The Problem of Only Capturing ROI

ROI is a key measurement and the first thing you should look at, but how do you measure ease of use? How do you know if your online experience is a positive one for most of your customers? ROI won’t tell you these things. If you plan on growing ROI, you need to understand the factors that will help you move the ROI needle. ROI is a dollar value; further analytics are needed to understand how to optimize your ROI values. These typically come in the form of measuring the user experience. Further, not all sites derive their revenue directly from sales. Facebook, for example, generates revenue through advertising, as does Google, and both have worked to create a great user experience, striving to maximize this user experience and increase profit. There is a reason why Google is the most-used engine while Overture is a thing of the past. It’s why Facebook now rules, while MySpace is circling the drain. Connecting with users, and building experiences and communities, has helped these sites grow bigger than any competitor around them.

The goal of your analytics should be to improve the overall experience for your customers. A happy customer is a good customer. In some cases, a happy customer may simply be one who finds support quickly. There isn’t direct ROI in this case; instead, you’re looking at cost savings or customer satisfaction, both of which are part of the lifetime value of a customer. If you can show that improving self-support services on your website reduces costs, you have an ROI figure you can use. And even if it doesn’t reduce costs on the support side, it may improve long-term customer loyalty. In these cases, you may need to estimate what the long-term value of a customer is. You may not be able to get an exact ROI, but you will be able to estimate the value of improving your customer experience.

Beyond ROI, you should also be looking to use your website to foster communication and dialog with your customers. People who find your site may have come with a specific intent and found that you don’t offer what they are looking for. Running voiceof-the-customer surveys on your site can help you get feedback on what you can do to improve the site experience. Dialog may not have any direct ROI attached to it in this case, but you will get an idea of what people want, and that can drive improved ROI. You may get some ideas you can use to improve your customers’ experience. You may also find that what your customers want is not what you think they need.

ROI is a value and it helps you to know if you will be profitable or not, but it can’t tell you if customers are satisfied with the service you are providing. Ideally, customers will provide feedback to help you improve the overall experience.

As we look at ROI, keep in mind that to improve it you will need to look at many other metrics and analytics, related not only to increasing traffic to your site but also to improving the user experience once people have arrived. You need to start thinking beyond delivering users, and start to think about outcomes for users. Your job is to look at this data to figure out how to maximize profit. I see this being achieved by delivering more of the right people to the right web pages, improving what people currently do when they get to your pages, and making sure your site is as findable as possible by as many people as possible.



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