decrease in bounces on said landing page, a Y% lift in visitors moving from step A to step B in your conversion funnel, a cost savings of Z on this ad campaign, or an increase in the number of return visitors. These opportunities combined should represent a significant revenue opportunity.
General Conversion Lift Quantification
This must be done in order for any organization to truly understand the value that an optimization program presents for their business. No executive believes in potential value until that value is placed in the palm of their hand. Run different experiences on different servers, utilize your analytics package, or try a free optimization solution… do whatever you have to do, but test test test. It is our motto, as proven by our clients, that the more tests you run, the more value you will yield, it is that simple. Speaking of simple, perhaps in a later post we can discuss how easy it is to compliment your testing efforts with segmentation in order to drive a natural evolution into behavioral targeting… but no need to boil the ocean now.
Are you having problems getting optimization off the ground at your company? Do you have the tools but lack strategy? Are you a frustrated marketer spending your entire work day venting on Twitter? My blog posts are absolutely open-ended and I welcome all questions/comments. For all you techy Twitter fans, great news… Omniture Consulting just released a new integration service between SiteCatalyst and Twitter. For more information see www.omniture.com or Adam Greco’s post.