Mr. Tarasofsky

Website / Online Mechandising / SEO

Attitudinal and Behavioral Metrics - An Integrated Approach to Web Analytics

By Jerry Tarasofsky, CEO, iPerceptions Inc.

Obtaining a better understanding of how, when and why your visitors interact with your web site will provide you with a wealth of information to increase revenue, enhance your brand image and increase profitability.

To maximize the effectiveness of your web site, you must have a solid web analytics program in place. Without such a program, you and your team are making decisions that are at best pure guesswork, and at worst potentially extremely harmful to your brand and your property.

A strong analytics program can play an important role in establishing benchmarks that will enable you to track and measure any number of criteria over a period of time. As well, you can use this information to highlight differences in performance, revealing site-specific opportunities for optimization.

When it comes to web site analytics, it is important to remember that your web site is much the same as your hotel. They both share many of the same features and characteristics.

Imagine coming across a room service tray in the kitchen with a half eaten meal. What you do know is the guest for whatever reason did not finish their dinner - in fact most of it was uneaten. Was there something wrong with the quality? Was it delivered cold? Was it delivered too late? Did the guest change their mind? Most managers would not be satisfied in knowing the food came back uneaten. They would want to know WHY it was untouched.

This same analogy can be applied to your web site. Tracking where people go and what they do only provides you with half the picture. Listening instead of simply watching provides you with important feedback that in turn allows you to take action to enhance your user's web site experience leading to increased loyalty and site usage.

Behavioral analytics tell you WHAT is happening - attitudinal analytics tell you WHY it is happening. To really obtain an accurate assessment of your web site, you require both. You can monitor a customer's reaction to certain changes on your site and know whether the impact was negative or positive, but until you truly listen to them and get their feedback you will not know if there was truly an impact on their actions.

Web server stats and other click tracking solutions provide behavioral metrics - the WHAT. Direct feedback, surveys and questionnaires provide attitudinal analytics - the WHY. Behavioral analytics tell WHAT is happening on a site while attitudinal analytics clarify WHY it is happening. What you should recognize is that attitudinal analytics are often more valuable because they are more actionable however both measures used in tandem maximize the overall effectiveness of your web analytics program.

Log files are a rich source of data. Not only do they track click-streams but also time spent per page/section, page visits, and unique visitor counts. Using log files, you can also track where a visitor is coming from and where they go after visiting your site. You can sift through log and transaction files and monitor the number of hits, page load time, and session lengths every day if needed. All of this information is valuable and should be included in your ongoing tracking of web site performance.

Likewise, the attitudinal information you collect by listening to your users completes the picture. Where would you be if you ignored what your guests had to say? It is surprising that with so much at stake organizations pay such little attention to collecting this attitudinal information. By giving your users the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas with you in a structured format, you can explore and get a better understanding about the core issues that concern them.

InterContinental Hotels asked us to help them collect attitudinal information they could use in conjunctions with the behavioral data they were collecting. Their log files revealed users were leaving their site(s) before making or completing a reservation. Since this is a critical issue, they wanted to know WHY this was occurring.

Attitudinal analytics helped InterContinental discover that visitors left their site(s) without making an online reservation because they were wary about sharing confidential information. Knowing this, InterContinental Hotels increased the visibility of their privacy policy throughout the site. Our research also discovered that users felt they could get better prices using alternative distribution channels. Knowing that, InterContinental Hotels established a "Lowest Price Guarantee". Finally, attitudinal data we provided them confirmed that some of the content on their site(s) did not meet the users expectations. The users felt that superior photos and descriptions were needed to help them make a purchase decision.

In the example above the behavioral click-stream analytics showed there was a problem. The attitudinal analytics revealed why there was a problem and also suggested solutions. Once the whys are collected and addressed and the improvements are implemented, you can again revert back to behavioral data to confirm the effectiveness of your changes. That's the surest measure of effectiveness. You want to weigh new analytics figures against the old baseline to see if those changes actually did improve performance. The two metrics work hand in hand.

Jerry Tarasofsky is CEO of iPerceptions Inc., a New York/Montreal based business intelligence company that provides metrics to analyze User-Relationship Satisfaction (c) - a unique measure of user loyalty that helps organizations align their web initiatives with the needs, wants, and preferences of their targeted user groups. He can be reached at jerryt@iperceptions.com

Jerry Tarasofsky is CEO of iPerceptions Inc. Its webValidatorģ "captures the voice" of the online customer, helping companies learn more about their customers. Using a comprehensive perceptual framework to evaluate key elements of the visitor experience and, algorithms and modeling to identify attributes that drive satisfaction. The webValidator solution turns data points into easy-to-understand strategic and tactical decision support. iPerceptionsí clients in the hospitality sector include Crowne Plaza, Omni, Savoy, Wellesley, Homestead, Radisson and Holiday Inn. Mr. Tarasofsky can be contacted at jerryt@iperceptions.com Extended Bio...

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