My life as a Web Analyst – January 2011

When I meet new people they ask me what I work with…and to be honest…explaining is actuall not that easy, especially for people outside the online sphere. This gave me an idea, to write small posts recaping the week that has pased explaining on some of the issues I work on. I this way you might better understand what a conversion specialista aka web analyst job is truly like. I promise you  it is not as glamourous as you think…

Week 2, January 2011.

  • First week on the New Year. We had hoped to have a new site release up by now but now it looks it will happen in the end of the month. You know how development is, not a straight road.
  • I documented on the whiteboard the development process for the rest of the year. This has to do with the previous post I wrote about conversion increase as part of the business development process. What I have done is to put small notes on the whiteboard to visualize the actions we will work during the year.
  • I have worked on doing the same thing for a second website. The progress of this website is not as far as the first one mostly due to the fact that a vision of the business is lacking. I cannot stress the importance of having a vision that is driving you.
  • We had several meetings with our designer concerning the new logo. We finally decided that we want the logo to feel more newsworthy than corporatate. The logo that won the logo contest was not used at all – waste of money but it assisted to narrow our current view.
  • I had an interesting meeting with one of the guys working with the core analytics team. We discussed what we could do with all data we have collected. We share the common view that the difference between companies that become sucessful in todays online environment are the ones that use data in their decision process. Personally I want us to move towards a predictive analytics path and ultimately towards prescriptive analytics.
  • I created a handout document describing why and how one can increase the conversion for casino websites. We designed a new casino landing page according the recommendations. I must say it looks good lets now see how it performes.

How I work to increase conversion

On my current position a lot of people rely on me to increase conversion on their sites. Increasing conversion are in many cases not as straight forward one many think. If you have worked with it you might testify on the frustrating side of trying ideas that do not show any lift. On the other side I see a lot of successful cases of button placements that can increase conversion but those changes on a website or a page are few and you have to be a bit lucky to find them straight on. What many people don’t tell you is that when you have one successful test you most likely already have done a few unsuccessful tests.

My method for increasing onsite conversion is to work hand in hand with the business development of the site. My view is that sustainable online conversion can only be achieved when you understand the need of your users, and then applying this knowledge to the development process. Unfortunately this view is not commonly shared among online companies since many of them started small, grew and now is in a phase when growth is all about user knowledge tied to the business development – a phase that requires different skills than when you are a startup.

The other day I picked up this book and boy I was glad when my view was confirmed by the authors (The book is called: “Conversion Optimization; The art and science of converting prospects to customers”). This is the passage that elaborates on my view:

“The question is not whether you can achieve a double-digit conversion rate; the question is whether you are willing to do what it takes to achieve a double-digit conversion rate.

Expectations for conversion optimization results should be combined with realistic expectations regarding the amount of work required to achieve these results. Because many clients do not understand the investment and commitment required from their team, they give up too soon. Conversion rates won´t increase overnight. You must start by understanding the visitors you are trying to convert. You then have to create hypotheses about these visitors and why they interact the way they do with your website. Then you have to validate these hypotheses by making changes to your website and tracking the customer response. All of these steps require time resources and a financial commitment, which is why they must be done accurately and with great focus.”

So two keywords can be extracted, commitment and knowledge of the user intention. When you do a new conversion test you create a hypothesis, design your test, run it and confirm or deny your hypothesis. Thereafter you probably need to refine it and test again. This cycle might repeat itself a few times.

So far this process has worked well, with conversion increases of up to 40% but lately I am facing more and more obstacles, since the low hanging fruits have already been picked. Now I am trying to steer more and more towards the business development process adds the complexity since you also have to manage the expectations of various stake holders – a fun process but nontheless not as easy.

My advice to you is to inform your stake holders that quick results are actually not that quick in reality. Knowing what to test and doing it successfully in the long run demands a fair amount of deep user research and strong comittment. There is no way you can cheat on the users investigation step, since it is your fountain for testing. Remember to drag your stake holders into this since you need their long term comittment to be successful.

Good luck, and if you have questions dont hesitate to ask…