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FutureNow Article
Wednesday, Jun. 6, 2007

Web Marketing and Analytics: Process, Talent & Tools

By Bryan Eisenberg
June 6th, 2007

Paint by Number or by TalentEric Peterson recently revised Avinash’s 10/90 rule of web analytics to the 10/20/70 Rule for Achievable Web Analytics Success. I agree with both that the key to value and success in web analytics is actually taking action on the data. You don’t get ROI for web analytics by just distributing reports; you actually have to do something with the data

Most people will agree that you need three things to extract value from web analytics:

1. You must have clean, not accurate (that will always be a challenge), data.
2. You must have a talented person who can convert that data and into insight.
3. You must have a talented person who can absorb that insight and act on it..

And you’ll need to follow this process over and over again to get continuous improvement. This is what everybody agrees to be the formula. The truth is that this ONLY works when you have all 3 ingredients.

It’s not easy to find all three, right? There are only a few handfuls of companies that have managed to find all the talent. I wonder how long they can manage to retain it. As Anil points out, there are plenty of people looking to hire these people away from you.

Anyone who’s been in business long enough knows it’s virtually impossible to scale talent significantly. The secret in every industry category is process, people, then tools. Why do so many companies do this in reverse? They buy the tools or tactic du jour (a shiny object problem), then they try to hire someone (that person will “know”) and they never get far enough to actually develop process or get value (the tool didn’t work out).

Think of web analytics as accounting for the Web. Most companies would go out of business (or be unhappily popular with the IRS) if they looked for talent and disregarded standard accounting processes. When everyone is trained in the right process, you can always try and find people who are more talented in accounting. If you can’t find your own accounting genius, then at least you can substitute with someone familiar with the process to get the job done–even if it’s not very creative. Ideally, all your processes should be designed to be utilized by those with less talent, so they can scale.

The reason we at Future Now developed Persuasion Architecture™ (pdf)–a Six Sigma-like process that provides blueprints to plan, measure, and improve your online sales and marketing–is because after years of working with clients optimizing their sites with web analytics and A/B & multivariate testing tools, we realized clients would hit a plateau where they could not break through the optimization brick wall. It didn’t matter if they were retail, B2B, B2C, media or service organizations. They all suffered the same fate.

The main reason for this fate is not because they didn’t have the tools or the talent, but because they didn’t have processes in place to make sure that every bit of marketing they wanted to measure was planned and implemented with measurement in mind. They needed to sort out “fine” signal from noise. When the signal was loud and clear, the low hanging fruit of optimization, it was easier to detect. But without a process to define what signal actually means up-front, it becomes increasingly difficult to listen for it.

Eric Peterson was the first to write about Persuasion Architecture in a book called Web Analytics Demystified. And I’m continuously grateful to Jim Sterne for asking us to keep trying to explain it to his audiences at the Emetrics Summits. Although we haven’t always done the best job explaining it, Persuasion Architecture solves this critical “process, people, tools” dilemma.

I’ve written volumes on Persuasion Architecture; but because it’s made up of so many disciplines, people have a hard time grasping it without actually seeing it. I’m going to summarize the process again:

  • People do things for their own reasons. So, first clarify what makes different kinds of people click. This is segmentation based on psychographics and linguistic preferences, since that is how people actually navigate and make decisions on the web. (Uncover your Personas)
  • Model a blueprint of those clicks to plan the experience that helps your Personas buy the way they want to. This is a click-based experience model, unlike the wireframes people use, but more similar to the way developers plan interaction states in software.
  • Build your website from that model which defines the responsibilities of every word, pixel and click. This is where it’s valuable to have talented marketing and creative staff or resources. Could you go to your site’s homepage now, click on any link and then tell me why any phrase, link or image exists? Which market segment should it appeal to? What action do you hope people in that segment will take after reading those words, seeing that image or clicking that hyperlink?
  • Once every business decision and click is documented in the model, development times can decrease by over 30%. You’ll recover more than the time spent by reducing the number of iterations copywriters, designers and developers go through in more traditional website design.
  • Learn from every click you’ve modeled to see if your Personas click as you expected (the virtually neglected but real value of web analytics).
  • If the clicks aren’t what you expected, continuously improve what to click and what the clicks say. You do this by first testing your execution (try variations of the same headlines, copy or images to accomplish the same objectives you specified in the model in different styles or formats); if you try several variations and you don’t move the needle, you should re-examine the assumptions that went into defining that particular piece of the overall objective.

Like accounting, it’s deliberate, and less exciting creatively, but anyone can do it. And anyone can then use web analytics to continuously improve their web marketing. Isn’t that what companies are looking for?

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Comments (18)

  1. My favourite part of this article Bryan was:

    Think of web analytics as accounting for the Web. Most companies would go out of business (or be unhappily popular with the IRS) if they looked for talent and disregarded standard accounting processes. When everyone is….

    Brilliantly captured. I concur completely.

    -Avinash.

  2. [...] Success depends on process, people/talent then tools. [...]

  3. Bryan!
    Amazing post! i’ve always been reading your posts. This sure stands apart.
    Thanks for sharing the persuasion architecture.

    Anil Umachigi

  4. Analytics Fights For The Soul of Online Marketing…

    Web Analytics is struggling for the soul of online marketing. At least it should be. There is far too much time and money spent badly, far too many users subjected to horrible web experiences, and far too many misplaced priorities……

  5. Hi Bryan,

    I could not agree more and for some reason I ended up doing a presentation on the matter in Amsterdam before reading this post – arrgh! (..as in – you have a superb way of presenting it) :-)

    I definitely believe AND experience (me being a Vendor) that a lot of organisations start out with the TOOL. However; we have seen lately that organisations, at least to some extent, have prepared and defined KPI’s beforehand and use that as part of their tool selection process. I am not saying this is where the industry should be, but I actually think we are moving in the right direction.

    Great post!!

    (which I linked back to from my presentation)

    Cheers
    Dennis

    Dennis R. Mortensen, COO at IndexTools
    My Web Analytics Blog

  6. [...] Eisenberg, of FutureNow, has written an article called Web Marketing and Analytics: Process, Talent & Tools that raises several points about the practical, necessary work to be done in persuasive, user [...]

  7. Web analytics Process and Persuasion Architecture…

    Persuasion Architecture™ – a Six Sigma-like process…

  8. [...] Move away from the idea that you need tools, talent, then process, to process, people (talented or not), then tools. The process must be focused on business optimization or in other ways how you you make more [...]

  9. [...] Web Marketing and Analytics: Process, Talent & Tools [...]

  10. Question;

    Discuss the development of an effective marketing communication mix that can be used to reach a company’s targeted customer. Show with examples.
    Hints:

    a) Advertising
    b) Sales Promotion
    c) Public Relations
    d) Personal Selling
    e) Direct Marketing
    f) Referencing, presentation and applications

  11. [...] across a few references of Six Sigma principles being applied to online marketing. Avinash & the Eisenberg’s have both written about applying six sigma principles to web analytics and online marketing so [...]

  12. [...] Has Bryan given up on Web Marketing and Analytics: Process, Talent & Tools? [...]

  13. [...] Has Bryan given up on Web Marketing and Analytics: Process, Talent & Tools? [...]

  14. I agree, so much money is spent on analytics software and not enough on consultants to analyze and take actions based on the data. You might be better of employing a talented analyst and using a free tool like Google Analytics.

  15. Which is the best tools you using to analytics your marketing plan, progress ?

  16. I definitely believe AND experience (me being a Vendor) that a lot of organisations start out with the TOOL. However; we have seen lately that organisations, at least to some extent…

  17. The best tool for analytics website is Google Analytics.

  18. steps 1-3 are usually the principals of business

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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