Erin Young presented a session at yesterday’s ProductCamp Austin on using web analytics to inform offline decisions. Here are my notes and thoughts:
One of the best things about online testing is that it gives decisive answers to marketing questions. The Obama campaign wondered what most resonated with voters. They tested several images/videos and call-to-action buttons on the campaign website and found that the photo of him with his family and “Learn More” won out over the rest. This helped the campaign not only optimize online conversions, but also attract a broader audience by using the results of the test to inform their nationwide marketing efforts.
You can also use web analytics to see not only how many visitors come to your site, but where they come from. More traffic doesn’t always translate into more conversions, a particularly salient thing to keep in mind when running pay-per-click campaigns. Knowing where your customers are coming from online can help you make sure you’re targeting the right customers on- and offline.
Leverage the data from your site’s search field to see what visitors aren’t finding in your navigation (to improve usability) and track changes in top queries (to stay ahead of shifting priorities, new competitive offerings, etc.). The search field is essentially an open-ended survey question that gives you valuable insight about your customers. Use it.
Companies with print advertising can use the power of web analytics to improve their offline ads. For example, when you mail out a catalog or circular, you don’t know what pages are most interesting to potential customers. By creating an online version, you can know which pages people are looking at and for how long. You might discover that you should disperse coupons or sale items throughout, not only at the end. In fact, a retail store might even decide to disperse sale items throughout the store to encourage browsing among customers who typically make a beeline for the sale section.
Similarly, if online visitors most often click on pricing information and conversion rates are highest among potential customers who speak to your salespeople, you can make the major CTA on your print brochures “Call for Pricing”. This melding of online analytics (customer interest) and offline experience (sales people convert customers) will help you make better decisions about your business.
Erin made an important point, though – don’t go look at web analytics without a specific question in mind. Otherwise, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed rather than enlightened.