Canoeing with Stephane (Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 2))

The iMedia Brand Summit has kept me a little busy, and I do keep my promises.

One of the folks I asked about Sentiment Analysis prior to writing Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1) was Stephane Hamel. I asked Stephane for a site I could analyze without my knowing anything about their strategy, demographics and such. Stephane suggested canoe.ca since it’s a well known Canadian site that receives lots of traffic and has lots of diversified content.

Canoe French homepage

The Canoe.ca site has an English and a French version so we analyzed the homepages of both versions to demonstrate the differences in cultural cuing. This image is the Canoe French homepage. Below is the English homepage. The information I’m sharing comes out of our tools, specifically the one I described in Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1).

Canoe English homepage

This image is the Canoe English homepage. I’ll share at this point that the tool I’m using reads whatever digital information you give it exactly like a human of the intended culture would read it, provide it material in French and it thinks in French, provide it material in Gaelic and it thinks in Gaelic (we get a lot of calls for that, you betcha. The first language our technology understood was Gaelic because if you can do Gaelic you can do anything. Now we’re teaching it Etruscan because you never know when you might want to sell sandals to a dead gladiator). What makes the tool different from the standard human is its ability to report on what will or would happen in the reader’s mind at the non-conscious and conscious levels. Most people don’t have that kind of training, our technology (Evolution Technology or “ET”) does.

Age Appeal

Both homepages are designed for (not necessarily intended for. We’re not talking about who the desired audience is, we’re talking about who this material is going to work best with) relatively tight demographics. The French homepage will appeal to about 71% of the 25-34yo native French speakers who see it, the English homepage will appeal to about 60% of the 35-44yo native English speakers who see it.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
When I originally presented this analysis to Stephane for comment I thought that a possible reason for the different age appeal targeting was that the canoe.ca site was a Quebec specific site, hence English might be a second language — meaning learned via education or life experience — for Canoe visitors (ET will interpret higher levels of education and life experience as “more mature” hence add a few years to its age appeal estimates).

Stephane explained that canoe.ca was created in Toronto then moved into Quebec, and that the English site is still done in Toronto and the French site in Quebec.

In any case, what’s most interesting is the relative spikyness of the Appeal charts. This material — regardless of the intended audience or its origins– is designed to best appeal to a limited age demographic.

<Stephaneism>
Stephane noted:

Another thing… your classifications aren’t equal… why 15-19 (5 years), 35-44 (10 years), 55-59 (5 years)… Does each of the graph age ranges have the same “population size”?
The age groupings are based on neurology more than much else. The five year groups occur when the brain starts to change, the ten year groups are when the brain is relatively stable neurologically.
Usually, I think each segment should be the same range (number of years). If population is different sizes for different ranges it usually mean the number of classes should be reviewed. Am I wrong?

Excellent catch. The age breakdowns are based more on the most recent and most well documented neurology studies than anything else. As such, they can fluctuate from time to time. ET’s basis for understanding and decision making is neuroscientific, not marketing demographics per se. Originally we tailored the age breakdowns to match the US Census bureau’s breakdown and do our best to match those the best we can.

That offered, if you can define the age breakdowns of greatest interest to you (maybe 15-24, 25-39, 40-54, 55-74, … work best for you) we can tell ET and have the results appropriate to your needs.

</Stephaneism>

</ET Tool Training Alert>

Clarity/Understandability

Readers of Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1) or Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds will remember that there are three “age” levels designers really need to be concerned with; Appeal, Clarity and Actionability. The brain-mind system doesn’t “think” in terms of a chronologic age, it “thinks” using one subsystem to determine “Is this going to be important?” (that’s Appeal), another subsystem to determine “Do I understand why this is important?” (that’s Clarity, Cognition, Understandability, call it what you will, god knows we have) and yet another subsystem to determine “Shall I do something about this?” (that’s Actionability).

The chart above shows that both English and French homepages will be best understood by a broad demographic, yes (the curve doesn’t spike), as well as a large population (its position on the chart).

<ET Tool Training Alert>
There is a possible problem when the Appeal and Clarity charts are taken together. The ideal is that Clarity peak at an age demographic just shy of the Appeal peak. This is necessary because humans, once you’ve got their attention, want to quickly determine if something is important or not. This desire to quickly understand something’s importance means less neural activity is required and ET reads that as a slight drop in neurologic age requirements.

However, the Clarity here is above the Appeal of both English and French audiences, meaning both audiences will need to work (as in “think about”) what’s on each page in order to understand its importance to them. If these pages truly are designed for the Appeal spikes, then they will not be easily understood by those age groups, hence Actionability (click through, conversion, whatever) will be lower than it could be.

On the other hand, if the target audience is 35-59yo, this Clarity is fine. Now the problem is that the age group will not find the homepages appealing enough to devote time or energy to them (except possibly some percentage of native English speakers), meaning “your conversions/clickthroughs/… would be higher with a judicious redesign”.
</ET Tool Training Alert>

Actionability (conversions, clickthroughs, …)

Both sites are designed to be actionable by 35-44yo. This is great for the French site (and assuming it is correctly designed for its intended audience) and not so good for the English site. Actionability needs to be a tad more than the Appeal because action requires effort and ET reports this as an increase in neurologic activity, hence a shift to a more mature age group.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
The good news for the French site is that the Actionability spike is pretty much as the same height as the Appeal spike and it’s in the correct demographic. This means every native French speaker who comes to the French homepage will act on it.

Unfortunately, the Clarity value is way off from where it should be. Native French speaking visitors may find the site appealing and be able to act upon it but they will not understand what it is they should do, hence numbers could be higher with some redesigns.

The English Actionability is acceptable and is also quite the spike. It almost matches the Appeal spike, but the page also suffers from the Clarity issue.

</ET Tool Training Alert>

Gender

Both sites favor a male audience design wise and in roughly equal measure.

Rich Personae, {C,B/e,M} Matrix

Often this is where real cultural design differences make themselves known. The English site is designed for an A9 Rich Persona (I’ve written about Rich Persona on this blog and in iMediaConnection), the French site for a V16 Rich Persona.

The A9 Rich Persona has the following attributes when it encounters web based information:

  • These people focus on the negative, they make decisions based on what might go wrong
  • They are motivated to take action when things are phrased in the negative
  • They often need to confirm their beliefs with visual information
  • They’re motivated by avoiding trouble and are strongly influenced by the possibilities of difficulties down the road

The V16 attributes are:

  • These people need to have information presented to them in pictures, charts or graphs
  • They finalize their decisions by using internal dialog
  • They need information framed in a positive manner before they can accept it
  • They have no sense of time or process

So we immediately see that the French homepage is designed for happier people than the English page.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
The fact that the two sites target completely different personality types can be a plus or a minus based on how much of the Canoe visitor populations match these psychological profiles. What is most important is that what is essentially the same design will target very different psychologies based on the native language of the visitor.

Which personality profile is better? Couldn’t tell you without knowing more about the goals for the site.

</ET Tool Training Alert>

10 Must Messages

10%20must%20messages%200906081039-small.jpg

The basis for communication and relationship are what NextStage calls “The 10 Must Messages”, meaning unless your site is communicating this messages well your site won’t work at all.

<Aside>
Interestingly enough, during the iMedia Brand Summit Master’s Class I taught earlier this week I asked all the attendees what the basic function of a website was. There were lots of answers and none of them were the most important one; to establish a relationship between the visitor and the brand. Regardless of intent, a relationship is being established and the success of that relationship is going to be based on how well the site communicates these messages to the visitors.
</Aside>

What we see here is something I mentioned in Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1), that Canadian based companies tend to shout “We’re a Leader”. The fact that the two lines have roughly the same shape is to be expected (my guess is the same design group handled both homepages or a single template was used for both). Again we see some cultural based differences in the strength of the messaging.

<ET Tool Training Alert>
Take each line separately and the values are fair, there’s not a lot of shouting. What is a problem for both sites is the “This Is Important” message’s relative weakness. It is so low compared to most other messages on either site that visitors will feel no sense of urgency, no impulse to act, and in any case nowhere near as strong as it could be. The ideal would be for the “This Is Important” message and the “This Is Important To You” message to be high with the latter just enough higher to have visitors non-consciously recognize the difference.

I tend to liken the difference between these two messages to hearing the newscaster tell you about some news story then call in their talking-head to explain specifically why this news story is important to the viewer. Another way of thinking about their difference is the recognition that something may be important but not relevant to the individual versus important and relevant.

In any case, you can’t convince people that something is both important and relevant unless you first convince them that it’s important, period.

</ET Tool Training Alert>

Suggestions

That brings us to the last thing ET will report on, what to do to change the design for the target audience. I don’t know who the target is so any suggestions would be irrelevant, me thinks.

<Stephaneism>
After reading this analysis, Stephane commented:

I think what’s also interesting is ET gives you the data and the charts, but you still have to know that “Actionability needs to be a tad more than the Appeal because action requires effort”. The next stage of ET (no pun intended!) could involve bringing this “higher intelligence” (your intelligence!) to a rule engine that would gradually integrate this additional knowledge.
Let me take an example… web analytics tools today collect, analyze and provide the data, but they don’t provide any insight. Yet, some rules are readily applicable if we see high traffic from a specific campaign but a lower conversion rate than average: incoming traffic is less qualified, the campaign might need to be realigned. This intelligence could be integrated directly into the tool to raise “alarms” when things like this happen. The system would need to be trained and the architecture should allow to include new rules easily.

This is an excellent thought and yes, we’ve got it covered. People who’ve heard or seen my presentations know that one of ET’s differentiators is its ability to make suggestions. The tool that produces these reports — the one that doesn’t need a tag on a client’s site to generate actionable results — provides suggestions that incorporate “my intelligence” and additional knowledge (the system borrows heavily from knowledge management systems I worked on several years back) into its analysis. If I understand the rules system you’re describing, it’s already in there.

Anyway, we’re currently in the process of looking for alpha clients to help us integrate those rule engines into the product that does these analyses. [[(Already done and in NextStage OnSite, NextStage Experience Optimizer, NextStage Immediate Sentiment and NextStage Veritas Gauge)]]

</Stephaneism>

And there you go, Stephane. Hope it’s useful.


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Evolution Technology and What It Gets You

Note: This post originally served as a marketing paper. Some things change, some things don’t. Most of what’s described in here is in NextStage OnSite, NextStage Experience Optimizer, NextStage Immediate Sentiment and NextStage Veritas Gauge

What is ‘Evolution Technology’?

Evolution Technology increases the effectiveness of website commerce by dynamically adapting presentation to a user’s personality. It makes using a website more comfortable and natural for users and promotes more frequent purchases by presenting opportunities that fit the user’s comfort level.

Evolution Technology’s ability to fine tune presentations allows it to perform targeted marketing and sales to members of different user populations visiting the same website. Other technologies recognize that user B behaves the same as user A and therefore would suggest policies and products to user B that user A was historically interested in or had purchased. Evolution Technology would be able to learn enough about the users by analyzing their usage profiles to determine which of the two was a better candidate for which service or product and tailor its presentation accordingly in real time.

How it Works

Regardless of culture or background, each of us has constructed over our lifetimes a kind of “map” that we use to guide our decisions. This map consists of the habits, perceptions, experiences, and beliefs we rely on to understand and deal with the world we live in every day.

Making a decision of any kind consists, first, of referring to this internal map and identifying various possible “routes,” then, second, applying our internal strategy — our set of unconscious “rules” — for making choices.

Behavior professionals — psychologists, neuroscientists and others — have standardized methods to “read” an individual’s map and identify the rules each individual uses to make decisions. These methods are easily codified.

Once a user’s map is properly understood and the rules are identified, it is possible to rearrange the “territory” of a web site’s presentation to match the individual’s map, making navigation easy and natural and guiding the user to the desired destination. This done, it is equally easy to present purchase choices in a way that conforms to the user’s “rules” for making a decision to purchase.

To date xCommerce and B2x systems rely on such methods as Bayesian Analysis (Autonomy), Syntactic Analysis (Sentient Systems), “Open Profiling” which is variations on ELIZA and HOMR analytic methods (FireFly) and similar tools to generate usage characteristics over time. All of these systems make use of questionnaires, response-analysis surveys, site-surveys and so on to create their demographic profiles.

Evolution Technology doesn’t interest itself with the ‘what’ of each web experience. In other words, Evolution doesn’t care that you bought a book or a sweater online, it is more concerned with the decision process that led you to make those purchases from that particular site at that particular point in time. This grouping of decisions to buy something when you did can be thought of as the ‘why’ of your purchase. Evolution Technology determines why purchases are made and then works to repeat the why experience whenever it finds you or someone who closely matches you online. In other words, once Evolution Technology determines why you made a particular purchase decision it works to recreate as much of the experience of a purchase decision as possible in order to encourage other purchase decisions.

The Result

Evolution Technology’s synthesis of knowledge about human behavior and advanced internet technology dramatically increases the effectiveness of web sites. With each mouseclick, Evolution Technology presents a site that more and more precisely matches a user’s personal “map” and internal “rules” for making decisions. The personalized experience for users encourages comfort, repeat visits and repeat purchases.

Active Selling, The Web’s Missing Link

When a master salesman talks with a prospect, he unconsciously notices and processes dozens of equally unconscious cues from his customer. With each cue, he adjusts his spiel to choose just the right emphasis that will close the sale.

For all the power that the internet has brought to doing business, eCommerce websites lack that master salesman’s talent. They remain essentially passive, waiting for the prospect to choose where the transaction will go — if anywhere.

Active — Not Passive — Listening

Evolution Technology blends all we have discovered about human behavior with the best in web usability studies and advanced design techniques to power websites more like a master salesman.

From the moment a visitor arrives, Evolution Technology is processing subtle cues about that visitor’s interests, choices and preferences. It customizes the presentation to that visitor’s personality before the first link is even followed.

The Advantage

eCommerce sites have an average of only five clicks to capture a transaction before new visitors drift away in boredom or frustration. Any distraction or click that takes a visitor down a blind alley risks losing that customer forever. Some studies show those lost customers represent four out of ten visitors for most sites.

Evolution Technology brings active listening to the website, taking users directly to the places they want and need to go and guiding the visit toward closing a sale that will satisfy the customer. By sensing what the customer wants to see and delivering presentation that meets that search exactly, Evolution Technology dramatically improves the chances for closing, as well as for opening new opportunities and building customer loyalty.

The Difference

Evolution Technology does not rely on cookies or on customers’ actively providing information through filling out forms. Because it is dynamic and not completely reliant on databases of customer information collected in the past, it offers a technology that is unique in the market today.

General Use Case and Discussion

Imagine yourself sitting at your web-browser. You sat down just twenty minutes ago to go through a credit approval process and you’d been putting it off for weeks because you knew you’d have to answer lots of questions, have to look through your files, not be sure you were answering the right questions the right way… In fact, you gave up your Saturday afternoon because you were sure it was going to take hours, probably most of the day, and most of the time you were going to spend had little to do with your connection speed.

But that was twenty minutes ago and now you’re done. Not only are you done, but you’re relaxed. You’re happy. You’re glad. You’re smiling and you’re wondering why the gods smiled upon you.

This was easy. So easy.

You even printed out the forms the website asked you to print out and checked them over to make sure you’d answered the questions correctly, and you did answer them correctly. First time! Amazing!

You’re so impressed at how easily you managed this session and how expertly you navigated the website that you jump up to go tell your mate and your kids.

The only problem is you sent them all to the mall so you’d have the day free and clear with no interruptions and no one to hear you when you cussed the site, the computer, credit card/mortgage companies in general and yours in particular.

Now you’re left scratching the dog’s ears, explaining to trusty Fido how easy and effortless this was.

What happened?

Well, you’re not exactly sure, but you know darn well that you’re going to tell your friends at work and probably your in-laws when you see them tomorrow for Sunday dinner just how easy this was and what a genius you are for being able to get through this so quickly.

As you run your fingers through Fido’s fur, you tell that gloriously good mutt exactly what you’re going to tell your sister and brother-in-law. “How long does it normally take you to get your credit approved? Yeah? Well I did it in less than twenty minutes. No, I’m not! Where’s your computer? You got it hooked to the ‘net? Here. Let me show you.”

You finish by giving Fido a dog-biscuit and then you relax in front of the TV with a good book.

Yeah, this is the way doing business is suppose to be.


But what did happen? To answer that question we need to back up those twenty minutes and invite you to now imagine you’re the credit/mortgage company’s computer. There are lights blinking on and off on your faceplate like eyes waking to the bright morning sun, disk drives are whirring and spinning like arms and legs stretching from a welcome nap, somewhere deep inside your silicon heart electrons are pumping information through hardwired arteries and programmatic veins.

It’s time to go to work, you know. Someone has just browsed onto your company’s website. You also know you’re serving up an Evolution Technology enhanced website. You’re designed to help whoever’s browsing get where they’re going. Because you’re Evolution Technology enhanced, you know that people don’t truly “browse” and don’t truly “surf” the net; they perform what are called directed searches. You know you will benefit them the most in two ways; One, you can quickly help them decide what they’re searching for is something you can’t provide and they should move on. Two, you can quickly decide if this individual is someone you want to do business with (such as recognizing an individual’s a bad risk and encouraging them to go elsewhere for their needs).

But here’s the big one; Because your site is an Evolution Technology enhanced website you can dynamically alter your company’s website presentation to maximize the chances this individual will complete their transaction before quitting, finish what they came to do before moving on, or become so exasperated they decide to call customer service anyway.

Q&A

What does it mean, “dynamically alter a website’s presentation”, and how do you do that? Are you somehow modifying the basic content of each presentation for individual users?

Yes.

So you mean what you send to Charlie is subtly different from what you send to Gladys and that the two of those are subtly different from what you send to Pat?

Yes.

And you’re doing this in real time, click by click, so that what this individual is doing while they’re browsing is influencing your dialogue, tailoring your presentation to a specific, individual audience of one?

Yes.

That’s kind of what a master salesperson’s does, isn’t it?

Yes.

Wow. That’s impressive. But I’ve seen and heard all that before. You use some kind of marketing models, right?

No.

Okay. Then you have some kind of personal history database you purchase or tie into, right, so you get a profile of this individual the minute they sign on?

No.

How about this, then; You look at their address and income level and a few other things and run some numbers or something like that, right?

No.

Okay. I give up. What do you do, some kind of magic mumbo-jumbo?

Well…yes…and no.
First off, Evolution Technology enhanced websites begin gathering data on individual users the instant they enter a site. If a person comes to a site from another site via a referral, Evolution Technology uses that referral as part of its identity information. If a person comes to a Evolution Technology enhanced site from another Evolution Technology enhanced site, Evolution Technology will alter and sometimes dramatically individualize the new website’s homepage during the referral process.

You’re kidding.

No, I’m not.

So what are you doing, watching click-throughs and things like that?

Again, yes and no. Evolution Technology does pay attention to click-throughs but lots of stuff is going on before an individual clicks from one presentation to the next. In fact, it may take a few minutes or more for a person to get from a company’s homepage to the page they were looking for. But during that time the individual is actually quite busy and here’s where Evolution Technology comes into play.
Everyone, regardless of their background, their homelife, their job, their this-or-that, manifests what are called psychomotor behaviors. Psychomotor behaviors range from distinctive walks to ways of reading a newspaper. Evolution Technology pays attention to these distinctive behaviors to determine one individual browsing the site from another individual browsing the site.

Yeah, well. How does Evolution Technology know how somebody walks or how they read a newspaper?

That’s our secret, but walk with me a minute and maybe I can show you. Does that sound like something you’d be willing to do?

Okay. You’ve got a minute.

You ever been to a webpage?

Of course.

Ever use a mouse while you’re looking at that webpage?

Sure.

Ever move the mouse to what you were looking at on that page, to maybe focus your attention on what you were reading? Kind of like using your finger to highlight one line in your DVD burner’s instructions from the rest so you’d get it right?

Well…uh…

And if you haven’t done it, ever seen anybody else do it?

Oh, yeah, well, sure.

That’s what Evolution Technology does. It pays attention to little things like that, things that most people aren’t even aware they’re doing.

So Evolution Technology pays attention to where I move the mouse. Big Deal. How much can you learn from that?

You’d be impressed. But Evolution Technology doesn’t just watch where you move the mouse. It does much, much more, and it links what it watches to information that’s too detailed to get into right now, but it does all this so that it learns — even before you make your first click — what types of things work for you and what things don’t. When you click to the next page it’s already subtly changed the presentation so that it’s easier for you to use. It’s kind of like talking to an old friend. Evolution Technology can learn enough and do it quickly enough to finish your sentences for you, so to speak.

Wow.

Right. And it keeps track of who’s who so it can change the presentation for you, Charlie, Gladys and Pat and deliver the correctly modified content to the right individual as they’re browsing the site. Evolution Technology is true 1-1 marketing, done over the net.

So you’re saying Evolution Technology can take a two hour web session and turn it into twenty minutes, and make me feel glad about it, because it watches me and works to help me?

You got it.


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Defining “RealTime”


I’ve read through this thread a few times and have been hesitant to respond. My hesitancy stems from a definition of the “real-time” paradigm. I completely agree with you that, if the goal is to simply analyze (no intention to minimize “analysis” with that phrasing), then there is no point and is possibly harm in using a real-time system.

However, if the point is to respond to visitors in real-time (the requirement being to engage in an active “conversation”, a true interaction) then a real-time system is a necessity. I also recognize that my use of “real-time” may not be relevant to what is posted here, so I’ll go back to my lurking at this point. – Joseph

I have read through a thread on Avinash Kaushik’s blog several times and finally responded to it today. The theory is that real-time analytics isn’t worth the money or horsepower involved and several reasons are given. Let me start by saying that I completely agree, real-time web analytics is, I believe, a tremendous drain on horsepower and time, and without people sufficiently skilled in its interpretation and the ability to modify the site in response to the analysis, why bother?

Where I disagree is in the italics above. The ability to respond in real-time is a requirement for true interaction and in order to engage in a “conversation” with the visitor.
A recent Science article and NextStage’s own research [[(available to NextStage Members)]] over the past (oh, a long time) years has demonstrated that being able to respond to individuals in real-time is not only doable, it is desirable. For what it’s worth, we’ve implemented such a system and have documented its use in several places, most notably in Reading Virtual Minds, Volume I: Science and History.
Just an FYI, folks.


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The Complete “NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle” Arc

Note: this was another monster arc, provided here in full, thanks to your friendly neighborhood mice, Calum&Eois

NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 1: Are Visitors Getting Good Value?

First, as I wrote near the end of Keywords, Search Engines, SEO, Learning, Placement, I’m attempting to craft blog titles that incorporate human syntactical elements and are still search engine friendly, meaning they appear near the top in search engine listings. Cleveland search engine optimization firm Keyphrase-Marketing‘s Jan Limpach explained to me that my previous posts were examples of keyword stuffing.

I’ll admit the revelation made me laugh. Business logic tells me that, if you want people to use your service or product, make it as simple to use as possible. I guess that rule doesn’t apply when you’re at the top of the food chain (as I wrote in Google’s Vulnerability).

First part b, this post was originally very long and, as Eric Pfeiffer, my editor at AllBusiness.com would say, dense, meaning, I think, information rich.

This also makes me chuckle. Long before there was the concept of social media, social networks, viral marketing and such, I wrote a paper entitled “Semantic Information Mechanics”. It dealt with viral fields, Jordan Conjunctures, lots of things and threaded throughout are the concepts of information density. Put all these things together and you get an idea of how much information you can pass through a system (“a person”) before you cause an information shutdown (“overwhelm them”).

Lots of folks have asked for that paper and now that I have more time on my hands I’ll probably revisit it and update it for what NextStage has learned since it was first written.

Anyway, this venue isn’t my AllBusiness.com venue. As I’m learning to modify my writing style there so am I learning to modify it here.

Do BizMediaScience visitors believe their time is well spent?

Looping this back to “First part b”, I was going to share lots of information NextStage Evolution’s reports are telling me about you, the readers of this blog. One of those reports is shown here. I’ll go into details of what this report is indicating (one report per post) in another post. Right now I’ll share that it’s indicating

  • you, the readers of this blog, think you get good value for your time reading my posts (the blue bar and accompanying dots on the right of the chart, and thank you!)
  • that the amount of information contained in most of my posts is overwhelming (the right bar and accompanying dots on the left of the chart, and I’m working on it)

So a tip of the hat to Eric and to you.

Are Visitors Having a Good Experience? (NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 2)

My quest for understanding the machiavellian world of SEO and SEM seems to be working. I did a search for “behavioral analytics” on Google and “NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 1: Are Visitors Getting Good Value?” came up #1. For that matter, it came up #1 when I searched on “web analytics, behavioral analytics, marketing analytics”, “behavioral analytics, marketing analytics” and as #6 searching on just “marketing analytics”. These were all blog searches.

Anyway, this post is part 2 in an arc on NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology reports. This time we’re considering Experience.

This arc got it’s impetus from an email exchange I was having with a frequent reader that also had its origins in the Why my Juanita Bynum post failed to get traction post and the resulting correspondence between WindKiller and myself.

Funny how many things are growing out of that post.

The reader wrote “Maybe it is my lack of analytics knowledge, but if I am on the main page for your blog, can you tell if I am a visitor reading the Bynum posting or a visitor reading a different post? If not, how would you differentiate between which posting attracted the most readers?”

I responded that I don’t know how web analytics handles this. NextStage’s Evolution TechnologyTM (ET)handles it with no problem.

The reader then wrote

“My guess would be they tell you to make sure every article has a click through requirement, so they can measure/tally that (or tally the subsequent page view).  I feel a little silly calling a “+1″ a measurement.  That’s why my guess was that if your blog was not using ET, the ‘measurement’ may be less informative than those to which you are accustomed.”

This is both accurate and goes to something I’ve been pondering for a while. I was once told it’s better to have posts that require the “Continue Reading” link than not because doing so “will increase traffic”.

Really?

I suppose this strategy works if the definition of “traffic” is “pageviews” because the system would count a visitor following the “Continue Reading” link as opening a new page (I’m guessing that’s the case).

The reader is also correct that I find the above concept and the numbers it may provide less informative than the information to which I am accustomed. What I’ll do at this point is share some of the things Evolution Technology tells me about visitors to the BizMediaScience site. You’ll need to decide for yourself how useful this type of information would be to you (and no, I’m sharing everything ET tells us. I’d like to keep my competitive advantage, if you don’t mind).

The important thing to know is that ET doesn’t ask questions, ask visitors to fill in forms, poll other internet databases, use permanent cookies, etc. ET works like any good cultural anthropologist does; by observing. You can read more about how ET works in Reading Virtual Minds.

And with that paid political advertisement out of the way, here we go with Experience

BizMediaScience visitors enjoyed their time on the site

The image on the right is one of our results charts (the actual chart is much bigger). What this chart is showing is that most people are enjoying their time reading my blogs (the green) over the past seven days. A small number of visitors aren’t having a good experience (red) and a slightly larger number are indifferent (yellow).

BizMediaScience visitors enjoyed their time on the site

It’s nice to know you work is appreciated, better to know that appreciation is growing. This image is last week’s chart of the same information. Yes, readers seem to think we’re looking better all the time.

People will ask, “How do you know this if you don’t ask visitors, use focus groups, have them fill out forms, have them in some behavioral index, …?”

My response on a good day is a detailed explanation of what NextStage does and the sciences involved. On a mediocre day it’s “What? You mean you can’t do this?”

Measuring experience — for that matter, measuring just about everything NextStage measures to generate its reports and advise clients — is remarkably straightforward. Some of it was explained in the Noisy Data arc, some of it’s explained on our website on the FAQs page

Do you have more men or women visiting your site? (NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 3)

This time we’re considering Gender.

I explained above that this arc grew from an email conversation with a reader spawned by the Why my Juanita Bynum post failed to get traction post.

Joseph is attractive to women

What I’m going to share in this chart and the next is a demonstration of my masculinity, my animal magnetism, my virility, …, yeah, right! Okay, I’m kidding. This image shows that BizMediaScience was visited by more women (pink) in the given seven day cycle than by men (blue). Does this mean I, Joseph, became more attractive to women in the past week? Of course it … I mean, no, not really. Other reports in our system explain why this was the case and how to duplicate it, if desired.

Last week, Joseph was loved and admired by everyone equally

This image is a seven day stretch from a week ago. Evidently my posts appealed to men and women much more evenly last week than they did this week. Again, other ET reports would explain why this happened and how to duplicate the results.

Returning Visitors and How Many? (NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 4)

This time we’re considering Returning Visitors. What NextStage is reporting on is probably not what others’ report on when using that term. We’re reporting how many visitors, while they’re on your site, have it in their mind that they’ll return at some point in the recognizable future.

What is recognizable future? The brain isn’t good at understanding time concepts beyond “now” and, when pressed to do it, can understand a 48 hour window around this current moment in time. This means that at whatever time you’re reading this post — let’s say noon — your brain can easily and rapidly work well with information from noon yesterday through to noon tomorrow. Beyond that you’re in the realm of the mind and how time is considered there is very different. I wrote about this in Making Visitors Want It Now.

Recognizable future is the line where the brain’s and mind’s concepts of future meet. Basically about 1-2 days out, so this NextStage report is an indication of how many visitors currently on your site believe they will return to your site within 1-2 days.

Considering the charts I’m sharing in this series are about this blog and I post to it pretty much daily, that could be an important metric. Especially if they don’t return, because then you know something interrupted a planned and desired activity. It’s not the blog itself because a strong influencer for their return is a satisfactory experience, therefore indications of non-returns mean there’s environmental factors that got in the way. Some you can’t control or deal with. Others you can, and knowing how to deal with the interrupters is one of those things NextStage does regularly.

What percentage of visitors will return to BizMediaScience

Next up is what percentage of visitors are likely to return. Remember, this isn’t a metric of how many did return, this is a measure of how many, while they’re on the site, are thinking of returning. The large black block on the chart is showing that about 90% of this blog’s readers will return. Look at the left of the chart and you’ll see a small, yellow dot. That dot and its position indicate why the actual number of repeating, returning visitors might be less than 90% and what you can do about it.

Knowing how many return is nice, knowing how many want to return means you can prepare, knowing how many want to return then don’t could mean your competition is doing something in the market and you may want to investigate.

How Many Real, Live People Are on Your Site? (NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 5)

This post is part 5 in an arc on NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology reports, this time considering Real Visitors per Session.

Real Visitors per Session and Real Visitors by URL are two answers to the same question. The question is “How many real, live human beings are really visiting my site?” I’m not sure and I think most others answer this question with either cookies, session-ids or something similar. This method has always been flawed to me. What if I see something on a website and call over someone else, “Hey, look at this!” and they sit at the computer, either beside me or taking over my seat? There’s only one cookie and one session-id, but now two people are using the same session-id and cookie to look at a webpage.

Back when NextStage was developing its technology this report truly noteworthy for the simple reason that not everyone had a computer at their desk and not everyone in the family had their own computer. Knowing that someone in a company called over a co-worker was a sure sign that the information on the page was interesting, hence valuable, hence actionable. Ditto for calling over family members. Knowing that mom called dad over, etc., meant there were conversions to be had (probably).

Now that computers are more common “per Session” gets paired with “per URL”. Now a more often occurrence is seeing the same person move amongst several computers at a given cookie-sessionid-location.

In any case, Real Visitors

visitors%20per%20url.jpg

The yellow and blue bars on the chart show number of sessions and number of real visitors per session. When the two don’t match you know that either someone called over someone else and they took over the computer or a single individual moved between two or more computers at a single physical location to view the same site.

How does ET know that more than a single user was involved in a single session? How much time do you have for me to explain it to you? The truth is, it’s not that difficult to understand and makes use of NextStage’s Rich Personae system, something I’ve written about in Mapping Personae to Outcomes.

NextStage’s standard Rich Personae system recognizes 72 different personality types and this is more than adequate for commercial purposes. It is capable of recognizing several thousands so even the most heavily trafficked sites can be analyzed along these means for reporting purposes.

This also handles the question of “What if I call over someone but they don’t sit down at the computer?” Excellent question and yes, when we up ET’s sensitivity it can determine that person B wasn’t sitting at the computer but that they were telling person A what to do. As Angie Brown, Strategic Services Consultant for Coremetrics (at the time) said, “I kept waiting for the “We expect this technology to be available in a few years” part, so it took a little while for it to sink in that you’re doing this NOW.”

What’s the Age Breakdown of Your Visitors? (NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 6)

Age is an interesting thing. For one, often people give an inaccurate value for their age (as I did in Media Free? That’s easy…and scary. Know why? (Part 20). For another, people may not “act their age” and this goes both ways. I was always accused of being mature beyond my years as a child. As an adult I was often told I was “an old soul”. Then there’s the poor sot who just can’t seem to grow up.

People not acting their age often comes from people not thinking their age. The example I often use is the boomer who buys himself an arrest-me red Corvette or Lotus Elan. I gave an example of this in AllBusiness.com’s Chris Bjorklund Interviews Joseph Carrabis on Color Use in Marketing. The mindset that buys the arrest-me red Corvette or Lotus Elan is often not the mindset that’s looking at senior citizen vacations, therefore market to the Buyer-Within, market to the mindset to make the sale.

NextStage recognizes this mindset as Neurologic Age. Neurologic Age can vary greatly from chronological age, and usually only so in specific demographics (ie, those who like to think they’re mature and those who like to think they’re young), in specific verticals or with specific products so course corrections are easily made.

In any case, Age Demographics

age%20breakdown%201.jpg

There are two elements to consider when evaluating age demographics. The first is shown on the right and is “Of all visitors, what’s the age breakdown?” This is answered in a pie chart. This chart is indicating that this blog is very popular among 20-54 year olds along the following breakdown:

Age in years % of Visitors
20-24 28.57
25-34 32.14
35-44 32.14
45-54 7.14

Some quick math indicates there’s 0.01% not accounted for in this chart, probably the 55-59 year olds as I doubt I’m writing much of interest to 15-19 year olds.

age%20breakdown%202.jpg

The second element is confidence in the measurement. This is shown in the chart on the right. The blue that goes above the yellow is high confidence age extrapolation, below the yellow line is low confidence. Here is see that ET is confident that the 20-44 year olds really are 20-44 years old and not as confident that the 45-54 year olds really are that old.

Are Visitors Interested in Your Content? (NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Part 7)

Here we’re looking at Level of Interest as discussed in Defining Attention on Websites & Blogs.

Yes, I know other folks are suggesting they can correctly determine visitors’ attention on a website. I disagree with their methodology and not just because NextStage does it differently. I would disagree simply because what they’re measuring doesn’t equate to attention or level of interest in any neuroscience, cognitive science, behavioral science, {pick your adjective} science that I’m aware of.

Interest level for this blog for 23-30 Aug '07

Here you see the Level of Interest in this blog’s content over a seven day period. Pretty much this image is indicating that there was lots of interest in my blog from 24-29 Aug ’07 (must have lots of weekend readers) with specific peaks on the 27th and 29th.

Well, what was I posting about on those days?

Date (and in order of posting) Post
27 First Principles of Good Design
27 iPhonics
27 Got a kick out of this
27 Stonewall’s Findings: A New Kind of Community Response Grid
27 Alberto Gonzales from the NextStage Perspective
29 Why my Juanita Bynum post failed to get traction
29 Romney, Mitt Romney, Governor Romney, Social, Social Networks, Social Media, Video, Multimedia, TV, Advertising

What’s particularly interesting to me about this is that the values in the area chart above are not indicative of actual visitors. You could normalize one to the other and the same basic form would show through.

Interest Level across several sites

For example, the chart here is for the same period of time as above but is an aggregate of some 30 randomly chosen sites in our system. Evidently 29 Aug ’07 was simply a day of interest across the board. This doesn’t mean this blog wasn’t interesting in and of itself, only that visitors to sites in general were showing more interest than they were on most other days. How come? Could be people were planning for the long weekend and didn’t feel like focusing on the job. There are ways to know and that’s beyond the purpose of this arc.

Does team standing affect your interest in other things? Oh, yeah...

Interestingly, things like having high levels of interest and attention across the board happen. Tex, one of our researchers who comments on our political research fairly often, noted that New England based people browsing during the 2004 baseball season demonstrated activity closely matched to how the Red Sox were doing in the playoffs.

Does preparing your income tax increase your anxiety level? Darn right it does!

One other time our staff sociologist noticed that people’s anxiety levels closely matched where they were in their tax preparation cycle over a weekend. Fascinating stuff. To us, anyway.

Can You Tell What Posts Are Most Interesting? (NextStage Evolution’s Evolution Technology, Web Analytics, Behavioral Analytics and Marketing Analytics Reports for the BizMediaScience Blog, 7 day Cycle, Finale)

I’ll close this arc by answering the question that got it going, “Maybe it is my lack of analytics knowledge, but if I am on the main page for your blog, can you tell if I am a visitor reading the Bynum posting or a visitor reading a different post? If not, how would you differentiate between which posting attracted the most readers?”

Again noting that traditional web analytics measures traffic volume and NextStage is more interested in interest levels, attention and engagement, this chart shows that during the 7 day period covered by these arcs, the post that generated the most interest was from some time back, Nothing New Under the Sun (Humanic Search Engines, part 1) (the red line at the top of the chart).

What got the next highest level of interest was reading a broad swath of posts (the dark blue and dark red lines two and three up respectively from the bottom). This would cover the posts from The non-locality of Pizza Shops to Keywords, Search Engines, SEO, Learning, Placement.

Next in line of interest are two posts and a topic; Alberto Gonzales from the NextStage Perspective, Is the future of political advertising social networks? and the About BizMediaScience. It seems some readers — probably new to this blog — were attracted by the posts then wondered who the person was who was authoring them.

The next most interesting topic was the MediaFree and Gridless arc. This doesn’t surprise me based on emails I’ve received and phone calls I’ve participated in.

To the reader’s question about being able to recognize the BizMediaScience main page; yes, that’s indicated by the gold line at the very bottom of the chart. What we’re seeing is that the main page on a post by post basis is interesting enough to send people looking at other posts. Guess I’ll have to work on that. We could determine which “main page” was getting the most interest with a flip of a software switch, so to speak.


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Stonewall’s Findings: Tech Naming Failures

One of my regular correspondents is Stonewall, a fellow I’ve known for many years and who converts some of my intractable neuromathematics into working computer code.

He also sends me interesting things via email, as do many others. This time out he sent me Top 10 failed gadgets…with cool names and introducing: Practical Gadgetry and (I admit) I was amused (he thought I would be) and intrigued.

The list includes my all time favorite example of “We built it because we could” combined with “You don’t understand. It will ship and it will be a success”, “IT” aka the Segway.

(Early on, NextStage built a specific language engine to help us (me, at the time) understand what business people were really communicating. This became our RWB Language engine. This specific language engine has the ability to translate the business statement “You don’t understand, it will ship and it will be a success” into it’s non-euphemic, “We knows it’s a bomb and it’ll fail and we hope nobody will notice.”)

This list also includes the Apple Newton, a device simply ahead of its time (in my opinion). What tickled me the most was that the failures were often due to usability issues, and here I define Usability as its used here at NextStage.

NextStage considers eight elements in usability; Imagination, Usage, Workability, Experience, Using, Need, Pleasure and Pain. How are these eight elements aspects of Usability defined?

NextStage’s eight Usability elements determine whether or not a conversion is going to occur or not.

Imagination:
Can the visitor imagine a use for the product or service?

Usage:
Does the visitor believe that regular use of the product or service will benefit them?

Workability:
Does the visitor believe they can easily integrate the product or service into their current work methodology?

Experience:
Does the visitor have prior experience with a similar product or service?

Using:
Is the visitor currently using a similar product or service?

Need:
Does the visitor recognize a need for this product or service?

Pleasure:
Has the visitor had pleasurable experiences with similar products or services?

Pain:
Has the visitor had painful experiences with similar products or services?
purchase-exchangestop-small.jpg

These eight elements have little to do with website usability and a great deal to do with whether or not the individual navigating the website believes what’s on the website will serve their needs; ie, is the product or service described on the website usable as they intend to use it? People will put up with rotten website usability if they believe there’s a reward in it. This was demonstrated in NextStage’s preliminary research into UnGoaled Persistence (fodder for another column, me thinks).

More importantly, how strongly do each of these elements influence the visitor right now while they’re on your website making a purchase decision? This is shown in the above figure and is a report all NextStage clients have access to (once we’ve trained them, of course). The above image contains three pieces of information:

  1. Yellow bar – How well does the page convey this usability element?
  2. Blue bar – How much history is the visitor bringing to this element?
  3. Red bar – How important is this element in the visitor’s decision process?

What the above chart is showing is that

  1. the most important item to the visitor is their belief that the product or service will benefit them (second red bar from left).
  2. while the visitor has had experience with similar products or services, is currently using them and acknowledges the need (4th, 5th and 6th blue bars from left) these are not as important elements to them.
  3. the visitor has had neither pleasurable nor painful experiences with similar products or services (last two missing blue bars on the right) and the possibility of pleasurable or painful experiences are very important to them (last two red bars on the right)

There’s much more that can be gleaned from the above, of course, and depending on what’s being analyzed and the web page’s intent appropriate action items and suggestions would follow.

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