Omniture: Visitor Engagement is just a fad!
The same guys that want you all to believe web analytics is easy has now declared that “Visitor engagement formulas are largely another fad, just like parachute pants and the Hollywood diet. It’s a measure some consultants and vendors can pitch like snake oil.”
Omniture’s point that Visitor Engagement is a bad idea because it has subjective components fails to understand the work that folks like Jim Novo, Steve Jackson, Theo Papadakis, Joseph Carrabis and others have done; it makes me wonder if the author bothered to read anyone’s work on the subject.
Worse, it makes me question Omniture’s long-term commitment to Visual Site customers since Visual (= Omniture Discover OnPremise) is, at least for now, the industry’s leading solution for creating derived measures and experimenting with visitor-level data. The point seems to be that simple measures of success, such as those provided by SiteCatalyst, are all that are required.
We pretty much had this same debate a year ago when Avinash Kaushik disagreed with the use of calculated metrics to measure engagement, and I can see that Steve Jackson has already commented as such. I wouldn’t normally have written about this except the author said one smart thing when he commented you shouldn’t “try to build a better mouse trap, when you’re not taking advantage of the one you’ve got today.”
If you’re thinking about trying to leverage any measure of visitor engagement, regardless of which measure you choose, you should definitely make sure your web analytics house is in order first. Despite Omniture’s assertion, most people believe that web analytics is hard and requires a sometimes intense focus on people, process, and technology. If you’re not staffed appropriately, if you haven’t defined your key performance indicators, if you haven’t established core web analytics business processes, and if you haven’t worked to optimize your web analytics implementation then trust me, Visitor Engagement is not for you.
A good analogy is the one provided in Tom Davenport’s book “Competing on Analytics” where he describes how baseball teams like the Oakland A’s and my friend Judah’s beloved Boston Red Sox, and football teams like the New England Patriots have used new and innovative metrics to evaluate the performance of players, concessions workers, and the entire fan experience. Visitor Engagement is a new measure in web analytics, and thusly it will take a special type of analytical competitor to recognize the opportunity that this “uber measure” can potentially provide. And just like some teams have shown that they are not ready to adopt new measures to evaluate their business, some companies are simply not ready to explore complex key performance indicators in an effort to “Compete on Web Analytics.”
If you’re like most companies doing web analytics today, it is likely that you will benefit more from focusing internally and learning more about how to leverage people, process, and technology more effectively, rather than look externally for new metrics of success. You could get a good book on the subject of fundamental key performance indicators and spend a great deal of time implementing what you learn.
But if you’re interested in learning more about an innovative metric that describes the behavior and opportunity that exists with the 97% that don’t convert, a measure that you can apply to your advertising, content, B2B, marketing, or lead generation site that will compliment your otherwise robust key performance indicator suite, and a calculation that describes the level of Attention that visitors are paying to your site, your content, your testing and targeting, etc… well then I guess you’ll have to keep reading my blog (and Jim, and Steve, and Joseph, and a whole host of other people’s work who are committed to working these ideas out rather than just saying “balderdash!”)
If you’re not content to just keep reading and want to know more about my thoughts on Visitor Engagement, know this: I have been exceedingly clear that my measures of Visitor and Audience Engagement are new, and in their newness there is risk in the level of insight they may be able to provide you. I am not promising you better skin, new hair, or more friends, despite the validation that the measurement of engagement recently received when NextStage was granted a patent for their work on the subject. But, unlike some people, I have done my homework on the subject, and I continue to have conversations with some of the best companies in the world about how they can use new measures to improve their overall use of web analytic technology.