Friday, 22 February 2013

Monitoring Multi-Channel Web Campaigns – Are you an Ostrich or a Meerkat?

It’s pretty well understood that gaining detailed user feedback from a campaigns is critical and in most cases marketing professionals are tuned in to gathering data from campaigns in order to measure success and improve future efforts, however with campaigns now crossing multiple channels at the same time there seems to be a misconception that the methods and tools used to measure a campaign running on a single channel works for multichannel too. Many people are simply burying their heads in the sand while others are alert to the new multichannel landscape and are leading the way.

Here are a few ways to make you a Meerkat in the world of Multi-Channel Web Campaigns

Monitoring Channels and specific calls to action

Short URLs (e.g. bitly) and QR codes are invaluable in gaining very specific and targeted user data, such as location or event. Tracking codes can be embedded so you can identify how users are being driven to your site. Make sure you are tracking these correctly, so that they are clearly highlighted in your analytics tool such as Google Analytics (GA). On the subject of GA is a no-brainer for your general analytics of your site and even if you use other reporting tools, it costs nothing to add GA to your arsenal and if you spend the time to really get to grips with the numerous features it will reward you well.

Quality or quantity ?

Understanding conversion rates tends to be a measure of the need to get more visits i.e. chuck more mud at the wall. Running campaigns on different channels gives you an opportunity to work smarter and not harder. By taking a detailed look at the user journey and the route that a customer took through your site while using additional data such as location or the device type assists greatly in refining key elements and enabling you to increase the conversions that you are getting. Be aware of social media and the negative impact that this can have – a visitor that does not connect is 1 a potential lost client and 2 a potential poor reference. Having the right multichannel delivery platform with the right analytics tools to assist with user journey tracking is really important.

If sharing is an important aspect of your campaign and you want it to be viral, then make sure you have clear signposts to share. Also make sure your campaign is truly multi-channel, the best way for this is to have a single URL that delivers optimal content whatever the visitor’s device otherwise if a visitor shares an ‘m. url’ with someone who uses a PC or perhaps the other way around then clearly the user experience is going to be less than good! Try and imagine that the ‘U’ in URL stands for Universal. Make your campaign universal and it will have more chance of going viral.

Monitor device types

iPhones and Androids are not the only devices that your customers use, if you only optimise your site for these then one thing is certain; the only customers you’ll get will be iPhone and Android users! The device market is growing and becoming more diverse, which means that you will be missing out on bigger and bigger chunks of market by limiting your device optimisation. Also, don’t fall into the trap of ignoring the 30% long-tail. Let’s say your site is generating a modest £10K value a month, ignoring the 30% tail you could be losing £3K a month, easily enough to cover a day’s development effort or investing in tools to optimise for all devices. Optimising for all devices does pay for itself in spades.

Speed is king

Monitor how fast your site is. Companies like Gomez can help track the performance of your site. It is clear that page load time has a serious effect on your campaign performance and this is especially true on mobile where devices are less powerful and bandwidth is less reliable. If page load times are any more than just a few seconds then your campaign won’t succeed.

How do you speed your campaign up? As with any performance optimisation, the trick is in identifying the next big thing that is slowing you down and then iteratively knock these big boys out. Also split your attack into client side and server side. For client side – Use Firebug & Page Speed in Firefox to identify big resources, unnecessary resources, slow resources, uncompressed resources, resources that can be cached but aren’t. Even when delivering to mobile, desktop browsers – with all their advance features and plugins – provide an essential development tool.

For server side measure your page delivery times on the server – isolate it from network delivery so you can focus on each component independently. Your page delivery times should be in the fractions of seconds. If they’re not then you know you need to focus on getting this down. Profile your page delivery to identify the bottleneck – is it DB access? Is it web service access? Is it system CPU? Attack these bottlenecks until the time taken to deliver the page from the server is a small fraction of the total time the user has to wait for the page to load.

When you have your delivery performance looking good then make sure you continuously monitor your system. If page delivery suddenly slows down then you may have system failure that needs immediate attention – set up email alerts to keep you informed. If the page delivery time starts slowing down then you may have a problem looming. Schedule some time ASAP to review what might have changed so you can steer this off early and make sure it doesn’t become a problem.

Monitor your health

Like it or not your web site will have issues. Third party APIs may fail. Users may interact with your site in ways you had not expected. And your site may simply have a few bugs. It’s not a sin to admit that, but it is a sin to not continuously monitor alerts that indicate such failings. It’s like driving on a flat tyre – your site will be under-performing if you aren’t ready to take remedial action and apply iterative updates.

If you put all of the above into practice you will see a vast improvement in conversions and sales and you will also be able to anticipate future trends improve results with every new campaign. Being a Meerkat is not easy, it takes work and self-analysis! Being the equivalent of a digital Ostrich is pretty easy and the results are easy to predict.