Actionable website analytics (ZAAZ principles) – book review

Working as part of the Y&R Brands network, and in particular Wunderman, it gave me exposure to a lot of great companies that were acquired, specialising in digital, direct and data. In my opinion, there were three stand outs: ZAAZ, Knowledge Based Marketing and Fortelligent.

While on holiday (in rainy Thailand last year), I did myself a favour and read their book ‘Actionable Web Analytics’. It is co-authored by the CEO and Chief Analytics and Optimisation Officer. A good book for all those who think they get analytics or need to get it for their jobs.

There were several themes that rang true for me:

  • Data smog: How can agencies cut through the data smog for their clients? Clients are getting so many reports from so many different partners – what is important? What do they need to improve? How can they improve it? How can this information be molded into bit size chunks and usable?
  • Monetising online: How can you monetise websites? Without having a thorough understanding about how websites are performing and all of the details, this is extremely difficult to determine. However, measures can be taken to ensure this is overcome (particularly those that allow to test, test and test).
  • Results: Why understanding the results are critical? Too many people don’t understand the results. They look at them, but don’t know what they mean.
  • The difference between web analytics and web reporting – yes there is a difference. One focusing on analysing the results, while the other just highlights the findings. The hard thing with this is getting clients to understand the importance of the difference and acting on the results.
  • Consumer journeys: How do you define the conversation path? This needs to be done both online and offline. How are you attracting people, getting them to engage with the brand/company, then moving them through to transaction and into a retention cycle? So important to map this out prior to starting any campaign.

The book also made me consider the following process upgrades within an interactive agency to ensure the following are happening (and not just been given lip service):

  • Google analytics – it’s free, why shouldn’t you include it?
  • Exit survey – there is a need to understand what is missing from the site and what other content is needed. This is best gathered from users rather than second guessing.
  • Test strategies – need to be developed at the start of a campaign identifying things to be tested – offers, messaging and media.

A couple of my favourite quotes from the book:

  • ‘Your website is a series of customer processes. They’re trying to discover, learn, compare, configure, price, locate, purchase, join, discuss, etc.’
  • ‘For every action, there is an opportunity for an intelligent reaction.’
  • ‘Keywords and banner ads are highly targeted doorways to specific destinations on websites.’

ZAAZ’s focus is on performance-driven design. Most agencies are trying to achieve this, but they get lost in the big ideas. I think we should all be striving for performance-driven engagement and bring all of the consumer learnings together and understand what engages them or continues bringing them back.

In summary, the book looks at the website from the users view (who comes to your site? what are they trying to accomplish?) and the marketer’s view (how can we make the website better? what do we need to look at and what is important?). It is a great sales book for ZAAZ, but they honestly are a brilliant company that know how to make money from any site.

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