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Web Analytics And Website Performance Monitoring

With increasing amount of data available, and more pressure to demonstrate ROI, especially in the world of eCommmerce and mCommerce, the question of which tools and techniques to use can become fraught.

Web analytics have long been beloved of marketing teams, as, when they came along they could suddenly provide real data on what customers actually did, and looked at, that had proved elusive for so long. Finally, it seemed, here was “proof” of what was working and how well budget had been spent.

But while analytics are incredibly powerful and useful, they do not, in themselves, provide enough data for all decisions.

Analytics can tell you “what users did” in great detail, but if you pair this data with the results from dynamic user journey monitoring you can also gain an in-depth understanding of “what caused users do that”, “how is technical performance changing behaviour” and “what is the opportunity cost of these effects”.

You may know from web analytics that you are getting a higher percentage of users than expected leaving partway through the checkout process.

You may then go on to try and discover the reasons with usability testing and discover that your customers expect the form pages of the eCommerce checkout process to appear within say 2 seconds of clicking submit.

Both of these methods may reveal that users are content for certain areas of the site to perform more slowly than others. For example, they may not mind waiting for a demo video to take longer to download and play, but they get very nervous if their credit card verification is not returned immediately, or make negative assumptions about customer service if the product search is slow.

What may not be apparent is that this only happens with certain combinations of product types, or when certain routes round the site have been taken, or if certain content options have been chosen from 3rd party suppliers.

Do What The Customer Does

‘Doing what the customer Does’ with randomised items (and number of items) in the cart, payment methods, shipping options, different ways of having browsed to, or searched for items and all measured at regular intervals 24/7 so that Customer Experience through your busy times and your quite times is captured, and lesser travelled routes through your site are equally tested. Sometimes the lesser travelled routes turn out to be the most valuable.

Dynamic User Journey Monitoring reporting enables you to drill down into the detail of how individual steps in a user journey are performing and set threshold and KPIs alerts based on your own user experience requirements, whether for slowdowns, inventory management, content problems, 3rd party issues or certain error types.

This also ensures that your IT teams are alerted out of hours when your Customer Experience is starting to suffer, so they can resolve problems pre-emptively instead of waiting for a server to be down some time later before their server monitoring alerts cut in. It frees your IT teams to plan effectively for hardware and IT infrastructure to cope with varying demand – such as “rush hours” and quiet periods, seasonal fluctuations and major campaign activities – in the knowledge that as long as the Journeys measured stayed Green = OK during the peak, then the IT infrastructure did it’s job; even if Marketing say ROI or purchasing was lower than expected: the IT infrastructure is no longer a possible culprit!

Lost Opportunity Cost

The Lost Opportunities calculations that dynamic user journey monitoring enables means that a monetary value can be assigned to slowdown or downtime or errors based on the value of user activities unique to an organisation and to a specific time.

Some examples:

An average basket value of a user at 6pm on a Friday may be much more valuable than the average at 2am on a Wednesday

  • so an error with the checkout process on the latter may be less damaging to the bottom line.
  • Lost Opportunity calculations that factor this in help with decisions on
    • when and if to switch over to new hosting capacity :
    • whether new software has too many teething troubles and should be rolled back,
    • or whether technicians on the call out rota need more tools to reduce their time to resolve problems.

A user who views a full product demo video may be more valuable in terms of likelihood of completing a lead generation form

  • so a user journey that includes a video view may be more valuable to the sales team than one that does not.
  • If there is a decision to be made on fixing a bug on the video player or another component on your site: this information could help make the business case for one over the other.

Brand damage and extra costs may result from errors in conditional logic

  • where users were not able to choose the correct combination of options, or were sent the wrong configuration of items.
  • This will increase contact centre calls, the level of product returns resulting in refunds and replacements

If the stock inventory system is not responding, or not updating, to the online store:

  •  what will be the cost of users who look elsewhere, wanting to be certain they can definitely get the goods.
  • The problem of the disappointed buyer occurs when a visitor finds the product they want on your site, takes time to compare with other choices,
    • and then when they click Add to Basket are confronted with a page saying this option is not available to buy!

The cost of “just a couple of hours of partial downtime” is not trivial when you factor in:

  • how many times a user will return,
  • what the average basket value is for each visit,
  • how much they are worth over the course of the length of an average customer relationship
  • how much it costs to recruit new users vs continuing a good relationship with existing loyal customers

3rd parties may be losing you sales

  • Where 3rd parties are contracted to provide some or all of your online services, whether standalone or components and plugins,
  • there may be  KPIs under a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
  • But the best KPIs are not ‘down-time’ but Customer Experience journeys

This type of time dependent performance information is also extremely valuable for decision making around activities such as ad trafficking, context sensitive sales and marketing offers and IT investment discussions, and prioritisation of support, developer and customer services time.

Calculating ROI of Marketing Spend

In the marketing arms race large amounts of time and money are invested in bringing user to the site through SEO, SEM, advertising, events, social media activities and PR campaigns. However, it doesn’t matter how many people you attract to the site if they cannot transact or interact with you in a meaningful way, if they cannot login. register or place orders, and eventually abandon their visit due to frustration.

The possibility of losing business and damaging brand due to poor technical performance is a real concern now the web is such an integral part of every body’s lives. The only way to protect your online revenue and ensure a consistent, positive, end user experience is to ensure you are using and correlating data from all appropriate sources to get as realistic a picture of user behaviour, site performance and their causes and effects.

SV Monitoring Suite

All products in the Monitoring Suite have been designed with different user needs in mind, but all are delivered through the intuitive Customer Portal, and enjoy the one-on-one managed service support, that our clients value so highly.

To help support all teams, and provide a “single point of truth”, all products in the SV Monitor Suite are designed to ensure that everyone can understand and be proficient in using the wide ranging metrics to deliver ongoing improvements.