Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fun With Big Data @ SES San Francisco 2012

Big Data and Analytics

Search Engine Strategies covers a wide range of important topics to web marketers, which is why I find great value in attending this conference. Today, the first day of the official three day conference was especially valuable for me by focusing on one big topic: Big Data.

Opening Keynote address by Google's Avinash Kanshik. 
It was hard to avoid Big Data and its related sibling, Web Analytics today at SES.
Big Data is everywhere.

Avinash Kaushik Keynote Speech:
The opening keynote address at SES San Francisco was by Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google. In Avinash's enthusiastic, entertaining and informative speech he revealed hard facts, trends and tools regarding social media strategies, data, data visualization, and more. He stressed analytics as a powerful tool to understand what is going on in your website, and shared some excellent data driven visualization sources, including http://d3js.org/. Avinash stressed that one should understand ultimate behavior before taking action, citing a common mistake of 'killing off' many generic search terms because they do not convert on the first visit.... when in fact they are often a crucial first step in the sales cycle. Understand the data behind the activity before doing something you'll regret later!

Mr. Kaushik addressed Social Media measurement. Social Media, he said, is permanently changing Marketing, but slowly. Successful social media should add value to the lives of the audience. Post and tweet outward, link to outside sources. "Interrupt the audience at the point of need. Then fulfill that need!". Tell your audience something new and useful. Tweeting about recent promotion of a VP in your company does not pass this test. Avinash's ideas on how to measure social media data can be found at Best Social Media Metrics: Conversation, Amplification, Applause, Economic Value. He also shared an interesting social measurement tool at: http://www.truesocialmetrics.com/.

Big Data: What Marketers Need to Know:

Speaker: Bryan Eisenberg, SES Advisory Board, www.bryaneisenberg.com
"The Money is in the Data". Brian drives this point home over and over again with real world examples of how companies are generating more success, revenue and profits by seeking to understand the huge mountains of data they own, and then exploiting that data. Amazon is a key example of how a company exploits the data it owns for success. Some key points from Mr. Eisenberg:

  • We are surrounded by data. Today the world produces more data in 2 days than was previously produced from 2003 going back all the way into ancient history. 190,000 additional data scientists will be needed in the next 3 years.
  • Big Data = Complex Data. 
  • Understanding Big Data takes People, Processes, and Tools.
  • The process for understanding Big Data requires planning, improving, measuring, then repeating.
  • Important Big Data Tools come in several flavors: Analytical Tools, Predictive Analytics Tools, Data Driven Tools, and Adaptive Learning and Optimization Tools.
  • There is significant latent value in the piles of web visitor data your analytics tool is sitting on. There are new tools and companies out there which can help you understand and then leverage this data.
  • Bryan is a member of the Digital Analytics Association
  • The blog to the DAA organization is at: http://waablog.webanalyticsassociation.org/

Introduction to Analytics:

Speaker: Matthew Bailey, SES Advisory Board; President of Site Logic Marketing
Matt Bailey is an expert on Google Analytics, and just as importantly an expert on how to apply the vast amount of big data produced to practical and effective use for superior website performance and financial results.

Some of the many key points made by Matt:

  • Customize analytics to work for You.
  • STOP pushing out meaningless data every month in your reports. Break the habit.
  • Avoid repetitive 'copy and paste' analytics reporting.
  • Go beyond- - into real data which can be actionable. Build content and measure intent.
  • Ask questions: Where did the visitor come from? What did they see? How did they react?
  • Set Goals, Segment, Define Conversions. Then Measure! Ask "Are we meeting business goals?"
  • Goals can be simply stated: What makes me $, What will make me $, What could make me $.
  • You define what is a conversion. 
  • Dig deeper to get beyond superficial measurements, such as bounce rate. A high bounce rate may in fact be a good thing and suggests an opportunity to exploit. Understand the data.
  • Unique visitors are actually unique devices such as computers, phones, tablets... not 100% people. Therefore this metric is not dependable.
  • Build Context with Keywords. Put the Keywords into Buckets and sub-Buckets to Segment and analyze.
  • Value: What is the value of a lead? Value by Keyword? Value by Landing Page?
  • Value is the missing metric you must supply. "Visitors who searched for ____ are worth ____ $$$".
  • Don't forget to data-mine  your internal search engine's data.
  • Keyword ranking reports are good if Context is understood.
  • Keyword analysis - look at value, not rank alone.
  • There was a lot more big data and analytics wisdom given, I just couldn't write it all down!

Matt Bailey has a stellar business-centric focus on data and analytics, along with his skills in web design, SEO, and usability. I hired him as a consultant during a key exploratory phase of our next generation website project. Mr. Bailey has an excellent book I strongly suggest to anyone conducting web marketing of any kind: "Internet Marketing: An Hour a Day".