Unlike Lisa Davis’ initial impression of SMX Toronto , I walked into the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit knowing many of the speakers and attendees for years – these are my people. Being a member of the Web Analytics Association  (WAA) has its privileges, as I started the conference a day earlier than most at the WAA Industry Meeting and Elbow Rub Reception.
WAA members were treated to a great show from Theresa Locklear and her team from NHL.com , who provided a run-down of the organization’s online goals (no pun intended), their approach to web analytics and real-world examples of reports they provide across the organization. In what had to be a first in our industry, real reports with real numbers were presented by the team to the crowd assembled, showcasing one of their latest email campaign wins.
The NHL analytics team was able to improve displaced fan ticket sales and realize significant incremental revenue growth through targeted email campaigns by mining CRM data and multivariate testing. For example, Theresa is a die-hard Washington Capitals fan, but is a resident of New York City, so the only way she would consider buying tickets is if Alexander Ovechkin and her Caps were in town to demolish the Rangers. The goal was clear, the insight was actionable and the results were measurable.
Avinash Kaushik , Analytics Evangelist at Google and self-professed “kinda big deal” opened eMetrics and SMX with a keynote entitled “Social & Search: Rock Both Worlds with Data.” Some interesting nuggets of wisdom from his presentation that I tweeted via @Marketwire  included:
- Something, something, something: There is more data in web analytics tools than God wants you to have, so focus on outcomes and find out the “WHY” in addition to the “WHAT”
- On paid web analytics tools versus free tools: “Flushing money down the toilet makes a cool sound”
- Live beyond the top 10 rows of web analytics, those can blind your decision-making: Long-tail keywords, long-tail referrers, and long-tail influencers can account for seven times the traffic of your respective top 10s
- Content strategy: Consider the percentage of content per section versus the percentage of visits to that section. Are you creating content in areas where no one consumes it?
- Paid search: Many first-time visitors don’t buy right away, so soften the messages on landing pages and encourage visitors to come back.
- Social media: “Most companies think social media is about shouting, this is a dumb ass strategy,” social media is a great way to amplify your conversation with the followers of your followers.
Shari Cleary, Director of Digital Research — Entertainment & Games at MTV provided the keynote, entitled “Meaningful Insights: Video Measurement Across a Global Network,” to a packed house on the second day at eMetrics. Shari, a veteran in digital media analysis, described actionable insights her team provided to senior executives and broadcast analysts based on data collected from ComedyCentral.com, GameTrailers.com and a host of other sites. Some of the valuable insights she shared with the audience from her years of experience included:
- Small, nimble teams seem to be the trend in web analytics
- Multiplatform males make up the largest segment of digital media consumers and expect the same content availability on every screen/platform they use; fuel for a vertical strategy
- Don’t just send data, ask the question “why is this data important” to find the specific business requirement behind a request
- Long tail of video exists just like any web page or article, over 70 percent of streams are South Park episodes from past seasons
- Average Facebook user has 150 friends and, by enabling “sharing,’ you’re reaching “followers of followers” and potentially new audiences with like-minded interests
Despite the many challenges web analysts face, the truth is that the science of web measurement is still leaps and bounds better than traditional audience measurement . There’s no longer any excuse to ignore voice of customer through behavior and feedback, and there’s no reason not to find actionable insights in the myriad of tools available today. “Don’t suck,” as Avinash Kaushik would say.