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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Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1)

We’ve been getting a lot of requests for Sentiment Analysis lately. Based on my fun ride regarding engagement, I decided to find out what Sentiment Analysis was before saying NextStage had been doing it for years, what’s all the excitement about?

So I went to Wikipedia and read “Sentiment analysis refers to a broad (definitionally challenged) area of…” “(definitionally challenged)”???

Ah. Yet another buzzword in a long list of “My gosh, what shall we call something else we can’t really do?” words being slung about in the analytics world.

Okay, fair enough. People selling the stuff are attempting to own the field by telling clients what it is, what it’s suppose to be about and what they should expect. Some of you may know that Susan has a pharma background and that I often advise pharmas. They often say something like “We just discovered that this chemical compound has these effects. Can we come up with some catchy-named syndrome that this concoction will treat?” Same thing, really. “We know what we can do. Let’s give it a name and see if we can sell it.”

But we are NextStage. We follow a different path.

Asking “What do you want a Sentiment Analysis product to do?”

I asked some people to tell me what they would like in a Sentiment Analysis product (thank you, Chris Berry and Stephane Hamel).

I wrote Chris:

Howdy,
I’m wondering what, exactly, you folks would like a “sentiment analysis” tool to do.
Oh, the heck with that. Please give me a list of things you’d like some tool to do such that when you point some content at it, it tells you something about that content that would be valuable to you/your clients.
Remember, you’re talking to Joseph here. Go nuts with this.

<Fair Warning Dept>
This is going to be a long, rambling post, folks.
…and I plan on having fun, too…
</Fair Warning Dept>

Chris responded with:
<Begin List of Unreasonable Metrics>

  1. The aggregate degree of trust between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message.
  2. The aggregate degree of affinity between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message.
  3. The intent behind a comment (author intent) (Referral: I like this, you’re a friend, you will like this too. Check it out. :: Retribution: You piss me off. I’m telling everybody to avoid you. :: Love: I just want to say how great you guys are. :: Constructive: I like you, this is what I want now. Troll:: I don’t really feel anything towards you, I’m bored and I want to be entertained.)
  4. Is the comment “Positive”, “Negative”, or “Neutral” – accurate to within +/- 5%, 19/20. This is how most social vendors classify it. I don’t consider these numbers to be helpful, but they are ‘standard’. However, they tend to have a much higher rate of error. (3) is where it’s at.
  5. {C, B/e, M} profile of the author of a comment or blog post.
  6. The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent on those who read it.
  7. The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent based on psychographic distance from the author.
  8. The ability for the tool to return a CSV (or some other file) listing the social graph of the {C, B/e, M} profiles in relationship to each other within a specific tribe, in general, for the purposes of segmenting discussions based on expert areas. (Testing the 1957 “Word-of-Mouth” studies and the whole air conditioning patterns for new product introductions.)
  9. The likelihood that the message will be remembered or committed to memory. (Goes to that damned traditional metric: message recall. I don’t think that conscious recall is nearly as important than sub-conscious recall, but I’ll admit being wrong if shown evidence to the contrary.)
  10. The gender and age of the author of a comment or blog post.
  11. The gender and age of the composition of the social network observing the comment or blog post. [Tribe analysis].
  12. The purchase / re-purchase intent of the author.
  13. Identification of who, within a social network, is an influencer, a gatekeeper, or a hub. (IE. Identification of who should I talk to first to get movement on a message.)
  14. Suggestions, based on the {C, B/e, M} profile, of how to frame a message.

If NS wanted to compete on a ‘whole product’ basis:

<End List of Unreasonable Metrics>

I’m being unreasonable. You expected it though?

<Susanism>
I showed Susan Chris’ wishlist. “But we already do all that,” she said. “It’s already in TargetTrack.”[[we broke out the original TargetTrack tool into several NextStage tools]]
</Susanism>

(skip down to the boring stuff)

Zappos Twitter page

I then asked Chris for a webpage to analyze. He sent me http://twitter.com/zappos. As I’m learning about Twitter myself, I kept on clicking the “more” button at the bottom of the page for a while. Eventually I had the page from 3:10pmET 2 June 09 back to “10:41 PM Mar 28th from web”. I broke this into two files, one was just the comment stream, the other was the whole page — graphics and everything — including the comment stream.

Why did I do this? Because people will non-consciously be influenced by all the information presented, not just the comments.

Then I fed both into the ET TargetTrack tool [[The original TargetTrack Tool has been broken out into many of NextStage’s tools. This particular tool has been available since 22 Mar 2001. You’ll find some TargetTrack case studies on our Case Studies page.

<Anecdote>
Chris and others may remember my visit to the Chicago Critical Mass offices in Aug ’08. I was told a client company was interested in modifying their websites for three countries. I asked for the websites, fed them through TargetTrack on my laptop in my hotel room while having breakfast that morning before the meeting (did I mention that TargetTrack, like all ET based tools, is highly compact, extremely accurate and very fast? It’s not sexy, whatever Rene means by that, but compact, accurate and fast? Those we can do), and read the results over a cup of coffee.

<Dr.Geertzism>
Dr. Geertz, who some of you may remember as commenting on my TheFutureOf posts, has become one of my most trusted first readers. On reading through this he offered “With regards to ‘sexy’ as defined by Rene. Think about what a man or woman finds sexy. Focus. Would you describe it as compact, accurate, and fast? Maybe ET needs to become mysterious, exotic, dangerous, and built. There is a euphemism about partnering in business is ‘getting in bed with’ someone. Do a survey and see how many women want to get in bed with someone that describes themselves as fast and compact. Sexy? At least shoot for satisfying, thoughtful, and robust.

What I love about this is that it’s all in how one applies the terms.
</Dr.Geertzism>

When I arrived at the Critical Mass offices, I mentioned off-handedly that two of the sites would do well, one wouldn’t because TargetTrack had determined it wasn’t designed to appeal to that one country’s cultural biases.

I said it off-handedly because I’m use to TargetTrack revealing stuff like that. It was routine and old-hat to me.

And TargetTrack was right on track regarding which country’s website was performing poorly. And why.
</Anecdote>

TargetTrack is simply another implementation of our Evolution Technology (ET). That’s the technology some of you may have heard talk about recently, the technology with the very good scores at recognizing age and gender of site visitors without asking questions, without using forms, without polling other internet databases, and if you think age and gender is all it can do we should talk some time. I’ve been telling people about this stuff since 1999 so I’ve got the patter down pretty well.[[NextStage Members can access the full research paper, Machine Detection of Visitor Age and Gender via Analysis of Psychomotor Behavioral Cues, on the Members’ Papers page. A synoptic paper can be found at Predicting Age and Gender Online]]

ET itself isn’t a tool. For that matter, TargetTrack itself isn’t a tool. They are both tools that make tools (@jdaysy, this is an example of Eliadeianism at work. Most analytics tools that I’ve seen are Maslowian in nature. They are designed to do one thing and one thing only. ET, TargetTrack, etc., are tools that can be used to create more specific tools. As ET is based on human intelligence and humans (I’m hoping) can do more than one thing once taught how to do it, so can ET and its derivatives).

<Anecdote>
One of NextStage’s early investors told me “You’ve invented plastic. It doesn’t matter if they want a baby bottle or a car dashboard, all that matters is that you shape the plastic the right way. That’s what ET is, it’s a kind of plastic that people can shape to do what they need it to do.”

I love the elegance and accuracy of that.
</Anecdote>

An original TargetTrack report

TargetTrack comes in lots of flavors. The example shown here is the basic one pager and is what we provide if a) you’re not using our technology on your website and b) you come in through our TargetTrack page. [[These days you can either become a NextStage Member, take some training and access TargetTrack and lots of other tools on your own or hire us to consult and we’ll use it for you.]] We offer lots of versions based on what you need to know, all machine generated so human minds never touch them. Why is that important? Because human minds — without massive amounts of training [[(and we have that training)]]— can’t be a) neutral when responding to information and b) swap their consciousnesses in and out as required to understand how other people would respond to information. Thus unless you specifically want humans to evaluate your work and you know for a fact that the humans doing that evaluation are exactly smack-dab in the center of your target audience…

<Harrumph Dept>

attract-engage-act.jpg

And allow me a moment, if you will. The TargetTrack report shown in the above figure was produced for a client on 30 Apr 07. The yellow bar in the chart on the bottom right is entitled “Engage” as in engagement, as in “this is how well you’ve been able to focus their attention so that they’ll do what you want them to do while they’re on your site”. I know others define engagement differently than NextStage does. For us, it’s all about getting people to act, to do, so our definition of engagement — which is based on well documented psychologic concepts that have been around for over a century now — is more about getting visitors to respond the way you want them to respond (and we’ve been measuring and reporting on engagement for a long time in internet years) than about determining the ballast mass of their keyboard divided by the number of visits to your sites multiplied by the number of letters in their mother’s maiden name. Or some equally contrived calculation.

You just know Susan’s going to pull this, don’t you?
</Harrumph Dept>

Anyway, It took TargetTrack less than a minute to analyze both the whole web page and just the comments.

How Accurate is a Tool that Produces Results That Quickly?

Back in 2005 Progress Software asked us to determine which of their existing and potential partners would be successful. We used the same TargetTrack tool to analyze some 150 partner sites that was used in this analysis. ET picked the top four performers knowing nothing about the companies, only being able to predict how visitors would respond to their websites.

These four sites were the most successful Progress partners that year.

The only difference between then and now is the number of digital personalities in our system. Then it was 25,000. Now it’s about 10x that, meaning “increased accuracy”. [[And now it’s over 3MM.]] And TargetTrack is the tool we used to predict the outcomes of elections, to change the political landscape in Nova Scotia and of course to help clients save money and make money. Thank goodness there are people out there who care more about results than sexy, yes?

(start of the boring stuff)

What follows are TargetTrack’s responses to Chris’ wishlist. I’ve indicated the things TargetTrack can already do “off the shelf” and the things it can do “kind of”, meaning the best answer would be a combination of our tracking tool and TargetTrack.

The aggregate degree of trust between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message. (already in TargetTrack)

10 'Must' Messages

Some people may remember my eMetrics SF ’07 presentation. Part of that presentation dealt with The 10 “Must” Messages, two of which are “We Trust You” and “You Can Trust Us”. These two combine to answer Chris’ first question although it’s better to keep them separate, as we’ll see.

And I guess this is where we start offering trainings on using our technology.

Lesson the First: It doesn’t matter what the score is in isolation, it matters how well the score matches other information in the visitor’s environment. Someone sipping a glass of wine while reading an excellent novel doesn’t want an intruder to come up to them and shout “I TRUST YOU”. Whoever is doing the shouting will be evaluated as an “intruder” at best and a “nuisance to be avoided at all costs” at worst, hence the desire is to communicate “I Trust You” just enough to be recognized and favorably responded to, nothing more.

This image shows the 10 “Must” Messages of the Twitter Zappos page together with their relative strengths. You’ll notice that some messages are being SHOUTED compared to others? Not good, that. As far as it goes, the “We/I Trust You” and the “You Can Trust Me/Us” messages should be of fairly equal value (this is based on Fair-Exchange Concepts. You’ve read my work on Fair-Exchange Concepts, haven’t you?). Here the comment author’s variance between trust messages is just shy of being non-consciously recognizable, meaning readers may get a sense the author is asking to be trusted (message 2) rather than being found trustworthy. What’s worse is that the comparative intensity of the some of the other messages will probably drown out any “trust” messages being sent unless the audience specifically looks for them. This “looking for a message” can occur when the author is very well known to an audience and they’ve come to expect and often desire the variance in message strength.

<FYI>

This image is another version of our TargetTrack tool report. This was a 50 page report produced when a client gave us a brochure for analysis. You’ll notice the 10 “Must” Messaging reports in the lower left corner.
</FYI>

An interesting aspect of the human brain-mind system is that it allows different signal sources to supply similar signals differently. This means someone could be browsing a site while sitting on their backporch (as I am as I write this) and the brain-mind keeps separate shouting from the website and shouting from the woods behind my home. The brain-mind quite easily determines which of these two should get priority attention and they’ll rarely overlap (I’ll rarely have to struggle deciding which one I want to pay attention to. The woods always wins).

However, two competing websites? Or two equally attractive birds sitting in the pines in front of me? So what we often tell clients is that it’s nice to get a reasonable score when analyzing just your own stuff, it’s better to know how well it does against the averages of competitors. This image shows just such a comparison, specifically one company’s “We Trust You” message against all competitive companies’ “We Trust You” messages in our system. What we learned was that a visitor moving between websites — the client’s and their competitors — would feel more trusted hence more at ease hence willing to do business on competitor sites than on the client’s site. Why? Because most competitor sites were communicating “We Trust You” better and just enough better to be noticed, not to make the visitor feel they were being shouted at.

The aggregate degree of affinity between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message. (already in TargetTrack)

This is handled by the “We’re/I’m Good People”, “You’re Good People” and “They’re Not Good People” messages. As before, the goal is to have the messages work well together, not stand out on their own. The ideal is to have “We’re/I’m Good People” communicated with just a little less intensity than “You’re Good People”, as in a demonstration of humility followed by a recognition of another’s worth or value (as a person). The “They’re Not Good People” — the message about your competitors — is the one where some definite increase in intensity is allowed. Not a shout so much as a definite statement.

<Anecdote>
We did a comparison analysis a number of years back for Fidelity. They asked for a comparison of their mutual funds product path (the path that must be navigated from a landing page through a conversion) against five competitors (Merrill Lynch, TRowePrice, Schwab, Vanguard and SmithBarney). All of their messaging was quite comparable until you got to “They’re Not Good People” and “We’re/I’m A Leader”. Basically all of their product paths were communicating We/I Trust You…We/I Can Help…You’re Good PeopleTHOSE OTHER PEOPLE ARE LYING, CHEATING BASTARDS! STAY AWAY FROM THEM IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF YOUR CHILDRENAND WE’RE FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE.

This needs to be compared to Canadian based companies where the laws are different. Canadian companies can’t openly communicate that their competitors are pooty. Comparisons between companies in verticals there tended to yield results along the lines of We/I Trust You…We/I Can Help…You’re Good People…They’re Not Good People…AND WE’RE FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE.

Learning the differences in cultures is one of the reasons I love my work.
</Anecdote>

The intent behind a comment (author intent) (Referral: I like this, you’re a friend, you will like this too. Check it out. :: Retribution: You piss me off. I’m telling everybody to avoid you. :: Love: I just want to say how great you guys are. :: Constructive: I like you, this is what I want now. Troll:: I don’t really feel anything towards you, I’m bored and I want to be entertained.) (already in TargetTrack)

One of the things TargetTrack reports on (one of the original core functions, actually) are “hidden” messages. This is documented in several places and you don’t really care about psychobabble at this point, do you? How about some marketingbabble instead, “TargetTrack reporting also scans media content for subtext and hidden messages and creates a unique Key Marketing Messages report which determines how marketing materials communicate value by scanning for content and design features which most effectively denote trust, professionalism, helpfulness and leadership to consumers.

An example of a hidden message that was costing companies money can be found in Site-Penetration Up 225%, Time-On-Site Up 300%, Conversions Up 20% in Four Months. There are other examples where the designer didn’t like the company they were working for, didn’t feel they were appreciated, didn’t feel the project they were on was worthy of their talent and skills and each time their negativity was non-consciously embedded in the work they were doing, each time non-consciously picked up by the audience and each time costing the unsuspecting client time and money.

Some other messages TargetTrack found in marketing material include “Don’t Mess with Me” (perhaps that’s Chris’ “Retribution”), “I’m Different From Every Other Person I Know” and “I can make a career here for myself because nobody else knows what they’re doing here” (a law firm asked us to evaluate resumes using TargetTrack (we actually analyze resumes for lots of companies and how we do it is an example of the TargetTrack tool being used to create another tool, our ResumeReader)).

While I’m disinclined to suggest any hidden messages on this page, I am left wondering how comfortable the author is either Twittering, in their current position or how long they’ve been in their current position.

Hmm…Rene was telling me that several people have approached him about starting a company wherein ET analyzes funds and stocks based on its predictive ability (see Predicting Election Outcomes Via NextStage’s TargetTrack and Working with Prediction Markets via NextStage’s Evolution Technology)…and now lots of CEOs are blogging, twittering…hmm…

You know, several companies have asked us to read through the materials submitted by potential employees, not just their resumes, to get an idea of how well these individuals would fit in…so if we use our ResumeReader tool on this page…

This job applicant’s ability to help and their reliability may cause challenges depending on their position in the company. However, they will work very well with others and require next to no supervision. The juxtaposition of the Ability to Help, Works Well with Others, Requires Little Supervision and Reliable values indicates this applicant will work better in group or cooperative work environments than as an outsider and should not be considered for “work at home” or “remote office” situations. Trustworthiness is acceptable and the Competent value indicates they will probably grow into their job in a minimal period of time.

<Anecdote>
NextStage’s ResumeReader tool passed initial muster when we opened our Toronto offices. Our CEO (at that time) told me he was using TargetTrack to evaluate the resumes of programmers. We were in the conference room and he was synchronizing his laptop to the projector so things were flashing in and out on the screen. He mentioned one fellow in particular and a TargetTrack’s analysis flashed on and off. I knew nothing about the fellow we were discussing, his history, had never read his resume, only glanced at the TargetTrack results for a moment and said, “Well, that resume was written about two years ago and the fellow was very unsure of his future at the time. He was between jobs and trying to figure out what to do with himself.”

Our CEO stared at me. “That’s the report on my resume,” he told me. “The one I wrote two years ago when I’d just sold my first company and was trying to decide what to do with my life.”

Budda-boom.

<FYI>

And you, too, can have that facility with TargetTrack reports. All it takes is a little training…
</FYI>

Two senior people from a large jobsite, starts with an “M”, wanted to use our ResumeReader as part of their offering. During talks, it came out that they wanted to create a company that would sell this service to “M”. And they didn’t want “M” to know about any of our discussions until it was already a done deal. And they wanted all the rights. But don’t let “M” know about any of this. Ever. And they were greedy. Oh, were they greedy. You should have seen their eyes glaze over and heard their cackling laughter when they talked about charging “M” then offering slightly different versions of the ResumeReader tool to “M”‘s competitors.

We said “no.” Okay, I said “no”.

I’m told some people read the bottom of our homepage and consider it rude, that I’m basically saying “…if you’re not willing to put money upfront (and not a little money) don’t bother me.” [[They’d really love the one we’re using now (Susan’s design).]]

Well, that’s correct although not because I’m greedy or money-hungry. Frugal, yes, greedy or money-hungry though? Have you read our Principles? I am greedy with my time, that I’ll grant, and I do recognize posting our prices is the equivalent of “You have to be this tall to get on this ride”.

It’s also a block to certain kinds of people. Look through those Principles and you’ll see several ways to alter the prices we charge. Lots of people do. There are lots of ways to be tall and not everyone is willing to stretch. As I wrote, those prices are a block and only to certain kinds of people.

Sometime when we’re at a conference ask me to talk about cultural and social taboos, such as the taboo against discussing money but lack of taboos around discussing financial matters within certain groups and cultures. It plays a lot in designing culture and group specific information.

Or you can take one of our trainings as we often cover the same material there.

But greedy versus frugal? Moi? (Stephane loves my Frenglish)

True story: Someone said they’d help NextStage with marketing “for only 20% of the company”. I asked “Can you prove you’re worth it?” and they couldn’t. I don’t mean they couldn’t prove it to my satisfaction, I mean they couldn’t prove it, period. Nor could they demonstrate it. Anywhere. So I said “No thanks.”

Had they been able to prove their worth at all, I would have considered their offer. As it was, I would call them greedy. I would not call them greedy if they could have proved their worth, but do so because they could not. I would call myself frugal. I don’t accept someone telling me their worth without a demonstration of same, but once they demonstrate it? They can fail, all they need do is demonstrate the effort and my world is theirs.

You really should read those Principles.
</Anecdote>

Specific to Chris’s list and only comparing the values against themselves, we find that the strongest non-conscious intent is retribution. However, the relative strengths of Referral, Retribution and Constructive indicate that such non-conscious messaging is probably part of the author’s psychological makeup and nothing specific to these posts. This is where a helpful exercise is comparing this author’s material against similar material elsewhere, such as a competitor’s twittering or even the author’s own writing not contained in these twits.

I think what’s more important here is that if you can form what you want to know into a question or statement such as Chris did, ET can answer it. Most of the reports we provide are based on questions clients asked us, usually blue-skying their hearts out while doing so.

Is the comment “Positive”, “Negative”, or “Neutral” – accurate to within +/- 5%, 19/20. This is how most social vendors classify it. I don’t consider these numbers to be helpful, but they are ‘standard’. However, they tend to have a much higher rate of error. (3) is where it’s at. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

It’s one thing to be positive, negative or neutral in general, it’s a completely different thing to be positive, negative or neutral as defined by your target audience. The world may love you but if the people you want to do business with think ill of you, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. Likewise, if your target audience thinks the world of you, do you care what opinions others may have?

And do we mean negative, positive or neutral to a specific person, some cultural or ethnic group, some product or service, government, …? TargetTrack can fine tune it’s answers based on what you want to know.

How accurate? It will be accurate to within 83% based on the author’s {C,B/e,M} matrix at the time of their writing. For those who haven’t seen my presentations, the {C,B/e,M} matrices are the Cognitive, Behavioral/effective, Motivational neurologic, psychologic and sociologic methodologies that people employ to get through their day (and usually without knowing they’re doing so). Someone who’s always upbeat has a different {C,B/e,M} matrix than someone who’s shy, for example. Someone from Espania has a different one than someone from Alba Nuadh. Discovering where these matrices overlap and how they overlap is the key to cross-cultural marketing even when the cross-cultural aspect is just NH versus Tennessee and so on.

What I will offer is that this question is best answered by a combination of TargetTrack and our tracking tool (yep, the one Rene mentioned). It’s often fun to match an author’s intent with the readers’ perception of that intent. Doing this requires our tracking tag be on your site/blog/whatever. Interesting things can come out from that kind of study.

For example, if we learn than an author is habitually more negative than positive in their discourse AND we know that readers’ level of interest peaks during those periods, then escriva negativa, my lad.

{C, B/e, M} profile of the author of a comment or blog post. (already in TargetTrack)

Click on the above TargetTrack examples and you’ll see that much of the {C,B/e,M} matrix information is included as statements about gender, age (yes, I know. Gender and Age again. And since 2001. Who knew?), so on and so forth. We can include as much or as little of the {C,B/e,M} matrix information as you want.

This, for example, is an analysis of some marketing material that’s well designed to appeal to what we recognize as a K13 Rich Persona. I’ve written about Rich Persona on this blog, on iMediaConnection, lots of different places. What’s a Rich Persona? It’s the heart, gut and mind of the persona you create during your marketing discussions. Doesn’t matter if you create “Jeep Driver Joe” or “Soccer Mom Sally” or anything else, you’re simply creating a true fiction with no basis in reality other than your own machinations until you imbue that persona with dreams, desires, pains, pleasures, hopes, anxieties, desperations, relationship problems, and most importantly ways they would deal with all of these things, how they think about them, how they would respond to them, what and how they would ignore them and so on. Put all that together and your persona is now Rich.

People who saw my eMetrics Toronto ’08 presentation may remember that I shared how the {C,B/e,M} matrices for different parts of Canada were shifting over time. This happens all the time and translates to “Keep your materials fresh because what works today might not work tomorrow.”

And before I forget, this author is demonstrating an A9 {C,B/e,M} matrix or Rich Persona. Their material will most strongly influence readers who:

  • make decisions based on what might go wrong

  • learn best when what they’re learning can be directly applied to a harmful or painful possible future event
  • often seem mentally absorbed
  • often seem to loose focus on what’s going on around them
  • engage in internal dialogue (usually in the form of self-directed statements) in order to make decisions
  • will listen to others’ advice only if the advice has a negative form (“Oh, you don’t want to do that because…” “There’ll be problems with that because…”)
  • focus on the negative
  • are motivated to take action by arguments and/or explanations which cast things in a poor or bad light
  • pay more attention to what’s not working when evaluating situations
  • often need to confirm their beliefs (whether valid or not) with visual information

  • will only accept visual confirmation if what they are shown confirms the problem rather than the solution
  • base final decisions on anticipated problems or errors in their or other peoples’ judgements
  • pay little attention to what’s going on right now when making final decisions
  • are strongly influenced by the possibility of pain or difficulties down the road (although they will not intentionally seek pain or difficulties out they are still sure the pain and difficulties exist and are waiting “to greet them”)
  • will ignore any difficulty or pain they’re presently in if a future pain or difficulty is inferred, threatened, demonstrated or explained

  • ignore emotional appeals unless the appeal takes the form of a conversation or lecture in which a worse or negative outcome is defined or identified
  • demonstrate that a conclusion has been reached or something has been learned by some small, outward sign or motion, such as a slight or single nodding or shaking of the head, a slight clenching of the hands or movement of the fingers, or a slow, deep breath.

No wonder their writing showed up as slightly negative, huh?

Anyway, this {C,B/e,M} matrix information can be for the author, the audience, let us know when you ask for a TargetTrack (depends on which one you ask for) and we’ll provide the information for you.

For example, a law firm gave us an ad to analyze along with some responses from different people to that ad (this is documented in Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History. TargetTrack could individualize gender, age, geographic location and job description of the respondents by analyzing their responses.

But really, how useful is knowing this unless you know how to design for whatever {C,B/e,M} matrix information and Rich Personae your dealing with (and did I mention we offer trainings on just that)? Some of these images contain suggestions for improving audience (oh, dare I say it?) engagement, attention to, interaction with, whatever the buzzword de jour is, with your material.

Suggestions are included in all our TargetTrack products. That was one of the first things TargetTrack was designed to do, provide direct, actionable suggestions on how to get your material into the hearts and minds of your target audience as quickly and as economically as possible.

I mean, all these TargetTrack reports may or may not be pretty and (according to Rene) aren’t even sexy but who cares if you don’t have real, you can do it, actionable items provided with your report? You’re just shooting in the wind if you don’t, right?

So we give suggestions, to-do’s, action items, call them what you will, and in some cases listed in Critical, Important and Desirable order.

The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent on those who read it. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

We can determine what an author’s desires regarding their audience response are via TargetTrack alone.

To know if the desired intent is actually being realized while people are reading the material requires our web tracking tool.

The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent based on psychographic distance from the author. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

See above.

The ability for the tool to return a CSV (or some other file) listing the social graph of the {C, B/e, M} profiles in relationship to each other within a specific tribe, in general, for the purposes of segmenting discussions based on expert areas. (Testing the 1957 “Word-of-Mouth” studies and the whole air conditioning patterns for new product introductions.) (already in TargetTrack)

Compare the above Quebec Thought Progressions with this chart from that same eMetrics Toronto ’08 presentation, this one for all of Canada or the one below for British Columbia, all during the same three month time period. These are actually from our Personae Mapping Tool, yet another variation of ET and TargetTrack (there’s that “using tools to make tools” thing again, @jdaysy).

Anywho, these are graphs of the {C,B/e,M} matrices within different tribes and groups within those tribes. ET can do this for whatever you describe; areas of expertise, geographic locations, ethnic factors, language of origin, …

The likelihood that the message will be remembered or committed to memory. (Goes to that damned traditional metric: message recall. I don’t think that conscious recall is nearly as important than sub-conscious recall, but I’ll admit being wrong if shown evidence to the contrary.)(already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

This is another one that requires our tracking tool be on your site.

ET’s original function was to make sure educational material was being delivered optimally for each student, hence it would modify my class material on the fly based on how individual students were navigating the site in order to match the {C,B/e,M} matrix of the material to the {C,B/e,M} matrix of each student (the original NSE site did this in real time for each visitor. There are examples in the “Anecdotes of Learning” section of Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History and referenced above in that lawyer segment). The reason to do this was to insure that the material would be both committed to deep or long-term memory AND be immediately actionable in consciousness.

Yes, actionable, as in “they can and will be able to use and act upon the information” right now.

Remeber and Use, Branding, etc.

And while I’m here, let me offer something that (I believe) is a demonstration of “going one better”. I gave a presentation to the Boston KM Forum in Aug ’06 entitled “Increasing Knowledge Transfer By Adapting Information Presentation Styles On the Fly”. Wordy, I know, and the third slide in that presentation is relevant to this discussion in so many ways. Item #5 on that slide is “Cognition, retention, etc., went high”. That’s how people in my field talk about “branding, engagement, usability, understandability,…” things like that.

The end result was that people were able to remember material as content three times longer, in context seven times longer and be able to utilize that information (ie, “work with it”) ten times longer.

Consider this a “two-fer”. We can recognize and adjust content on the fly for specific “tribes” and deliver targeted messaging by recognizing a tribe then customizing that message so that only the tribe remembers and can use it.

The gender and age of the author of a comment or blog post. (already in TargetTrack)

Read all of the above again (you didn’t skip anything, did you?). Go ahead. I dare you.

The gender and age of the composition of the social network observing the comment or blog post. [Tribe analysis]. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

There are two ways to answer this. I’ll start with the part that is “…kind of…”. To determine all visitors would require the tracking tool on your site. We could do it with just TargetTrack for people commenting and do some creative mathematics to guesstulate the entire audience composition. It would be easier and cheaper to use our tracking tool and just have it report the network’s composition.

Or we can answer “Who is this material best suited for?” That’s a pure TargetTrack question as I’ll demonstrate below.

Age appeal for the comments only

“Who is this material is best suited/designed for?” is where differences between just the content and the webpage — graphics, fonts, etc., and content — demonstrate great differences. They make differences everywhere, here they are very pronounced. This chart is from TargetTrack analyzing just the comment stream and determining “What age group is this material is best suited/designed for?”. No graphics, no images, no colors, no fonts, no backgrounds, only the pure text. Forget that there are three lines for now, just remember that this is TargetTrack’s analysis of the comment text only.

This image is TargetTrack analyzing the entirety of the page — graphics, colors, images, fonts, the whole shooting match. See that the yellow line is near flat on this chart? That’s an indication that the introduction of the images, graphics, colors, fonts, etc., etc., etc., are a major distraction to visitors both understanding and using the information presented.

And now, a little more ET Trainings and what are those three lines for again, Joseph?

In the charts above, the red bars are Appeal, the yellow bars are message Clarity and the green bars are message Actionability. Both position on the chart, height and positional relation to each other are extremely important. NextStage’s TargetTrack uses three items because Age is demonstrated by multiple intelligences, ie,

  • the visual intelligence that governs whether or not something will Appeal to a specific Age group,
  • the cognitive intelligence that governs whether or not something will be understandable (Clarity) to a specific Age group and
  • the psychosensory intelligence that governs whether or not something will be Actionable(ity) to a specific Age group

If you wanted, you could group them all together into a single Age metric but you’d lose a great deal of actionable information by doing so.

The point at which each line intersects an age group is an indication of how much of that specific age group is captured. The “just the comments” chart above, for example, indicates that just the comments on the page being analyzed would appeal (red line) to (ie, “get the attention of”) 55% of the 45-54yo market, about 28% of the 35-44 and 55-59yo markets and so on.

The next line of interest is Clarity (ie, “is this understandable?”). The human mind likes to understand things, too clearly see what things are about. But you don’t want people to work for it when you’re selling them something, at least not too hard. This means you want Clarity to target a slightly younger age group that the material appeals to. In other words, you want to get their attention then have them easily understand it, this Clarity (yellow) needs to be a little to the left of the Appeal (red) line.

Now you have to look at Actionability (green). You got their attention (red), they understand your value proposition (yellow), now they must act on that understanding. You want the green line to be just to the right of the red line because people will only act when they recognize value, hence must “reach” and that “reach” and value is detected as requiring slightly more neural effort than both Appeal and Clarity.

Thus the ideal is that the relational position of the lines be Clarity, Appeal, Actionability (yellow, red, green). Further, you want the Appeal (red) to be the highest peak while Clarity (yellow) and Actionability (green) can be even or Actionability just a little higher than Clarity (yellow). Again, this is that “you want them to reach” thing.

Appeal (red) governs whether or not your target audience would give this page a second look, that something on the page would catch their attention and make them stop for a moment or two before going onto something else. In many cases, a well crafted webpage (email, tv ad, radio spot, report, etc) for a given audience would cause them to stop, period, and spend time interacting with the material.

The question about what’s good or bad message Clarity (yellow) has to do with the intended age group for the material. Being understandable by a younger audience is both good and bad. A complex subject written to be clear to a young audience must perforce leave out some of the more complex elements of that subject. A mature audience interacting with the material might consider the material overly simplistic and determine the material incomplete or in error. The goal is to craft material with a Clarity peak close to the target age group.

Actionability (green) measures the amount of education, life experience or maturity required to make use of the information and understand the meaning as opposed to understanding the words (which is what Clarity measures). The phrase, “The true cost of a car’s easy drivability is paid by the consumer” is easy to read but it (probably) takes some life experience to appreciate that as cars have become easier to drive the number of people driving has increased, the amount of training available and skill required to drive has decreased, more accidents occur, the cost of insurance climbs, fuel costs rise due to increased demand, … Making the automobile accessible to the masses may not have served the masses well, necessarily.

You can read more about this at Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds.

Gender. Yes, we do gender. You really want me to go into details?

The purchase / re-purchase intent of the author. (already in TargetTrack)

It’s in the complete {C,B/e,M} matrix information that we provide clients.

Identification of who, within a social network, is an influencer, a gatekeeper, or a hub. (IE. Identification of who should I talk to first to get movement on a message.) (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

Depending on what you mean, this is already in TargetTrack or requires TargetTrack plus our tracking tool. I presented The Blogging Power Continuum: How Bloggers and Their Audience Share and Assign Power in a Knowledge-Based Medium at a SNCR conference in both Boston (Dec ’07), “Whispering to Be Heard: The Art and Science of Buzz Marketing” at the New Communications Forum 2008 in Apr 08 and a variation of the Boston presentation in Montreal at the Communicating for Social Impact, International Communications Association Conference 2008 in May ’08. One of the things that I shared was the research into how to recognize influencers and such, how to gain control of blogs, direct them, all sorts of stuff. Perhaps some conference organizer who’s reading this might smile upon me and invite me to present this information at their conference…

Suggestions based on the {C, B/e, M} profile, of how to frame a message. (already in TargetTrack)

I think I’ve exhausted this particular item, yes? Again, if you skipped things, you shouldn’t have as I covered this above.

We do give suggestions for doing this. Depending on what level of TargetTrack you want, these suggestions can be just a few items or several pages long.

Breakdown of conversations based on topic area. (already in TargetTrack)

You tell us how you want it sliced and diced, TargetTrack will report on it.

So, Chris, not one unreasonable thing in the bunch.

I mentioned to Chris that I doubted he could come up with something we hadn’t done already. Remember, NextStage’s tools were doing these things back in 2001 as “tools” and before that as pure technology. The things we’re doing now…?

…pant, pant, pant…thank goodness. Two days of writing. Done. Finito. yea for joey…

Stephane, I’ll get to canoe.ca soon, I promise.


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Improve Design to Increase Usability and Brand Loyalty

Note: This originally appeared as a NextStage Evolution Case Study

The Client

A F500 company engaged Columbia, South Carolina based MarketSearch Corporation to conduct a usability analysis of its website. The study focused on employment and investor relations and compared the company’s site to two other corporate sites.

The Problem

The standard usability paradigm, while well known and understood, doesn’t necessarily provide the most accurate results. According to Eric Drouart, Former VP, International Operations, Bristol-Myers Squibb:

Marketing research methodologies that rely on questionnaires and standard surveys are inherently loaded with biases and errors related to the sampling frame, the survey instruments, the interviewers and the fact that the respondents know that they are being evaluated. NextStage is truly a non-biasing research tool with a lot of validity and reliability because it is based on non-conscious responses to information. This methodology offers a lot of advantages over traditional methods to evaluate the appeal and the benefits of a web site.

Charles Wentworth, who directed the study for MarketSearch, appreciated the possibility of unintentional biasing and wanted a tool which would allow him to perform a separate analysis of the study participants. Specifically, Wentworth wanted a tool which would allow him to focus a separate non-intrusive “lens” on the participants while they were engaged in the study to determine if the knowledge of their participation was affecting the results.

Wentworth engaged NextStage to evaluate media content with its Evolution TechnologyTM and provide real-time usability measurements. By using NextStage’s Evolution TechnologyTM [[(what’s now broken out into several tools; Sentiment Analysis, OnSite, Age Persuader, Gender Persuader Tools and NextStage’s BlueSky Meter)]] side-by-side with traditional analysis methods, Wentworth was able to determine correlations between the two methodologies as well as perform exhaustive research in a minimal time frame. These tools allowed Wentworth to determine the client’s branding effectiveness vs branding effectiveness of other corporate sites.

The Solution

Wentworth developed the research paradigm and solicited participants. Preparing the materials for NextStage’s analysis took no more than an hour’s time and involved nothing more than providing NextStage with some webpage pointers and editing a few web files.

Study participants were questioned and observed by Wentworth as well as by NextStage’s tools, the latter providing an impartial, electronic observer to both the participants’ interactions with the websites and with Wentworth as an inquisitor.

The Result

Wentworth comments:

NextStage’s Evolution Technology allowed us to assess a host of usage issues that just can’t be measured using conventional testing approaches. It gave us an opportunity to go a lot deeper, and the result was something much more valuable to our client than a typical study would have been. The correlation between what we saw during the interviews and what NextStage’s technology picked up behind the scenes was startling, and we know much more, now, about website visitor behaviors, demographics and psychological factors than we would have.

We’re eager to use it again in future studies and see just how far we can push it. We see a lot more potential than what we originally expected from it.

NextStage’s Evolution TechnologyTM suggested ways to increase brand awareness which resulted in a measurable 35% increase in the client’s brand effectiveness. NextStage was able to make suggestions which increased the study group participant’s subjective ease of navigation (“usability”) greatly, which also contributed to brand effectiveness.


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Improve Visitor Experience

Note: This was originally published as a NextStage Case Study…in 2005…long before MOOCs…remember that…and that ET was originally designed as an education tool…

The Client

The client was a small education group within a midsized US based company with an uncompromising commitment to technical excellence. The education group was recognized as being forerunners in education consultancy with projects in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. The client’s online training initiative, originally tasked with promoting their expertise and thought leadership through a series of consultative-trainings, was failing.

The Problem

This client decided to give their online division one more push and, while the client had received advice from several eLearning and WBT groups, none were providing a “living” metric of how visitors were doing while online or what, if anything, could be done to improve the visitor’s experience. The client wanted some quantitative results before making a final decision regarding funding subsequent efforts. Specific questions involved:

  • How to monitor website usage
  • How to respond to website usage data
  • Determine how visitors are using the site (as intended, other purpose?)
  • Create a psychographic model for a successful visit
  • Create a psychographic model for an unsuccessful visit
  • Generate “to-do”s to make site more usable to wider audience
  • Create alternative design strategies based on visitor behavior

The Solution

NextStage performed a NextStage Evolution Technology analysis of the client’s site [[(now part of NextStage Sentiment Analysis)]]. The purpose of this analysis was to insure that the site and its courseware were geared to the intended audience. This is where NextStage encountered the first problem; the materials were designed by experts and could be best understood by other experts. As peer-to-peer materials they received high marks. As educational-brochures they did not.

NextStage also installed its NextStage OnSite tool on the client’s site and monitored visitor behaviors for a six month period. During this time we provided monthly reports on “tweaks” to the site in order to migrate visitors to a more serviceable design rather than run the risk of alienating existing repeat visitors with radical changes at the end of the six month period.

NextStage’s suggestions included:

  • Adding a story-frame to each WBT to provide greater context for visitors
  • Repositioning “end of exercise” questions to encourage correct selections based upon the nature of the question being asked
  • Adding some registration elements to the front end of each offering
  • Changing the background header color on each page to provide a visual cue regarding which “track” visitors were navigating

The Result

Visitor experience was determined with a hard and a soft measure. The hard measure included test scores at the completion of the WBT and follow up phone calls 3-4 weeks later. Soft measure was determined by repeat visitors and number of WBTs completed by each visitor.

NextStage’s suggestions have proven so successful in this engagement that the client has invited NextStage to take part in three new projects and has included us as a requirement in their contracts with their clients.