Omniture Acquires Mercado

Omniture Acquires MercadoI received an e-mail this morning that Omniture has acquired Mercado, one of the largest players in on-site search. The funny thing here is that Omniture has only recently started selling the rebranded VisualScience product (which was formerly a WebSideStory product) for site search. I am guessing that Omniture will take the same direction here as they have with their Discover product, making the VisualScience product a “lite” version compared to their newly acquired product from Mercado. Here’s the e-mail Omniture sent this morning making the announcement:

Dear Omniture Customer,

We are excited to let you know that Omniture has agreed to acquire the assets of Mercado, a leader in site search and merchandising and a long-standing Omniture partner. This acquisition includes certain technology and intellectual property assets.

The addition of Mercado’s applications presents a unique opportunity for Omniture to further expand our online business optimization platform with increased site search and online merchandising capabilities. 

The acquisition will be highly complementary with our Omniture SiteSearch™ product. SiteSearch customers should know there will be no impact on the current Omniture product offering. In the future, however, we anticipate bringing together the best features of both so we can continue to provide the most comprehensive site search and merchandising solution available in the market.

For additional information, please read the press release announcing this news, visitwww.omniture.com or contact your account manager.

It would seem that Omniture is pushing full steam ahead in creating their “online marketing optimization suite.”

At this time, my company is using Endeca. I don’t know that this will make us take a look at this new offering or not, but it will be interesting to see what kinds of integrations they have planned down the road in terms of their other products.

Update:

I’m hearing on Twitter that this was a bit of a fire sale (http://twitter.com/jbillingsley/statuses/959067564). It also looks like Mercado wasn’t doing so well and that the software-as-a-service business model wasn’t helping the issue (http://www.startupisrael.com/mercado-shutting-down). I know that Omniture uses the same basic business model, but they also have the advantage of a huge customer base.

Creating an Action-Oriented Culture

Most experts in Web analytics dream of working for a business that makes data-driven decisions. Look at it as justification for our career choice. However, I think that this needs to be taken a step further:

We should be concerned with creating an action-oriented culture, not just a data-driven one.

Having access to advanced Web analytics tools, we can churn out meaningful analyses that management will most certainly use in making decisions. So, that means that we work for a data-driven company, which is a great thing indeed. The missing thing there is that the information isn’t nearly as useful if no action is ever taken. This can also be very defeating for people in Web analytics. No one wants to feel as though their hard work is never put to real, visible use.

So what can we do to help create an action-oriented culture when we don’t have direct control over resources and priorities?

Start A/B Testing

This is a slam-dunk, since action is one of the first steps here, and the payoff is pretty quick to see. Once you can get your company to buy into A/B testing (don’t worry about multivariate yet), more tests will follow as the return on investment becomes evident. Start easy with only A/B tests, where “B” is very different from A (to ensure meaningful results) and try out a tool like Google Website Optimizer (free) to help make ROI justification easier.

Focus on Change

Everyone delivers dashboards and standards reports. As I’m fond of pointing out, these eventually get ignored with all of the other noise that exists in inboxes. If you want people to stand up and take notice, and eventually act, then you’re going to need to get a little more manual and really dig into the “why” of your data and information. Like it or not, we Web analysts don’t know everything that marketing, Web design and the other teams on our site are doing. So, instead of just delivering dashboards on a regular basis, we need to start tracking significant changes in metrics, investigating with the necessary people, and finally delivering an intelligent analysis on the “why.” In addition, we need to make efforts to be more in the loop with all of our online efforts to understand and provide analysis on the efforts that are not making any significant changes on our site(s). After all, why waste effort on something that doesn’t even move the sales needle?

Understand Your Customer/Visitor

I just mentioned how important it is to understand the “why” in why things are changing or happening on your site. While traditional quantitative analytics is great, we must supplement our data with qualitative data. We must also do this at the visit level so that we can correlate the “why” to what visitors actually did (or did not do) on our site. If you can start to get survey input from your site visitors, then you can put some real, hard evidence that action needs to be taken and put it in front of the right people. These people might find it a little harder to not act on information from a person that has a proven purchase or visit history with your Web site. While there are a lot of survey solutions out there, you should at least start with something free like 4Q, which was created by Avinash Kaushik and iPerceptions. You may not be able to get the answers to the 4Q survey related to your transactional data (hey, it’s free!), but it’s a starting point in gaining qualitative knowledge about your visitors/customers.

Do you have any other ideas as to how data and information can spur action?

Why You Should Be Using Omniture Discover

This of course only really applies to current Omniture customers or those thinking about moving to Omniture as a new customer. I’ll also preface this further by saying that I am on Omniture’s Customer Advisory Board (CAB) for Discover (On-demand).

Anyway, there are several reasons that you should be using Discover and several reasons why you need it in addition to the normal SiteCatalyst offering.

Reasons why Discover is a good supplement to SiteCatalyst Include:

  • SiteCatalyst’s power is in providing reports and delivereing those reports and dashboards on a regular basis. The power of Discover on the other hand is to enable you to perform true exploratory analyses.
  • SiteCatalyst has limits in terms of how far you can drill down into data, and also limts in what you can drill down to. In Discover, you can drill down to anything, as deep as you like.
  • Drilling down in SiteCatalyst only works from the moment it’s enabled, and is not retroactive. In Discover, everything can be drilled down to, and everything is retroactive. So if you think of something that you’d like to look at a few months ago, you can. Everything is retroactive from the moment you enable Discover though, not before.
  • In SiteCatalyst, you can segment anything by using what are called ASI segments. However, ASI segments aren’t flexible enough that you can easily change the segments definitions themselves in the middle of an analysis. In Discover, you can change segments on the fly with a simple drag-and-drop.
  • Omniture Data Warehouse can deliver segmented data to you, but can take 1 – 3 days to do so. In Omniture Discover, you will get your data in just a few seconds. This allows you to see the results of segmentation quickly so that you can know how to best craft a Data Warehouse request for large dumps of data.
  • There is no additional implemenation for Discover. Once it is enabeled, all of your reports are ready to go.

So these are some of the reasons that Discover can supplement your use of SiteCatalyst.

So what are the things that you can do in Discover specifically that make it a great tool for deep analysis?

  • Dashboards and regular reports are often and eventually ignored. Deep analyses of segmented data allows you to create presentations of informaiton that most others will not have access to.
  • Quick creation of segments . Why look at just every visit on your site, when you can look at:
    • First time visits
    • Return visits
    • Visits that include certain pages on your site
    • Visits where your help content is viewed
    • Visits where no purchases are made
    • Visits where people fallout of your purchase funnel
    • Visits where people used internal site search
    • And many more…
  • Omniture Discover is fast. When starting Discover (a Java application), it imports a data set. Once that’s imported, you need only wait a couple of seconds for anything to run. When using a Web-based application (as are most Web analytics solutions), you have to make a request of a server, the server gets the data that you need and then you are delivered the information in your browser. This can leave you waiting for a report until you are frustrated.
  • If you are running A/B and multivariate tests, Discover will let you analyze test results in a deeper way that can make determining the winner more clear-cut.
  • After SiteCatalyst has all of your reporting and dashboards built out, Discover is the tool where true Web analysts will work on a regular basis.

If you have any specific questions about Discover, let me know. Also, if you are already using Discover, do you have any particular segments or analyses that you like to look at on a regular basis? Any tips or tricks of your own you’d like to share? Leave a comment and share anything that you have!

The Economy and Web Analytics Jobs

A lot of people have lost their jobs over the last few months, and a lot more probably will. Most people in analytics know that there is more demand for skilled Web analysts than there is supply. So, would you say that experts in analytics have recession-proof jobs by default?

I keep seeing a lot of articles and content poping up on the Web about recession-proofing your job. Most of them say that you need to appear indespisible (perception is reality, right?) as well as be more of a jack-of-all-trades. Here’s a podcast from Harvard Business Review on this:

Harvard Business IdeaCast 110: How to Protect Your Job in a Recession

What can Web analytics people do to recession-proof themselves?

As I see it we can do several things at least:

  1. Constantly (and I mean almost daily!) turn out ideas to improve your company’s online presence
  2. Present to management often (to increase your visibility and the perception of being indespensible)
  3. Speak at conferences (analytics or otherwise) and become better know in your company’s own industry (unless the bad economy has resulted in your travel budget being shot!)

One other thing that you can do to recession-proof your job is to keep some information close to the vest. That is, don’t run out and tell everyone in your company how to do everything that you do. If you document exactly how to do all of the technical aspects of your job, this might also hurt you in recession-proofing your job. I can’t say that I really agree with everything here about not sharing things about your job skills, but I’m just throwing it out there as something that we all know is done in reality.

Do you have any further ideas as to how people in Web analytics can help themselves in recession-proofing their jobs in this economy?

More on Pages Not Being Worth Anything


Followup to “Pages Aren’t Worth Anything” from Jason Egan on Vimeo.

This is my first attempt at a video post here, so this might be a little rough. They should get better though!

Summary:

  • Pages aren’t worth anything, but what you’re selling is.
  • Testing and optimization should replace analytics in determining how effective a page is at conversion.
  • You should me optimizing and measuring the worth of your marketing accumen as opposed to some HTML. Look at a page or site this way. It is a marketing and sales tool. How good is it at marketing and selling? How good are you and making the site better at marketing and selling.

Your Pages Aren’t Worth Anything

I’m sure that some of you will disagree with the title of this post as soon as you see it, but hear me out (read me out?). Wether you are in publishing/content or straight up e-commerce, your pages are not making money inherently. Many executives and busines owners always have one of the two following question:

  1. “How much revenue has this page made?”
  2. “How well is this page converting?”

To preface the rest of this post and explain the title of this post, I am going to say that pages do not make money, and they do not convert. Crazy, I know. But, what does make you money and convert are the changes that you make to your pages.

Answering, “How much revenue has this page made?

 

I do not want to turn this into a debate about revenue attribution at the page view level, so I will leave that issue for another time. So let’s just assume that you have some kind of repor that has page names and dollar amounts next to those pages. The answer to the above question is:

“Does it matter what that revenue number is if you aren’t changing anything?”

So you can trend a page’s revenue over time. So what? Let’s say that you sell hair dryers (why was that the first thing that popped into my mind?). Your sales of hair dryers are what make you money, not the view of some page on your site. Afterall, you are selling hair dryers, not page views.

I also want to take this opportunity to address the publisher/content sites out there. News flash, you are selling something! Your selling ad views, and video ad plays, not page views or time spent (or “engagement” of all silly things).

You should not be asking how much a page makes for you. You need to be coming up with ideas that you think can make a page better, and testing those ideas to see if you can create lift! A page that just sits there and is never, or blindely changed isn’t doing you any good. Does it really matter how much you think a page makes over time if you’re not trying to make it better to begin with?

You changes, improvements and efforts make money and create lift. A page sitting there isn’t doing you any good.

Answering, “How well is this page converting?

 

Again, I would say that a page just sitting there is never converting any different that it ever has, so tracking the conversion rate of a page is pointless. You should be tracking how good YOU are at making changes that improve conversion.

Lift is as Important as Revenue and Conversion

 

Just like I feel that “engagement” is an excuse on the part of publisher/content sites, I feel that tracking how much a page makes or how well it converts is an excuse for not testing your pages and working on creating lift. If you really care how much a page is making or how well it’s converting, then you should have a hypothesis as to how you can make it better, and you should test that hypothesis to create lift.

Building Your Personal Brand as an Expert

As I have said in a previous post on this blog, being successful and being good at your job are two different things. Some have said via comments and Twitter, that this is sad but true. However, I disagree. This is simply a fact, and it is up to everyone to just recognize that there is a difference and learn how to best take advantage of this and become good at your job and AND successful at the same time! Since I work in e-commerce and Web analytics specifically. I’d like to start an open discussion on how to be both. First there’s being good at your job.

In terms of Web analytics, being good at your job should at least include knowledge of the following:

  • Segmenting your visitors, including knowing which are the best segments and how to find new ones
  • A/B &multivariate testing and site optimization
  • Understanding, in the most advanced way, how to implement your Web analytics solution (not just how to run reports)
  • How to debug analytics implementations (WASP and Charles are great tools)
  • Creating reports and dashboards that are of actionable use
  • Understanding the difference between reporting and analysis and when each is appropriate
  • Understanding how to track what is actionable as opposed to everything in the world
  • Being able to setup a good system of dashboards and reporting so that you can spend energy on real analyses, as opposed to just reporting

Now, let’s say that you’ve nailed everything above and you are the master of analyses, testing and your analytics tool of choice. So how can you become successful as a Web analyst. First, let’s limit our definition of success to staying in Web analytics and becoming well known and respected within the field. The end goal being better job prospects and advancement opportunities at your current job. Here are some of the things that you can do:

  • PRESENT to management, don’t just e-mail analyses
  • Work regularly on presentation skills (Presentation Zen is a great resource with links to other resources)
  • You should WOW management at least every other week. As a Web analyst, you’re probably sitting on a gold mine of info of which management is completely unaware. Make sure to show them things on a regular basis that gets you (not an email) in front of them and noticed!
  • Get on the Yahoo! Web Analytics Board and start interacting with people
  • Get on the Twitter and start interacting with Web analytics professionals
  • Attend relevant conferences and industry events (at least 1 or two per year, and mingle/network)
  • You can also think about starting your blog (again, anything to get your name out there as an expert). I’m thinking of switching to a video format to get myself out on the Internet even a little more.

In the end one of the keys to being successful is building responsible for you own personal brand and how it is perceived within your job as well as within the industry. In short, you need to get out there and make yourself known as an expert. To wrap things up, here’s a great video from Gary Vaynerchuck (host of Wine Library TV) on developing your personal brand, whatever the focus:

Do you have any career or Web analytics success tips that you can share?

How does analysis become reporting?!

I’m not sure of others’ experiences, but ts has seemed to me that most of the time I provide a very insightful analysis to management and they are very pleased, the inevitable followup on their part is, “can we start getting this every week?” So while Web analysts want to provide analysis as opposed to becoming report monkeys, are we just creating more work for ourselves with our great analyses? More importantly, how do we get management to stop turning every analysis into a “regular report?” I think that the answer here is 3 fold:

  1. Learn how to set management expectations
  2. Have alternative (or more in-depth) anlayses planned at all times
  3. Assert your expertise

I think that if you do all of the above with an already existing base of established reporting, you can have success as a true analyst and not a report monkey. First though, how do you set clear expectations to management?

Email is all about setting expectations

One of the most important parts of a successful e-mail marketing campaign is setting the expectation of how often the recipient can expect to be emailed and what they will be e-mailed. The same goes for analyses of Web data. First, inform management of the analysis that you will be performing. This can enable them to ask some questions up front so that “feature creep” doesn’t occur later in the analysis (or worse yet, afterwards). Also, you’ll want to make management aware that reporting on this information on a regular basis and simply trending it isn’t the end/best result. Inform them that you will be delivering actionable insights after which it is their responsibility to act (unless the necessary resources are within your sphere of influence should you be so lucky).

Alternatives and the next big thing

One of the best ways to convince management to not make an analysis a regular report is to have the next few things lined up and planned out. This way, you can then tell them what was planned next and that regularly reporting on what you just delivered will decrease the number of analyses that you can deliver that are actionable.

You Are an Expert in Web Analytics & Analysis

If you weren’t, you’ve done a good job in fooling people that are signing your paycheck. We all know that convincing the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) that you know more than them will usually fail. This is where it is your responsibility over time to build your own personal brand as an expert. This isn’t going to happen over night. You’ll have to prove yourself. My recommendation here is to plan EVERY week what you are going to deliver to management to wow them. If this means slowly delivering great things then so be it. Trust me the result is worth it. One of the most important things that I learned in grad school is the following, and it was sort of a career epiphany:

  • Being good at your job and being successful are two TOTALLY different things.

These are just a few of the things that I try to keep in mind so that analyses don’t turn into boring reports that eventually and inevitably get ignored.

How do you ensure that your big ideas and analyses don’t get ignored? This also reminds me, if you haven’t read it, you should also check out the book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die…” You can get the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287

Omniture Data Sources

I’ve wanted to document what I’ve done with Omniture Data Sources for a while now. Data Sources is one of the most powerful features of Omniture, with very little practical documentation. Data Sources allows you to upload any data and integrate it into SiteCatalyst (and Discover) reporting. The real power lies in the fact that you can upload offline data about transactions that were completed online. For example, most e-commerce businesses have returns and cancels. With Data Sources you could upload your data for returns and cancels and see it in reporting for marketing channels as well as product reporting and any other reports in SiteCatayst. This all being said, Data Sources isn’t something to be taken lightly. These uploads require planning and preferably testing in a development version of your report suite. Once you upload the data, it’s there for good (trust me, I’ve messed it up before and all you do is loose variables and events).  Here, I’ll tell you what you need to do to get one of the most common things you might think of into SiteCatalyst, returned orders. First, let’s look at setting up SiteCatalyst and your online orders so that you can import offline data at the transactional level.

Transaction IDs
Anything can be uploaded into Data Sources. But, if you want the data to do anything other than be a flat number you’ll first need to implement Transaction IDs. Transaction IDs are basically unique identifiers for your orders. You could simply use your current order ID at the time of purchase if you like, but you do not have to (your choice). The Transaction ID is what enables SiteCatalyst to associate uploaded data with transactions placed online. Note that Omniture will only hold this Transaction ID on its end for 90 days (meaning you can only upload offline data for transactions made online in the last 90 days). You can pay Omniture to hold the Transaction IDs longer if you need to (maybe if you are in a business with a sales cycle longer than 90 days). Here are the steps to getting Transaction IDs in place:

  1. Call your account manager and get them to enable Transaction IDs (easy enough).
  2. Your account manager will give you an updated version of your JS file that has the requirements for the implementation of the Transaction IDs.
  3. Have your developers implement the creation of the unique Transaction ID on your order completion page. The updated JS will pick that up and send it to Omniture.

That’s pretty much all you need to do to get the Transaction ID in place. Now let’s look at uploading data for returns/cancels at the transactional level.

Returns/Cancels Data Source for Omniture SiteCatalyst
First of all and most importantly, be sure that you test these things in a dev report suite before you upload the real stuff into you live report suite. I’m also going to assume here that you’ll want to see the 4 following metrics when you upload returns (cancels work exactly the same):

  1. Returned Revenue (define as a currency event in SiteCatalyst admin)
  2. Returned Orders (define as a numeric event in SiteCatalyst admin)
  3. Returned Units (define as a numeric event in SiteCatalyst admin)
  4. Cost of Returns (to add back to cost of goods sold when you start doing that too!) (define as currency event in SiteCatalyst admin)

So, this will take up 4 of your 80 events. You don’t have to import all four of these metrics, you can just bring in the revenue number if you like. However for our purposes here, these 4 make it the most complex and will make the best example.

You’ll want to use the “Product Returns” Data Source template:

Product Returns Data Source

The four events you’ll need to setup:

Mapping the four events to your SiteCatalyst custom events:

Setting up your dimension (required for any data source):

Mapping your dimension to products (a little obvious here):

After walking through the above wizard, the last screen will present you with a template to use as well as FTP information for the upload.

Next, you’ll need to get the return data from your team with the following columns:

  • Order Date
  • Product ID
  • Revenue
  • Orders
  • Units
  • Transaction ID

The challenge in getting this data is when you come across a transaction with more than one unique product. Not multiples of the same product, but two different products in the same order. Here’s an example of what two transactions would look like when one transaction has a single product and another transaction has 2 unique products:

http://snurl.com/2xvlk

Now move the returns data you received from your database into your data source template and upload this “.txt” file along with a blank file named exactly the same, but ending with a “.fin” extension to the FTP location provided at the end of the setup of the Data Source.

It could take some time to see the results of your upload depending upon the size of the upload itself. However after that, you will have the 4 return metrics available in any conversion-based report.

This covers only one of the types of uploads of Data Sources that you can accomplish with Omniture’s Data Sources functionality.  This is also not the only way you can upload returns data, but this is what I have found to work well. You can also upload cost of goods sold and any other data that you can link to the Transaction ID that you set on your site.

If you have any specific questions about this example or any other possibilities of data sources, please feel free to shoot me an email at jason [at] jasonegan.net, or you can follow me on Twitter and hit me up there for some info, http://www.twitter.com/jasonegan.