As a gastronome (or “gastrognome” since I’m less than 5′ 8″ tall), I love anything related to food. That’s why I was excited to speak with the folks at the French Culinary Institute (FCI) to hear what’s new since they migrated from HBX to the SiteCatalyst platform. I chatted with Raina Bien, Associate Director of Marketing for FCI, part of a family of companies which also includes the Italian Culinary Academy and the International Culinary Center.

“Honestly, we didn’t have much in the way of expectations for the migration,” said Raina. “Ours is a small staff, and while Web data is important to us, our reporting was pretty basic with HBX, mostly just traffic and page views. We weren’t even tracking paid and natural search.” I guess you could say that for French Culinary Institute, Web Analytics were on the back burner. Then, an agency with whom FCI works recommended they take advantage of our program to move onto SiteCatalyst, citing its advanced functionality and integration with the Omniture Suite. They called Omniture SiteCatalyst “the Lamborghini of Web Analytics programs.”

“Our business is largely based around driving leads more effectively and our HBX implementation simply didn’t allow us to do that,” Raina told me. So, while FCI was starting to tag internal promotions, a discussion ensued about a call-to-action that was underperforming. Their Omniture Implementation Consultant was able to show them that they were correct, it wasn’t very effective at driving leads, and he suggested a more prominent, salient placement elsewhere on the page.

Their Consultant also pointed out how important the connection is between a callout and its landing page. The wording in the callout needs to match with verbiage on the lead form. Because the “Get Your Free Information Kit” tile linked to a relevant landing page, it outperformed the callout in the top nav by 8:1 in leads submitted! It has since become a fixture on the FCI homepage. Now FCI can track leads in granular detail. Not only can they tell what keywords and search engines are driving leads, but also can begin to assess the impact that page placement and graphic treatment have on lead conversion. “This is huge for us because now we can allocate our marketing budget according to lead quality,” Raina said.

Another relatively new element to the FCI Web site was online video. As mentioned in my last post, videos can be costly to produce, so FCI wanted to see what they were getting out of their investment. Enter Participation Metrics, one of my favorite constructs of SiteCatalyst, to measure a page or asset’s influence. By running a Videos report showing Participation, FCI can see how many Views, Leads, and Applications each video drives.

“Online applications were also a key area in which we had no good data,” Raina told me. “We needed to understand where in the application process people were bailing out and try to keep them on the path.” There are a few ways to accomplish this in SiteCatalyst, but using a Funnel report showing key Events tells the story succinctly. Now they can track fallout within the process as well as how it trends over time as shown in the screen capture below.

Combined with SiteCatalyst Pathing reports, FCI is able to see where in their multi-step applications users are bailing out; as well as where they’re going and if they return to the application process or not. Perhaps the most appreciated functionality of all within SiteCatalyst is the tool’s ability to disseminate data. Previously, FCI had a resource cutting-and-pasting reports from HBX into Excel for distribution throughout the company. Now, using SiteCatalyst, key stakeholders can get automated reports delivered to them on a recurring schedule as part of a lights-out process. Set it and forget it. Gotta love that. And you have to admire how FCI worked with my team to uplevel their Web Analytics program. They introduced sound, actionable and heretofore unrealized data points that help them run their business more efficiently. Just a little more food for thought if you’re considering the switch from HBX to SiteCatalyst.