Umesh Choori, Senior Manager of Marketing Analysis here at Network Solutions attended the eMetrics Summit in October 2009 in Washington DC. In addition to its innovative agenda, this year’s conference included a unique challenge to the 600+ attendees and that challenge was to find 100 of the Web Analytics industry’s best and brightest to participate in a sample test of the soon-to-be-released Web Analytics Association (WAA) Certification Examination.
So who was the best and brightest Web Analytics professional? Our very own Umesh Choori was one of the 100 attendees chosen to take the test and he not only took the test, he was the TOP scorer from a field of professionals that spanned several industries, including analytics professionals from ecommerce giants like Wal-Mart and Dell. Umesh was recognized in the closing session of the Summit and was awarded a laptop computer by the WAA.
Umesh’s stellar performance was not a surprise to his team. Umesh’s insights and deep knowledge of ecommerce and customer behavior have been invaluable. Umesh’s strive for excellence and big brain has helped him reach the top of the Web Analytics professional field.
I recently had a chance to sit down Umesh and talk about his award and the intensely cool world of web analytics. Here is the transcript of that interview.
1.) What is your background and how did you come to specialize in web analytics?
My education, experience and interests have led me to success in web analytics. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in Engineering. My education at IIT really honed skills in problem solving, ability to frame a problem, dissect it, build hypothesis, use information to gain insights and finally put the puzzle together. Business education from Univ. of Michigan helps me to look at the business aspects of the problems. Also, my experience at GE and IBM in product development gave me hands on experience in the web technologies development. Combining the education and experience, helps me to take web analytics to the next level.
2.) For someone designing an e-commerce web site, what are some particular things they should do to optimize the site for search and what analytics tools/metric should they employ to get a good understanding of their site?
First and foremost, you should understand where the traffic is coming from. Next look at shopping cart visits and conversions. You would be surprised to know that less than 50% of the ecommerce sites properly track the cart conversions. Once you have these 2 basic metrics, you can optimize specific flows, traffic sources, product and landing pages.
3.) You were the top scorer on the beta test for the soon-to-be-released Web Analytics Association (WAA) Certification Examination. First, congratulations! Second, for those out there looking to get a better understanding and expertise in analytics, is this the certification for them?
Thank you. It was friendly competition. The skills that WAA is evaluating are the ones needed for any web analyst. The kind of questions that were on the test were very practical and situations were very realistic. For anyone wanting to enhance their career in web analytics, I would highly recommend that. WAA is highly respected organization in the community.
4.) So what is your prediction for the future of web analytics? Will the tools get more sophisticated? Will the metrics change? Are they changing now?
I believe web analytics is going to become more and more crucial to running any business, especially if it is dependent on internet. Web analytics helps you understand traffic, what products have interest with visitors, what merchandising works, what price points yield the most, what is the shopping behavior etc. For internet companies, their website is their “Sales and Marketing Person”. The more you train your Sales person, the better for your top line. Web analytics tools have come a long way in the last few years. The new tools would offer you more integrated testing capabilities. The tools would also change the visitor experience on the fly based on visitor behavior and needs. The sites would become more ‘intelligent’ in offering the right product or service at the right time to the right customers – the holy grail of marketing. As for metrics, the core metrics would remain the same. However, you will be segmenting the traffic and conversions in many more ways as you build more capabilities and collect more data. Some secondary metrics will change to better understand visitor behavior. For example, you may be measuring engagement differently.
5.) Lastly, I like to do a “Top 5 things” to give our readers a go to set of advice gleaned from years of experience. My top 5 for you is “What are the Top 5 Analytics that provide a view of your business and why”?
Top 5 things really depend on the business and situation you are trying to address. I will try to keep it more generic and broad.
- Implement analytics on your site, even if it is basic site. If you are budget constrained, there are relatively functional web analytics tools in market for free. So no excuse to not to do it.
- Understand where traffic is coming from – by geography, campaigns, paid search, natural search, referring domains etc…
- Measure conversion rate (whatever you want the site to do i.e. sales, sign ups, lead generation forms, calls etc.)
- Identify the most visited pages, and continue to improve the pages through testing (alright, this may cost in infrastructure and resources, however it is worth it, would not you train your Sales representative?)
- Identify the website paths (series of pages) that drive your conversions. Improve these paths to provide better visitor experience while achieving your business goals.