37 key strategy questions web analytics answers 0

Posted on August 24, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Web Analytics

Web analytics is not just a tool for measuring web traffic. 

Off-site web analytics refers to the measurement of a website’s potential audience (opportunity), share of voice (visibility), and buzz (comments) that is happening on the internet as a whole. On-site web analytics measures a visitor’s behavior once on your website. This includes its drivers and conversions.

Taken together, web anlaytics provides a complete picture of your audience and their attitudes and behaviors toward your brand. Web analytics is the most valuable, useful, cost-effective and timely resource a business has to answers key strategy questions.

Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics software. Google Webmaster Tools shows traffic for each keyword separately; it gives more information about website performance. There is even a Google Analytics Academy to learn all about how to use web analytics done online on the participant’s schedule. They’re all free to use so there’s no reason a company shouldn’t dedicate some time and attention to examining web analytics.

If you need more convincing, here are 37 key strategy questions web analytics answers.


  • Who do we attract?
  • Who do we want to attract?
  • Who is visiting for the first time?
  • Who is returning for more visits?
  • What cities or countries are most people visiting from?
  • What search keywords are sending us traffic?
  • What percent of traffic comes from mobile devices?
  • Who are our most valuable segments?
  • Who is worth doing marketing efforts to based on their business potential?
  • Are we doing  better or worse?


  • What actions do people take?
  • Are they taking the actions we want?
  • How do people find us?
  • How do people travel through the site?
  • What sort of experience do we create for our users?
  • What percent of users view at least 3 pages per visit?
  • What percent of users remain on site for at least 3 minutes?
  • Where do our most active visitors come from?
  • Where do visitors click?
  • Where are our most valuable users coming from?
  • Who shares our content?
  • What content works best?
  • What percent of users comment on content?
  • Who recommends us to a friend?
  • What social networks and social media metrics are worth tracking?
  • What do they buy from us?


  • How do we find more people like the ones who are most valuable customers?
  • How long does it take for someone to decide to do business with us?
  • How do we know if our site is doing well relative to competitors?
  • How do we know if our marketing efforts are working?
  • How has advertising worked?
  • Was advertising worth it?
  • How can we identify the ideal marketing mix?
  • How do analytics help us understand how the business can make the most revenue and profits?
  • What key metrics should be used for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • What is the best way to measure ROI?

Do the answers to these questions matter to your business? Do they convince you to dedicate time and attention to web analytics? Does your company need to learn how to use web analytics better?


8 guidelines for great data visualization (with examples) 0

Posted on August 17, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Data Visualization

  • 91% of marketing leaders believe successful brands use customer data to drive business decisions (source: BRITE/NYAMA)
  • 87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (BRITE/NYAMA)
  • 40%-60% annual growth increase is occurring in the volume of data available every year; in media intensive sectors and financial services, the increase is 120% (source: Fathom)

The facts indicate company leaders believe understanding data is a critical component to business growth. And more of it is coming at us in ever increasing rates.

Data visualization is the art and practice of gathering, analyzing, and graphically representing empirical information. More and better data visualization tools have come to market from software services like Tableau, Fusion Charts, Google Charts and to help better display data. So, there is no reason business leaders shouldn’t be able to fulfill their data dreams.

But it’s not the data. It’s what you do with it.

Software doesn’t find the insights in the data, people do. Before companies jump into  Big Data, they should be asking: Have we mastered the principles of little data?

To help, here are 8 guidelines for great data visualization.

  • BEGIN WITH BASIC DATA PRESENTED AS SIMPLY AS POSSIBLE: Great data visualization begins with measurements that are readily available, come from a reliable source and are easy to understand. For example, the line chart below for a coffee shop chain uses just profits by key beverage and time. But it shows very clearly what types of drinks are going to be the most profitable and when. It gives all the information the owner requires to order, promote and maximize revenue and profits.

Data visualization - line graph

  • CHOOSE AXISES THAT ADDRESS KEY STRATEGIC ISSUES: If you want data to provide answers, you have to set it up by addressing the right questions. How you choose and define your axises serves as a primary guide. The chart below plots software companies based on based on their “vision” and “ability to execute.” The axises address a key strategic issue that can provide answers like likely winner and losers based on positioning and competitive advantage. The company data is telling because the criteria is clear.

Data visualization - axis

  • PROVIDE A USABLE LEGEND: The definition of the legend plays an important role in motivating action. The data visualization below of expenditures per student for New York state schools offers a telling picture of where education monies are going, what are areas of greatest need and how they might be redistributed.

Data Visualization - Legent

  • ESTABLISH SEGMENTATION: If you want actionable insights from data, it helps to establish segments or groupings that create differentiation. The chart below shows the Top 100 Entrepreneurs, divided into three segments. From this chart, it’s clear that not all entrepreneurs are created equal. If you want to understand what makes great entrepreneurs, the data tells you to focus on the “Rocket Ship” segment and probe into what makes them tick.

Data visualization - rate of change

  • FACILITATE DISCERNMENT WHEN SHOWING A TIME SERIES OR GEOGRAPHY: When showing time or geography, incorporate colors, coding, history or forecasting to provide perspective or context that shows where things are headed. The “stacked graph” below on unemployment in the US by industry (time series) and the cost of chronic disease care (geography) show how how to display time series and geographic data, effectively.

Data Visualization - Stacked Chart

Data Visualization - Geography

  • IDENTIFY CLUSTERS: When looking at many variables, use clusters to show the data in ways that creates groupings that lead to conclusions. The Cluster Analysis below was created to identify the college basketball teams that were most likely to win the NCAA’s based on defense. As you can see, clustering the many variables that were examined helps to clearly show the teams that have the most potential.

Data Visualization - Cluster Analysis

  • TELL A STORY WITH THE DATA: Good data analysts are storytellers. Effective data visualization is often helped with text. Simple headlines or text boxes help explain what the data is saying and the actions that should be taken. This example below from Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, shows how data visualization might be presented to the C-Suite.

Data Visualization - Executive Dashboard

  • CREATE AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: The data dashboard your company creates should be based on Key Performance Indicators. KPIs  are one of the most over-used and little understood terms in business development and management. They are too often taken to mean any metric or data used to measure business performance.The role KPI’s play is much bigger and more important. In fact, KPI’s are one of the most important guideposts for any business. Every business should have them. Here’s one of the best definitions I’ve heard: KPI’s are an actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track. They enable you to manage, control and achieve desired business results. The KPI dashboard below for a call center is simply laid out, easy to understand for decision making and incorporate a little from each of the previous critical components.

KPI Dashboard

If your business needs help using data to make better decisions and ROI, consider BarnRaisers, because that’s what we do. Or, considering taking a Mini-MBA from the Rutgers Business School Executive Education where I teach Measurement and ROI.

Do these key components help you see how data visualization can help your business?


21 reasons every business should have KPIs 0

Posted on June 22, 2014 by Rob Petersen

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable measurements, agreed to beforehand, that reflect the critical success factors of an organization. They will differ depending on the organization.

Erica Olsen of OnStrategy explains in this brief video what KPIs are, why you choose the metrics that matter most and how to set up a KPI dashboard as an actionable scorecard to keep your strategy on track.

But it takes work to align a company around common goals, establish key metrics and create regular reporting. Is it worth the effort? Here are 21 reasons every business should have KPIs.

  1. CLARIFIES EXPECTATIONS: What is expected can be communicated in a clear and unambiguous manner
  2. DIRECTS BEHAVIORS: Unless you explain how to measure progress and success, people create their own assumptions and follow them
  3. FOCUSES ATTENTION:  When people are faced with so many competing demands on their time and resources, what is measured tends to get their attention – particularly when it is linked to reward systems
  4. IMPROVES EXECUTION: If you don’t measure, it’s a lot harder to know what to execute
  5. INCREASES OBJECTIVITY: Management is by facts instead of feelings and instincts
  6. MAKES PERFORMANCE VISIBLE: It puts what is most important out in the open
  7. FACILITATES FEEDBACK: Feedback in the form of timely, relevant measures is the basic navigational device of any individual or organisation
  8. IMPROVES DECISION MAKING. One of the major causes of failure in decision-making is poor or non-existent use of data
  9. REDUCES UNNECESSARY OPINIONS: Instincts and gut feelings may have a place in business analysis but they are mostly relevant to the person who has them. But one clear visualization of key data can clarify a thousand opinions
  10. QUANTIFIES ACHIEVEMENT: Progress is measured by impact on goals and measured against a standard or target
  11. PROVIDES FOCUS WHEN THERE IS CHAOS: When an unexpected competitive development or operational snafu occurs, there is a clear picture of the direction what really matters
  12. IDENTIFIES ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS: Because key metrics are chosen, insights are clearer and easier to identify
  13. ACHIEVES TARGETS SET BY STRATEGY: If analysis is based on a strategic goal and cause and effect analysis, it’s easier to identify steps that enable your organization to hit key business targets
  14. MEASURES VITAL ACTIVITIES: In addition to enabling company to hit key targets, KPIs identify the vital activities that enable companies to hit them again.
  15. IDENTIFIES NEED FOR RESOURCES: No one likes having their budget cut. When your key measurements are established, the need for funding or staff is easier to justify, harder to refute and better for negotiation
  16. CREATES ACTION: If a group of people meet regularly to look at key metrics chosen around a common goal, “what do we do based on these results” occurs much more naturally and effectively
  17. CREATES CONSISTENCY IN ACTION: Not only does action occur but it occurs more consistently. Big results usually happen when small steps are taken, continuously.
  18. FOSTERS COLLABORATION: The people involved with the business work better together because they share the common bond of establishing the strategy, choosing the key metrics, creating the reports and taking the action that come from regular review of the KPIs
  19. ESTABLISHES ACCOUNTABILITY: When people collaborate around a common goal and key measurements, they more likely to recognize their accountability and it’s more effectively enforced
  20. MEASURES CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION FOR REAL: A key metric many company choose as a KPI is customer satisfaction or employee satisfaction or both. The KPI process makes this possible. When look at relative to other key metrics, it provides real evidence for satisfaction and dissatisfaction as well as a course of action if improvements need to occur
  21. ARE THE ACTIONABLE SCORECARD TO KEEP STRATEGY ON TRACK: The educator and creator of the Peter Principle, Laurence Peter, said: “If you don’t know where you, you’ll probably end up someplace else.” KPIs are the best means a company to stick to strategy and not end up someplace else.

Does your business have KPIs? Do these reflect key benefits to you? Are there others you would add? Does you company need help establishing KPIs to keep your strategy on track?


45 KPI’s every social media marketer should know 0

Posted on March 01, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are quantifiable measurements that reflect critical success factors for an organization. They are the handful of key metrics that help you understand how your company or brand are doing against objectives. KPI’s are the actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track.

In the Harvard Business Review, Eric Ries, author of  The Lean Startup, says social media measurements are “vanity metrics,” and are a waste of time. Why? Because a million Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes is always going to fail the “so what” test with any CEO.

But even CEO’s would be interested to know social media has proven marketing isn’t a monologue, but a conversation. And marketing is more effective that way.

KPI’s prove this conclusion because KPI’s are set up to explain:

  • ACTION: Revenue, sales, retention and growth rates
  • INFLUENCE: Perceptions and attitudes of customers
  • ENGAGEMENT: Participation, interaction and frequency that secures new customers
  • EXPOSURE: Reach and awareness

Are social media measurements “vanity metrics?” Or do they pass the stricter criteria required of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that keep business strategy on track?

Decide for yourself. Here are 45 KPI’s every social media marketer should know:

ACTIONS: Key metrics that explain and  recurring revenue (not on a one-time basis). Possible KPI’s include:

  1. Sales Volume
  2. Profit (Net, Gross or Margin)
  3. Customer Retention
  4. Subscriptions
  5. Registrations
  7. Conversion Rate
  8. Operating Expense Ratio
  9. Debt-to-Equity Ratio

INFLUENCE: Key metrics here explains insights into customers. What keeps them coming back or why do they leave.  In addition to customers, employees  fit into this category as actions of employees also have recurring revenue value.

  1. Customer Satisfaction Rate
  2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  3. Customer Retention Rate
  4. Customer Turnover Rate
  5. Customer Annual or Lifetime Value
  6. Customer Reviews
  7. Customer Ratings
  8. Customer Advocacy (testimony regarding customer experience reflected in blogs or on social networks)
  9. Customer Influence (impact based on Followers, Friends or Klout score )
  10. Sentiment Analysis (positive or negative, objective or emotional reaction)
  11. Text Analytics (Specific text or words that trigger influence)
  12. Employee Turnover Rate
  13. Company Reviews and Ratings by Employees (on social network or sites like Glassdoor)

ENGAGEMENT: Metrics in this area explain who is most likely to pursue a relationship with the organization or brand.

  1. Leads
  2. Cost Per Lead
  3. Unique Visitor to Website
  4. Bounce Rate from website
  5. E-mail Open Rates and Click-Through Rates
  6. Social Share of Voice (SOV)
  7. Participation Rate (in online, social conversations and in LinkedIn discussion groups)
  9. Mentions
  11. Re-Tweets
  12. Likes to People Talking About Ratio (on Facebook)
  13. Clicks on Links (that lead to website or actions)
  14. Time of Response (to people participating and engaging with organization or brand)

EXPOSURE: Measurements track awareness and preliminary interest in a company or brand

  1. Search Engine Ranking (SERP) by primary keywords
  2. Indexed Pages (on search engines)
  3. Links (to website)
  4. CPC (Cost-per-click) for paid search or social advertising
  5. Email List Size
  8. Connections
  9. YouTube Views

Social media measurements have a role in any organization to explain influence and engagement that produces primary business actions. They also have value for audience profiling and listening.

With this perspective, maybe even Likes and Followers, could pass the “so what” test with a CEO.

Do you think social media measurements are “vanity metrics?” Do you have KPI’s in place for your business?



What is a KPI? 6 examples of KPI’s from 5 industries 0

Posted on July 27, 2013 by Rob Petersen

Key Performance Indicators (KPI”s) are quantifiable measurements, agreed to beforehand, that reflect the critical success factors of an organization. They are the key metrics that help you understand how you are doing against objectives. KPI’s serve as an actionable scorecard to keep your strategy on track.

Since a video is worth a 1000+ words, here’s Erica Olsen of to explain KPI’s.

To cite examples, here are 6 Key Performance Indicators from 5 industries.

E-COMMERCE (from Avinash Kaushik, Google Analyst and Co-Founder, Market Motive)

  • CONVERSION RATE: Focuses on outcomes and force the conversation about objectives
  • AVERAGE ORDER VALUE: A lot of effort spent in the area of onsite merchandising (working on cross-sells and up-sells and what not). Awesomeness of all that work can be detected in by measuring AOV
  • DAYS AND VISIT TO PURCHASE: Measure the true customer behavior on your website, how long it takes someone to complete an Outcome on your website; deeply insightful in terms of perfecting the marketing messaging on your website
  • VISITOR LOYALTY AND VISITOR RECENCY: Allow you to measure if people visit your site repeatedly AND if they do it more frequently
  • TASK COMPLETION RATE: Only 2% of your website visitors (for most websites) will ever convert on your website. How do you know why the other 98% visited your site and find ways in which your site is letting them down
  • SHARE OR SEARCH: Gives you external validation of your success (or lack thereof); stops you from being blind sided

SOCIAL MEDIA (from Aaron Aders, Co-Founder DigitalRelevance)

  • FOLLOWER GROWTH:  Means growing your brand’s reach on social networks
  • LINK CLICK-THROUGH: is a free and easy way to gauge the effectiveness of your brand messaging. If no one clicks your links, you probably aren’t presenting relevant and valuable information (or your follower base is not the right audience)
  • SHARES: Content that gets shared by your audience is one of the fastest ways to grow relevant follower bases on social networks
  • REFERRAL TRAFFIC: Use this data to optimize your website and social network messaging to make the most out of this traffic
  • PUBLISHING VOLUME: Measuring your publishing volume and examining that data is crucial to tie together with all of the KPIs above and to normalize the trends and account for days missed
  • FORECAST YOUR KPI’S AND EXECUTE:   Use past performance as future indicators, but be sure to shoot for growth. Be conservative and start slow. Don’t assume you’ll be able to double your numbers each month. Growth takes time, but with diligence it can be done

B2B (from Bridget McCrea, Journalist who covers business and technology)

  • TOTAL COST SAVINGS:  Is the total amount of money saved by reducing the total cost of ownership year-over-year. It’s a key reason that procurement departments exist
  • QUALITY OF PRODUCTS AND/OR SERVICES: Metrics like “defects per million,” for example, can be used to track supplier quality and, in turn, make improved sourcing decisions
  • ON TIME DELIVERY: Quickly detect whether a supplier is living up to expectations in the area of delivery—or not
  • INVENTORY AVAILABILITY: Allows buyers to keep close tabs on whether inventory is in the right place, at the right time, and in the proper form. Ignore this measure and you’ll constantly have to ‘rush’ freight in—an expensive proposition—to fill in the gaps
  • CONTRACT COMPLIANCE: Allows buyers to capture baseline information regarding service level agreements (SLAs), negotiated prices, and other important measures

CONTENT MARKETING (from Neil Bhapkar, Director of Marketing, Uberflip)

  • UNIQUE VISITS: Are the most standard measure of how many individuals have viewed your content within a given time frame (typically a 30-day cookie window)
  • GEOGRAPHY: Is important in order to understand where to allocate more budget and resources based on where your audience is
  • MOBILE READERSHIP: Understanding trends in how your content is being delivered to different devices is key to determining how to optimize your content and its design (i.e., responsive design) for future publications
  • BOUNCE RATE: Is to not lose your reader because you didn’t deliver on their expectation of what they were clicking on
  • CLICK PATTERNS: Is critical to understanding what is relevant to your audience
  • PAGE VIEWS: Is a good measure of how far along in a publication they may have gotten. They help you understand how to develop future content for your audience

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO) (from Klipfolio – KPI Dashboard – Evolved)

  • RETURN ON INVESTMENT: Is the tangible results from your investment into SEO. high site traffic for a keyword may introduce your brand to potential customers, but they might not take a desired action on their first visit to your site
  • KEYWORD RANKING: Is definitely one of the most important SEO KPIs for search marketers to monitor. It’s common knowledge that the difference in click-through rates for a rank 1 keyword versus even a rank 2 keyword is significant
  • HIGHEST RANKING URL: Is to ensure that the right URL is also the highest ranked. Your objective is to increase leads, sales, or awareness – not just to get to #1
  • CLICK-THROUGH RATE: demonstrates the effectiveness of your SEO campaign to turn keyword rankings into real results for your website
  • GOAL CONVERSION RATE: This can be filling out a lead form, making a donation to your charity, signing up to your newsletter, or purchasing a product. Don’t kid yourself – search marketing isn’t just about ranking high, it’s about completing goals.
  • BACKLINKS:  are an important part of running a successful SEO campaign because they provide Google with an indicator of your domain’s authority

Whether your industry was or wasn’t addressed in these examples, the point is to prove you don’t need a lot of KPI’s to give a complete picture but you do need to monitor continuously and take action on them. A key task is to make sure there is consensus within on the organization on the business objective.

Do these examples explain KPI’s to you? Do you see your business in the KPI’s of the industries cited? Are you looking for help in getting started with a KPI scorecard for your brand?





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