SES New York 2008: Data Into Action

At SES New York Matt Bailey from SiteLogic presented on web analytics and managed to draw some enlightening similarities between Star Trek and data analysis.

Being a hard core Star Trek fan Matt Bailey worked out that crew members dressed in red shirts have a mortality rate at least 50% higher than their yellow and blue shirted counterparts.

He determined that the two factors that affected whether or not a red shirted crew member is likely to die are:

  • If the member is given an earthbound mission – more die.
  • If Captain Kirk meets a female alien – less die.

So how does this anecdote relate to web analytics? In this scenario Matt Bailey explained that death is the conversion point. He analysed the data available (20 plus episodes), and as a result he was able to work out what factors influenced the number of conversions. He did not just report the number of deaths and compare them month on month – a reporting trap that Matt Bailey believes many marketers fall into.

As nicely illustrated by his Star Trek example, Bailey went on to say people respond well to stories. So make your metrics meaningful to colleagues, and the board, by working out personas for your visitors (not all visitors are the same), and ask yourself the following questions to build context:

  • What are your visitors looking for when they come to your site?
  • Where are your visitors from?

Once you’ve answered these questions you can use this information to generate personas and context. For example, one persona may be a grazer, someone who accesses the site as a result of following an e-newsletter link and then munches around a specific topic they are interested in. The conversion point could be a page view.

To keep a grazer munching up the content and thereby consuming as many pages as possible, you would need to make sure that each page of content contained links to related information.

Matt Bailey’s key learning points:

  • Analyse the data, don’t just report the numbers.
  • Segment your visitors – not every visitor is the same.
  • Set up separate conversion points for each segment.
  • Use stories to make your metrics more meaningful to you and your business.
  • Use personas as part of your story telling – they will bring clarity to the data.

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