Adam Greco Talks Web Analytics and CRM Integration [INTERVIEW]

Adam Greco has long been a visionary leader in the web analytics industry. He began his career managing the website for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, became one of the founders of the Omniture Consulting group, and then served as Senior Director of Web Analytics at Salesforce.com. Now, as a senior partner at Web Analytics Demystified, Adam Greco continues to help businesses leverage their web analytics solutions to create valuable and actionable insights.

We wanted to profile Adam Greco, not only because of his professional accomplishments, but in light of the extensive effort he has put into reaching out to the web analytics community. Through his “Omni Man” blog, “Beyond Web Analytics” podcast and most recently through the organization of the ACCELERATE 2011 event—scheduled for November 18th in San Francisco—Adam Greco has consistently helped web analysts and marketers stay at the forefront of technological innovation.

Evidence-Based Marketing got the opportunity to speak with Adam Greco about the ACCELERATE 2011, CRM integration and technology adoption issues.

 

Web Analytics Demystified's Adam GrecoEVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: You’ve been a web analytics expert for a number of years. What types of insights are people are looking for from web analytics now? How does ACCELERATE seek to meet that demand?

ADAM GRECO: As people who attend and present at a fair number of industry conferences, we at Web Analytics Demystified have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t work. With this in mind, we decided to create ACCELERATE as a free, local one-day event that brings together people from well-known companies like Salesforce.com, ESPN, Expedia, Sony, Symantec and others to share in a focused “Top 10″ format what is and is not working at their organizations. In today’s economy where budgets are tight and it is hard for people to get the budget to travel to conferences, we thought a local event would be a great way to bring quality content to their doorstep.

As founders of the popular Analysis Exchange and Web Analytics Wednesday initiatives, which provide free web analysis for non-profit organizations and local information sharing gatherings respectively, we have seen how hungry people in the web analytics field are for good content, education and opportunities to grow their career.

To that end, we built into ACCELERATE a way to give those who may not be as well-known in the web analytics community a chance to get up on stage and present something cool they have done or learned in the field in five minute “super-accelerator” sessions. We will be awarding a Best Buy gift card to the highest rated presentation. Fortunately, we had great sponsors like OpinionLab, TeaLeaf, Ensighten who understood what we wanted to do and signed-up to partner with us to make ACCELERATE happen.

EVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: Did the amount of interest in the ACCELERATE event surprise you?

ADAM GRECO: We had no idea that our first ACCELERATE event planned in San Francisco would sell out in under 30 hours! We had a feeling we would easily fill up our capacity (around 200 attendees) prior to the event in November, but were not expecting the response we got. Based upon the response, we ended up working with our chosen venue to be creative about seating so we could let an extra 100 people into the event.

EVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: Do you have any more events in the works?

ADAM GRECO: The most interesting thing was that a large percentage of the people who registered were from outside the San Francisco area. This showed us that people were so interested in the type of content we were providing that they were willing to travel to get it.  Therefore, we are looking at hosting ACCELERATE events in other cities next year.

EVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: Personalization, social signals affecting search algorithm and the Panda update have forced SEOs to change their strategies, focus and even their expectations about what is possible in organic search. How can customer relationship management (CRM) integration help SEOs understand how their efforts are impacting a company’s bottom line?

ADAM GRECO: While I don’t profess to be an expert on SEO optimization, what I have seen is a phenomenon in which companies are unable to connect online success to SEO, especially in the B2B marketplace. With paid search, it is relatively easy to tie online and offline sales to the specific paid search campaign that drove the success through the use of tracking codes. However, since SEO doesn’t have tracking codes, I see many companies struggle to connect the dots when it comes to branded and non-branded SEO keywords.

Often times, the only place that SEO teams can show the impact they are having is in the web analytics tool. However, paid search and other marketing channels are able to pass tracking codes through to marketing and CRM systems to show executives how much revenue each is generating. Thus, we have a situation where SEO doesn’t have “a seat at the table,” so to speak. This issue is compounded by the fact that first-touch and last-touch attribution are still difficult in an age where consumers are visiting websites more often and from more channels than ever before.

EVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: What are some ways that you help marketers adopt a more thorough attribution model?

ADAM GRECO: I know you guys have built tools to connect SEO to CRM systems like SEO for Salesforce and we have worked with clients to create other custom solutions to help SEO get the credit it deserves.

I will review three examples here: First, we can work with clients to map SEO data into CRM systems so they can be reported upon like other paid media channels (similar to what your company’s product does). This often involves creating tracking codes on the fly or using search engine and keyword combinations as the tracking codes themselves.

Next, we work with clients to pass revenue information from CRM and other marketing systems into the web analytics tool so you can see which traffic sources led to revenue so SEO can have an apples-to-apples comparison with other channels.

Third, we help address the multi-channel attribution problem by capturing which different marketing channels were involved in online and offline success so our clients can see that even if SEO didn’t close the sale, how often it was in the mix of channels that led to success.

EVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: Adoption among sales and marketing staff is essential to getting sound business intelligence data from CRM. What are some of the most common adoption issues relating specifically to web analytics?

ADAM GRECO: Having worked at both a web analytics and CRM vendor, I am in a unique position to see how each technology is adopted. What I have seen is that CRM systems that do web analytics tend to be adopted more quickly.

EVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: Why is that?

ADAM GRECO: I attribute it to the fact that [enterprises] run their business off of CRM systems. How much money are we making next quarter? Which sales reps are over/under-performing. Since the data is so critical to the business, executives are much more likely to enforce usage. At some companies, sales reps are unable to get bonus checks for any deals that have not been properly updated in the CRM system. As you know, money is a powerful motivator in changing behavior!

Conversely, even though executives can make or save massive amounts of money using web analytics tools, they tend to be seen as important, but not a critical path to many executives.  As a web analytics industry veteran, it pains me to see this, and I join the others in my ranks in trying to explain to executives that this is not the case. However, executives have been tracking sales and salespeople for decades, and tracking and optimizing websites is a relatively new field.

EVIDENCE-BASED MARKETING: Where do you see things going from here?

ADAM GRECO: I am optimistic about the future as I see more and more executives who have been brought up in the “data economy” demanding to see data supporting key business decisions. I think this trend will only continue, and when it does, you will see more and more companies enforcing the usage of web analytics over time.

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