Internet Marketing has become one of the most powerful
marketing tools for both the B2B or B2C environment, but has trying to
which is the most appropriate and relevant metrics and measurements to
buy creating mayhem?
When you try to create structure around something like the
Internet that is inherently an open environment with open access and free
flowing information, you may feel like the inmates are running the asylum. In
addition, the concept of statistics has always had a certain aura with regards
to presenting information in a manner that may emphasis less relevant, but better looking data or as the saying goes, "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics."
So, what are you to do if you are trying to create a
position to show that your product or service is valuable, and from the
procurement side, how do you analyze which solution truly has the linage and
supporting information to ensure that it will meet your needs? And, how do you
rationalize the different metrics and measurements without creating mayhem?
The first problem is semantics; in most cases you are
speaking different languages, not literally, but figuratively. The information
that the buyer of solutions is looking for may not be in-sync with what the seller is presenting, and in many cases the
seller will react to make a sale and adjust their information to meet the
buyer's request. This may seem like an obvious reaction, but many times the
information that is being requested may be passé and irrelevant. A good example
of this is when a buyer asks for data about clicks, visitors, or time on a
site. Though in some cases this type of information may be relevant, in many
cases this type of information was born out of the Internet Marketing from 5
years ago. What we have learned is not all web sites are the same, and not all
marketing of web sites is the same, so more sophisticated information is being
created, but it will take time for this type of information to filter down in
to the mainstream vernacular. In addition, sellers are always coming up with
new ways to spin a statistic to make their product look the best; this is not
new to the Internet market.
So, if you are a buyer of services and you are trying to
rationalize which service will provide you with the most value, or if you are a
buyer looking to procure metrics or measurement solutions for your website, it
all starts with understanding your customer, and how they use the Internet. If
the product that you are looking to measure is informational in nature then the
amount of time on your website may not be relevant, nor the number of clicks.
Thus, looking at metric tools and measurement solutions that talk about showing
you the time on your website or the total number of clicks would not be
relevant. If you are looking to buy a service then you need to understand what
you want out of the service versus them telling you what they do. You may also
want to review results from other clients serviced by the vendor; this way you
can see if this type of results oriented solution is right for you and not get
caught up in terminology that may be foreign to you.
The seller of services is in a tough position in that they
are excited and passionate about what they have to offer, they feel it is
superior to their competition, and they have created data, information, and
statistics to prove their point, but the buyers may not find this information
relevant. Thus, the time to close a deal lengthens as you work your way into
the customers needs and attempt to translate your information into their
terminology, or if possible into hard results.
With all this said, there is still a challenge in
understanding that most of the metrics and measurements available are flawed or
inferred. The bottom line to the Internet is that it is unstructured, and the
free tools are only as good as what you paid for them. With respect to the
tools that you can buy and link to your website, these tools will be more
mature and provide layers and layers of data, which will require dedicated
personnel to sift through and interpret their relevance. This also means that
if you had the money to buy sophisticated tools that you are further down the
road to understanding and tracking customer behavior.
So, let's deal with the numerous free tools that are
available, and seem to be causing mayhem. This
is not to say that the free tools (i.e. Google Analytics, Webmaster tools,
Quantcast, Alexa, etc.) are useless, but as I noted, they are free and as such
have limited information, and this is not about me providing a score card on
the tools. The point is that tools like Google Analytics have some excellent
solutions and provide very detailed data if they are set up correctly on your website, but interpreting the data and
relevance out of it is in your hands. On one hand, if you become very dependant
and attentive regarding the information supplied by Google Analytics then you
might be in a position to move to a more sophisticated purchased solution. What
I have found is that people set up Google Analytics and then select the
information that seems best and forgo using any of the other information. It
seems that this happens because it takes time and attention to details when
looking at any data, and most people either get frustrated trying to interpret
the data, or they do not have the time, resources, or focus.
With regards to the other inferred tool sets, example Quantcast and Alexa, they
provide information on a website that is inferred, but not actual. Yes,
Quantcast has the ability to be loaded onto every page of the website if the owner so chooses, which would
increase the accuracy of the information, but in most cases this is not the
I know companies that use these websites as well as others
like this to make business decisions on other companies. The problem is that
most of these free Internet tools load as many websites that they can to their
list so that when someone comes to their site looking for information on a
website they have something about the website in question. The concern is that
in most cases the information that is provided is not accurate information, it
is inferred information. These free information Internet websites are not
directly linked to every site and thus they use various methods to infer
results such as visitors, time, demographics, and more. What is really sad is
that I have heard of decisions being made from this type of data that caused
some very qualified solutions to be removed for a list of potential candidates.
When I asked groups that use these tools why they use them, the response was
that they did not understand all of the different terminology when they spoke
with various vendors thus they felt more comfortable soliciting information on
The bottom line is that if you are the buyer or decision
maker there are no generic metrics and measurements that are easy to reference.
So, to avoid metrics measurement mayhem you need to take time to create a list
with respect to how you want your customers to interpret the data you have, or
how you want them to interact with your website. This will go a long way to
creating an understanding of what data, information, and statistics are
relevant for your needs.
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