A Record-Setting Web Analytics Wednesday in Columbus
It turns out, as I’ve been looking at my records (read: old blog posts), that this month’s Columbus Web Analytics Wednesday marked our one year anniversary, which means it was our 13th WAW. As we were discussing it last night, we thought next month was the one-year mark, but, in a post from last May, I referenced that gathering as our third, and the Internet just doesn’t lie!
It’s only taken a year, but we just might have hit upon the perfect spot: Barley’s Smokehouse and Brewpub. For a nominal fee, we were able to reserve a room, which gave us some real volume control when we got into the group discussion portion of the evening, and there’s plenty of room for future expansion. As it was, the final headcount was 28 people, which was right around 50% higher than we’ve ever had before. Credit for that goes to:
- WebTrends, our sponsor for the evening — we finally got some folk to come out who have been meaning to in the past, but haven’t quite made it; some of those people are WebTrends user; unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict, Noe Garcia, the WebTrends account executive who supported our sponsorship request, wasn’t able to make the trip from Portland for the event.
- Webtrends, who provided the evening’s speaker/topic — John Defoe, VP of Solution Services and A Bunch of Other Stuff, kicked off a discussion about using web analytics data outside of the web analytics environment; more on that in a bit.
- The Amazing Blanqueras — we had some repeats who discovered us through past WAW promotions on Columbus Tech Life Meetup site, and we again brought in some fresh faces from the site; as Columbus Tech Life grows, so will WAW!
- Dave Culbertson — ‘nary a WAW goes by that someone isn’t there because Dave ran into them and encouraged them to attend
- Twitter — a number of people tweeted about the event, but my unofficial observations put Jenny Wells of TeamBuilder Search as the lead tweeter on that front
Other than that, we ran our usual gamut of promotions, and,presumably,picked up people through those channels as well. I’m sure we picked up a person or two who was Googling Monish Datta and wound up on this site (I’m up in the top 5 results for a Google search for Monish — I don’t think I’m ever going to overtake his LinkedIn profile). Feel free to take a crack about a WAW blog post not having definitive data on traffic sources…
As to the topic, John kicked off the discussion by sharing some examples of WebTrends customers who are using web analytics data beyond the web analytics environment:
- A motorcycle manufacturer who uses web analytics data to score leads (site visitors) before passing them on to their dealers for follow-up — giving the dealers a prioritized list of who is more likely to be ready to buy
- A media site that uses web analytics data to do an hourly refresh of the “most popular articles” on its home page (which led to a $2 million uplift in ad revenue, if I heard correctly) — I’ve always wondered how much that sort of functionality gets hit by a feedback loop (an article just barely cracks the “most popular” list, but, then, by being on the list, it gets more clicks and remains there), but I didn’t get a chance to ask
- A company that uses web analytics data for targeted re-marketing via e-mail — identifying what content a person has viewed and using that to tailor e-mails promoting the same or similar products
John used those examples as a way to launch discussions of where others are using web analytics data outside of the web analytics environment:
- I chimed in with my experiences with using web analytics data for lead scoring that combines web activity data with CRM information and then pushes the lead score into the CRM system
- Scott Zakrajsek briefly explained out Victoria’s Secret uses web analytics data for targeted e-mail re-marketing
- Bryan Cristina shared a Nationwide: Car Insurance example…that I totally missed (um…they’re my employer; you’d think I would’ve paid more attention there!)
The wrap-up thoughts, I think, could be summarized as follows:
- Soooooo many companies aren’t even trying to do any of these sorts of things today
- It won’t be long before these sorts of uses of web analytics data will be a must-have rather than a cutting-edge differentiation opportunity
- It sounds easy enough, but, when you get down to it, getting different systems to really talk to each other (or to build a layer to pass information back and forth between them in a meaningful way) takes some roll-up-your-sleeves hard work and the tenacity to stick with it until it works
- Having an engaged executive sponsor is darn near a must to pull these off
- Having someone driving the project who really, really “gets it” makes things go a lot smoother…but outsourcing is a viable option
If you’re interested in learning more, it’s not too late to book a trip to Vegas for WebTrends Engage ’09! John’s got a whole session on this basic subject on Wednesday, April 8th.
If you’re interested in sponsoring a future Web Analytics Wednesday, drop me a line at tim at gilliganondata.com!