Saturday, December 29, 2007

Web site visitors vs. turnover

I got excellent data from one of our customers. It's quite obvious that I can't tell you which company it is, atleast at the moment. They do some of direct sales, but mostly their turnover comes from resellers. The CEO of the company looked at their web site visitors and turnover. As you can see below, there are only couple of exceptional months (May and August), and most of the year visitor and turnover curves follow each other.

If this is true, we want more visitors to website to get more sales, right? And we would like to measure couple of things, so we can prove it by numbers. The company is doing different kind of marketing activities constantly, so here's suggestions what we could measure:
  1. Off-line sales by printable special offer coupons
  2. How much the next marketing campaign costs?
  3. How many new visitors they get from the campaign?
  4. How much they are getting new income from the campaign?
  5. What is the cost per action (CPA) or cost per order (CPO)?
  6. What is the profit margin?
  7. What is the return on ad spend (ROAS)?
  8. What is the return on investment (ROI)?
It's really challenging to get exact sales figures when you're selling off-line and mostly through your resellers. People can convert without printing any coupons and they can convert by phone or email. It's hard to measure how your marketing works, if you're not having separate domains, phone numbers or email addresses for each campaign. But it's better to do the estimation roughly than doing it at all. That is marketing optimization. What do you think, can we prove the formula (web site visitors generate turnover)? And finally, a good quote from the CEO:
It's very important to have a good web analytics system in place, so marketers can find out their return on investment. Without this, importance of the company website may seem to be far less than it actually is.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What's the level of our privacy?

I finally got a profile into Facebook. And we established unformal closed group for Navia CMS users. Every friend I have in Facebook can see wether I'm online and my status, if given. We even have these Skype-buttons at Naviatech's site, so that customers and partners could see if we're "away" having lunch or "off-line" in a meeting. Purpose of this is to avoid unneccessary phone calls, but I have to admit that it may increase the amount of e-mails received. I haven't measure it though. : )

Professional web analysts want to measure everything, of course. Eric Peterson have this awesome formula for visitor engagement metric. And for example, if I sign in to Amazon.com, it remembers what I have bought and recommends other products according to my own or my colleagues shopping cart behaviour. This is ok, we want people to convert and offer them better service.

There is atleast one advertising agency in Helsinki promoting their newsletter tool which reports recipients who opened the message. Sales team can have that information immediately to work with. One consultant was asking us how to track down and follow visits after login in personal level? Yes, we could do that and we have the technology, but...for what? I have talked about privacy with several web analytics professionals and lately also with an attourney in legal firm Castrén & Snellman. Unfortunately there is no specific privacy law in Finland at the moment. But, if you follow up visits in personal level or who opened your newsletter and when, you should have asked a permission from people for that.

My recommandation is that you can get the data and use it anonymously in more general level. You have to measure effectiveness of the newsletters and how many people clicks links in the message and more how many people convert to your ultimate goal. But if you don't have recipient's or visitor's permission, don't annoy people to call them and try to sell something they might not be interested in the first place. Instead, try to plan and execute your campaigns so that you could get maximum profit out of if, whithout pissing your potential customers off. There's also a possibility to get a legal action too. I think that as a marketers, we have to be smart and polite, so let the people decide how close they want us to get...

Please tell me your opinion and send comments on this one.

Season Greetings for Everyone!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How to raise organic search clickthrough

Getting your site on top of the search results is not enough. You can easily do some search engine optimization of your own, by stuffing couple of keywords to page's title. But beware, your search engine result must be also appealing, so the searcher will click the link leading to your site. Spamming the keyword may be efficient but it's not pretty to read and heavily used maybe also unethical. Instead, you should think search results as paid advertisements like Google Adwords. According to the study of Cornell University
searchers focus on:
  • Title: 30 %
  • Snippet: 43 % *
  • URL: 21 %
  • Other: 5 % (cached, similar pages)
If you want more visitors to your site, the snippet and title must have interesting copy text. And if you want those visitors to convert, you should include some call to action too. The problem is that you can't measure organic search clickthroug rate because you don't know how may times your site is displayd in search results. But you can measure visitors coming in your site with certain keyword and you can do some multivariate testing. And of course, ultimately you will measure and try to raise your web site conversions.

It's propably easy to change (with CMS) your landing pages' titles and body text, right? And the system creates nice, short and understandabe URLs which you don't have to worry about. Now you just have think about your search result as your short online ad. For example, if you're selling christmas trees either online or off-line, your title might be something like this: "Christmas trees - check out our special christmas tree offer". Google will show 65 characters from the title, so you have to remember that. And the start of your body text could be something like this: "Order your christmas tree well before holidays and get our special christmas tree offer. Order online and get a free christmas tree delivery or print your coupon to receive special chistmas tree offer in our store.

I hope you got the idea. With Adwords you can't use so many characters, so it's little easier to think copy text for search engines. And in my opinion, you should use same campaign idea and message both online (banners, newsletters, paid and organic search) and off-line marketing activities (radio, newspaper etc.). But somehow you should be able to measure those off-line marketing tricks, so you could evaluate your the whole marketing mix and what is the most profitable channel for your business.

* Snippet = the short paragraph that a search engine generates from page's body text or page discription (meta data) under the title to display the relevant information on the page for the query.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

From Web Analytics to Business Intelligence

Jonas Nielsen from Omniture had a good presentation at Web Analytics Wednesday in Helsinki this week. Basicly his message was that web analytics is not enough. To be honest, and thinking little bit ahead, I have to agree. But let's take two steps back and start with the basic definitions which I, by the way, haven't done yet.
WAA's official definition: "Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage."
Wikipedia says it differently: "Web analytics is the study of the behaviour of website visitors."
We have plenty to do and learn with the web analytics itself. According to Forrester Research 46 % says that taking action from the data is the top challenge in web analytics. Let's take one example: our company's conversion rate (contact requests) was 0,42 % in October. Is it good or bad? Well, it depends. In September the figure was 0,59 % and in August it was 0,62 %, so the big question is: what should we do about it? And do we need more customer leads at the moment? That's something what we have to look from our project management system - or recall the company's strategy.

We could get more visitors by activating a Google's ad campaign or by sending an attractive newsletter. As I said earlier, we'll promote Google Analytics for those customers which don't have any web analytics system in place. So, we have to form different kind of groups into E-mailer module which is a part of our CMS. Those companies (actually people) which are using Index Tools system, those companies which are already using Analytics and those who are using nothing. We have to collect data from the source code of customer sites (to find the possible tracking code) and compare it to our customer and e-mail lists.

After forming different kind of groups, based on their earlier customer (or visitor) behavior, we can send more customized newsletters to these people and get them convert more likely. Of course, we have to measure and learn how these recipients react on our message. And that, my friend, is web analytics and also simple business intelligence case. Some day in the future, we will have a solution where all these brilliant systems (CRM, web analytics, CMS, financial and project management) are integrated and the really usefull business information is in one place.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Advertising Professional certification and a jackpot

Sorry for being away for a while. I had a good reason as our second daughter was birth 26th of October at 16.39. And the key metrics of course: 57 minutes from home to the birth, 3410 grams and 50 centimeters. Earlier that week I had a good chance to study with Google Adwords Learning Center. I did the Advertising Professional test too and made it through by 81,2 % of correct answers (75 % needed). Now I'm officially Google certified Advertising Professional. Here's some experiences about studying and the test.
  • you can study with your own speed and whenever you have a chance, preferably in a peaceful place
  • you can study different lessions in order or jump to any section you are interested in
  • mostly it's about how Google Adwords works, but
  • there's also good stuff about internet marketing in general
  • there's a section for using the Google Analytics too
  • you can test your knowlegde with quiz in the end of every lession or ultimately do the certification test
  • you can adapt some of the information for Search Engine Optimization
Most of all, I like the return on investment part. I just keep on praising about how efficient and measurable internet marketing activities can be. By the way, it took me about 14 hours to study and take the certification test. The test costed $50 and it included 117 multiple choice questions which should be answered in 90 minutes.

It seems that we'll have raising amount of vacancies in Finland, as people are realizing how web analytics can actually have positive affect on almost anyone's business. For now, I have had two job offers in one year from web analytics/SEO consultant firms. I believe that we will have these new jobs especially in media segment. Newspapers, magazines etc. are investing big time to developing their web services to get and involve more customers as consumption of media is changing rapidly. Next week we will have Web Analytics Wednesday in Helsinki, hope to give you a some kind of report from there.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How search engines rank your site

Back to basic theme. By now you may have ambitious goals in your mind and you know how to measure conversions. Your ex-SEO consultant hasn't tell you all the search engine secrets and you want to raise your own awereness. Good, that's the way things go, as I have talked with several directors lately. Although search engines won't ever reveal their search algorithm, it's not hard to understand the basics of how they rank your site, or actually how they rank different pages of your site.

I give you two explanations and advice how to test these with your own site, just to simplify little bit the principles of how search engines work:

  1. Every page has so called off-page factors. They are query-independent factors, so the keyword or content of the page doesn't matter...yet. Every page have starting points by how popular they are. This means how many links there are from different sites to your site and how qualified links these are. Search engines also value the most visited and updated pages.

    Type into Google a search - link:www.yoursite.com - and you'll get the result of how many links you have to your frontpage. By searching with - link:www.naviatech.fi - I found out that we have 62 links total, 48 of them as outbound and 14 internal links. And that's how some a site can be on top of the search results even they don't have single keyword in their site. Of course you can change the URL in search to find out another page's link popularity.

  2. And now, the most crucial thing, the query factors. Every page has some content and search engines are trying to decide what pages are the most relevant for different kind of searches. We try to sell our content management system, it would be great to know which page is most relevant for search as "CMS" at the moment. Type into Google a search - keyword site:www.yoursite.com - and you'll get the best page to match the selected keyword.

    By searching with - cms site:www.naviatech.fi - I found out that our page www.naviatech.fi/cms is the second result, mostly becase the first result has more links (I compared these two pages with earlier link search). When you pick out the right page for right keyword (I'll get back on this one), you have to look about content of that page. Here's a list of the most relevant things search engines look for:
    • Page titles - your keyword should be first in line and the title should include some call to action
    • URL - your URL should be www.yoursite.com/keyword not like www.yoursite.com/page.php?page_id=9
    • Navigation - you should have (sub) navigation in text format and keywords in there
    • Headings - you should have your keyword in different headings
    • Pictures - if you have pictures in the page related to keyword, they should be named as keyword.jpg and they should have alternative text as keyword etc...
    • Body text - you shoud have your keyword more enough (look out spamming the keyword too much)
Here is just a quick review about how search engines give credit to your site and rank them either well or badly. And it all depends on how much qualified traffic (potential customers searching with the right keyword) you want to generate to your site. If you want to do this search engine optimization by yourself, look out for unethical techniques and consult a professional if needed.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Open mind creates great value and new innovations

Openmind and Mindtrek seminars this week at Tampere got me thinking again. I started this blog about four months ago with open mind and purpose to be open and share information. I have had almost 500 visitors from 15 different counties with minimum marketing efforts. Most of the traffic (80 %) comes from Finland, but there are also visitors from the rest of the Europe and US. The good news is that 43 % of visitors are returning and this is just a start.

I have received very good comments and positive feedback. I would like to encourage my dear (finnish) readerds to comment and ask questions. You can also send me hot topics and I'll reveal my honest thoughts. Regardless of my starting reasons, I have learned a lot and most of the comments got me thinking. Openess will create great value and start new innovations!

I would like to hear your thoughts about this? Or do you find big advantages or competitive edge being introverted? If you think how open source has changed especially the software business, it's very hard to defend proprietary software vendors. Developing with open source is faster, easier and usually cheaper. It allows you re-engineering and avoiding the vendor lock-in.

While thinking about our company's open source software strategy, I try to use openess as a one of the key values of our services. Practically it means very open minded consulting with search engine optimization and web analytics, basicly everything I know about it. I hope we can give customers great value by sharing this information. I really believe that we'll start new innovations and I hope we have credits also in the future.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Web analytics is not easy - is it worth it?

Web Analytics Tuesday in Stockholm
Finally someone said it. It was Mr. Eric T. Peterson this week's Web Analytics Tuesday in Stockholm. He also claimed that Europe is 1-2 years behind America in web analytics. I think we have plenty of work raising general awareness, although we have couple of very good cases to be proud of. I hope to get our success stories published here some day.

It's also a fact that only 30 % of our customers have some kind of web analytics system installed (either Google Analytics or IndexTools). Naviatech will campaign for the Web Analytics Wednesday and web analytics systems in the near future. Eric presented his RAMP model, which includes basicly things you need to think about if you're trying to get most out of web analytics:
  1. Resources. Systems don't work by themselves. First you need people to get software installed, then you need people to use them. It's quite reasonable to buy consulting services or outsource parts of web analytics from the start, before hiring people in-house. It takes us about a half an hour to install web analytics system into our Navia CMS. Would you like to start collecting data from your website now?

  2. Analysis. All right, you have new web analytics system which gives you bunch of cool charts and numbers. "We had 10,000 visitors last month and 1,5 % of them requested for a contact. Is that good or bad?" Well, it depends - what are your goals? You need to define your key performance indicators (KPI's), you have to measure them and the most important: you need to make analysis including suggestions for action.

  3. Multivariate testing. Now you're brave enough to believe that consultant's suggestion and you're ready to try something new. You can do a A/B test with your great web analytics system or you can do a live test straight to your website. Do just one change at a time, remember to measure and go back to that analysis stage.

  4. Process. You should get web analytics in your company's processes. Unfortunately all companies don't have described and well-though processes, but if you do have, try to get web analytics involved everytime you redesign your site or provide marketing activities. In fact, web analytics may even change your processes.
And this is not easy. And all this will make you spend money, so why bother after all? Because web anaytics will change your business:
  • it will give you new strategic point of views
  • it will change your processes
  • it will simply boost your sales
  • it will make your marketing more effective
And all this, your web analytics effort can be measured by return on investment (ROI). But are you crazy enough to try it step by step?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

To grow or not to grow?

Earlier this week I had a chance to listen and talk with Mr. Mårten Mickos in Helsinki. He presented a very good question, a question which I often bounce with customers: "What's your company's purpose, are you going to grow or make a profit?". More and more I spend time with customers thinking about how search engine marketing and websites can help finding the new customers and making the sales. It's easy to agree when Mårten said: "The market is online. The production force is online. Globally."

Especially if you're in the software business, as we are. Mårten replied my question and said that CMS markets are very fragmented, mostly because Content Management Systems are not mission critical software in the companies. I thought about it for a while and now I must partly disagree. Here's couple of points why:
  • with help of search engine marketing websites are lead generators 24/7
  • some companies sell their products or services online 24/7
  • websites may have discussion forums handled by CMS
  • content management systems may be integrated to ERP or CRM systems
  • companies may use extranet-services for their resellers worldwide
  • intranet solutions may be handled by CMS and they may be very crucial for day-to-day work
For me and my company's sake, I just hope that internet marketing is becoming more and more business and mission critical in the near future. And I hope we'll soon have very good case studies about growth to show off even here. Next week I'll give a report from Stockholm's Web Analytics Tuesday.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One word editing can make a big difference

My company has a customer company called Klikcard, which business idea is to sell gift vouchers of different kind of vendors through their website. For me, as I'm a lazy ass gift shopper, this has been a very excellent idea from the start. We have used Google Analytics for counting conversions and analyzing the web-sales process.

When I was in my summer vacation, my client studied the process very carefully. Earlier we found out that too many people abandoned the shopping cart in the first stage. We made a small change and just for one word. But the word seemed to be very important. In the shopping cart we changed "preview" to "sample" (in Finnish language the difference is not so obvious) and it worked out pretty well.

And of course, we checked out the numbers. During the two first weeks of July, approximately 25 % of visitors went forward in the sales process. After the change, during the last two weeks of July, about 38 % of visitors kept on going. Just one small change to one single word and we improved visitor behavor closer to conversion up to 49 %!

Friday, August 10, 2007

How to count and improve web conversions

We have done the right things: defining the goals of our website and getting some traffic too. The next step is to make it numeral, let's count the conversions of your site.

In our case (Naviatech), the macro goal of the site is sales & marketing. The micro goal of the sales is a contact request, so we count them whether they come from website's contact form or by phone (you have to have special phone number or you have to ask how did they find you).

Conversion = total number of contacts devided by the total number of website visitors. Our conversion rate was 0,33 % (5 contact requests / 1,476 visitors) in June '07.

Pretty easy, isn't it? And how can you improve the conversion?
  1. Get more visitors (while your conversion rate stays about the same)
  2. Get more conversions. Redesign or make smaller changes to your site (while your traffic stays about the same)
Or do them both. If we could get 2,200 visitors per month in the future, but our conversion rate remains the same, we would still get 7 contact requests.

If we could make some changes and get our conversion rate up to 0,5 %, we would get same 7 contact requests with same traffic.

If we could do them both, we could get 11 contact requests (2,200 x 0,005), which means growth of 120 %...

How much would this cost and how much would we get more revenue? If you don't know how to count visitors of your website, try to google e.g. "web analytics software" or ask me a hint.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

How to avoid wrong kind of SEO consultants

Sony Center, Berlin
Let's say, after all, we really want to increase the traffic of our website. There is more and more consultants offering their services which may be called as Search Engine Optimization (SEO, hakukoneoptimointi in Finnish). But, as in every business, there are different kind of consultants, and unfortunately every SEO consultant is not the right one. In my couple of years experience from Finnish markets and again, with the help of Search Engine Marketing Inc., I offer you a list how to recognize and avoid wrong kind of SEO consultants:
  • Guaranteed top place in search results! No one can promise top rankings with "legal" ways, because there are simply too many outside factors also out of their control.
  • Minimal time for top rankings! No one can get your site on top of the search results in days or 1-2 weeks because search engine spiders do not visit and index your site so frequently (look out Webinfo in Finland at this point!).
  • Minimal changes to your site! Every decent SEO consultant will suggest changes to your website, whether they are big or not - it depends on your current situation and technology. Prepare about the changes because that's the only right way how search engines can find your site better.
  • Special code! No one can build technology which offers you automatically top spots. There are good tools which have to be used, but mostly it's all about hard specialist's work.
  • High permanent monthly fee! When the job is done, it's done. And it takes some time to evaluate how we succeeded. In my opinion, seach engines don't change so often and dramatically that there should be work to be done in weekly or montly basis.
The worst thing you might experience for hiring the wrong company, is that your website will be found search engines' black lists...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What are the goals of your website?

TV tower, Berlin
Vacation doesn't seem to be a maximum one because I thought about the next good topic for my blog during my visit to Berlin. Regarding to my previous post, some people may ask the question: why it's important to get your site on top of the search results and get more visitors to your site? And my answer is well uh...quite simple: if you don't want to increase traffic, why to have a public website in the first place?

It's a very though and a good question. But it's the very basic question before every campaign or development work you do at your site. There is no reason to measure just visitors if you haven't indentified your website goals. I give you couple of good examples to pick up:
  • Sales & Marketing. Direct web sales, indirect offline sales, leads or market awareness - they all got something to do with sales and every business decision maker should by now realize that people (both b2c and b2b) are using web for searching goods and services. And they are also buying...so don't be ashamed about being capitalist. Purpose of every business should be maximization of the profit and one way to do it is to grow your sales!
  • Information or Persuasion. More for the public good or non-profit organizations, but also companies which somehow wan't to ignore bullet #1 and maybe for politics too.
When we have defined these macro goals for the website, it's easy to define more detailed micro goals and measure your website success in numbers. I will write more about conversions later...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get your site on top of the search results

Or pay enough, so your advertisement will be on the top spots. But why it's important to get high rankings in organic search results?
  • over 3 million people uses Internet in Finland
  • more than half of these users are buying online
  • there are approximately 5 million searches per day
  • up to 80 % of searchers ingore paid listings
  • almost every searcher is looking at the two or three top search results
  • searchers spend less time looking at results ranked below top three
  • almost 90 % of searchers don't scroll down if they find something useful on the top results
So, are you in or out of these search markets? Getting your site on top of the list with your keyword isn't still enough. Then you have to get users to click the search link...or your paid ad.

Sources: Tilastokeskus, Digitoday and Search Engine Marketing, Inc.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Google rules - at least in Finland

When it comes to search engines, Google seems to rule the market. This may not come as a surprise to anyone. I started reading about Search Engine Marketing, Inc. and got couple of interesting firures from the beginning.
  • Google leads in customer loyalty: 66 % of searchers don't switch to another search site
  • Google's global share of searches is 43,7 %, Yahoo 28,8 % and MSN 12,8 %
In Finland the figures are totally different. According to Naviatech's research Google's share is 94,3 %, Windows Live 3,1 % and MSN 2,5 % (measured by Index Tools from 22 sites during 1.1.-20.6.2007).

www.naviatech.fi collected about 8,500 visitors total at the same timespan and 25 % of them from Google. 98,75 % of all searches to our site came from Google (well, we have optimized our site especially with Google in mind), but it's still pretty much, isn't it?

It's quite obvious where marketers should focus their efforts. And they will: according to Divia's research, marketers think that the search engine marketing is very important and they are ready to invest. Banner and search engine marketing are relatively growing most in the area of digital marketing.

Sources: Index Tools statistics, Helsinki School of Economics, Search Engine Marketing, Inc. and www.tietokone.fi

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sea Life Helsinki tracks its visitors

Piraijas
Yesterday evening Sea Life Helsinki celebrated its fifth anniversary and over a million visitors. According to Managing Director Allan Malmström constant renewal is one of the key factors in their success.

This also includes web marketing. Sea Life started web analytics in November 2006 and currently gets about 15,000 visitors to their website per month, most of them from Google's organic search.
Jelly-fish
Internet is the company's second best marketing channel after personal recommendations. Online marketing brings customers to Sea Life and 30-40 percent of visitors have looked for information about the company from the Internet.

"It's very important to know the right keywords to plan your online marketing activities in the future"
Marketing Manager Vilma Gustafsson

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Up and running

Finally, after a while, I opened my blog. Why on earth? That is a good question. Here's couple of good reasons:
  • natural pressure from other professionals and colleagues
  • anxiety to share information and experiences
  • informal place to shout out own opinions and ideas
  • possibility to have comments and different point of views
  • writing seems to be very therapeutic
  • search engine optimization
  • sales & branding
  • curiosity
I try to start topics from easy and understandable level. I hope this blog gives something for beginners but I also hope it leads in more in-depht conversations or debates. Feel free to comment, ask a question or suggest a topic to discuss.

I decided to keep it in English, sorry for grammar errors which may occur regularly. I hope my English gets better. Today I spent approximately 3 hours with starting this blog, not bad by the way. I hope it's worthwile, I'll let you know... : )