Tuesday, 15 November 2011

How much was the visit worth?

In retail there are a few core KPIs such as Inventory turnover ratio, Sales per square foot, average spend per footfall, etc. From the store manger, merchandiser and the marketing personnel's point of view it the average spend per customer footfall that explains if the store is attracting the right target audience and after they have made the visit to the store the customer has found the product that he/she is looking for, it is priced right and it has inspired or motivated the customer to part with the money and take the product home.

Technology has not fundamentally changed the essentials; we still need to eat, clothe and shelter ourselves. How we do that and the other needs of safety, education, comfort, etc has gone through revolutionary changes. 

In my experience working in ecommerce websites , I find that this one KPI of Revenue per Visit sums up all the other KPIs very well and provides everyone with an actionable metric. It quintessentially measure the money that the website makes every time a customer enters your ecommerce store. Then add further dimensions such as 

- Revenue per visit based on frequency of visit of the customer
- Revenue per visit split by demographic data such as age, region, etc
- Revenue per visit by first referrer visit, by last referrer, all 28 day referrer visits
- By product category
- By visitor loyalty
- By Devices ( like smart phones, tablets, etc.)
- Revenue per visit by marketing channels/ landing pages
- Revenue per visit with relation to customer satisfaction rating scores

The product team looks at the revenue per visit on the page and combines it with page view bounce rate, page view conversion report and in relation with the product's importance in portfolio decide on whether the product is meeting it's expectation or not.

Revenue per visit in view with the competitor price index/ position gives us what the pricing team need to do to make the product/ product category more competitive and compelling for the customers.

The promotions team looks at the uplift in revenue per visit to the cost incurred on promotions. 

The merchandising team can optimize based on the positive or negative change in this metric on the performance of the new zones/ pages they have created.

Above all to the top management it provides in a snapshot the health of the business and with every footfall the customer makes to the website or ecommerce store, what was the bottom line or top line impact. In short what is the worth of every visit the customer makes to the website through their desktop, iPad, smart phone, online kiosks, smart TV or any other device that is going to enter the market and how much he transacts with the company/ brand.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Six Dimensions of Analysis for a Web Based Business

Most of us are familiar with web analytics thanks to great proponents of this trade, who have really made it large and got web analytics the due credit and recognition it deserves. However as web analysts most of us stop with click stream and do not look beyond that. Today I would like to talk about the other facets of analytics for a web based business which are equally important and would help us as marketers to solve the Rubik.

The First Dimension:

Is off course is what all of us are familiar with the “Click Stream Analysis”, which looks at visitor and customer behaviour on the website. We analyse the various referrers, frequency of visits, number of pages viewed, time spent on the website and more importantly how many converted into sales or leads or any other goals that we have set as success criterion. Another blog on web analytics KPIs which I have written in the past delves in this area.

The Second Plane:

Business/ Trade analysis: This analysis is surely being carried out perhaps in a separate department within your organisation or by business analysts/ consultants who keep the top management updated with regard to the health of the business. The Finance team also carries out this analysis and tracks growth in terms of sales, margin, cost and profit. In case of a business that is done on the web, it is important for the web analyst to understand the sales driven by the website, the profits made from different offering, parameters of growth and other such business KPIs.

To elaborate on the same for an ecommerce website we would look at the year on year/ week on week and other periods of comparison for sales, orders, average order value and growth on these parameters. We would look at factors contributing to growth, what percentage of it is from underlying customers and how much is from new acquisitions. Further also we need to look at operational metrics such as availability, speed and accuracy of delivery, customer complaints, etc. and macro economic factors like inflation, customer spending index, customer confidence measures, etc.

The Third Angle:

The most important element in the entire piece is the customers. How well do we know them? Let’s start with demographics. Who are these customers? Are they, young or old, male or female, where do they live, what is their educational, cultural, social background, how affluent are they, etc. We also need to look at data on how often customers buy from us, how much they spend and what products/ services they bought. This data is mostly available in our customer databases, which we use to target and market using email or even direct mail. We need to also research and understand what drives these customers, what their motivations to buy from us are and when they leave to our competitors why do they leave. This is usually data that we could get by qualitative research.

Fourth Estate:

Is all about competitors. What is our price and promotions position with regard to competition. We have at our disposal competition intelligence tools. These tools are at many levels, if you only need to know what is your visitor market share and market position, tools such as Alexa and Hitwise can help. However if you want to scrape your website or competition website to compare products, price and promotion information then there are service providers like eClerx, profitero and Netvide. These tools provide data to then build a basket of comparative products and the price index of our competitors with ours. This is very powerful as right price is increasingly becoming more important (especially in the online medium, where comparison is so easy) as the determinant of sale/ conversion.

Fifth Slant:

The marketing effectiveness study is our fifth component. This area of analytics is also a mature one as online advertising and targeting has been around and studied for a long time. There are tools like double click, Unica, etc that measure the return on investment of the marketing spend. They also are so advanced that they manage the end to end process of administer/ target the audience and measure the impact. The most popular online advertising channels are search engine marketing, email marketing, affiliate and online media (such as banners and links). Recent times we have more subtle marketing that has caught the interest of marketers is the social media marketing. You can read more on social media marketing in this blog - Social Media.

The Final Piece:

The final piece to the jigsaw puzzle is the new kid on the block – fraud analytics. Big ecommerce websites are easy targets for fraudsters. Analysis in this area involves identifying patterns of fraud attacks and to build rules to prevent them when they hit the website. This could help us to save not only losing revenue but more importantly reputation as well.

Puzzle Solved:

When we look and comprehend all this data impacting and contributing to the business individually as well as in a combination, that is when we could draw more meaningful insight. This would give us a complete picture of how we could improve and optimise the business for better reach, profits, revenue and customer satisfaction.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Social Media is no "Passing Fad"

Social Media is here to stay. A year or so back it was widely speculated that “Social Media” (SM) is a fad and will soon evolve or vanish. However, no one can deny that SM is here to stay and perhaps even revolutionize the way we buy, sell, stay connected, interact and also evolve socially.

Just as the Internet revolutionized the world in the last decade of the 20th century, Social Media and Social Media Marketing (SMM) are in the process of doing the same. Just as with the advent of Internet a whole lot of ancillary industries evolved and are flourishing, the Social Media is nurturing quite a few industries already.

Any powerful invention will find its own use is so true, because social media is traversed all the boundaries that it was perceived to be built with. It is now a truly creative medium just like a canvas or cinema, which you can use to tell any story you want.

Social Media Marketing is of more interest to me as a marketer. Hence I will dwell more into SMM than SM in this blog. I would like to start with the most important phrase in any manager’s vocabulary – “What cannot be measured, cannot be managed”. And yes, SMM can be measured. There are various free as well as paid tools that are available with which you could manage your SM activities.

With the knowledge of we can track what is on SM and hence optimize our spend and increase our returns, let us now venture into how we could be associated and grow our business through SMM. The only prerequisite to be a good marketer in SM is you got to be imaginative and know your fundamentals well.

The Marketer has to follow the customer, if the customer is on the Moon we better be there and so be it for SM. The advantages that we have with SM are that the customer can double up as the marketer as well and when it comes from the horse’s mouth, the recommendation is worth much more. It is as close to as one can get as the product being recommended by a friend or a close associate/ family member and hence it is powerful and we cannot afford to ignore or let it grow organically. As marketers it is our responsibility to seed, grow and nurture these social relationships and what it can do for us and vice versa.

One Size Doesn’t fit all
SMM is by far the most creative as well as complex media that I have come across so far. But it is heartening to see so many creative marketers out there who are redefining many set principles and notions. SMM straddles from being a tactical tool to sell products and services and raise awareness to a tool that can facilitate research and understanding of the market place, target audience preference, etc to being a strategic tool that could facilitate or change the business.

The Different uses that SMM could be put to:

Crisis Management:

Alerts are set to highlight when there is a negative experience shared by consumers/ visitors in a forum or blog to tackle it by providing justification and the necessary corrective action we use it as a crisis management tool.

Selling Channel:
This aspect of SMM is widely and creatively used by many companies. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are the best resources in this area. Twitter was even used by the present American President Barack Obama in his campaign, need we say very successfully. Youtube is used by different technology manufacturers to promote product acceptance and demos. Facebook has innumerable success stories, please check Facebook marketing success stories

Brand Insight:
It can provide brand insight which is better than any market research. To explain in simple terms - Say for example you are Macdonald and when you find that your customers blogs or on discussion forums use keywords like tasty, delicious, wholesome and in contrast uses keywords like green, healthy snack, low calorie etc to talk about your competitor – Subway. It helps you macdonalds to form associations that your brand has in the minds of the customer.

Trend Insight:

Another area where SM can really benefit marketers is in getting a quick read on a trend. This is typically one of the hardest things to pick up using standard surveys. But social media gives you the opportunity to quickly scan millions of blog posts to see if there are themes emerging. For example look at this chart from Google trends where the red line indicates weight loss and the blue one MacDonald, see the occurrences when there is a spike in weight loss there is a drop in McDonalds. This would indicate an emerging trend to McDonalds, if the red line was steadily going up, it would be a cause of worry to McDonalds and they would react by introducing a calorie free range to their menu.

Consumer Insight:
Social media can help you to know your consumers better. (1) You could track all the topics/ keywords that are relevant to your brand and then evaluate the tempo of the conversations that are accompanied with these topics/ keywords. And then understand who are the contributors or influencers to these conversations online and then profile them (potential customers) and finally target them. Or (2) We identify a group of our customers/ potential customers and then track their behaviour online, which websites they frequent, how much they contribute/ influence their groups, what is their psychographic profile, interests, affiliations, etc.

Hence SMM is not just another channel that we could use to sell our products and services. But it could facilitate a lot more strategic marketing initiatives and helps to build a powerful brand for the new age.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

eBrands- unraveling the phenomenon

I intend this blog to be the first of the series I intend to write on brand building on the Internet.

Recently I was working on increasing the conversion rate for a website selling flowers online. While doing so, I realized the susceptibility of these websites getting into experimentation conundrum and overlooking the simple principles and importance of brand building.

Brand building has withstood the test of time and we have with us brands with vintages of more than a century. How could this not be true to any medium even though it is still termed the new media. Online/ ecommerce needs to quickly embrace brand building and place their long term strategies based on the same principles.

It is true most big internet players are aware of building brands and created mammoth brands such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, etc. However, as the internet provides an ideal platform for any creative entrepreneur to set up shop, it is important for these small & medium scaled organizations to realize the importance of building their brands and marketing online.

Building brands online is different from the traditional ways, as there is no separate communication medium that talks to the customer about the brand. As in case of online the customer is simultaneously consuming the communication of the brand as well as consuming (read buying the product or experiencing the service or both) at the same time.

This concept is not entirely new to marketers as even in the traditional companies especially service companies have aligned brand building with customer experience. Where the frontline would be trained to show case the brand with its inherent characteristics that it stands for. Though traditional business had the luxury of time, i.e. if the customer was not happy with the service or found it incoherent with the image they had in their mind, the switch over would be gradual and provide the company time to react and place corrective steps. In case of the online medium the switch over will be instantaneous and the marketer does not have this luxury of time. Hence experimentation becomes even more important.

Also in the traditional medium the agents or medium of communicating the brand were limited and well understood by marketers like advertising, PR, corporate communications, etc. However in came online medium the opportunity that it presents is enormous and could have juggernaut effect. Further there are more ways that the customer himself or herself could promote or demolish your brand (Web2.0). And no other medium except (to a limited extent) direct mail could offer one to one communication with the end audience.

However, experimentation only starts after we have identified the brand values, characteristics and how it would impact our customers.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Web Analytics powered 1to1 targeting

The First Step Change (As I had mentioned in my previous blog about the 3 step changes in Web analytics) in my view is how online marketing (Banner advertising, PPC, affiliates, email and other online marketing channels) and behaviour targeting are putting to effective use the power of Web Analytics.

Typically there has been a big gap in spending when it comes to off-site marketing channels like

- Email marketing
- Affiliate programs
- Search Engine Optimization
- Offline marketing to web
- In-store Web promotion
- Banner advertising

And On-Site resources like

- Optimization
- Web analytics
- Usability testing, etc.

With the former hogging the major share and the later (on-site resources) taking a back seat most often.

However more and more marketers are realizing that though the off-site marketing activity drives all the traffic to the website. It is the landing page/ homepage or the other critical product pages determine if the prospect converts to a customer or not and how much he / she would spend on the site products or services.

Right after the prospect lands on any of the pages in the site and interacts on the same determines his/ her engagement with the site.

You have probably experienced at some point that you were searching for a product that you are interested in, clicked on a seemingly relevant search result and landed on a page which has no flavour of the product that you were searching for. Could you recall your reaction…it most probably was, Uhh…

This is what the marketers are striving to eradicate and make each visit to the site by the prospect as engaging as possible. This could be achieved by accurate one to one targeting.

One to one targeting or behavioral targeting is achieved by the following process:

a) The visitor arrives at the website.
b) The information goes to the “Visitor profile repository, to figure out if he is a new customer or an existing customer.
c) If he is a new customer, we will build the customer profile.
d) If he is returning customer then we retrieve his profile.
e) Ping the self learning predictive modeling engine determine the suitable or optimal content that we need to show
f) Pass this on to the CMS system, which will then serve the relevant page to the customer.

Apart from the technical solution of how to serve the relevant pages to the visitor, there is a bigger task of determining the criteria (to be fed into the predictive modeling engine) of what pages/ information to serve to the relevant customer.

If we could answer a few basic questions, we would be able to target our highly predictive anonymous visitor.

- What is this visitor doing now?
- What have they done before?
- When is this visit occurring?
- How frequently & recently have they visited?
- Where is this visitor Located?
- What is their online experience?
- How did this visitor arrive here?
- And Have they already expressed what they want?

We already collect all the data that we need to serve the relevant page to the customer

With the Site behavior variables we know the customer’s

- Previous visit pattern
- Previous Product interests
- Whether he is a New/return visitor, etc.
- Previous online purchases
- Previous Campaign exposure
- Previous campaign responses

We collect temporal variables like the time of the day, day of the week, Recency & frequency

We get Environmental variables like
IP address, country, city, browser type used, etc…

We also get the referrer variables like

- search keywords
- affiliate site
- campaign ID
- Direct/ bookmark
- Referring domain, etc..

With these details and an analysis of what is best suited to your site, the landing page relevance could be built and conversion rate, customer engagement with the site and loyalty could be enhanced.

This blog is inspired and derived from the presentation published by the eminent “Brent Hiegglke” the link to his presentation is as below:

Brent Hiegglke presentation

Behavioral targeting is gaining prominence because of the need of the marketeers to maximise the bang for the buck and also to ensure customer satisfaction & their loyalty. In the US alone the market is estimated to be 3,800 million by 2011.

In one example Brent had demonstrated how a leading European bank had adopted one to one targeting which was supported by high end analytics to drive relevance to the visitor. This Bank earlier had a generic landing page that displayed all its products and services based on some analytics such as conversion rate, etc. However when 1to1 targeting was launched it had a dynamic landing page based on the search question that the visitor had chose to land on the site. If the visitor was searching for loans, the leading banner would be their loan products banner, and if the visitor was searching for credit cards the lead banner could be the one with the same and so forth. This way the bounce rate from the landing page was reduced and a tremendous increase in conversion as well.

Also usually Behavior or 1to1 targeting is misunderstood as targeting to customers who come from another site reference or through marketing. It is also important to target customers based on their on site behaviour and their personal details. If your target audience is a working mother with young kids you would’nt want to show her a Ducati unless she has been viewing or searching for one. Similarly if a visitor spending a great deal of time and had numerous visits to the “High end plasma TV” should’nt we show our latest discount offer on the “Plasma TV’ or other high end entertainment devices in his next visit.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

WAW Bangalore Dec 07 - A big success

After a hiatus of 1 year 4 months the WAW Bangalore was kicked off again on the 14th of Dec. Trinadh who is country manager WAA contacted me sometime in mid Nov and discussed about the initiatives that he is putting together as WAA representative in India.

He wanted me to put together the WAA Bangalore during the second week of December. First task was to get a suitable location, The COO of IndiaPlaza Mr. Vaitheeswaran, kindly agreed to accommodate in his conference room which could seat 15 people.

We went with the assumption that a maximum of 20 people would attend the event. Then I set up the wiki page and sent out emails to all those who attended the previous WAW and also posted the link on a couple of networking sites.

All of us were surprised to receive an overwhelming response of 55 registrations. Then we realised that we need a bigger place and Ravi from Triology who is also a WAA member organised to book a place in Jaya nagar. And thanks to Eric Peterson ( and Webexpe who were the sponsors to the event we were able to book a nice hotel to host the event.

The event started with introductions and a keynote by Trinadh. I presented a paper on "Step Change in Web Analytics" and Seby of Flatworld Solutions presented on "Segmentation".

I shall cover the topic that I had presented in this blog over the next three blogs which are the 3 major step changes that web analytics is witnessing.

And the session ended with a question and answer session and high tea. The response from all those who attended the event was very positive and the feedback that we received was that we need to have more of such events at regular intervals.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Interview on Web Analysis Blog

It was a great honour, when I got Anil Batra's email to be interviewed and featured in his popular Blog on web analytics. Anil is a renowned Web Analytics and Online Advertising Consultant working at ZAAZ. Prior to ZAAZ he has worked in various analytical roles in reputed concerns such as Revenue Science, Microsoft, Business Objects, etc., which culminated to his expertise in web analytics.

Anil's Blog is the 10th most popular blog as published by Avinash Kaushik in Top 10 Web Analytics Blogs on 16th April. Avinash is one of the most respected professional in the field of Web Analytics.

Anil questioned me mostly on my understanding of Web Analytics, entry into this field and achievements & challenges. There were also other questions which were not related to Web Analytics; they were on my other passion, cricket. You could read this interview on his blog, the excerpt of the same is as below:

AB: How long have you been working in Web Analytics?

JC: I have been working in the dotcom industry right from 2000. I started my career in, where I had a fantastic initiation into the dotcom industry. I was handling corporate communications here, which included advertising and public relations. This is where I implemented advanced online advertising techniques and was initiated into a very crude form of web analytics. After the dotcom bust, I gained some experience in conventional advertising. However returned back to online advertising in 2004. I joined as campaign manager. BharatMatrimony was one of the leading advertisers in the online medium in India. Here I handled the complete advertising budget and was given the task of optimizing effectively for every buck spent on the Internet. Subsequently, I had a very brief stint in an online advertising firm called Regalix, before I moved to present job in Tesco.

AB: Tell me about your work, education prior to making a switch

JC: Before entering into the online industry, I was in a completely different profession. I completed my education in commerce from a reputed college in Chennai – Stella Maris College and had also done a course in advertising, from the Madras Advertising Club.

I started my career as a professional cricketeer with the Southern Railways. I had taken to the sport right from my school days, I had played at the state and zonal level at both junior and senior level. I had been a wicketkeeper – batswoman and played at the highest-level national championships representing Tamil Nadu and South Zone. I realized that my scope was limited at getting selected to play for India, as I was a wicket keeper and the Indian team already had an established wicketkeeper. And my only chance existed if this player performed poorly. Instead of waiting for someone to fail, I thought I should choose the other passion of mine, which was online advertising.

AB: What are you responsibilities in your current job?

JC: I handle a team of analysts, in the Insight team. We are responsible for having a sense check on the performance of the business on daily and weekly basis by running various reports. This includes running, querying and retrieving data from the data warehouse, formatting the same, draw inference and present it to the various users of these reports. The scope includes reporting on category-based performance, performance of the various marketing channels like email, online advertising and CRM. It also includes site intelligence, which is web analytics software. Apart from the regular reporting we do various adhoc reporting and analysis on customer behavior changes, uplift of sales due to activities, targeting specific audience, etc.

AB:How do you make sure you are learning and growing in this field?

JC: I am regular on the yahoo web analytics forum and read up the various blogs of Eric Peterson, Avinash Kaushik and also try to organize a "Web analytics Wednesday" meetings here in Bangalore