The most common question that we are asked by students at the Analysis Exchange is:
“How can I make sure that I get chosen for a project?”
Our experience has shown us that there are three proven ways to get yourself onto a project. They are:
1. Make sure that your profile in the system is up-to-date and does a good job of selling yourself to a prospective nonprofit. This is one of those rare times in life when you get to brag about yourself so make sure you highlight your strengths and why they should pick you over others!
2. Be sure to continuously apply to new projects. Check-back often or follow us on Twitter, @analysisxchange, to see when new projects are posted. We are working on a way to e-mail students and mentors when new projects are posted.
3. Bring in your own organization. If you know of a nonprofit that could use help, have them come to the Analysis Exchange and make sure they pick you! Control your own destiny!
For our part, we are doing our best to get as many nonprofits to join the Analysis Exchange as possible, but the reality is that we have 815 students in our system and only 250 nonprofits so you may have to be patient.
Another way that we are hoping to get more potential projects into the Analysis Exchange is by opening it up to start-ups that are not yet profitable. Our hope is that by allowing these organizations to take advantage of the infrastructure already built for the Analysis Exchange we can increase our project base and create more learning opportunities for our 815 students.
We recently did a trial project with our first start-up website, a company based in New York - Kaufmann Mercantile. This project demonstrated the power of the Analysis Exchange and even had a mentor from Denmark!
The project team was made up of the following people:
- Sebastian Kaufmann - the Organizational Lead based in NYC
- Casper Bilcher Olsen - the Project Mentor based in Denmark
- Brian Wonch - the Student based in Chicago
The following is an interview that provides an overview of the Kaufman Mercantile project. Thanks to Kaufman Mercantile and the Analysis Exchange Team for sharing this with us!!
AE: How did you first hear about the Analysis Exchange?
Sebastian: A friend of mine, Ryan MacCarrigan from Lean Startup Machine (http://theleanstartupmachine.com/) told me about analysis exchange.
AE: How did you do Web Analytics before the Analysis Exchange?
Sebastian: We have had a Google Analytics account since the beginning of our store. I checked it occasionally, but didn’t really know what information to pull out of all this data.
AE: What was your Analysis Exchange project objective? How does web analytics fit within the business structure of your company?
Sebastian: Our objective was to find weak parts of our website and see where people were leaving the site and how we can avoid this. The bottom line was that we wanted to improve our conversion rate. We’re a small company and don’t have a person assigned to the subject of web analytics. Therefore I was working directly with the team. It was a great learning experience that way.
Casper:When we first started the project there was no doubt that the previous configuration and customization of their Google Analytics account was non-existent. It was therefore necessary to first look into how the data was collected on the sites. The result was to modify their Google Analytics tracking script, so that it didn’t cause self-referals within the same domain.
Based on the organization structure, the challenge was to make Web Analytics data more accessible, and easier to take action upon. To help make the data more accessible we created several custom reports like: Newsletter Effectiveness, Page Efficiency, Paid Search Analysis, Visitor Acquisition Efficiency as well as some advanced segments based on the KPIs of the company.
The new custom reports now make it faster and easier for Kaufmann Mercantile to monitor things like:
- Which elements of the newsletter are creating sales and which are not?
- What is the acquisition cost on different sources?
- Which pages are generating sales?
- What pages should we optimize for SEO?
- Qualified Audience
AE: How did the Analysis Exchange process work for you? What can you tell us about your experience with your mentor and student?
Sebastian: In the beginning the three of us discussed our objectives for the seminar and what we should focus on. My mentor, Casper Blicher Olsen, then put together a schedule for the 3 weeks. Much of the work then happened between student and mentor and out of my sight. But we had about two phone conferences every week, where they explained what they were working on and the progress they were making. These conversations also allowed me to ask questions etc.
Working with the mentor and student was a great experience. It’s awesome to have two experts analyze your website and get feedback and information that would take weeks or month of reading if you want to figure them out by yourself. My knowledge on the subject increased tremendously in this short amount of time.
AE: What useful insights into your website did you gain? Please be specific.
Sebastian: As mentioned, the conversion rate was the main focus of our seminar. I found out that our product page, shopping cart and check out area had very high drop out rates and that we need to do some redesign in order to have less people leave our site or abandon their cart.
I also learned about A/B testing and we actually did an A/B test on our site. We tested whether a red or a green “Add to cart” button would be more effective. Red won, which was the color we had already used.
Another thing that I learned was about how you can track campaigns and their conversions in Google Analytics.
Casper: Based on the analysis of the Web Analytics data we chose to work with two hypotheses:
a.) Visitors don’t notice the “Add to cart” button, since it is the same color as the rest of the site.
b.) Visitors are abandoning the checkout process because they get confused.
Testing the product pages
To test the hypotheses we created a classic A/B split test, with one control and two variations of the “Add to cart” button. One with at green button and a bigger font, and another red button with a bigger font. The test winner ended up being the original small red button. Despite the result of the split test, the outcome was still a big success since they know which color button works best on the visitors.
All three different versions of the “Add to cart” buttons:
Since the analysis also revealed that users had a hard time figuring out the product pages, we used the knowledge from the Web Analytics data to redesign the existing product pages. With the new redesign it could be great to make a new test on all the product pages, to see if the redesign have any impact on sales.
Our wireframe to the product pages can be found here:
Optimizing the checkout process
The final recommendation we made for the company was to optimize their checkout process, since a big amount of visitors starting the checkout process didn’t complete it. To illustrate this we first created a blur version of the Cart page to see how visible the “Go to checkout” button was (see image below). Based on the result of the blur version and other relevant elements, the checkout pages was modified to a more user friendly version.
Blur version of the Cart page:
After Kaufmann Mercantile implemented the changes to the checkout and product pages, there has been an 22.9% increase in sales and a 28.9% increase in the conversion rate.
AE: Would you do another Analysis Exchange project?
Sebastian: Absolutely! I’m already in conversation with the mentor from the last project about what to do next.
AE: What can you tell other small businesses/start ups about the Analysis Exchange?
Sebastian: It’s going to be a rapid learning experience of how to use Google Analytics and how it can help you make decisions.
AE: What advice can you give other companies on what they look for in students and mentors?
Sebastian: Since it was my first project, I don’t have much of a comparison. My mentor was extremely knowledgable with online stores, which was a good fit.
AE: What is your latest project at Kaufmann Mercantile?
Sebastian: We’re currently in the process of re-designing and adding functionality to our product pages, cart and check out area. Once the design is “finished” I’d like to do some A/B testing on the new design and see how we can optimize.
The following questions are from the student’s perspective.
AE: What was your primary driver for doing an Analysis Exchange project?
Brian: I wanted to round out the digital analytics training from my graduate study at Northwestern University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program. The Analysis Exchange gave me an opportunity to work on an in-depth Google Analytics implementation with expert guidance. The e-commerce aspect of the Kaufmann Mercantile project also seemed like a good fit for my background.
AE: How much of a time commitment was the project?
Brian: I was able to fit the Exchange project alongside a summer internship, so the time commitment was manageable. Also, my project mentor generously offered me extra time outside of our official work together to discuss his experiences in the analytics field.
AE: What did you learn from doing the project?
Brian: I learned to focus on what can be tested and changed, how to put data in context, and how to quantify the impact of making changes on a site.
AE: What can you tell other students about the Analysis Exchange?
Brian: Digital analytics is not a spectator sport - you learn the most through practice. The Analysis Exchange is a great way to get experience, and the mentors know their stuff.