Category Archives: Finance

How web analytics can cut your business costs in 2014

Many businesses understandably believe that web analytics solution only address the functionality of a website. However this is no longer true in most cases.  Why?  Because consumers and vendors alike rely on the web in the same manner as any other utility – electricity, water, television.  Online has become the first place where people search for information, be it the products and services you offer to your business.

Analytics does impact revenue when analyze correctly. Google Analytics reported how Amari Hotels used mull-channel reports to increase revenue by 44%. Yet not every business invests in analytics well. An eConsultancy report in July 2013 indicated that 26% of surveyed firms did not have a dedicated person conducting the analysis .

Add this all up, and the end result is that a website becomes the face of a business and demand the proper investment to drive results.

As a further result a business must understand the benefits possible.  Read about how those benefits affect the bottom line.

1. Analytics prevents deploying your online marketing too thinly
Marketing is an important activity for building customer awareness of products and services. But advertising on multiple networks can cost money and effort.   Because when you only advertise a little bit on one media, a smidgeon on another, the message will have little chance of customers finding it.   You end up paying a lot for advertising that will vary rarely pay off. Instead, you might want to consider focusing more of your efforts on a smaller number of communities and networks first and build core sources of traffic. Analytics can show which media are trending to warrant further investment.

2. Analytic results can guide the budget for your offline resources 
When Ford introduced its subcompact car Fiesta, the automaker was able to shift its advertising budget to social media. This resulted in a 90% budget savings. Netflix used analytics to focus its movie delivery on its most profitable segments.   Omniture  (now part of Adobe) created a case study that indicates that Dave Ramsey site experienced a 55% increase in online sales and even a 20% increase in offline sales.  All of these results were possible with an analytic process in place.

3. Analytics can prevent unnecessary website repairs
One activity that can end up costing you money is constantly trying to fix website features that may nit be the true cause of client dissatisfaction. To determine fixes many businesses uses a heatmap to understand what a visitor sees, then confirms the success of the change through A/B and multivariate testing.  Monitoring your site performance can also give an overview to what steps .

4. Analytics prevent overspending through ignoring data
Ignoring data can also make you poor for the simple fact that the metrics contain valuable information about your business performance. The data trends indicate what internet marketing strategies are effective and what strategies are not working. Failing to act on the data you might misdirect the business on activities that are unrelated to business goals.  A business can discover if an offering online is not effective simply by examining the conversion rate for the product page.

5. A data-based business drives a faster response to money-making activities
Another costly mistake that often puts internet marketers in the poor house is not creating points where customers can complete transactions faster.   Creating faster transactions permits more revenue and recommendations to come into the business, creating more opportunities to focus on strategic opportunities.

The New Math: Product + Process = Service

Despite the straightforward definitions of margins and breakeven analysis, the math that can go into profitably offering a product or service can be an unusual calculus.  This post, originally written for the UBM Tech site, Business Agility, notes how businesses are finding ways to transform their products into services. Incorporating business process in the delivery, however, remains the true answer to the arithmetic of creating profits

Much of transformation has come courtesy of businesses attempting to build on the success of the open source business model. Many businesses have offered no or low cost software and applications. Offering services to maintain those applications generates revenue.

The end result is an increased dynamic of digital assets that were once passive tools.  Websites are an example.  Advanced techniques with programming language have changed websites from passive documents presented from a server to platforms that can provide simple services to customers.

Companies are scrambling to compete with those who have successfully adopted open source approached into their business model. The economics are still being studied, but most pundits agree that the trend will continue.  Neil Gandel, a professor of Economics and Head, School of Government and Policy at Tel Aviv University noted on Vox, a Centre for Economic Policy Research (CERP.org) website showcasing global economic studies, that “many proprietary firms now use a mixed-source model…a model in which some of their products are proprietary and are distributed under traditional licenses, while some of their products are open source and distributed under an open source license. Such a mixed-source strategy enables firms to benefit from the advantages of both open source and proprietary development.“

One example of a business transforming its business model to include more comprehensive services occurred from a former grad school friend of mine.  Garrison Atkisson, founder of broadAngle and a past Zimana client, emailed me on the change his company made from being a producer of a video platform to a broad provider of platform services.

 “We started broadAngle in late 2007 with the intent to develop and market a product that helped corporate clients manage and deliver video content using a custom branded player.  The economic crisis of 2008 made this very difficult for us.  We found ourselves in a position where we needed to re-evaluate our strengths and the needs of the market to find a more viable business model.  We had assembled a great development team for our own product development, and pivoting the business to provide their development services to our clients was a natural fit.  It was much easier to demonstrate value with a services-based strategy that it was trying to create a new market for our product.”

Despite notable successes, the math of a business plus software is not a straightforward answer to success.  Longevity and profitability lies in creating unique business process management practices that enhance the services that serve open source programs.

Developing the service systems can lead a business to providing even greater value than simply offering the product itself. Many experts, in varying degrees, believe such value is attainable. Jonathan Byrnes in his book Islands of Profit In a Sea of Red Ink notes that the “Selling more products can give a vendor additional leverage with customers, but selling the right related services can give vendor a new strategic position and a host of valuable benefits.”  Indeed Garrison states that broadAngle has made such gains. “We’ve built solutions that integrate SaaS services to add customer relationship or salesforce management functionality to custom applications that otherwise would have been out of scope due to time or budget constraints.”

Businesses that incorporate business process management may want to examine its content management and business analytics practices to optimize service delivery opportunities. Doing so adopts the economic benefits of open source-based business model into the right mix of incremental related services that outweigh any potential initial costs.

Gaining more by adding the right business process management approaches is a math I can live with.

 

 

 

 

Good Online Resources to Learn More About Website Code

No business owner can be an expert at every programming language – nor should they be. The rate of increasing language uses and coding techniques overwhelms even the most experienced programmers.

But a small business owner should have a basic understanding of website functionality. Knowing just a little about how sites can be structured lets small business owners better frame their questions when talking to developers.  It also helps organize the effort needed to make corrections and really get things done. The end result is avoiding cost overruns.

A few sites show what the basics are and how those basics work.  All do so with a low cost or free resources, and each have a varied degree of expertise.  Below are a few with some background on how they work.

Udemy – this site provides presentations and course material from instructors on a number of topics.  Many topics teach programming and software usage such as Excel, but there are also some great topics on website dos and don’t.  Some courses are free, others have fees of varying prices, with Udemy offer occasional coupons.  Regardless of course prices, you’ll find the site worthwhile.

AppSumo – This video-focused site provides online courses, and like Udemy, many are app-related programing and development.  But a few also show how to use software.  Many courses are offered with an occasional discount and snarky humor.  It’s a great site for growing an understanding of how extensive an internet presence maintenance can be.

Webdesigner Depot – This blog shares the latest tricks and ideas from web designers across the world and of varying experience.  It a great site in learning a few techniques that can update a site and not just delay

Lynda – There are basic courses available for everything ranging from using Microsoft office to basic programming at $25 per month.  These courses contain light material treatment that fits well for beginners and new internet users.

The material in Lynda contrasts with the scope often shown at O’Reilly, which is an excellent resource on programming languages and lessons. O’Reilly, however, aims its courses for more ardent developers.  There are certification training programs and webinars, as well as manuals and books that run the gamut of application and database development.

Peachpit – is part of Pearson Publication through its Safari publications.   Peachpit provides subscriptions to its video library in addition to specific blogs posts and books sold.  It’s pretty similar to O’Reilly, but its audience leans more for creatives, so its more design emphasis that developer audience O’reilly attracts.

YouTube – Type website development or any topic you are researching, and you’ll find a plethora of online video snippets.  I discovered a YouTube channel from Adobe that is great for web development.  Most designers and developers offer a series of videos, but many have differing quality in terms of speaking style or are using outdated tools, so weigh carefully against curated sites such as Udemy and Webdesigner Depot.

W3C SchoolsThis site has been the Wikipedia of web design, a standard go-to site for learning the difference between Javascript and Java. Users get to view the results of a code element change to HTML, CSS, PHP, SQL, and plenty of other programming syntax.

Tutorials Point – Similar in layout to W3C Schools, Tutorials Point provides great coverage on PHP, Javascript, Java, MySQL, and other programming languages.

Dan Bricklin – Spreadsheet Godfather, Technology Royalty (2009 post updated)

Zimana_Founder_Pierre_DeBois_and_Dan_BricklinNY_Tech_Audience

Original Post Date; September 9, 2008 (Now we know who is responsible for Excel!)

Every day there’s a new invitation to a network here in NYC. Some groups are “out of the wrapper, still have styrofoam peanuts in the nooks and crannies” new, others have been laboring online for years. Few have hit the sweet spot combination like The New York Tech Meet Up. Started only a few years ago, the numbers of registrants increases every year. In June 2009, the Meet Up had over 10,000 members. Held in the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT — gotta love it!) Auditorium, attendees listen to speakers from every aspect of application development.

I was pleased to see the presentation by Dan Bricklin, founder of the first spreadsheet, VisiCalc. Now a spreadsheet does not sound sexy, but think about how much can not be achieved without a cell to hold important information (Update: Here is an All Analytics post “Don’t Toss Out Excel Yet” that notes how far Excel plug-in development has come). Zimana’s business, along with many other analytics tools, business firms, consultancies and organizations, rely on the ol’ spreadsheet as a starting point for data analysis.  This movement owes much to VisiCalc.

But Dan did not bore the audience with just column-and-row talk. His autobiographical book Bricklin On Technology covers the early days of his start up and serves as a window into the early days of the computer industry. Bricklin spoke to the New York Tech audience about entrepreneurship, how many people are looking for the pot of gold, but should just try to run a solid business. Says Bricklin, “You’ll end up in an nice home, just focus on what you love to do.” I personally like that statement!

You can  find Dan Bricklin site, including his book Bricklin on Technology here.

I also reviewed Bricklin on Technology at Small Business Trends – click here to read the review.

 

Where to find e-commerce shopping cart providers with web analytics, Facebook, and bank integration

eCommerce Shopping Cart Comparison

Thinking of online retail? Use this Free eCommerce Shopping Cart Comparison to see what integrates with an analytics solution and payment gateway easily

 

Thinking of an eCommerce business? Select a cart that makes digital analytic measurement easy to plan first!

I’ve made this chart of eCommerce shopping cart solutions available. Each offer different capability to integrate an analytics solution. Although some coding effort is needed in general, some solutions provide a plug-and-play capability. The chart includes a consideration of which kinds of banking/payment options are available, whether the sites include Facebook commerce option, and if analytics integration is available.  Having these features in place makes sales easy to manage, and to permit an analytics tools to reveal when customers are dropping out of a cart…and not purchasing your product.

Click here for the full e-commerce shopping cart chart in pdf format.