Recently, I was in Israel for a cloud computing conference and some meetings with local VCs. The folks at Gemini, a VC firm, organized an evening with their portfolio CEOs to discuss lean analytics for startups. I concluded the presentation with a list of metrics that a web-based startup should track. I guess they were the right questions; at the end of the evening, Guy Horowitz, my host for the event, said,
“I feel bad for the CEOs of my portfolio companies that aren’t here. Their next board meeting will be miserable.”
Not measuring the right things can be fatal. And VCs are in the business of separating the soon-to-be-dead from the fledgling successes. There’s nothing quite as good at doing this as the cold, hard light of analytics. So here’s the list, with a slide deck and some examples.
We’re in Amsterdam this week, presenting at a Measureworks conference on web performance and optimization and attending a Tweetup.
Our host, Jeroen, told us yesterday that since the introduction of GPSes in Amsterdam, traffic accidents in the narrow-streeted city have risen significantly. Many people are focused on their instruments, rather than looking around them. This made me think of some issues I’d seen with web advertising recently that would have been hard to detect through instruments alone, and underscored some of the shortcomings of a purely instrument-driven analytics approach.
With much fanfare, Microsoft launched Windows 7. By many accounts, it’s a good operating system, despite the widely derided launch parties they tried to encourage (which, to be fair, did get people talking about the launch.) The launch involved a massive online ad buy, as well as a new online store for the company. Two aspects of this launch caught my attention: The differences between regional stores, and the state of video advertising.
There’s been alot of talk lately on the idea of prototyping and demonstrating a product to solicit feedback. The catch? The product isn’t actually built. This goes hand in hand with the MVP concept practiced by lean startups.
I was on BackType today, and I just witnessed an awesome example of this concept in action.
BackType is a search engine that indexes millions of comments across social media platforms and lets you query for particular topics that interest you. Cool, right? I performed a search query for “analytics”, and the resulting page had a small tab called “Trends”.
Curious, I clicked on it and was brought to this page:
Drat, it’s not released yet!
Brilliant! BackType has given me an excuse to come back and check to see if the tab is active. Even better – they were able to collect my expectations before the feature has even been released (or built!).
This is product management crowdsourcing at its finest.
Well done, team BackType.
We had a good discussion about performance and its impact on KPIs like analytics and conversion with Strangeloop this week. Here are the slides, available for download or viewing, on Slideshare.
Do faster web pages mean better business? Definitely. We’ve seen hard evidence from major web operators like Shopzilla, Google, and Microsoft. But what about other websites? How big an impact does performance optimization have on the business metrics of a typical media or e-commerce site?
Here’s some concrete data on how reducing latency changes the key metrics, such as bounce rate, pages per visit, conversion rate, and shopping cart amount. It’s a pretty detailed discussion, but it if you want to understand the ROI of improving web performance on your site, dig in. If you want to read this more easily, here’s a PDF.
A real time analytics solution lets you see who is currently visiting your website. You get granular session-level detail (IP addresses, technographic information, geolocation, and sometimes even a username). They differ from tools like Webtrends, AT Internet and Google Analytics in that they’re not well equipped to deal with trending and goal tracking.
If you run a website, we strongly suggest that you install a real time analytics solution.