By Lance Neuhauser, East Coast Managing Director

I pride myself on appropriate analogies to explain the search world. I also pride myself on refraining from the use of sports analogies, because frankly they’re too easy.

However, in honor of the improbable run that Chicago baseball is currently on and given my recent exposure to Google’s Avinash Kaushik , I bring to you a baseball analogy applied to the world of search marketing analytics.

But first, a bit of background…

If there is one concept to grab from Avinash, it’s his proclamation that web analytics data can be much more powerful in advancing search marketing solutions than any trend or pattern extracted from a mere bid management technology. The reason, pre-click information is powerful and tying that to a direct response consumer action (i.e. sale or lead) can be even more potent.

However, on average 95% of consumer activity takes place on a website, does not register the desired direct response action, and thus is deemed to have little value by said bid management technology. But we know better.

We know there are varying degrees by which we can understand the value of each consumer touch point, and we also know there are precise data points that can help us prioritize next step actions. After all, data is only as good as the actions we take as a result of analysis.

The one data point that Avinash highlighted that blew it all open for me was bounce-rates (as defined by the % of consumers that arrive at your site and do nothing, no additional clicks, no additional actions other than leaving or stalling). Take it one step further and you can see where this rabbit hole goes. Imagine if you optimized against all the keywords, times of day, days of week, or creative messages that had high bounce rates.

Take the flip side and you can begin to reach conclusions on customer loyalty (top % of consumers in terms of average page views per visit or repeat visits in a month) and you learn how to find and market to the most profitable consumer segment that exists for your given brand.

And to no surprise, this is where it begins to get conceptual and circumstance calls for, you guessed it, an analogy.

Suspend your disbelief for a moment and realize that having great keyword selection, creative messaging, landing page assignments, bid rules and engine distribution merely gives you a roster spot in the big leagues of search.

Also recognize that leveraging your brand, creating something compelling that resonates, and garnering the attention of a potential consumer by bringing them to your website only gives you an at bat. At this point, it’s time to play.

We all know the ultimate goal for any company is sales (even if you don’t sell online), and the odds of hitting that sales (or lead) home-run while at-bat (a consumer at your site) is about as good as a real MLB baseball player (average at-bats in a season for a full time player is 500 and homeruns is about 15, equaling a 3% click to sales conversion). Therefore, the way to really score is by manufacturing runs, which means getting on base, sacrificing, being patient and achieving timely hits.

Let’s break it down:

Strikeout = bounce (you can’t get on base if you don’t put the ball in play)

Contact Rate = non-bounce

On Base Percentage = Consumer action rate (other than an on-site click). The major league average jumps up to .300 once someone puts a ball in play and we should expect about the same.

Advancing the runner (ex. sacrifice fly or bunt) = compelling content, social engagement, user-experience testing, or any other feature that leaves the consumer with a more advanced feeling about your brand

Scoring = any combination of hits (actions) that ultimately has the consumer arrive at home (a sale)

Let’s not forget that there can be problems that cause a bad user experience (broken site, bad navigation, etc.) that equate to a double play, caught stealing or any other activity that creates an out.

Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, was able to create a winning baseball team in a minor market with less budget and less perceived talent than his competition.

How? By looking at different statistics than his competition.

He advanced beyond looking at home-runs, RBI’s and other traditional measurements of success. He looked at all the other activity that made a team successful. We have the same opportunity. We can isolate our top players (keywords and creatives) that work hardest for us and are undervalued.

The market is ripe for a true shake up and it is going to be lead by the marketers that capitalize on all the data available and slice it in a different way than their opponents.

I’m ready to play ball! How about you?


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