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.
Many small businesses think of web analytics as search engine optimization, but that perspective is a partial view. Analytics encourages the organization of a digital presence for a business or an organization. These days such planning is important. It means providing speedy management of marketing content, be it online or off, such that a business can ultimately manage costs.
Some small businesses analyze results from a campaign effort – after a website is launched, a video is uploaded in YouTube, or a Facebook page is launched. This is an understandable step – many businesses see analytics in an application and treat the analysis as an audit. But the real work happens during the preliminary planning of a digital presence. This can consume some time, particularly now with so many options for a small business to choose. A business should review two aspects first before tweet or a site visit is measured.
1. What is the purpose of the website in the business model? Does it serve as an augment for offline marketing? Is it for sales through e-Commerce? Is it a way to deliver customer support through online chats and community hosting? Answering these questions will set the tone for what content should be on the site – images, downloads, and which pages should retain visitors for longer than a moment. Even trust badges can be influential (see my Business Agility post Building Trust Through Transparency). It will also lead to how a site and its subdomains are set. The end result is the arrangement of how a site should be tagged.
2. What marketing is planned? Thanks to QR codes and URL tagging, for example, small businesses can create marketing plans to anticipate how customers discover the company site, and ultimately the business itself. Experian, eMarketer, and other research firms have indicators that people tend to review products and services online prior to making a purchase. The ideas is establishing an reasonable assumption of how your business is exposed to leads and customers. An assumption may change overtime, but that is reasonable given that marketing materials can become outdated over time.
Once these two steps are addressed, a small business can begin to make reasonable adjustments to a marketing plan with few headaches and reduced expense. There are still some technical verifications needed, depending on the complexity of the site and tagging required – many large enterprises have a team on analytic experts to manage the effort. But for small businesses developing a plan and monitoring as it moves ahead makes any analytics information valuable.
Pfizer recently addressed a hacking attempt to their Facebook Fanpage. The hacker took control of the page and made a few illegal posts before Pfizer regained control once more. No business likes having its page hijacked, but it is particularly troubling for small businesses. Small businesses can not always recover as quickly. Still, if a loss of control happens, a few steps can be used to manage followers and minimize problems.
- First, to prevent consider using HTTPS for Facebook page access, particularly if the page is accessed while mobile. This is done by a simple setting adjustment. You can learn security tips at these pages at Lifehacker and Tek3D.
- Use Twitter for updating your followers on what has happened. Focus on rectifying the problem, but give updates along the way to let folks know your business is on top of it.
- Once you have taken administration control back, summarize what happened on your Facebook page or blog post. This also helps those who do not follower Twitter understand the problem as well as bringing closure to the situation.
- Note the dates of the problem. Facebook Insights does not filter out the data, so you may have to adjust your assessment of fanpage performance to exclude the compromised period. Also use annotation in your web analytics solutions as well if traffic is arriving from Facebook to your site.
It’s funny how Facebook has grown as an essential channel for many small businesses. It’s understandable. Users spend on average 7 hours a day in Facebook, according to Mashable. The data is beyond staggering compared to time spent on a search, leading to many businesses working overtime to not only reach its audience in FB, but also manage its engagement.
Analytics tools have tried to grow to reflect the usage. There is Facebook Insights, of course, which, in Facebook most significant move, has incorporated Facebook plugin activity into its measurement – you can see how likes and sharing have lead traffic to your fanpage. But this may not suit every taste – you still need a way to measure traffic towards a particular activity, a behavior in which event tracking can, er, track.
There are now new dashboards becoming available. Most have combined Facebook data into its dashboard, such as Hootsuite Pro and Raventools. These have developed for the express purpose of combining Google Analytics, Twitter, and Facebook data into one report.
A different approach comes from Pagelever. I have had the pleasure of using a trial period to review its features. I am personally pleased by the improvements it offers. It notes upfront three kinds of page activity — Growth , Visibility and Engagement. Pagelever then provides nuanced measures in the reports, such as:
- Fastest growing segment –
- Growth sources outside of Facebook properties
- Chart of posts on a fanpage displaying date and impressions
Other graphs abound, such as fan growth which reflects fans unsubscribing from a page, and total/uniques measures for metrics such as impressions and pageviews. Some of these graphs are not available in Facebook Insights, so you will gain some very impressive traffic information beyond Facebook plugins usage. Furthermore the user interface displays the information with a uncluttered appearance, perfect if you are accessing your Pagelever account on an iPad or tablet. There is a CSV export available for spreadsheet duty. The explanations, such as a trend in the newsfeed, are very straightforward and appear in large font. Users can manage multiple fanpages under administration.
If your needs are only for a few data updates, there are simpler dashboards available. Crowdbooster, designed primarily for Twitter feed management, includes a Facebook fanpage management feature. I have used Crowdbooster. Although not as in depth as PageLever, it still provides utility displayed in an equally straightforward manner. Crowdbooster provides a chart of fanpage impressions vs. comments, and offers posting recommendations, though these suggestions are based on your own Twitter profile performance rather than Fanpage schedules. It also provides fan growth over time in a chart I think is simpler than that in Facebook Insights. You’ll have to weigh the simplicity against what your analytic needs are to determine if this is a helpful tool to manage your fanpage.
Expect a few posts on Facebook metrics, Edgerank, and how to be a savvy poster, just in time for the holidays!
The Pentagon may not be the first place to think of social media, but then again innovation or interesting perspectives come from the least likely and most uncorrelated sources. Wired reported that the Pentagon is no longer operating a separate social media team to run their Twitter and Facebook accounts, opting to instead incorporate its social media department into its PR communication department.
The decision is understandable. After two years of maintaining a singular communication source, the Pentagon has gained enough insight into what kind of communication should be maintained. After all, not every business has updates that are a clean fit for social media. The government contracting industry, for example, has some struggle with social media only because many of the ideas typically advised can be detrimental. For example, some contractors can only announce a win of a contract but not the details of ongoing contract performance, for concern that competing bidders can use the information against them.
The struggle to integrate social media into a large corporation certainly is not new. The book Empowered by Groundswell author Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler addresses the concerns and struggles to integrate employee social media usage into company strategy (I wrote a book review for Small Business Trends here). The major concern for the Pentagon mirrors the book’s most overarching topic — establishing a social media policy for its ranks. The lack of a policy has not created a significant problem yet, but its mention in the article shows that the military has a way to go to ensuring that no information leak damages its intended image.
Having a dedicated social media team has advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few:
- Dedicated listening that can aid response to online audience concerns
- Dedicated search of customer comments that can aid new product or service generation
- Augments a highly centralized organization
- Can establish an polished image if managed by experience social media or marketing professional
- Can prevent sharing proprietary information — allows for a coordinated disclosure of information
- Creates silo — shared knowledge and insights across organization is limited to too few folks
- Limits account response creativity that can draw followers and interest
- Can be difficult to establish a social media objective when tool usage is disconnected from organizational objectives
- Can create a “too polished” inauthentic image among followers if manager lacks marketing savvy