The movie Saving Private Ryan is one of those movies that grips you to the point where you have to study the details. It’s been years since its acclaimed release in theaters, yet movie goers remember its opening sequence, the bloody taking of Omaha beach during the Normandy invasion of World War II.
But for this web analytics perspective, I recall one particular scene that makes the point of what you want to do with data.
In Saving Private Ryan, General George Marshall is informed that three of the four Ryan brothers have all died within days of each other. In a scene after the opening battle, one of the notification typists sees a similarity of the planned Ryan death notices. She stops typing, stands ups, and walks the notices to an officer. The notices are then brought to the attention of the general, who then decides that the fourth brother, Private James Ryan should be sent home.
In simple terms, it took human intervention to notice and take action. Your business should strive for a similar intervention to stay on its strategic course. But what kind of alerts make sense? The following alerts and tips can help you decide what is effective and useful for your business.
1. First, decide what online actions may have an important influence on your business
Develop a list that shows what metrics would create an action if it were to change. How would an increase in a number of visits affect your business? Assign one person or small team that manages the marketing as the “General Marshall” of your online properties — that person/team should have some ability to implement changes quickly, such as a comfort with modifying text or a broken referring link in a site.
2. If monitoring your brand or products is important…
…use Google alerts for, well, alerts on online mentions of your brand, product, or other important phrase. Another tool, Nutshell Mail from Constant Contact provides social media alerts, such as for activity on a fanpage or changes in Youtube.
3. Use alerts in your analytics tools to determine changes in website metrics that will affect your business choices.
Google Analytics, for example, offers an intelligence alert setting for changes in key metrics such as average time on site, CPC, Bounce Rate, goal conversions, or changes in custom segments created in the advanced segmentation wizard. The alerts can be named, and shared across profiles, as well as sent via text to a mobile phone.
4. Set up a repository email for response
The alerts mentioned in 2 and 3 are delivered to an email address, so a deposit email (say firstname.lastname@example.org) should be selected and monitored by the “General Marshall” in your business. Even further, you can add the targeted email to a mobile phone for alerts on the go. Your “General Marshall” should have access to the receiving email alerts and can take appropriate action — respond to a customer query or send a discount.
5. Use Annotation in Google Analytics
Finally, have the Google Analytics administrator use the annotation feature to add notes for events, website updates, and key events which may affect business performance. Doing so can help determine which efforts make a different as well as reveal new traffic trends that result from the effort. Do so once a month to catch all updates and edits as needed. The postings can also be shared to other employees who have profile access.
Alerts can be beneficial for any business, because their presence can order which actions require attention. If set correctly, a performance check is less frequently needed, allowing more time to focus on other matters in the business. For example, if you are receiving an alert triggered on visitor spikes very frequently every month on a page for a product, you can examine if sales are also increasing at the same time as those spike and consider adjusting inventory if the trend has continued over time (and even investigate why the spike are occurring).
Stay alert with alerts…They can be the best way to win the ongoing battle to serve clients and customers better, as well as to keep to sales momentum going strong.