Web Analytics Your CEO Wants To Hear

In February 2008, Facebook set the foundation for global domination. The company became multilingual by launching the Spanish version of its website; and added 42 languages within only a year. Today, Facebook provides over 100 languages, including: Pirates English, Upside Down English, and — Star Trek fans be thanked — Klingon.

What amazes me is not the speed at which Facebook translated their web site, but how Mark Zuckerberg positioned localization as a strategic initiative for growth. Facebook tripled its user base in France in just three months as a result of his vision. In Italy, Facebook’s membership exploded and grew in size ten times from May to December of the first year of being multilingual.

From day one, Facebook compared language activity with business outcomes. Figure 1 shows the Italian example very impressively.

The key term here is business outcomes. Yes, Facebook did manage a tight ship for localization. The company heavily relied on its membership for free translations; only a hand-full of project managers drove the translation into 47 languages in the first year. They invested in collaborative tools and used the Facebook platform and its functionality for online collaboration and quality assurance — think ‘Likes’ instead of J2450 quality criteria. Facebook used a translation agency only for certain document types, such as legal or marketing content.

Translation metrics that are linked to business outcomes

Facebook, in essence, did not only invent crowd-sourcing for web localization. Their then Director of Internationalization, Ghassan Haddad, also introduced the first dynamic quality system as well as translation metrics that are linked to business outcomes. The rest of the world lags behind to this day.

Digital marketers are still experimenting with developing meaningful business metrics. Data wranglers will throw around terms, such as number of completed trackable actions per user, conversions, or impressions. Add return visitors, average page depth, unique IP addresses, and many others to the list of standard measurements.

Localizers add to the confusion with segmentation rules, fuzzy matches, concordance matching and cost saving schemes that make reading my tax return a pleasurable experience.

I am always very impressed when people know their facts. But here is the kicker: if not connected to the executive agenda, numbers lose meaning.

Bounce rate is a perfect example of that. This number shows the percentage of visitors leaving a site without visiting any other pages. High bounce rates are typically seen as a sign of low user engagement. But is that always true? A page for a dinner recipe would have a high bounce rate, because a user would rarely take any further action on the page. He or she would be following cooking instructions on the page instead.

If content is king, context rules

Fully loaded cost per translated words is an equally ambiguous metric. It explains how much a published word costs on average after adding the cost for translating and managing it. While this is needed for managing the operational efficiency of translation operations, this number gives no insight into how much the average translated word contributes to sales, profit, or market recognition.

If content is king, context rules. When Facebook started translating its website, Mark Zuckerberg must have felt tremendously excited every time he looked at localization metrics. Will your leadership say the same about your reporting?

The goal is to connect localized content with business outcomes. Start with your company’s latest annual report. There is no need for you to analyze profit & loss statements or balance sheets. You only need to read the message from the CEO; it will give you enough detail about what the company’s plans are, how it aims at serving customers, and what initiatives support these plans.

Now you need to make the connection between the company’s measurable goals and the performance of your global site. Web analytics help you by providing a remarkable level of detail. Once set up, it collects data automatically. The rest is not so easy. Web reports rarely tie into sales data, for example. You, personally, will need to make cognitive connections between multiple sets of data.

Does the number of downloads of translated marketing material correlate with sales or qualified sales leads in China? Does a drop in bounce rate of a localized landing page increase user registration in Germany? Is the same true for Brazil?

Don’t over plan it: 95% of digital marketing is action

Don’t over plan it: 95% of digital marketing is action, measuring performance, learning from data, and adjusting for new action. Only 5% is planning. Technologies, user behavior, and marketing channels change too quickly to allow for extensive planning.

At the time of writing, one of the big things for 2015 is social customer service. Social media is no longer a space where companies deliver outbound marketing messages, as it was two years earlier. Now, it is a serious lead generator for inbound customer queries. Social customer service agents are replacing social media managers of 2013, which replaced the community manager of 2011.

No other profession re-invents itself so quickly. Implement, measure, learn, and adjust. When it works, it’s beautiful.

In 2012, Lego put on their Facebook page a fan’s picture of a Star Wars figure wanting free hugs. Only a few hours later, the post created sales of more than $10,000. Lego also had an international team in place for their social monitoring, so that they could react quickly to any customer queries.

That’s a metric a CEO wants hear.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.