Archive for the ‘Data Analysis’ Category
Ask yourself this, “would I stay on my company’s home page or landing page more than 3 seconds?” Website experts tell us that new website visitors decide whether to stay and look around or leave a site in about 3 to 5 seconds. If this is true, and we believe it is the answer to the above question is critical.
It’s hard to be honest about this in regard to your own website, the only way to get a fair answer is to see what people do when they arrive at your website for the first time. A bounce rate analysis is just what the doctor ordered – think of it not as a cure, but as an x-ray that you read to see if there are any problems. However, you cannot just take one x-ray, you have to take different views more like a CAT scan when you explore bounce rates.
First step separate new visitors from returning visitors. Next, compare the bounce rates of these two groups. Now explore the new visitor group by the page they landed on to examine which pages are especially problematic. Then look at how visitors found these pages on your site.
Keep digging until you have a clear picture of what is driving your overall bounce rate – focus on the area that generates the highest bounce rate, fix it [often easier said than done] and move to the next problem. Systematically identifying and addressing bounce rate issues will make a material difference in the performance of your website.
Please tell a friend about this blog. Thanks!
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Sales cycle analysis is a powerful tool to help you better understand your markets. Gaining a strong appreciation for the good and bad news about your market positioning in relationship to your competition isn’t always easy to do. Moreover, if there’s bad news it’s difficult to hear. However, not knowing where you stand is, at best, dangerous and could prove fatal.
Understanding why you do or don’t get on the short list of your prospects (or stay on the short list of your customers) is critical and sales cycle analysis helps to answer this very important question. You need to know what will facilitate or impede your progress toward becoming a preferred supplier – the position we obviously all want. If knowledge is power than sale cycle knowledge is supremacy.
Clearly, there is more than one approach to achieving insights related to sales cycle dynamics and how customers and prospects perceive a business. We won’t try to explore the options here.
However, it is worth noting that a commitment to exploring these dynamics is not a one shot deal. If you and your company are serious about sales and the factors that propel your sales, you will be well served by tracking the metrics required at least annually.
We all know markets continue to evolve quickly. A very good way to stay informed is to track market activity systematically. Creating a baseline of information and measuring against that is a great starting point and an essential part of sales cycle analysis.
You can structure sales cycle studies to help maximize your reach tactics. Knowing how to best reach your audience is a function of understanding how they search for information. More precisely it is about how customers and prospects search for information at each stage of the buying process. In addition, the new reach equation includes social networking and social media, again fast moving targets.
In addition, studies on sales cycles, almost by definition, provide competitive insights. It’s not enough to know if you’re on the short list you need to know who’s on it with you.
Combining information on brand and product positioning with a continually updated view of reach dynamics is a powerful tool in the hands of a savvy marketing professional. What are you waiting for? Get started!
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Often when I recommend that a research team prepare a formal analysis plan the first response I hear is, “Why? The analysis isn’t due for weeks and I have too many other things to do.” Alternatively, I hear statements like, “That is too much extra work, I know what to do, I’ve done a lot of analysis work.”
An analysis plan is not extra work; it’s work that makes all the other project tasks flow efficiently. It will help you produce on-time project deliverables. Typically, you develop an analysis plan in parallel with your research instrument (RI). Like the RI the analysis plan is tied back to the goals and objectives of the study.
In addition to the obvious purpose of an analysis plan, producing a plan serves to improve the RI and manage project scope, these benefits alone will pay you for the time you devote to creating it.
The RI is referenced in an Analysis Plan (AP) and while there are no hard or fast rules and no one right way to structure an AP we can offer some guidelines. The approach presented here is as good as any and better than most.
The analysis plan approach described is specific to quantitative studies. The first step of the process will be familiar to those of you who read some of my other blog posts and publications.
Research has the greatest chance of success when the objectives are clearly stated and that is where we begin. Use these five (5) straightforward steps.
State the key study objectives clearly at the beginning of the analysis plan (AP) and refer to them throughout the process.
Describe the major comparisons for the analysis (e.g., major cross tabulations for the study such as: Customers versus Non-customers, Companies by size, Customers that are Satisfied, Neutral, or Dissatisfied).
State how each question is used to answer a specific objective of the study either on its own or in combination with other data points. Think through how you expect to present the results from each question. What statistics, if any, will you use in the analysis? Identify the independent and dependent variables.
Write a clear justification for including the information from the question in the study and perform a section by section “So what” litmus test.
When the analysis plan is finished, go back and make sure each key study objective has been addressed.
These five steps are the basic approach to the AP template. While it is straightforward it is not a trivial task. The key is to focus on objectives and think critically about how to execute on the primary goal of the study.
For a more detailed description of how to develop an Analysis Plan see Analysis Plans Made Easier, which is on the www.AtHeath.com Resource tab (scroll about halfway down the page).
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No, I am not going to offer you yet another webinar, podcast, free report, or video.
We overstocked hard copies of my Book:
Questionnaire Design for Business Research
Tate Publishing (2010)
So I am making this offer to my Research Playbook readers
Purchase the book Questionnaire Design for Business Research, and you will receive a paperback copy signed by the author (my wife loves this author!)
My Special Offer is a signed copy [tell me who to address it to] for $16.75 with free shipping in the USA.
Perfect for anyone serious about:
- Raising the bar on questionnaire design in his or her organization
- Finding a cost-effective way to start designing a questionnaire
- Preparing for the next market research project
- Improving his or her research skills
IMPORTANT: To reserve your signed copy of Questionnaire Design for Business Research you must: Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508 400 6837.
We have less than 100 copies and my signing hand will probably give out sooner LOL. . .
“I want to get this book in your hands.“
It is also available from the publisher’s website: http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61566-835-9
The Sales Cycle
All businesses secure customers through a sales cycle. The starting point is the Potential Market or said another way the Available Audience for your product and/or service. There is a portion of this market (you hope a large one) that is Aware of your business (i.e., your products and services), once they become Aware, you have the chance to be Considered.
You will perhaps start out on a long-list of sellers and hope to be placed on the person or company’s short-list where the chances of being selected increase. Eventually you want to move to a Preferred status, which you hope to maintain through customer-care. Finally, a Purchase is made; you have successfully navigated the prospect into your customer base. Read the rest of this entry »
Many of us, regardless of how disciplined we are, fail to monitor our website’s progress on a regular basis or we think about it too much. Either way, to stay on top of website traffic, scheduling a web analytics report to show up on your desk every week or every month is a good way to solve this problem.
However, being more efficient is not all you can accomplish. Reports can be customized and you can create more than one report. Perhaps a weekly report to help you stay current on a few vital metrics or measures and a month report that provides more depth.
The next question you are probably asking is, “Okay sounds like a good idea how do I create customized reports and schedule them.” Or Said more simply; “How do I do it?”
Customization is a lengthy topic and requires a good deal of planning. However, let’s assume that you are using Google Analytics (if you have a more sophisticated software solution you probably also have access to tech help – use it). There are a series of steps (outlined briefly below) you can use as a good starting point, but they are only a starting point. Customizing your analytics report requires more “how-to” instruction and we will have to tackle that in another venue.
Sending a scheduled report to your email account is relatively straightforward; here are the nine (9) basic steps:
1. Navigate to the report you’d like to receive by email.
2. Click the Email button below the report title.
3. Select the Schedule tab.
4. If you’re sending it to yourself, select Send to me to have it sent to your login email address.
- If you’re sending this report to others, enter their email addresses in the Send to others field.
5. Edit the Subject and/or Description if desired.
6. Select a Format in which to receive this report:
- PDF – portable document format (you need free Adobe Reader software to view this file)
- XML – extensible markup language
- Excel – comma separated values (or CSV) a file format used by most spreadsheet applications and text editors
- TSV – tab separated values; also readable by most spreadsheet applications or text editors
7. If you’d like to compare the currently selected date range with either the Previous date range make your selection from the Comparison drop-down list.
8. Choose the frequency you’d like to receive reports from the Schedule list.
NOTE – Your options are limited and include:
- Daily (sent each morning)
- Weekly (sent each Monday), no option to send weekly reports on any other day.
- Monthly (sent first day of each month), currently no other option
- Quarterly (sent first day of each quarter), same limitation
9. Click Schedule.
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Research results are usually delivered as a presentation and/or report per the requirements of the project’s stakeholders. However, the form factor is typically less important than how the information is organized. An executive summary is typically required, but if not it is an excellent idea, one we highly recommend. All executives and managers are busy professionals who want the bottom line. Afterward, they are likely to entertain the results that support the conclusions.
An executive summary typically consists of text, tables, graphs, images, and figures that allow the research team to offer its insights. Documentation to support the insights, implications, and conclusions should be available to provide further detail and to show how higher-level implications were derived.
The presentation would do well to start by answering the questions posed by stakeholders, when they decided to fund the study – seems obvious, but often not the focus of the presentation.
Address the objectives of the study and organize the results around the answers that speak to these objectives – these could be divided into the sections of the questionnaire, but often to tell a good story some reshuffling needs to take place.
Using the Questionnaire as a Guide
The questionnaire architecture is a good starting point. You already made decisions about what is important and that’s what the questionnaire content covers.
Since the questionnaire was designed hopefully to address objectives, using it as a guide to organize your results can be a good short cut. However, the goal is to provide insight to clients so look for market changes, trends, and themes that will help clients prepare for what is ahead.
Therefore, you are not limited to the structure of the research instrument and you can certainly move sections around to tell a clear story, which is exactly what you want to do. The format you choose is less important than the story you tell. You need to guide your readers through the evidence once you have stated the implication or conclusion.
Ex. “Gaming habits in the youngest cohort studied are likely to change direction next year, they are moving to …..” Then give the supporting evidence.
Permission to be Wrong
Give yourself permission to be wrong – some of what you say won’t come true. The market will change after the study is complete and you cannot report on what happens next only on what you observed. Take some risks (not crazy risks) based on the data and plot a course to attach the market that your clients can readily use.
Telling them what people in their target market are doing is a great start (ground clients in the facts about the market), but that’s not enough. You have to tell them what people are likely to do in the future too. Remember, they are typically trying to make business decision, give them direction and support it with facts and if possible, a few sound bites from the open-ended questions that fit your assessment of the direction of the market.
Researchers should “listen for direction” from the data. What seems to be changing and what seems to be static (at least for now)? Examine the data for convergence, i.e., two or more trends that create a theme. Listen for agreement within and across groups or market segments. Your clients want to know what to do so tell them how market conditions are changing or might change. Tell them what messages are likely to resonate best with each age group (or another market segment view, e.g., male vs. female).
Summarize the results within each section – put the summary (a.k.a. the conclusion) first and then the supporting data. Use representative quotes in the summary sections to make your points come alive – if you have qualitative data use sound bites to punctuate your points.
Finally, use short paragraphs, be succinct – you know the saying “if I had more time I would have written you a short letter.” It’s your job to write a short letter!
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If an analysis plan is in place, the analytics you intend to use to conduct the analysis are already spelled out at least conceptually. Thus, this phase of the process is about execution or doing the work. A researcher or research team that has the appropriate professional statistical training and uses analytic tools such as SPSS or SAS should conduct data analysis.
This phase will commence with database clean up and data file manipulation (e.g., creating and recoding variables as needed). Once the data file is properly prepared, the research team can begin running the descriptive, univariate, and multivariate analysis required.
Additional analysis beyond the work planned is often conducted in response to new relationships uncovered in the data during the formal analysis. Allowing some time for data exploration can benefit the work. It gives analysts an opportunity to get comfortable with the data and at times find patterns serendipitously.
Elements of an Analysis Plan
If you have not created an analysis plan you can use these five steps to write one. These five (5) steps are straightforward and your work will proceed easier and faster.
- State the key study objectives clearly at the beginning of the analysis plan (AP) and refer to them throughout the process.
- Describe the major comparisons for the analysis (e.g., Major cross tabulations for the study include: Customers versus Non-customers, Companies by size, Customers that are Satisfied, Neutral, or Dissatisfied).
- State how each question will be used to answer a specific objective of the study either on its own or in combination with other data points. Think through how results from each question will be presented and what statistics, if any, will be used in the analysis. Identify the independent and dependent variables.
- Write a clear justification for including the information from the question in the study and perform a section by section “So what” litmus test (this works best if you do it while writing the questionnaire).
- When the analysis plan is finished make sure each key study objective has been addressed.
These five steps are the basic approach to creating an analysis plan all you have to do now is think critically about what the study was truly designed to examine an apply your analytical skills..
(For more details on creating an analysis plan: See Analysis Plans made Easier, an AtHeath publication)
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Analysis plans are executed when data collection is completed, but should be formulated during the research design phase. Therefore, analysis planning should begin in parallel with the questionnaire design. We create questionnaire designs (or architectures) to address specific data collection objectives. The analysis plan should reflect these objectives and be related directly to research and business goals.
How does the process work? The research team (hopefully with the client’s involvement) is well advised to think “backward” from the intended report or analysis rather than “forward” from the research proposal. Thinking backward from the analysis requires knowing what hypotheses (a fancy word for beliefs or expectations), the client had going into the study: “What are they attempting to discover?”
The analysis plan and the questionnaire to collect the data for the analysis must be coordinated. If you ask questions that are not related to specific research objectives, you have wasted valuable resources. On the other hand, if you don’t cover the research objectives in the questionnaire, well good luck addressing the client’s expectations. However, luck will have had little to do with it.
Use a clear validation process to identify questions in the questionnaire that address the objectives outlined in the proposal or statement of work. In addition, be sure questions needed to “examine the data” [e.g., demographics and firmographics] are collected. These are the questions used for a priori segmentation analysis.
For a more in-depth discussion on analysis plans see: Analysis Plans Made Easier, find it on http://www.AtHeath.com/MRRC
I recently launched a poll on LinkedIn please participate. After you vote, you’ll be able to see results and analysis of how different types of professionals answered the question, which is:
Several critical skills are needed to conduct research. Which of the following skills do you consider your weakest?
Take poll: http://polls.linkedin.com/p/89542/xelvm
Please add your comments on the general topic of research skill levels and requirements among marketing professionals.