Measure Your Web 2.0 Activities

Web 2.0 allows a different type of interaction with your customers in that it promotes longer term relationships. It remains integral to measure immediate conversions such as sales, however understanding your visitors over time is also key within the web world. The reason for this is that one interaction may not result in an immediate conversion, but it may influence an action the next time the consumer interacts with an element of your campaign.

Some are quick to judge one part of their campaign, for example the offline portion or online display ads, when their pay per click campaign appears to be generating the highest conversion rates in terms of sales. What they cannot see, is the value that the other campaign elements have on a visitor’s perception of the brand by the time they are exposed to the pay per click ad.

A sports apparel company that wants to understand the effectiveness of each aspect of their marketing mix which includes RSS, display ads, and paid search, would benefit by doing this type of session-by-session evaluation. I've named our persona “Jim” for the sake of personalizing this description.

Session 1:
- Jim finds the sports apparel website by clicking on a display ad that pops up while he’s reading sports news.
- Jim browses through a few pages of content, registers for RSS and then leaves.

Session 2:
- Jim regularly reads the company’s RSS feed and sees one article of special interest, so returns to the site.
- Once back on the site, he continues to look around for about 20 minutes, interested in additional related content.

Session 3:
- Jim is searching for articles on the Grey Cup game and responds to a natural search listing for content on the apparel company’s site – the cheerleaders were outfitted with their clothing.
- Jim posts a comment on the article and then leaves.

Session 4:
- Jim continues to read the RSS feed regularly and after reading many strong reviews on the company’s clothing, he becomes more committed to the brand.
- One day, Jim is in need of a new dry-fit top for working out, and so he accesses the apparel site directly and makes the online purchase.

Now, if the session-based data were analyzed as individual units, then all of the marketing activities would be undervalued or the last activity resulting in the conversion would be assigned a false high value:
- Display ad didn’t convert
- RSS didn’t convert
- Natural search didn’t convert
- Accessing the site directly converted

You need to see the complete picture to make appropriate decisions, and if the sale is the desired end goal, then measure it, but find a way to follow the paths consumers take to get there. There are tools out there such as WebTrends and even Google Analytics that are capable of it (some more sophisticated than others). It will take pre-planning and thought to set things up properly and of course time to analyze results regularly so that they are meaningful and actionable.

Marketing is an evolutionary thing, and moving visitors along in the sales cycle should be seen as equally important as the activity that results in a sale. Other types of activities, such as signing up for RSS or commenting on an article, are still ‘conversions’ – and therefore should be measured and considered to be successes within their own realm.

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