Again.

Analytics Anxiety? Never Again with this Simple Framework

Pouring over big data isn’t the goal.

Instead, analytics are supposed to give us a way to find out where the bottlenecks or gaps are occurring, and how to best prioritize our next move (allocating resources appropriately to get the job done).

Data, by itself, is meaningless.

It gets worse with added complexity, in a world where there’s no shortage of datavomiting dashboards in most startups and executive HIPPO offices.

Problem is, tracking hundreds of KPI’s can quickly become overwhelming (at best) or completely baffling (at worst).

You can’t figure out where to start, or what to prioritize when faced with analysis paralysis.

Here’s how to keep things simple, with the help of an old school copywriting framework, to keep the focus on action (instead of reporting).

The Pernicious Problem with Analytics

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Data lies.

Not always intentionally, but it can be bent or molded to offer up compelling narratives.

Any hockey-stick looking graph can plucked from obscurity to be used to WOW clients, impress bosses, and even silence your own inner chatter.

If that inherent bias ain’t bad enough, raw data doesn’t always give you the full picture of an activity.

For example, what’s the value of this very blog you’re reading?

Is it ‘thought leadership’? ‘Brand awareness’?

Cool. How can you justify it, put a value on it, and sell it to said bosses or clients?

Compare it to say, AdWords. THAT’S easy to sell. People look for something specific. They click and convert. Almost immediately.

What’s the ROI of responding to angry customers on Facebook? Good luck.

Point is, data doesn’t always provide the full picture.

Not taking into account these things, while over prioritizing others, can be a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way you can start solving this problem. And it comes from an unlikely source: copywriting.

What Copywriting Can Teach You About Analytics

Good, old fashioned direct response copywriting has been around since the 60s.

For over 50 years since, your mailbox has been chock full of crap you don’t need wrapped in clever, hyperbolic language.

Despite that malicious use, there is a simple copywriting ethos useful for outlining a set of activities that lead strangers to become customers.

AIDA: or Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

The idea is that you need to start by grabbing people’s attention, slowly build interest by developing trust, which creates an internal desire to obtain the solution your widget solves, before finally taking action to fix the problem or gain the solution.

When applied in the context of site analytics, it represents a simple sales funnel (or dare I say, customer journey), where the goal is to build brand awareness, keep people on-site longer to develop trust, leading to the small commitments that eventually lead to bigger ones.

Here’s how that looks in plain english:

  • Attention: People coming to your website, from first-time visitors to repeat ones.
  • Interest: People sticking around, reading blog posts, diving deeper into services pages, and more.
  • Desire: People converting on useful events or ‘micro-conversions’ that lead to sales.
  • Action: People giving you their credit card to become a customer, or giving you their information to become a sales-ready lead.

Now that you have a place to start, let’s see how to set this thing up.

How to Get Started Using AIDA Analytics

Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates is an excellent framework that espouses selecting a few metrics (in favor of gigantic dashboards) to focus your attention.

Selecting one or two (read: a few) actionable metrics for each can give you a rough idea of how you’re doing, and where you’re falling short.

The focus is on the big picture, which should make it easier to know where to start or focus your limited resources for maximum effect.

And then from there, you can always dive deeper into the weeds too.

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For example:

  • Attention: Visits / Sources gives you an indication of how well your marketing channels stack up, and how well your promotional efforts are performing.
  • Interest: Repeat Visits or Pages/Visit lets you know if people are digging your stuff, interested to learn more. Or if they’re bouncing immediately after getting to your site.
  • Desire: Micro-conversions like subscribers are useful in obtaining small commitments from people, gaining permission to continue nurturing those leads over the long term.
  • Action: At the end of the day, you’re doing this for products purchased or sales ready leads.

Setting up a basic dashboard for these actionable metrics takes literally seconds.

In Google Analytics, create a new dashboard and get started by clicking Add a Widget.

Up pops a few options to choose from. For example, the basic metric option will show you just that: a number. While a timeline, table, or pie will give you a more complex figure that allows you to compare and contrast different elements.

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Adding up a few of these widgets should give you a simple dashboard so you can see actionable metrics at a glance. You can even kinda align them in funnel or journey format, from left to right, so that it logically makes sense when viewing from afar.

aida-google-analytics

Kissmetrics will obviously also do this (and much more), allowing you to instrument events based on your unique funnel steps. An additionally nice feature is that it will highlight conversion steps in between too, so that you can immediately see how many people might be progressing from one ‘stage’ (like Attention) to another (like Interest).

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Starting with a simple framework like AIDA can simplify your life. But the real value will be in digging deeper to glean insights over time.

Here’s how.

How to Glean Insights from Your Simple Analytics

A simple analytical framework, like the copywriting AIDA in this case, helps add context to raw data.

It also keeps your focus on the important things that affect your bottom line, like a few key Marketing KPI’s and the Business Metrics those influence. That way you don’t get sidetracked worrying about or overanalyzing vanity metrics like links, rankings or press mentions (which tend to be more Leading Indicators anyway).

Then, you can begin to glean insight from this data by comparing results over time.

leading-indicators-stages

For example, look at your own historical trends over the past period or prior year to rule out seasonality for cyclical businesses.

What are the patterns? Is your performance in certain areas worthy of the budgeted resources? Or were your goals and objectives a little too ambitious to begin with?

Viewing data in context like this also helps you spot interesting tidbits of information that you weren’t previously privy to, and should explore further.

Like, “Oh hey, look at how much more engagement we get from Facebook users. Maybe Facebook doesn’t suck so bad after all”.

visits-sources-google-analytics

Expecting the same conversions from Facebook as Google AdWords may not be logical.

Facebook (and social media) is serendipitous, meaning people find stuff by luck, chance, or timing. Compare that to AdWords, where it’s more likely that people have intent to purchase (because after all, they’re typing in exactly what they’re looking for), and you can see where the error in logic happens.

But when you can see that Facebook visitors tend to be almost twice as engaged, you can adjust campaigns accordingly. Instead of expecting the same conversions from Facebook, let’s try using those seemingly interested and loyal visitors to help us amplify our message and reach more people.

Digging into channel comparisons like this, after viewing it in the context of a larger framework or funnel, gives you greater insight behind individual campaign performance.

When you stack them up against each other, assessing how results should dictate future budgets, you’re a little better prepared.

kissmetrics-funnel-report-with-segmentation

Sure, Campaign A might have delivered at a higher rate than Campaign B. But maybe it can’t scale as well or isn’t as cost effective, resulting in fewer (+ more expensive) total leads over time.

When you have a simple framework in place that prioritizes actionable metrics over vanity ones, you should be able to draw a straight line from your most profitable customers, through the campaigns that generated them, and how your website pages or traffic channels should adjust accordingly.

Conclusion

Raw data is meaningless.

There’s too much of it, and it quickly can become mind numbingly exhausting when you attempt to piece together all the clues.

Simplicity is, well, the simplest way to make sense of it all.

Applying a basic framework to your funnel, like copywriting’s age-old AIDA, quickly cuts through the clutter, adding context to help you figure out where to begin.

From there, a focus on fewer metrics that prioritize action over vanity will keep you (and your team) aligned on what really matters to move the needle for your organization.

Because you only have so much time, energy, attention and money to go around.

And the only thing worse than spending those on the wrong things, is to squander them going in circles without committing to anything at all.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Facebook is changing which posts you’ll see first in the News Feed — again

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Facebook is once again tweaking its News Feed algorithm to help weed out posts you may not want to see

The company said Monday that it is updating the News Feed based on feedback from user surveys; the changes will affect which updates will appear at the top of your feed.

Facebook has been surveying users about the content of their News Feeds for quite some time, making it easier to ignore viral posts and asking “tens of thousands” of users to rate stories in their feeds daily

The newest change will take those ratings into account, using “qualitative feedback to show relevant stories,” according to a blog post from the company Read more…

More about Facebook, Social Media, Tech, News Feed, and Apps Software


Social Media

The Future of Web Design Again?

I know, you’ve heard it before. Probably every year too. Next year’s biggest web design trends will be <list goes here>. Well this isn’t going to be one of those articles. I’m not interested in rehashing some junk about how responsive design will be big (as it already is) or how minimalism will be the next big thing (again, everyone is doing it). I’m interested in the trends just around the corner we’re not quite at, but are getting closer to.

Within this article we’re going to explore these topics so you can get the gist of exactly where we’re heading as an industry. More importantly, I want to underline the value you can add to your role as a designer if you start reading about the subjects and begin integrating the fundamentals into your workflow. With frequent change in the design industry, there’s always something new to learn, so perhaps some of the below will interest you.

Up and Coming Web Design Trends

Display-less Interactivity

Currently, we have speech assistants like Siri and Cortana that turn data requests into aural feedback. With the Internet of things gaining momentum due to our increased connectivity, apps that provide not just for us but our environment will become increasingly useful. With web enabled devices (like watches) getting smaller, readability issues will need to be overcome by finding alternative means of consuming content naturally.

W3

New Frameworks & Standard Deprecation

They say there are only two constants in life: death and taxes. Well when it comes to the Web, there’s only two constants in life: standards evolve and new frameworks appear. HTML5 replaced HTML4 (and XHTML) and React became the next big library after Angular, Node (and MEAN) and jQuery. With the pace of the Web there will always be a new toy around the corner. You could try reading draft W3C specifications to get ahead of the crowd.

MEAN

Handcrafted “Custom” Elements

Creating custom HTML elements has already been around for a little while (since the formation of HTML5), and with the help of a framework like Polymer you can put something together with very little effort. However, currently, the number of people building and taking advantage of them is rather limited. In the near future I can see them becoming increasingly popular and used more frequently as an alternative for native applications.

Uniformity in the Essentials

Static website generators have been getting a lot of attention lately as a less server intensive and better performing option for serving straightforward sites to users. With the ability to generate a predefined boilerplate set to a specific style guide, I can see (in the future) a situation where all sites begin with the same core responsive template and start their design or development journey from a midway point (like a CMS user).

Polymer Project

Simpler Format Shifting Content

How many times have you looked at your analytics and been amazed at how people interact with your content? Currently we produce content in one format, upload it to our site, and force visitors to consume it in the way we distribute it. In the future, due to the increasing diversity of devices, it will become increasingly important to let visitors transcode our content so it can be accessed easier (to a compatible video codec or plaintext).

Performance & Big Data Analysis

OK, performance is something that’s already being talked about to quite a large extent, and it’s certainly something everyone should be taking notice of. However, in the future, it’s not just bytes we’re going to be trying to crunch, it’ll be the numbers that go along with it. Working out the route users take to access data, trying to reduce menu sizes, loading content on-demand – all of this will push our need to save data further.

Web Page Test

Jigsaw-like Component Framework

Everybody seems to love a good framework these days, the only trouble is that by utilizing something like jQuery you end up having to download and cache a hundred KB lump of JavaScript for perhaps only a few calls and requests. In the future I can see more libraries being decoupled into components that are compiled pre-upload based on the requirements of a site (in the same way that we pre-process multiple SASS imports into a CSS file).

Media Queries for Accessibility

Responsive design has offered us many solutions like flexible breakpoints. No longer do we need separate sites for desktop and mobile layouts or browser detection scripts. The trouble with accessibility is, it’s often down to an expensive piece of software to interpret the page correctly. Having something like media queries for specific impairments would let designers compensate by switching to alternative media – hassle free.

Pure CSS

Smart-Memory Responsive Layouts

How often have you visited a website and wished that a certain item (say the search box) was located in the same place on all websites. While this isn’t currently possible, it perhaps isn’t out of the question to envision a future in which layouts can be customized by users, content hidden, and settings memorized with no need to use browser extensions. This would allow session data to be moved between devices and readability to be prioritized.

New Devices, Browsers & Hardware

Finally, if there’s one thing you’ll be guaranteed to see in the future of Web design, it’ll be new toys to cater your websites to. This will mean input devices like games console pads and joysticks, stylus’s, keyboards, mice, touch-screens, haptic devices, remote controls, cameras and even voice recognition. As for output devices, people will still be using printers and displays, except displays will range from TV’s to smart watches!

Small Devices

How To Stay Ahead

Keeping up with the changing pace of the Internet has never been easy, especially with the growth of new pre-processors, tools, libraries, and frameworks bringing ever more functionality and automation than before. The Web is what we make of it and as an open platform we have the power to both improve and enhance it as we wish; bringing change and new features as we require it.

Conclusion

Some of the above changes may take longer than others to become reality, but I predict that the majority will eventually end up as regular mainstays in our workflows. Perhaps some predictions won’t come true, however I’ve tried to remain as close to where things currently stand as possible.

Of course, with an industry as ever-changing as the Web, there’s no telling where time will take us, but that’s part of the fun of being a Web designer.


Onextrapixel – Web Design and Development Online Magazine

This Little-Known Robin Williams Ad Will Break Your Heart All Over Again

Earlier this week, we recapped some of the best moments from Robin Williams' contributions to advertising, but a reader pointed out that we omitted one of his last—and most touching—commercials.

In the 2012 spot below for Sky Italia satellite TV, Williams plays a life-sized toy robot that a boy finds waiting for him under the Christmas tree. The two are soon inseparable, playing games throughout the house and sharing a few magical moments. 

As news of Williams' death spread this week, the Internet was flooded with stories from fans who grew up in broken or even abusive homes. Williams' comedies showed them that there really were great fathers out there, and the films offered them a chance to escape to a world created around a man who was as creative and fun as he was loving and genuine.

The family in this ad seems just fine, but it's still a wonderful encapsulation of the very personal joy Williams brought to children around the world.





Adweek : Advertising & Branding

Agency Again Strikes Viral Gold With Tiny Animals Enjoying Tiny Festivities

Workplace productivity has gone out the window once again thanks to "Tiny Birthday for a Tiny Hedgehog," the latest time-wasting video from agency HelloDenizen that has first-worlders convulsively hitting replay.

The Los Angeles shop, on a self-promotional odyssey of precious proportions, unleashed "Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos" in April. It has nearly 8 million YouTube views (though you can watch it below if you're late to the fiesta). Now the hamsters join their hedgehog pal for a bash that's racked up 1 million views since launching a week ago.

HelloDenizen's Joel Jensen describes the new video as an attempt to expand on earlier concepts and add some new layers. The results are mind-meltingly cute. You've got itsy-bitsy presents wrapped in fancy paper, itty-bitty balloons, eentsy-weentsy festive hats and widdle whiskers coated in creamy icing as furry faces happily munch away.

This birthday party takes the cake.





Adweek : Advertising & Branding