“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Einstein
With the Holiday season upon us, there is pressure to anticipate what your loved ones will want by way of Holiday gifts. If you have a spouse, you know that when you get married you are expected to become a mind reader. If you have children, do not worry, they will let you know what they want, at least ten times before the Holidays hit. But what if you are an online retailer, or a service provider, is it safe to “guess” at what your customers want from you this Holiday season?
There are an estimated 4 billion online searches performed on a daily basis. The sheer volume of searches alone makes it impossible to anticipate online behavior with any degree of certainty. Yes, Google Trends helps with projections when putting together an online marketing campaign, but the only sure fired solution is website analytics. What does your website tell you? The best antidote to doubt is letting the data drive your business decisions. Using tools and reports like traffic sources, content and goals in Google Analytics, will help highlight top performing content, referral websites, and which pages are converting website visitors into customers.
The first key to embracing Let Analytics Drive is to start asking “so what” instead of “what”. Answering “what” will provide information such as: “social media is an important and growing way that people engage online”. Answering “so what” provides information such as “98% of your visitors last month originated on your FB group page”.
Second, disallow any internal discussions around how people who work at your company behave online or engage your website. It is easy to be tempted to use this thought process as a means of starting a conversation. But it is a slippery slope that too often ends with firm decisions made based on the compromised and biased behavior of a hand full of people instead of the thousands and millions of visitors to your website.
Finally, establish goals around performance (traffic, conversions, conversion rates, sales) instead of usability. Website visitor behavior should drive usability decisions.
In this line of thinking, website development projects do not need to be 100% vetted through with the expectations that after launch, our website work is complete for the next 3-5 years. An online marketing plan should be launched with the expectations of immediate adjustments to that plan rather than attempting to roll out a perfect online marketing plan.
If you disagree, try anticipating even one action of everyone living in China and India today. What would you guess they are going to have for breakfast today? Happy Holidays!