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March 07, 2019

The value of looking from the outside in

Written by Paul Headley
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Not long ago, I worked with a manufacturing client who confessed that they really didn’t have a clear idea of how to measure whether their website was successful. My client had taken over a corporate website following a major redesign, and they were playing some catch-up. This challenge is more common than you might think, and the client was correct to speak up and ask for help. Here’s how I tackled this business analytics and optimization challenge:

For starters, I didn’t look at numbers. In fact, I asked my team to put analytics aside. Instead, I instructed our analytics professionals to spend some serious time visiting the website from a user’s perspective. It was necessary to first understand the site from the outside in.

Business Analytics

By navigating the site, we were able to better appreciate how the site is supposed to meet user needs. Because the user is supposed to be the focus of the site, assuming the perspective of the customer kept us centered on the outcomes that were really important – and also uncovered some challenges that went beyond analytics.

Because the client services other manufacturing clients with very complex, high-risk needs, we knew that it was not practical for the site to function as an ecommerce destination. It was more important that the site provide information on products and issues affecting the client’s own customers. So sales volume as an outcome was not realistic. Rather, it was far more important for the site to track outcome such as visitors to the site’s secondary pages and conversions such as downloads of educational PDFs.

But the site was not tracking those outcomes. And, as we navigated the site, we discovered another problem: the secondary pages (beyond the home page) that provide the most valuable content were nearly impossible to find. The site layout had created obstacles for users to get what they really needed.

The more customer touchpoints we examined, the more flaws we found. For example, the “contact us” forms that were hard to find, and no one was tracking customers who did follow up.

Our assessment helped the client not only identify the outcomes to track, but we also suggested improvements to the site layout that would help improve those outcomes.

If you’re managing a team of analytics professionals, or you’re working with an outside partner who provides this kind of expertise, I recommend periodically taking a step back and examining your site from the outside in. Doing so will ensure that you’re tracking the most important outcomes and that your site is set up for success. Look at it this way: even the most car-savvy shoppers check out the entire car before they look under the hood. Analytics professionals need to provide the ability to look at the entire car as well as under the hood. 

How well do you look from the outside in?

Contact Investis Digital 

Investis Digital provides Analytics Optimization services to help setup, fine-tune, and analyze the data you have to inform your digital marketing strategies and business initiatives. If you would like to find out how analytics can help inform your digital strategy and provide measurable evidence of its success, please contact your Account team or email us for more information.  

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