Thursday, March 17, 2011

Digital Asset ROI for the Entire IT Enterprise - Analytics Aren't Just For Websites

The use of website analytics and reporting software isn’t new to most website owners. Tracking and analyzing the usage of your website by people and search engine ‘bots are obviously essential activities for validating your investment. Typical metrics tracked include number of visits by various user types, number of downloads or access to particular content, and navigation routes most commonly taken by visitors to, through, and out of your site. These metrics, perhaps aggregated into meaningful reports (i.e. overall unique visits per month), tell you how your site is performing. But are these reports evaluated for the impact or opportunities they reveal with respect to your entire IT budget? In other words, do your web analytic reports support “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs) for your entire IT Investment portfolio, not just the website maintenance budget?

If your answer to this is “no”, your overall organizational IT investment may not be properly balanced to deliver the maximum ROI from your website, resulting in a lot of money left on the table and accumulation of very real business risk.

Let’s say your analytics show a dramatic increase in conversions by users completing a particular website form and uploading the required attachments. This is good news: the marketing and SEO folks have done their job, and more users are signing up and paying for the services offered. Plus, the analytics indicate that users are spending a lot more time before and after the conversion on your site – i.e. the “bounce rates” are getting lower (or “dwell” times are getting higher) for the pages that support the conversions. Revenues are growing, feedback is good, a bit of positive press and “earned media” (i.e. positive social commentary) is generated. All is good.

What are the KPIs here? Typical website managers, translating system utilization metrics to immediate business value indicators, might categorize their metrics as supporting goals and KPIs like:

1. Higher Conversions per User (i.e. our “stickiness” campaign is working, with value perceived in upsells, cross-sells, good recurring value in subscriptions);

2. Lower Conversion Abandonment (i.e. we’re making it easier to close the sale, once the decision to buy is made); and

3. Lower Cost per Conversion – this is an indicator that is based on specific, additional cost factors (beyond fixed expenses, like an ad network buy) incurred to drive particular kinds of traffic and conversions.

Typical response to these KPIs usually begins and ends with website investment. For example, if KPI (1) is trending low, there probably needs to be more compelling opportunities for cross-sells on the landing pages, or simply better “combined” value described for multiple products. If KPI (2) is trending higher, your online form or payment gateway is either due for redesign, or there’s a serious bug in the application. Continue reading more here about Digital Asset Enterprise ROI at Navigation Arts.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Washington DC Social Media Outlook 2011 - Potomac TechWire Summary

Social Media prognostications are always fun to consider, and try (if there’s a Beta version) – but today’s Potomac TechWire "Social Media Outlook 2011" breakfast was all business, with true ROI. As a Rohit Bhargava put it, “what’s the ROI of attending this meeting?” It’s the “social” ROI, vs. the “media” ROI – and it’s actually not that hard to categorize and track.

The general consensus by presenters and the panel boiled down to a few key topics for businesses to consider, learn more about, and take action upon – here’s a few important ones.

(1) It’s true that there’s a tremendous actual and potential benefit for businesses in utilizing the “2 ½” major social media platforms, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But it’s equally true, that there’s likely equivalent benefit available in leveraging other social media channels and services that are similar to or actually integrated with “the mothership”. For example, using Quora for some knowledge research by audience segment, and the associated expansion of knowledge presence (on the Web) that provoking thoughtful Q & A might bring. Signing in to Quora with one’s Twitter or Facebook ID, automatically kicks off some relationship networking and associations that significant increase exposure on Quora.

(2) Organizations really need to better understand and shape their online dialogue according to purpose, audience, originating department (i.e. area of the company) and with appropriate leverage of “social currency”. For example, B2B target customers probably wouldn’t be interested in or motivated to “like” a product or service article posted on the corporate blog by the interactive marketing team, but they probably would be interested in “following” a hashtag-categorized commentary on Twitter that’s associated with a product implementation case study, moderated by a Tweeter from the engineering department.

(3) While it’s extremely important to have some appropriately-designed and resourced presence on the majors (i.e. FB/TW/LI), it’s equally important to have a firm understanding and management of the “hub” of your corporate digital media activities. At the end of the day, companies and services like Twitter and Google aren’t yours; they own the data, and they may change or fail for reasons you don’t control. As well, without a “hub and spoke” mentality to distributing and monitoring digital media and conversation, economies of scale are lost across the whole lifecyle – from content authoring, to optimization, to application of policies and rules, to tagging, to distributing, to analyzing…

It’s a wise strategy to consider building a corporate digital presence “hub” with digital engagement technologies that you own and maintain (like a very dynamic and integrated Blog), from which your categorized and optimized digital conversations and assets are distributed, syndicated, and supported (from a feedback, analytics and quality perspective). In other words, your Facebook page shouldn’t be your primary corporate hub and branding vehicle.

By far the best quote came from Addie Connor of the Washington Post’s “SocialCode” Facebook agency – (in response to a CFO’s concern about whether “buying” Fans was fiscally responsible) “with the right ROI, you’ll buy fans all day long”.

Thanks to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, and BIA Kelsey for sponsoring this event.