This weekend, a few of us in the Ometria team attended a top gathering of web analytics specialists - MeasureCamp. Expertly organised by Peter O'Neill of L3 Analytics, the best-connected man in the web analytics world, MeasureCamp prides itself on being an 'unconference' where there are no rules and only one goal - to spread knowledge through the community. Almost two hundred attendees from a dozen countries gathered at the Mozilla headquarters in London to spend the day discussing Google Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst, and of course some of the latest specialist tools like SnowPlow and Ometria. All topics were open to discussion - except for Big Data.. There was a swear jar for anyone caught using that phrase, as well as 'data scientist', 'ninja', 'rockstar', 'hits' and 'it depends'. Needless to say, the jar was overflowing by the end of the day.
There were multiple tracks running throughout the event, so this is but one of many possible overviews - however here are my six key takeaways from the day.
1. Analytics + Modelling = Success.
Carmen Mardiros gave a fascinating talk on funnel analysis using Google Analytics. According to Carmen, the biggest problem with web analytics tools is that they don't have any modeling built into them directly. Analysts and consultants spend a long time taking the data out of web analytics, in order to load it into a package like SPSS which then allows them to do predictive propensity modeling. The results then have to be collated into a report, and the outcome needs to be turned into an action that is fed back into the business. The market is crying out for a focused tool which combines all of this - something that collects the data, creates a model, and allows you to take clear decisions based on its output.
2. Businesses need to change their principles.
Craig Sullivan talked about the underlying fundamentals that make top companies successful - how they regularly and constantly invest in analytics and instrumentation, and shift attitudes from "I don't know" to "I'll find out." In addition to these principles, he mentioned how the most successful organisations he had worked with used an agile single-team approach with a small group of polymaths using collaborative tools to successfully develop and execute tests to constantly improve the business.
3. Ecommerce analytics needs new metrics.
Nicolas Malo gave a talk spefically on ecommerce analytics, and argued that the standard "visits to orders" conversion rate is becoming a less and less relevant and accurate metric, as we move towards multiple-device use, showrooming and offline conversion. The customer purchasing cycle is lengthening, with customers returning more times before completing a purchase. Cohort analysis of actual visitors, rather than visits, is gaining momentum and becoming a key component of an ecommerce analyst's toolset.
4. Companies need to give their analysts the right tools.
An analyst (best keep him unnamed!) at one of the largest fashion retailers in the UK described his weekly routine, and explained how he spends two days each week just preparing standard reports, which are often ignored at the meeting where he presents them. He would love access to better software, in order to focus on delivering insights and suggestions, but this is not possible given the current setup in his company - both the technology they use, and the overall mentality of the company, need to change in order to improve the situation.
5. There are many relevant events that need measuring.
Alexander Dean at Snowplow went into detail on his approach to recording events. As a first step, it is important to create an event dictionary, and truly understand every step that you feel is relevant to your business, and hence needs to be tracked. Then, each of these events can be described through a grammatical structure - subject, verb, object, preposition. Whether it is a user adding something to a basket, or clicking a social share link, all events can be thought of in this way, allowing online retailers to create a comprehensive framework of what they should be measuring and analysing.
6. Content marketing only works if it is data-driven.
Jono Alderson discussed analytics for content marketing. He explained that it is often hard to get the commercial people in the business to take an analytical approach to this, but that this was vital for its success - each objective should be interpreted and turned into a KPI, and a clear target should then be set so that success can be measured. Content marketing usually drives micro conversions, and not the final outcome, so it is important to measure the value of each interaction that a piece of content drives, and attribute it correctly. Only then can the true value of that content be determined, and be adapted appropriately.
In addition to these six main points, there was one very interesting undercurrent throughout all of the presentations. The advent of Google Universal Analytics (UA) has spawned a lot of interest in unified data - in extracting information from additional data sources to improve the accuracy and the power of existing analytics processes. The UA platform itself has yet to be released to the general public - and when it does get released, it will still take complex API integrations to be able to push relevant data into it. But assuming that this is done, either through UA or through another platform which offers the same, companies with access to this kind of aggregated data will find themselves with a significant competitive advantage.
We're grateful to Peter for the invitation and for organising such an informative and stimulating event, and look forward to coming back next year, armed with even more knowledge of ecommerce analytics from our own journey here at Ometria.