Data Consultant for KBMG, Benjamin Descazal has +2 years experience collaborating with media agencies to optimize media campaigns, demystifying their client’s behavior on websites and social media platforms, and maximizing their campaign’s conversion & profitability.
How does your job fit into the advertising process? I work in collaboration with media agencies to optimize media campaigns. While a media expert would focus on impressions, click through rates (CTR), and cost per clicks (CPC), I focus on the heart of what interests brands: their digital advertising campaign’s conversion rate and ultimately profitability.
My job is to demystify the behavior of a brand’s visitors to its website(s).
I assist clients in setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, and Time-bound), understanding the performance of their campaigns and making recommendations to improve the conversion rate and ROI of their digital advertising campaigns.
There are 3 pilars for the base of your website
- Acquisition: Know at any given time where your visiters come from? From which source they come from and to which landing page they arrive on? And the bounce rate for each of those landing pages?
- Conversion: What is the conversion rate of your registration and/or checkout form? What is the behavior of visiters prior to purchase?
- Loyalty: How do you retain your visiters and convince them to purchase? How good is your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategy?
What’s one of our favorite advertising campaigns?
What are ten things you evaluate when testing a brand’s website:
1. Visit site for first impressions. I begin by visiting your website and noting down the general impression I get from it.
- What is the objective of your website? To sell a product/service, to gather data…?
- Can I understand immediately what I can do on your website?
- Are your ‘Calls to action’ obvious?
- Are the steps needed to “convert” (purchase or sign-up) easy to understand and navigate? Is the check-out process short and simple?
- Is your website organized and its ergonomics clear?
Other things I consider are your FAQ page to learn more about your website, product issues, and return policy.
I also test your website’s search bar (if you have one) to see how well it works and what kind of results it gives me.
How consumers search Google to find what they’re looking for is very different from how they would search on your individual website’s search bar. Tracking how people search on your website gives you a clue to the kind of visitors you’re attracting and what is of interest to them. If the keywords your visitors are searching for on your website are not what your website is about, then either your attracting the wrong people or your readers are telling you what you should be writing about.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Sam Fajner, Regional VP of Client Relations says that “Your brand is not what YOU think your brand is, it is what THEY (your client/customer) think it is. In the age of social media, you don’t tell people what you are, they tell you what you should be.”]
2. Determine the Acquisition Strategy. How exactly does your brand attract visitors to your website – via paid google searches? Social media platforms? Other?
I determine the top 10 or so landing pages and track every channel through which your visitors find you – no matter how miniscule; I track it to find its origin. It might be a blog post comment you or somebody linked to from years before, or it might very well lead to an undiscovered community of people you didn’t even know existed.
If you find that 90% of your traffic is coming from Facebook, then what would you do if Facebook’s next policy change tampers with your traffic flow? If Google search (paid and organic) makes up 90% of your traffic, then what are you going to do if a financially backed competitor purchases your keywords and steals your traffic? Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, keep a diverse portfolio of incoming traffic sources. It’s much safer for the success of your website.
To summarize, your acquisition strategy should be as balanced as possible – paid search, organic search, social media traffic, emailing campaigns, etc.
3. Perform quick fixes and maintenance. After I’ve ensured your acquisition strategy is solid. I check what I can fix quickly and easily: your top landing pages – your most popular entrance pages. I check your landing page’s bounce rates. If your bounce rate is up to 50%, then there is surely something wrong.
It could be 2 things:
- Either your leading the wrong people to your website, or
- Your landing page itself is not efficient and non-optimized.
Then I give recommendations to fix it.
4. Conduct website’s keywords analysis. I begin primarily with visitor loyalty in the last month: how long they stay on the website, how many pages they visited, and how frequently visitor returns to the website. I compare search engine management (SEM) with bounce rate with the cost of running and maintaining the channel to determine the channel’s profitability.
The search is generally a valuable acquisition channel. It is important that your website be positioned on important keywords and also on a lot of different keywords, which is called ‘the long tail.’ To audit this point, create a tag cloud of search keywords which result in visits to get a big picture of how good your SEO strategy is for your website. Then look at the themes on which the website is referenced and the balance between your brand’s keywords and generic keywords.
5. Conduct a content visibility analysis. I determine which sections of the brand’s website are the most visited and which content is the most consumed and visible on the internet, and I return to step 3 and make any quick fixes and maintenance.
6. Examine the ‘Call to Action’ efficiency. Visitors are very wary about making purchases from strangers. So you have to push and prod and reassure them and convince them it’s simple, fast, safe, and moreover that the product/service they are purchasing will have value for them.
I also evaluate:
- How are the brand’s unique selling points (USPs) presented?
- What call to action (CTA) buttons are used? How relevant are they? and Where are they located on the website?
- Are there reassurance factors such as Paypal verified buttons?
7. Examine customer loyalty. I begin primarily with visitor loyalty: How long do visiters stay on your website, how many pages do they visit, and how frequently do the visiters return to the website. Customer relationship management (CRM) begins at the subscription form. It’s important that the form be short, simple, clear. Built into the subscription form you should remind the visitor of all the assets and reasons to subscribe to the website, for example say by subscribing clients receive special promotions, priviledges, coupons, gifts, etc.
Information to ask for on the subscription form:
- Email address because it’s the central identifier for every service on the web. People usually use the same email address for all social media platforms and online registration.
- Name of person so you can address them by name in your emails and newsletters to make mass mailings appear more personable, which will improve the emails being opened.
- Age and gender so that you can further personalize your future content.
Next I examine the follow-up email after the consumer has subscribed:
- What does it say?
- Does it motivate the consumer to discover the brand’s Youtube channel, blog, special blog posts, other products and services available?
- Does it take the consumer’s hand and help him/her discover the brand?
Information to include in your follow-up email:
- Overview of what the consumer can do on the website and reasons to visit and subscribe to the website.
- Offer to let them discover your other brand content, Youtube channel, etc…
8. Conduct ongoing CRM quality analysis. I look deeply into the analytics, browse through the brands email history to see what emails have been sent, how often, and what has beencommuncated in them. I talk with the brand to understand their strategy and then compare their responses with the analytics.
- How does the brand keep the attention of its consumers and visitors?
- How often does it update its content?
- Does it offer special occasion gifts – anniversary, holidays?
- Are communications personalized?
- Is there value in receiving the emails and every communication sent out?
- Are all communications coherent through all the brand’s devices and channels?
I monitor this weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly for benchmarking.
9. Monitor customer lifetime value. Over time, some clients can have much more value if they purchase with a high frequency or a high average cart value. It is important that you identify who they are and where they come from to leverage the right actions to amke them more loyal.
So here are 3 questions you should remember:
- How does the brand exalt and focus on loyal consumers who generate the most money?
- How does the brand entice them to purchase more?
- How does the brand deepen the relationship and make consumers more loyal?
10. Analyze customer loyalty retention strategy. I work with business intelligence team(s) to join analytics with the brand’s database to identify consumer profiles to determine who has the highest risk of abandoning the brand, marking the brand’s emails as spam, or being enticed to a competitor.
This allows me to determine what visitors are really doing versus what the brand wants them to do.
I also look at the last sources before purchases, you may conclude your search engine management (SEM) isn’t sufficient in generating profits, when in fact it was the starting point for the purchasing process.
Most advertising campaigns only focus on the overview, monitoring the campaign’s return on investment (ROI) or cost per click (CPC). But it’s also equally as important knowing:
- Which conversion path consumers follow the most.
- Which menu bar button consumers click on the most.
- Which video consumers play the most and for how long they watch it.
- How to rearrange the website to improve/optimize performance all the way down to the button.
What advice do you have for organizing my website structure? Most consumers don’t make purchases on their first visit, and instead return to the site multiple times before finally deciding to purchase. Therefore brands using a multi-channel strategy and measuring the participation from each channel have greater visibility and thus greater chance of their visitors finding their way back to the website.
More and more brands today are organizing their websites so that the logo (or title), menu bar, search bar, and social media buttons are on one single ‘responsive’ bar at the top of the site. This:
- Maximizes their ‘above the fold’ content
- Highlights their content, which is the reason people visit your website in the first place
- Makes their site compatible with mobile devices such as ipads and smart phones.
Identify the top websites in your sector, and deconstruct their website’s logic. Prosperous brands organize their websites and social media platforms on the advice and research of very expensive media agencies studies, advice, and data. Reverse engineer their behavior and use it to your advantage. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating and adapting what the top websites are doing.
Thirdly, read up on basic gestalt principles to improve your website’s design:
- Figure & Ground
Lastly, if you begin receiving 1,000s of visitors who aren’t ‘converting’, then begin researching in-depth where each and every visitor is coming from because you’re probably looking at one of two major problems:
- The visitors coming to your website aren’t people who care about what you offer, in which case you should either begin offering content relevent to these visitors or re-focus your attention to drawing visitors more interested in what you offer.
- The visitors coming to your website are people who care about what you offer, but something about your website is turning them away, in which case you should re-examine the design, text, content, purchase model, etc.
What’s a misconception people commonly have? That consumers have a simple and predictable decision making model. Rather, people tend to use naturally multi-path decision making models, and therefore all divisions of your brand must work hand-in-hand to develop coherent multi-channel advertising campaigns for your clients.
To fully understand your consumers, you must be able to pool and analyze all of your data from your different social media platforms and website through business intelligence tools such as:
to name a few.
Thirdly, running a successful online business doesn’t have to be a numbers game. When running analytics for your website, don’t get discouraged if you aren’t getting thousands of visitors per month. Many companies spend money on advertising thinking solely about generating the highest volume of visits and as many immediate conversions as possible. Quantity improves the probability of conversion, but more visitors doesn’t necessarily mean more reliable analytics. Quantity actually isn’t necessary to conduct quality analytics.
Building upon the necessity of thoroughly segmenting your visitor traffic mentioned earlier, the knowledge you can obtain from just 80 relevant visitors who find your website through relevant channels and who convert (purchase, sign-up, share, comment,…) is much more important than from 1,000 visitors who don’t purchase.
The problem is that trying to generate the highest volume of visits and as many immediate conversions as possible doesn’t take into account the actual customer experience of brand discovery, conversion, and loyalty and customer retention.
Brands must understand that it can sometimes take several months and multiple visits before a prospect actually becomes interested in your product/service and goes to the ‘I buy’ step. Only paying attention to the surface level measurements of direct conversion rate and profitability of their media campaigns could actually be holding your business back.
What do you mean? Consider during the christmas season you spend $10 advertising to customer X and $30 advertising to customer Y, and after the christmas season your conversion rate and profitibility measurements tell you that customer X spent $20 and customer Y spent $25.
If you stop only at these surface-level analytics, you’ll be tempted to jump to the conclusion that customer X is more profitable than customer Y, and so you should focus your advertising budget on customer X.
But if you dig deeper into your analytics, looking at the rest of the year, you might learn that customer X’s $20 purchase was just a one time purchase, while customer Y returned and made two more purchases, generating over $100.
This shows the importance of media retargeting campaigns to improve customer lifetime value (CLV). Step 9 above.
Where do you go to for inspiration?
I have a small advertising budget, any advice?
- If you don’t have money to keep your website on the first page of your keyword searches, then at least invest to make sure your website is as SEO-friendly as possible.
- Invest your money in setting up the best analytics software you can afford or learning Google Analytics – especially the funnel options. As I mentioned earlier, understanding and tracking the clicking patterns of 10 customers can be more valuable to you than tracking 1,000 non-paying visitors. Refer to Avinash Kaushik’s Beginner’s Guide to Web Analysis for more information.
- Thoroughly identify your different visitors profiles. Group your visitors into as many relevant segments as you can. Create profiles for each visitor segment and keep them on the wall next to your computer. This allows you to stay focused as you deepen your website content and to identify potential collaborations – vertical or horizontal – you could make.
- When citing or quoting from other online sources, copy/paste their content as little as possible because doing so takes away from your Google ranking. Search engines consider it as duplicate content and awards the original post. Instead, rewrite, reword, and rephrase.