Can’t Live Without Web Analytics

I’ve been using web analytics from Omniture this morning (Provo Labs uses it in our more mature portfolio companies) to discover some really interesting (and disturbing) customer usage patterns.

LDSMedia.com — our LDS search engine — has a new subscribe page. Using SiteCatalyst, I can run a report showing every visitor in June who hit the signup.php page, and using the Next Page Flow Report, see visually what each of them did next.

16.3% of our visitors who hit the signup.php page exited the site. Not good. 4.7% went to the home page (using the ClickMap I would be able to see if they clicked on the logo in the upper left corner of the landing page.) 2.1% went to the login page. The vast majority of visitors left the signup page and went back to the content page they were looking at. In the few seconds they take to look at our signup page, we lost almost all of them. Only 1.8% clicked through on one of the green “Sign Up Now” buttons.

1.8% would be an okay conversion rate for a content subscription web site. But this isn’t the site’s conversion rate. Only a small percentage of these people who clicked through actually completed the credit card process, so the overall site conversion rate is extremely low.

To me, this is a huge opportunity. Fortunately, we’re only a week into offering the subscription and this is the first landing page we’ve tested. The good news is that we are an internet company. We can make a few changes, test the results, make a few more changes, test again, and over a period of time optimize our subscription process so that the messaging is just right and the signup process is easy and appealing. I can’t wait to blog in a week or two about how our next landing page doubled or tripled our conversion rates!

With hundreds of thousands of people searching the internet for important LDS religious content, much of which is only available on this web site, our conversion rate should be (and will be) much higher.

By using web analytics, we have a starting point from which to measure our progress.

Web analytics is one of those essential ingredients to online marketing success that most people aren’t familiar with. There are a lot of free web stats packages out there that just don’t give you what you need. And more commonly, there is so much data available that it is nearly impossible for the untrained webmaster or marketer to know which web analytics reports are really important.

This morning I came across this excellent article about web analytics. I’ve been using web server log files and custom analytics reports since 1997 and SiteCatalyst since 2002, so I’m extremely familiar with hundreds of different reports.

But I love how this article focuses on six practical reports that online businesses should run regularly in order to understand their customers and how their web site is working (or is not working).

I think in all the years that I’ve been involved in online marketing, this is the best introductory article on web analytics that I’ve ever read. I’m definitely going to be using this in my BYU internet marketing class this fall.

I would like every Provo Labs employee to read this article and run each of these reports of one or more of our web sites.

We’re going to have some Omniture SiteCatalyst training in an upcoming meeting, but in the meantime, try to run each of these six reports and carefully review them to determine what we should do differently or what we should do next on our web sites.

Most importantly, if you’re on the LDS Media team, let’s put up a new landing page today or tomorrow that isn’t so complicated. The one we are using right now has Basic and Premium packages (too complicated) and has way too much text. It was patterned somewhat after a popular genealogy subscription web site’s signup page, but it is obviously not working for us.

I would like us to test a completely different page layout that is patterned after RealNetwork’s SuperPass 14-day free trial signup page.

What I love about this page is that it offers a 14-day free trial and captures an email address at the very beginning of the subscription process. Since growing our email database is a high priority, this approach makes a lot of sense.

We don’t have to try to convert a visitor into a paying customer on the first visit. If we can capture their email address and permission to contact them again, then we will have many opportunities to interest them in our premium content in the future.

Let’s launch this new 14-day trial email capture landing page and start reporting on how many new email addresses we get each day in addition to the number of daily subscribers.

Neal: I’d like an email or SMS every day with those two stats in them.

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4 Comments

  1. Paul: The title of your post caught my eye in technorati, and since I love the space of web insights I had to come check it out.

    For your subscription / sign up challenge overall it is important to know that the analytics tool is a great place to start but other than telling you “what” is happening it won’t tell you much. “Why” it is happening is missing (and perhaps now up to your judgement).

    Could I suggest three ideas critical to any sign up / ordering process:

    1) Extremely clear and well placed call to action. Sign Up Here, Order Now, Call Us. Or whatever may be the case.

    2) Extremely clear value proposition from the call to action. Sure we can make money if the customer signs up but what do they get? And it is crisp, short and clear? “Buy now and save extra $10.” “Sign up now and we will send you insightful LDS books.” “This is the only exclusive place to get xxx yyy zzz.” I recommend it is something stated from the customer perspective and not the company’s. I know this last one sounds obvious, but it is tricky.

    3) Use multivariate testing to get your customer’s opinions on the table. If this sign up process is critical then running a test that quickly can try a few hundred variations of page is usually the best way to let the customers vote on what the best version of the page is. This process is always surprising and insightful.

    I hope this is of some help, it is quite likely that you are doing all this aready. : )

    -Avinash.
    PS: If you want to know more on testing (and web analytics) it is on my blog at http://www.kaushik.net/avinash

  2. Hi Paul, there’s another aspect to the problem that’s particularly interesting in the search engine case (I used to run Feedster). Where do your satisfied searchers go when they leave your site? i.e. What is it that your successful users do? I don’t believe Omniture does that for you. if you have a sec, check out mybloglog.com.
    Scott

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