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Jim Sterne shows us the big picture

I am speaking this week at Jim Sterne’s Emetrics Summit, which gives me the opportunity of hearing the terrific lineup of speakers Jim has assembled at this conference, including Jim himself. Jim led off the proceedings with his keynote speech, where he explains to the attendees how to see “The Big Picture.” Jim is always entertaining, but more importantly, his insights help all of us to see where we should be focusing our efforts.


Jim got the conference off to a great start by compiling a list of what it’s not about, juxtaposing these common misconceptions with what we really need to think about. Here’s Jim’s great list:

  • It’s Not All or Nothing. Sometimes you need just one piece of data to convince your execs that they must invest in metrics, but there’s a bare minimum you usually need to effectively run your business by the numbers. If you want to get attention for your products, educate potential customers, sell them, and offer your customers help after purchase, then you need to measure traffic (clickthroughs), page views, revenue, and customer satisfaction (at minimum).
  • It’s Not a Web Site. It’s a series of customer processes and actions. Stop thinking about your company and start thinking about your customer. Jim said, “Think about just one customer and what that customer wants to accomplish—think about the buying process, not the selling process.”
  • It’s Not Just E-Commerce. “A conversion is not only a sale,” Jim told us, which my readers know how much I agree with, with the writings I’ve done over the years on identifying your Web site’s goals and measuring our customer’s success in reaching them. Jim called every click a “micronegotiation” between you and your customer, whether it is leading to an e-Commerce sales or a different outcome.
  • It’s Not Accurate. Jim’s best quote of the day was, “Web Analytics is nor precise, but it’s true.” He advised that anyone obsessed with accuracy should “get over it” and that we need to look at the differences in the numbers, rather than the raw numbers themselves. The trends are accurate.
  • It’s Not About Clicks. It’s about people. No one should care about a click—they should care about the fact that a person made that click, which shows you something about what they want to do and what they care about. And it’s about whether your Web site provides return on your investment. Jim said that he is concentrating on segmenting customers into small groups and measuring the sales per segment and the cost per segment, so that he can see his new favorite metric, profit per segment.
  • It’s Not Web Analytics. It’s bigger than that. It’s about returning value to the company by measuring what your Web site does. Jim wants to know what we should call what we do. Web Value Optimization? Web Equity Expansion? If you have a good name, he wants to know.
  • It’s Not Happening Without the Right People. Jim identified four kinds of people that are required for your metrics team, the technical guru, the Web designer, the statistician, and the business decisionmaker. Without those skills, your team can’t collect the right information, analyze it properly, and take the right actions in response.
  • It’s Not Easy. The Web provides enormous amounts of data to collect and you need to make decisions as to what to collect and what to analyze. And it’s hard to find analysts with the statistical backgrounds that can separate news from noise. But the hardest part is in deciding what to do. Jim cited designers (and in my experience, business decisionmakers also) as people who struggle with Web metrics, because their decisions were never open to question before. Designers selected the shade of teal to use and that was that. Now, metrics challenge designers to design a test, rather than the site itself, by selecting the 27 shades of teal that we will test with users to select the right one.

Jim closed by describing how difficult an adjustment marketers face if they don’t have a background in direct marketing. He told a story of a CEO who called in the head of marketing and asked, “How will you spend the money if I increase your budget 10%?” The marketer replied, “I will increase everything 10% across the board.” The CEO bristled, answering “Oh, so you don’t know where to spend the money. OK, I will cut your budget 10% instead.”
Jim reminded us that in the Web metrics business, we have all the answers. Whatever information we need is in there somewhere. What we need is the right questions. Jim advised hiring someone with insatiable curiosity.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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