How mature is the web analytics market in Japan now?

In 2007 Lars published some posts about web analytics around the globe on WebAnalysts.Info, and now it’s time for me to do a follow-up on Japan.

I packed my bags and went to Tokyo, where I met with Sumio Ebisawa from e-Agency as well as Satoshi Kono, Ryouhei Mitsuhashi, Satoshi Saeki and Masaru Yokoyama from Dentsu.
Google Analytics in Japan

Market maturity

When I asked how mature is the market for web analytics in Japan in 2014, Masaru Yokoyama replied, “A lot more mature now than back in 2007, but it still depends on the client.” Sumio Ebisawa told me that some of the companies in Japan don’t want to hire specialists, but rather use partners and consultants.

As a report from Dentsu states, a lot of companies now are spending more money in the digital space and that increases interest in analytics and performance-based marketing. Sumio also said that many clients want to learn more about web analytics, so they now have more courses than they used to have in web analytics.

Satoshi Saeki from Dentsu also told me that the biggest challenges right now are getting all the data in one place and implementing data management platforms. Agencies, publishers and marketers want to access their data quickly and easily, and they want all data in one place to make better decisions about media spend.
Google Analytics in Japan

Web analytics vendors in Japan

Google Analytics still seems to be the most common free solution in Japan. Back when we published the blog post in 2007, there was a solution called Visionalist that was made by Digital Forest, which was the number one vendor for premium customers. Digital Forest was acquired by NTT Communications (one of the world’s biggest telecommunication companies) and has now lost some ground compared to other vendors.

Now Google Analytics Premium is gaining ground, and Adobe holds a good position. For example, back in 2008, Yahoo! Japan implemented Adobe Analytics for its huge Yahoo! Shopping site, which was a major Japanese e-commerce destination.

So the development for Japan now looks a bit more like the rest of the world when it comes to vendors.
GA in Japan gajapan2

What has happened to the web behavior in Japan since 2007?

Yokoyama laughed and told me, “In 2007, there was no iPhone and there was no Facebook.” And that’s true.

Smartphone usage and social media are two of the biggest changes, not just in Japan. But there are some differences. The first one is the social network Line. Not many Swedes know about it, but if you are in Japan, you will see that almost everyone is using it. It’s a bit like Facebook Messenger, but with more smilies and emoticons and over 50 million users in Japan and 400 million worldwide. Because Line is a bit like a closed room where you can chat with your friends, it’s a challenge for marketers to take advantage of the platform.

And then there is mobile. Japan has always been known for its mobile use. Back in 2008 it was estimated that 31% of elementary school students and 58% of middle school students owned a mobile phone (or as they are known there, keitai), and many of them was accessing internet. Now there is a shift in the mobile phone market and smartphones are gaining compared to the old feature phones. In MM Research Institute’s “Trend and forecast of the smart phone market,” it is estimated that 45% of all mobile device subscribers have a smartphone subscription. But one should remember that the feature phone also is used to access internet.

So the land of the rising sun is in some ways different from us, but they are struggling with the same things as we are in Sweden and the rest of the world – making sense of data and taking action on it.

And one last thing, Google is not the most common search engine there: Japanese users loves Yahoo.

Dashboard reporting helps VisitSweden benchmark its markets at a glance

VisitSweden’s mission is to promote Sweden and strengthen the Swedish brand abroad, as well as drive business to the tourism industry. The website gives information about the country, things to do and how to get around.

vsFrom the website, the visitor can discover hotels and attractions and visit their sites to make reservations. VisitSweden’s target audience is a “progressive demographic” in selected geographical areas.

Make data easy to access and absorb

Much time was spent correcting for errors in editors’ reporting, and editors also found it troublesome to do all the steps necessary for reporting.

Sometimes incorrect segments were applied or incorrect date ranges were chosen, due to editors rarely using the Google Analytics UI. With large traffic volumes and big date ranges, a solution to avoid the UI’s data sampling – while still having access to it through a visual interface – was a must.

Customized dashboards using Google Analytics API

Outfox created customized dashboards using the Google Analytics API.

The employees can now log in to the dashboard and at a glance get an overview of the desired KPIs, unsampled. They can set goals and see how the resulting KPI compares to the goal KPI.

Conversions are measured with custom outbound link tracking on clicks. Metrics, such as visits and events, are fetched daily with an automated job using the Google Analytics API.

Each market has its own segment queries which, thanks to daily fetches through the API, do not hit the sampling limits.

“Thanks to the Outfox dashboard, we are now seeing a shift in how we act in our business, all the way up to top management. Finally, we are driven, not by guesses or whims, but by data.”

– Lars Näslund, Global Marketing Coordination Manager, VisitSweden

VisitSweden's dashboard

Increased interest in analytics improves decision making

Editors don’t have to spend time choosing the right profile, applying the correct segment, finding the correct time span.

Time is now better spent working to reach the goals or understand why KPIs underperform. By getting everything at first sight, the time required to start analyzing has decreased, and this has resulted in an increased overall interest in web analytics within the organization.

“Instead of spending time just finding the correct data, editors now have time to actually analyze the KPIs.”

– David Bustos, Research Coordinator Business Intelligence and Web Analyst, VisitSweden

Goals

  • Get an easy complete global overview
  • Obtain a per-market view of website performance using KPIs for benchmarking
  • Access unsampled data for KPIs

Approach

  • Google Analytics API is used daily to fetch data for a custom-made dashboard and to reduce sampling errors
  • Outbound link tracking for measuring conversion to partners
  • Survey for measuring visitor task completion rate, logging results using Google Analytics events

Results

  • Increased interest and knowledge in Google Analytics and web analysis amongst web editors
  • Local market editors can now set KPI goals and follow up on them in one quick glance
  • Headquarters can track all markets globally, with a unified view

About VisitSweden

  • Sweden’s official website for tourism and travel information
  • Co-owned by the Swedish Government and the Swedish tourism industry
  • www.visitsweden.com

About Outfox

  • Google Analytics Certified Partner
  • Outfox provides a wide range of Google Analytics services, focusing on all aspects of the product; technology, business, analysis, and development.

Why Conversion Optimization Fails

This is an article I wrote for Website Magazine in 2011. I recommend that you pick up their latest issue to read many more articles. The American magazine “reaches 142,709 qualified website owners and Internet professionals and the largest audience of website owners and managers in the field.”



There are many reasons why your attempts at conversion optimization could fail. If you avoid the mistakes listed in this article, then you will be more likely to succeed — it’s as simple as that. To achieve success in conversion optimization, here are the five biggest mistakes to avoid.

1. Getting blinded by your own knowledge and preferences
If your conversion optimization efforts are largely based on what you like and how you behave, then you are more likely to fail. Not everyone is like you; there are at least three other temperaments to consider.

According to renowned psychologist David Keirsey, everyone falls into one of sixteen temperaments. The temperament of the buyer influences what will convince them to buy a specific product, and what will make them buy it specifically from your company or website.

Which temperament are you trying to sell to? To learn about how to sell to people who may be different from you, read the work about temperaments done by Keirsey and the interpretations made by firms like Future Now, Inc.

My own consultancy firm, inUse Insights (new brand since May 2012: Outfox), has also done similar work, grouping visitors into four types that are illustrated by different birds: owl, penguin, swallow and peacock. The lesson here is that you should learn as much as possible about your audience, and don’t fall into the trap that they are just like you. Besides that, you know a lot more about your company, product or service than your visitors, and you may therefore make the mistake of assuming that your visitors know more than they do. Don’t get blinded by best practices, either; they are not always silver bullets. Your audience and context may differ.

2. Optimizing for the wrong visitors
The assumption that all visitors to your website are there to convert is wrong. When analyzing why visitors are dropping out without converting, you need to know what they came there to do in the first place.

Some visitors end up on your website by chance, some because you cater to their interests or needs, and others because of a mistake. You will rarely convert those who came to visit your site by accident. If you combine a survey (attitudinal data) with your Web analytics tool (behavioral data), you’ll be able to ask for the intention of your visits upon entry and analyze their success rate.

It’s not unusual to find out that the group you have a reasonable chance at converting constitutes 10 percent or less of your visitors. With that new knowledge, you can focus your conversion analysis on the segment that came to your website to convert but never did. Work hard to make that group convert, and forget about the rest — for now.

3. Focusing on only one metric or goal
Testing and conversion optimization is often based around the idea of increasing the rate for a specific metric, a specific goal. Nothing wrong with that, but you may forget to check how your efforts are impacting other goals and metrics.

Maybe you are increasing one goal at the expense of others? Maybe your conversion rate has gone up, but your average order value, margin or return on ad spend has decreased? Always make sure to look at the big picture. If you’re just looking at — and optimizing for — one metric, there’s a risk that you’re fooling yourself.

4. Making testing a goal in itself
I’ve come across organizations that have set goals on how many A/B or multivariate tests they should run in a set period of time. That’s a bad idea.

Think about what incentives do to people, particularly if there is a reward involved. If the goal entitling an employee to a bonus is the number of tests executed, be prepared for lowperforming tests and maybe even ones that decrease rather than increase your conversion rate.

A good goal is not addressed as the number of tests run. Instead, focus on the monetary goal you want to reach, or actions that you want your visitors to take, and run as many tests as you can based on hypotheses and traffic volume. Your goal should be to increase something (purchases, downloads, etc.) or decrease something (visits to the contact page from visitors who have read the FAQ, etc.), not to run a certain number of tests. If you focus on the number of tests, chances are that you will be too eager to test that you forget about building a solid hypothesis, and run tests that don’t have enough traffic to complete within a reasonable amount of time.

5. Coming to the conclusion that nothing works
Have you run tests and not seen any improvement? Rather than conceding that there is no way to make a difference and simply giving up, it is more likely that you overlooked something. There may be something further you could do to collect more relevant data.

Has your Web analytics tool been implemented properly? Have you integrated attitudinal and behavioral data in your analysis? Have you done usability testing? Have you used a tool such as ClickTale that shows behaviors that are not necessarily linked to what you can actually do on the website? One way to quickly get new ideas is to ask your non-tech Web-savvy friends to perform a task on your website without your guidance.

Conversion optimization is for everyone
Keep in mind that conversion optimization is not just for e-commerce. It’s for everyone. It does not matter whether you’re selling a product, a service, information or an idea. We all have specific actions in mind that we want website visitors to take. Conversion optimization is about making a larger share of visitors do those actions. It could be about making a donation, becoming a member, changing an opinion about something, or many other actions.

As long as it’s measurable, it’s a candidate for conversion optimization.

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