This month it has been a pleasure to deliver some very pleasant surprises to a rather sizable cluster of clients new to Permission. Each of them ran their business in a very similar way. This I found out as they answered the questions included in our online marketing opportunity review survey.

There’s a few questions in there that are quite tricky. Questions such as the actual numbers that make up their sales process. Details like “What percentage of prospects do you convert into customers during the sales process?” Or “What is a client of average quality worth to you over their productive lifetime?”

Most clients reply with some very approximate answer. “Around 50% or between $1500 and $9000.”” But in the case of this fortunate group I received a list of exact figures – for instance 82% and $1750. This level of detail continued with their responses to all the questions that asked for some figures. These people clearly knew their numbers.

This made me grin from ear to ear when I noticed that their website was either bereft of any website analytics software or that what was there was woefully configured. I could just see that these “numbers” people were going to love the stat detail that their fresh new Google Analytics application would provide. It was going to completely change how they managed their website marketing strategy. Things would never be the same.

Over the years I’ve seen a number of ways that this could all play out. Here are just a few of the common scenarios that occur when “numbers” people are given the gift of a numbers website.

Scenario 1 – “Finally I have your Attention”

My first experience of this scenario occurred over 6 years ago with a city-based, large recruitment agency. Before we were engaged, their website was seen as a necessary part of doing business but nothing too special. They pinned their sales growth upon inspiring their recruitment consultants to open the right doors and meet the decision makers
responsible for making the next hiring decision.

So it was with some reluctance that they let me set up a Google Analytics account and convince their web developer that it was worth the effort to place the tracking code on all their web pages. I waited for three weeks of data to be gathered before I sent the first website visitor report to the CEO.

Now, this gentleman was a very hard person to track down. We rarely spoke face to face – usually the link in our communication was his very capable PA. So I emailed the report to her so she could print it out and ensure he looked at it. What a surprise when he called me 20 minutes after I sent the email – asking me to check the figures as they were
obviously wrong. The stats were way, way too high.

But they were right – the web developer had done a good job and Google rarely makes a data collection error. Yes, their website was really receiving over 10,000 visitors each month. A count that would take his army of recruitment consultants about 10 years to see. Needless to say within a few hours of me confirming the veracity of his figures, an appointment had been set for us to meet up and website marketing strategy was underway to make the very most of this traffic.

Scenario 2 – Time to Fix some Mistakes

My other situation starts along very similar lines to the previous one. A rather large corporate, owning an appropriately sized website, producing a steady stream of leads. This all made their web developer look very good – even though there was no tracking installed, so “good” was very subjective.

Needless to say, I pushed for some analytics just to confirm how good the good news really was. Again, I had to convince both the web developer as well as the client. In the developer’s eyes the Google Analytics tracking code was going to cause their shopping cart to crash. Our team listened and then went on to show them other sites using a very similar code base as theirs without any problems. So they acquiesced and the code was installed.

However, this time the Google Analytics story was the opposite of scenario 1 – bad news indeed. Yes, there was a steady stream of leads but the stats showed these came with a sub 1% site conversion rate. In their industry the range was between 5% and 8%. Unfortunately, they were squandering traffic because one type of browser (which a sizable percentage of their visitors used) was failing in their shopping process.

Once we picked up the problem we immediately called their developers with some charts to prove our point. Thankfully, in a week the fix was in and with it came a sizable bump in conversion results.

Scenario 3 – A Feeling of Control Settles over All

This has to be my favourite of the three. Nothing too extreme. Just the general feeling of control settling over what was previously seen as something unmanageable. It’s the scenario that I predict will come to the people we started working with in April.

These were all very smart business people running very successful companies. However, when “numbers” people are tasked with managing anything that can’t easily be distilled down to a series of digits then things are usually left alone. In nearly all cases this is the wrong step to take. But if you show them how to collect and interpret the right data then their methodical and rational skills are able to capitalise on the opportunity their website represents.