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SES San Jose Session: Measuring Success in a 2.0 World
Saturday, August 23, 2008
In our attempt to cover some of the sessions conducted this past week at SES San Jose, here is another one that I attended and was somewhat impressed with. The session was called, Measuring Success in a 2.0 World and featured a stellar group of speakers. The panel explored some cutting edge techniques to measure success and touched on what metrics and stats we should really care about and ways to be more strategically focused. This really was a super panel of analytics experts.

The session started out with Avinash Kaushik, author, blogger and analytics evangelist from Google. This man is the man to talk to about web analytics. He is a wonderful speaker and a tremendous authority on the subject. Avinash began by posing the question, "Why is 2.0 such as challenge?" The main reason? Well 2.0 is unique and different. He mentioned that content creation, distribution and the content consumption process is broken. Currently it's unlimited and that presents a problem and makes it difficult to manage.

Avainash discussed three tips to consider when measuring in the 2.0 world.
  1. Multiplicity - in addition to fundamental metrics such as traffic data, be sure to measure comments, analytics and use other tools to track content. Learn how to use many different tools. He used the analogy that you cannot build a house with one single tool.

  2. Unique Measures for a Unique World - here he talked about measuring things such as feed subscribers and using tools such as Feedburner to help measure metrics such as this.

  3. Unique Data Collection - use other mechanisms to track content including using things such as event logging and event tracking for insight into things such as video consumption and the like.
Jim Sterene, Chairman of the Web Analytics Association was up next and discussed the fact that there is simply too much information out there. He stated that we need to measure what people are thinking and what they are getting out of their online experience. Benchmarking will continue to become more important. He touched on search metrics and measuring rankings and how people respond to different keywords. He touched on measuring organic SEO and PPC to help determine what phrases we should be bidding on in the future. He stated that we need to understand which keyword are bringing us profit as in business, it's all about profitability.

Matt Bailey from SiteLogic was up next. He had a great presentation illustrated by the fact that he is obviously a fan of the original Star Trek. He began by talking about measuring success in 1.0 through mundane reporting and value justification. He suggests that we all need to get out of the Web 1.0 Analytics rat-race and need to get rid of the pragmatic charts and graphs. In order to get out of these 1.0 measurements he suggests that we need to ask logical questions such as the how? the why? and the what if? We need to search for answers. He touched on what he calls the 3 C's of Analytics:
  • Context - why the user came to the website and what were they looking for?
  • Comparison
  • Contacts (although in my notes I had written "contracts")
Matt mentioned the need to "segment the segment" as he used a Star Trek example to illustrate. He pulled out a stat that in the original Star Trek series, that the red shirts died 79% of the time (apparently 49 of the deaths on the original series were by trekkies in wearing the red shirts). Of this 79% he broke this down further (segmenting the segment) to communicate that the red shirt casualty rate broken down something like this:

Red Shirt Casualty Rate by Activity
• On-board “incidents” 42.5%
• Beaming down to the planet 57.5%

Furthermore, Death Rate for Red Shirts:
Beaming Down 57.5%
In Fights 42.5%
Kirk + women 16%

It was a great way to illustrate how to segment the segment. Matt then went on to mention that you need to tell a story to compare and contrast information about your website. In fact you should:
  1. ASK Questions
  2. Take Action
He then shared a fantastic quote from Neil Postman...

"Question-asking is the most significant tool human beings have."

Marshall Sponder was the final speaker and he discussed social networks and how we need to take people's input and measure the conversation.

From here we got into the Q&A, where a member of the audience asked:

Should we continue to measure page views or are they dead? Avinash responded with the thought that page views are still relevant and will remain relevant for a while. However we need to look into new metrics and segment to understand the customer experience.

Overall it was a great session. After the session I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Zwicky CEO of Enquisite. Stayed tuned for that interview to be posted in upcoming weeks.

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