A Little Taste of X Change


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One of the highlights of the X Change Web Analytics Conference is the main dinner that caps off the first full day of the Conference. In the past, we’ve done a spectacular 5 course tasting menu at the Ritz Carlton, a wine-pairing at the St. Regis, and, my favorite by far, last year’s spectacular event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This year, we’re going Spanish-theme, with an outdoor “Tapas” dinner from the Coronado terrace with a stunning view across the bay to the San Diego skyline.

Tapas, if you’re not familiar with Spanish Cuisine, is the word for “small plates.” It’s a style of dining where you get to sample lots of dishes all with very different tastes.

I think it’s an appropriate word too, for today’s post, where I want to give you just a quick taste of the many different topics we have in store for you at X Change. As I wrote in my last X Change post, the Conference packs an amazing informational punch for a small, intimate experience. With 60+ unique breakouts, each a full 2 hours long, X Change has far more deep informational content than ANY other analytics Conference no matter how large.

We’ve pretty much nailed down the Huddle topics for X Change 2011 and it looks delicious indeed!

It’s always interesting to see how themes develop as I talk to Huddle Leaders and they pick their topics. Some of the top themes this year include Big Data and Analytics Warehousing (even more than last year), Attribution (this is hot everywhere right now and people actually seem to be doing real work on it), and integration – especially with Social and VoC data.

Deep analytics topics are also getting more traction this year – a fact which gladdens my heart. So I thought today I’d cover some of the deep analytics topics that are being offered. I can’t hope to describe every topic (even within a category), but I’m going to give a light sampler to give you a sense of what the full meal will deliver!

Tom Betts of the Financial Times is going to lead a discussion of Paywall Analytics (a topic I’ve blogged on before) and another on Predictive Analytics for Anonymous Traffic. Paywall Analytics is media-specific, but for any media site, I expect this Huddle to be de rigueur.

There is so much to Paywall Analytics; understanding the cost of the wall, tracking what happens when a user hits a wall, how the wall leads to and prevents conversion; how to continuously optimize the wall; it’s an incredibly rich and fascinating playground for behavioral analysis and, of course, it happens to be vitally important to the business bottom line. In few areas of analytics are good answers both so important and so readily accessible if you measure and use your data wisely.

Predictive Analytics for Anonymous Traffic, on the other hand, is a topic rich in value for almost every Website. The fact of anonymity is the single most important and distinguishing factor in Digital Analytics from traditional BI. Understanding how to deal with and use anonymous data is the essential first step in the effective transition to digital analytics.

Did I mention hot topics? Predictive Analytics is certainly one. But one of the drawbacks to throwing around Predictive Analytics is how intimidating it can seem. A common first reaction – “Ohhh – that sounds hard.” Kiele Cauble of American Airlines is leading a Huddle focused on exactly that reaction. It’s called “Predictive Analytics – the Low Hanging Fruit” and it’s all about finding the easy opportunities for Predictive Analytics. It should be a great discussion for those either looking to get started using more advanced techniques or those looking for some cherry-picking opportunities they might have missed. It will be a perfect place to bring your thinking cap and some of your own best-examples for quick wins with more advanced analysis.

When you talk analytics you are inevitably talking Segmentation (as my current series highlights). Michelle Lambert of QVC will be leading a discussion on ways to improve Advanced Segmentation and Retargeting. It’s a topic that is (or should be) at the heart of almost every Digital Marketer’s thinking, and it’s also an area where there are an infinite number of approaches to try and learn from. In no area should we be able to learn more from the example of others – good segmentations are often highly adaptable and there are so many different and valuable approaches that we should all be able to bring some good thinking to the table.

Michelle will also be covering analytics for SEO. I love this topic. SEO is a critical traffic-driver for most Web properties. But SEO traffic invariably performs and behaves differently than any other traffic segment. There are a host of techniques for studying and optimizing SEO traffic – techniques that are as – or even more – important the SEO techniques for getting traffic to your site in the first place. No Website with significant SEO traffic should fail to explore the special analytic and optimization challenges this segment provides – and every site should be able to bring some of their unique insights and problems to the discussion.

James Robinson of the NY Times will be leading a discussion of one of the central topics in today’s Digital Analytics: Shifting to Visitor Level Analytics. This is a huge deal in media, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s a huge deal everywhere. Web analytics tools have done a remarkably poor job of supporting the single most important level of analysis in marketing – visitor-level measurement. My recent series is also, in many respects, around this exact problem. James’ Huddle will cover all the key elements of getting to Visitor-centric analysis – from access to the data, to segmentation to visitor-level analytic techniques. If you’re not working to get to Visitor-Level analytics, you should be. If you are, here’s a chance to swap ideas on how best to drive visitor-level analytics in the digital realm.

One of the beauties of X Change is that you can get topics of surprisingly broad interest that just wouldn’t happen anywhere else. I have in mind Chris Johannessen of BarclayCard and his Huddle on “Merchtainment.” What’s Merchantainment? It’s the challenge of creating entertaining and engaging content on Websites whose business isn’t ad impressions but selling product or generating leads. With Website experiences getting constantly richer, commercial Websites of every stripe (and media information sites too) have to answer a fundamental question – just how far do they / should they go to entertain their customers? Do customers want or need entertainment? Will it create engagement or distract from sales? Chances are, you’re site has some level of Merchantainment – and you’d probably like to be able to answer those questions definitively. If so, you should bring your best song-and-dance and your thinking cap to this deep-dive into the measurement of engaging experiences on commercial Websites.

Too cool.

I’m always frustrated at the dearth of Conference discussion about real analytics. At X Change 2011, that’s just not going to be an issue. The all-conversational format of X Change and the sophistication of the attendees create a unique opportunity to really learn about topics at a deep level – making it the perfect venue for sharing ideas about the right kinds of analysis and the right approaches for tackling them.

In my next couple posts, I’m going to give you a sample of the many Integration topics slated for this year’s X Change as well as the HUGE amount (how appropriate) of big-data discussion on tap. Meanwhile, I’m working on my next post in the continuing series of Digital Analytics and Database Marketing – how to physically construct a Two-tiered segmentation. It’s another pivotal post in that series and I hope will provide a deep understanding of how to translate a conceptual segmentation scheme into a set of physical filters in your Web analytics solution.

It’s a great time to Register for X Change!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gary Angel
Gary is the CEO of Digital Mortar. DM is the leading platform for in-store customer journey analytics. It provides near real-time reporting and analysis of how stores performed including full in-store funnel analysis, segmented customer journey analysis, staff evaluation and optimization, and compliance reporting. Prior to founding Digital Mortar, Gary led Ernst & Young's Digital Analytics practice. His previous company, Semphonic, was acquired by EY in 2013.


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