5 Reasons You Should Use Web Analytics

Lindsey Nelson

According to a recent survey of 300 small to mid-size businesses conducted by BIA/Kelsey, 40% of SMBs are planning on increasing their digital spending budgets within the year.

They’re doing so because SMB’s realize that their customers are online. By creating a place for you business on the web, you are able to communicate with your consumer in a more direct way – whether it be with Facebook, email, or Google Places.

If you’re and owner of a small to mid-size business, you’re most likely putting a lot of money, time, and effort into making your consumer’s web experience a successful one, but how do you know it’s working?

Analytics provide direct insight into how your site is doing and what your customers are saying about your product or your business. The data equips you with the ability to decide what’s working and where you can make improvements.

Here are 5 reasons that show how using web analytics helps grow your business through insights.

1. Keyword Insight

You may be under the impression that just because you’re a small business owner, you’re closer to the customer and understand the words and phrases that are driving people to your site. In truth, analytics gives you proof through the data. Analytics provides insight into which words are the big drivers to your site. It also not only shows you how many people searched the term, but also if they are new or returning visitors and how long they stayed.

2. Customer Insight

Now that you understand what your customers are looking for, it gives you a better idea of who they are, how they behave, how they segment their keywords and compare it to how you are segmenting. With this data you’ll find the most interesting ways your customers behave,

3. Social Insight

This insight allows you to readjust the precious manpower and money to maybe one channel more so than the other. These social insights allow you to:

  • Identify the traffic coming to your site and what that traffic does on your site
  • Understand which of your social channels are the top performers with your target audience
  • And equips you with the right data to make more informed decisions

4. Page Quality

Page analytics can give you insight to how your site is helping users meet their needs, or if they are simply coming then going. This includes data on how each page on your site is performing by whether or not it is sending potential leads down the funnel to conversion.  

5. Trends and Conclusions

Analytics are meant to help you see not only the differences in data from week to week, but also to let you see the trends over time. But make sure you’re not drawing conclusions too quickly. Ensure that with the trends and segmentation, you can find what is driving people away from your sight.

If you are currently using web analytics and looking for ways to drive down the cost, here are a few tips. However, Reports show that there is not only a 1,000% return on investment by those companies that implement analytics, but that social enterprises actually perform better. If you have any suggestions, or testimonies on how analytics helped your organization’s web presence, please let us know!

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Can Mobile Technology Turn Me Into A Green Thumb, Overnight?

Brent Cohler

Can Mobile Technology Turn Me Into a Green Thumb?I was previously a father of one, but now I’m father to hundreds. Overnight, I went from dutifully caring for one beautiful, thriving indoor apartment plant and am now the provider to an entire yard of demanding flora.

My wife and I bought our first home, and in the process, adopted an entire garden of children each with their own personality, maturity and degree of neediness. I was a great father to one, because he was the perfect kid – a genetically altered, IKEA conceived specimen that barely needed any light, and seemed to prosper, even when deprived of water for weeks on end. My new family is much more fickle, and since I’m no Smith Hawken, I need help.

There has to be an app for that, and since my day job focuses on mobile technology, my hunt for the ideal gardening app began. The Wall Street Journal helped the cause with its recent article, “Be a Gardener… All you need is water, dirt and some apps.” Yet, after checking out some of these apps, and a number of others, I couldn’t help but think how much better they could be.

Technology today is an enabler, and it does an amazing job of getting us the right information, whether we are searching for something on Google or asking Siri about an upcoming appointment. But, imagine how our lives change when technology not only brings us the data, but acts upon it as well. Let’s explore this via the context of my dream garden app.

What Beautiful Specimens Do I Now Own?

Since I adopted this garden, I have no idea what anything is. Sure, I could use one of the existing apps to scan through thousands of pictures for something that looks similar, but that would take hours and is imprecise.

What if I could ID my garden by simply taking some pictures or video with my phone? Homeland security already uses facial recognition software to detect individuals from populations of tens or hundreds of millions – it seems that we could apply this technology to match my garden against the 321,212 or so plant species. Knowing what’s in my garden is one thing, but how to take care of it is another.

How Should I Care for Them?

Today’s gardening apps are useful because they tell me that my Citrus meyeri (Meyer lemon tree) needs to be watered 2 times a week, more heavily when flowering. Some take it a step further by asking for my zip code in order to adjust the watering schedule based on my microclimate.

But, just like humans, each plant has unique preferences, and a personalized approach is always going to succeed over one-size-fits-all care. What today’s apps don’t take into account is that the mature Meyer lemon tree that is shaded by my garage during the sunniest hours of the day requires less water than the unprotected Meyer lemon sapling I just planted in the middle of the yard.

How would my dream app tackle this challenge? This is where those original photos come into play. Beyond helping to ID the plants, they store a tremendous amount of information such as location, time of day/year, luminance (measure of the brightness of a point on a surface that is radiating or reflecting light), etc.

Based on this data, it’s would estimate the maturity of the plant and very specifically define the sub-microclimate where that plant lives – in other words, my garden could now have multiple, distinct microclimates. The app could then plot my entire garden and craft a personalized care plan for each plant.

But… Gardening is Just a Hobby, Not My Job

Just like parents hate to cook different meals for each of their children, I don’t always have the time or energy to serve such a customized watering menu to my garden. This is where it really gets cool. Imagine if my gardening app collaborated with an intelligent irrigation system – each sprinkler wirelessly sharing real-time information such as ambient temperature and moisture levels in the soil.

Together, they’d collaborate on dynamic watering schedules to deliver the right amount of water to each plant at the right time. More importantly, I’d be able to kick back on my deck with a margarita, enjoying this elegant orchestration of nature and technology.

Is this Gardending Uber-App Possible?

Does this uber-app for gardening sound like nirvana? Does the technology to make it real exist today? What types of companies could benefit most from creating this app and what are some other industries where a similar solution would apply? Stay tuned for part 2…

Meantime, I’ll do my best to keep the plants alive!

Follow me on twitter @BrentCohler

This was previously posted on the SAP Community Network.


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5 ‘S’ecrets of Engaged Social Leadership

Meghan M. Biro

Company to Keep by Robert Bejil Photography

A software technology company I consult with is in the middle of a sea change, a shift from one workplace culture to another.

This change began when the company brought in a high-level technical executive from another company – not exactly a competitor, but a company in an adjoining market space. Only in tech, market spaces aren’t really independent with no overlap.

There’s always the potential for a clash of personalities rather than a happy union. Unfortunately, it has not been graceful for my client. In fact, it’s been one giant stressful process and a wake up call for the all of our teams involved in mopping up the mess.

The old workplace culture was cut-throat and intensely political, but everyone knew the rules – the employees had been socialized. The new Chief Technology Officer brought in his own culture – one in which motives are obscured and nothing is ever explicit for employees.

Suddenly people started getting emails telling them their jobs had changed and their staffs reassigned to new projects. Nothing was discussed, nothing communicated, nothing socialized. Now the company is hemorrhaging top talent and the CEO is puzzled. This is good news for recruiters (more jobs to fill) but a bad scene for the company and it’s employer and employee brand.

Even worse, a few “former” employees have been blogging about the changes and it’s not good. This will make recruiting top talent much more challenging for this company in today’s socially connected world. It didn’t have to happen, but what might have prevented the chaos – social, engaged leadership – is not in the CTO’s skill set.

Social, engaged leaders share a set of skills that help to insulate the companies they lead from sudden, culturally-devastating change. Don’t get me wrong – change can be good, and it’s often necessary. My client’s company hired an outsider to change technical direction; that part’s normal. What the CEO didn’t anticipate – not because he is a bad person, but because he lacked certain key social skills – was the painful change in culture, and the fallout of that change.

In my practice, I work with lots of leaders seeking to expand their teams and make their workplace culture attractive for both potential new employees and current ones; some are socially aware and engaged, some are socially tone-deaf and isolated from what’s happening both in the greater social networking landscape and within the walls of their own companies. Both types of leaders can be successful, up to a point – the point where trust, loyalty, values and expectations affect financial performance and company growth.

Being a socially-engaged leader may not be an innate skill for many leaders, but it is increasingly necessary as the multi-generational workplace puts more strain on corporate cultures and social media is opening up channels to “what it’s really like to work at this company”.

Without further ado, here are five skills social leaders possess – and which detached leaders should add to their management repertoire:

1) Sensitivity to non-verbal cues. A skilled social leader does not rely on one form of communication, but practices all – verbal, written, non-verbal, viral, and so on. Being sensitive to non-verbal cues is difficult because it requires a leader to have a well-integrated personality – to understand where her issues start and stop. I’m not saying you have to be a paragon of mental health, but you do need to be able to shut off the noise in your own head long enough to read people and understand what’s going on with them (at a meta level, of course.)

2) Socially interactive. You don’t have to know everyone’s name or how many kids they have, but you do have to be adept at interacting at a social level. If your CEO says ‘Hi’ to everyone but his, her eyes say ‘Stay away’. This person is not comfortable with social interactions and thus is unaware of how managers and employees are thinking, feeling and reacting.

3) Shared sense of value and purpose. People join companies for lots of reasons, but what’s more interesting is why they stay. They stay because they share the values, the purpose, the mission and vision. If you’re a leader and you don’t share your sense of the company’s value and purpose, you’ll be doing a lot of remedial recruiting.

4) Socially committed to a building an engaged community in the workplace. Okay, committed is not an S skill, but what I’m driving at here is the importance of social communities and social media in today’s world of work. Paternalistic managers, top-down leaders, sometimes have trouble with this skill, but it’s critical. Your company is no longer in a bubble, it’s in a social sphere where online communities can influence business results and your company reputation – even, perhaps especially, when they’re not your customers. Is anyone in your company tweeting, blogging or creating social community? Is it even encouraged? Are you blogging as a leader figure?

5) Sincerely interested in your employees, your social talent communities, your environment. You can learn some skills and fake others but it’s tough to fake sincerity. I’m sure some will argue it doesn’t belong on this list, since it’s a personality attribute, not a skill per se. But for me, sincerity is what makes the difference between a leader and a task manager. If you’re not sincere you’ll do things which might make business sense but which will eventually backfire – as did the CEO I mentioned earlier. Bringing in new tech talent made sense, but neither the CEO nor the CTO valued sincerity or honest communication, and now the company is paying a heavy price.

Social engagement is not a management overlay on a toxic culture; it’s not a Band-Aid. It’s a way of thinking about business, and doing business, in a socially aware and engaged fashion using the power of social networks and communities to relay your personal leadership brand, your employer brand and your employee brand. It’s how the world of work is today, and how it will be in the future. So engage! Make the move to socially-engaged leadership. No time like the present.

Photo credit: Company to Keep by Robert Bejil Photography


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Social Media and Hiring [Infographic]

Kira Swain

By Kira Swain, Social Media Manager

Social media continues to change how we communicate, share, and collaborate. But did you know that social media is also changing how employers find and identify candidates?

Check out the infographic below to see which social tools hiring managers use in different countries to source candidates.


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Does Marketing Today Start With a J?

Adriel Sanchez

One of my favorite books is The J-Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall by Ian Bremmer.

Bremmer uses a simple J-shaped curve to show the relationship between a country’s economic and political openness and its relative stability as a nation.

The theory is genius in its simplicity.

Nations that are closed politically and/or economically can achieve some level of stability by controlling access to information, repression, and limiting the power of the individual. Bremmer uses North Korea and Cuba as examples.

On the other side of the J-Curve, we have countries like the United States and the UK. Through their more open economic and political systems, these countries enjoy a level of stability much greater than closed societies. The stability achieved by countries that inhibit political or economic freedom is inherently limited.

But here’s the catch.

To go from a closed society to an open one, to achieve that greater level of long-term stability, countries must pass through a phase of intense instability, creating the dip in the curve that results in the ‘J’ shape. I won’t go into all the examples Bremmer points out, but they’re pretty tough to argue with.

You don’t have to stretch your imagination very far to apply this simple principle to the state of marketing today.

Consider openness as a company’s willingness to embrace transparency, free flow of information, develop experiences that inspire others to tell the company’s story, and ultimately surrender control of the message.

Compare the long-term stability of those companies to others determined to control every aspect of the message; to those who insist on broadcasting one-way dialogues about how great their products are, and why you’ll be miserable unless you buy one.

The smart money’s on the first group of companies. But in fact, it’s no longer a choice.

There are forces driving marketing to the right side of the J-curve. The way people interact in their personal lives has changed their expectations of how companies should engage with them. Dialogues are had in 140-character chunks. I can’t remember the last time I went to a news website.

These days, Twitter, Flipboard and Facebook are my breaking news alert services. I have unprecedented access to information. I watched the US presidential debates with the fact checker apps open on my iPad; the candidates no longer controlled the message. When I interact with someone through social media, I expect a response. Fast. Research says the shelf life of a Facebook post is about 18 hours.

No one checks these experiences at the door when deciding what to buy. Forces are moving marketing toward openness. Marketing that refuses to recognize this undeniable fact will become irrelevant. It will be ignored, and the companies responsible will fail.

But here’s the most important bit. Ready?

Companies must understand where on the J-curve they sit, and brace themselves for the period of instability they’re sure to go through as they move from left to right. Prepare for the dip in the J, it could be a rough ride. You might not like what your customers say about you. It’ll probably be really tough to prove return on investment in the short term. You might even lose some money. But if you know that period of instability is coming, you’ll be more prepared to deal with its short-term consequences. Appreciate it’s a necessary means to a greater end, and get your internal PR campaign ready.

Two additional words of caution. While we give up more and more control of the message, the conversation can and must be orchestrated. Help your customers find what they’re looking for and give them avenues to have open dialogues with you and each other.

And secondly, as you put the customer in the driver’s seat, watch out for the Innovator’s Dilemma. (That’s another one of my favorite books…I’ll cover it in a future post)

Follow the conversation @Adriel_S or #marketingpfft 


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