Class is in session…first week

so sportsfans, you probably been wondering where the Diary has been.

Ok, so you probably weren’t wondering…but you’re here, so figured I’d share.

The other day I started my second phase of my college career as I embark on a long journey to acquire my MBA. First week of class in the bag, and I can say that I am really excited about it. I think I needed the challenge. Its not like work isn’t a challenge, but this is a different animal altogether. I needed a new challenge. And this is a big one.

Tonite, my team got our Project to work on for the semester for our Management class. Its a monster of a project, and its based on the management implications raised in Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail” which I’ve been wanting to read anyways. So I am killing 2 birds with 1 stone. I’ll probably post stuff about that book as I get into it. But just by skimming it, it looks to be in the same vein as Gladwell. And I love some Gladwell.

The other class I have is Microeconomics, which I really dig. Maybe I am geek, but I like to look at things from an economist viewpoint. Behavior is dictated by incentives. This rings true in every element of life, so there are tons of applications.

The funniest thing I’ve read so far in that class is how focus groups are not very telling. One adage I like about economics revolves around the notion to not study people by what they say, but rather what they do. So true, and one of the main reasons I dont like surveys or focus groups. People lie. People can be persuaded to say things based on wording or sequencing of questions. Often, I believe companies just use focus groups to deflect accountability of their decisions. Its so easy to say ” But this tested well” when your new product or plan bombs in the market place. Also, a lot of folks use focus groups and surveys to just affirm what they already believe anyways, whether its a good or bad decision. I am sure some folks have differing opinions, just my 3 cents and its late.

So…what am I saying here? I think my life is going to get consumed very soon. So the Diary may not always be quite as up-to-date as I’d like it to be.

Jams of day…

1) The Slip – Even Rats

2) Outkast – Morris Brown

3) The Cure – Just Like Heaven

4) The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You?

5) Ryan Adams – Walls

6) Uncle Tupelo – Moonshiner

7) Death Cab for Cutie – President of What?

8) Bob Marley – 400 years


In a more perfect world…

i looked at my blog stats and its apparent to me when I don’t write anything, my traffic suffers. And then I lose out on the massive amount of potential advertising revenue! just kidding of course.

So the big news in the PC universe is the exploding Dell story:

In a more perfect world, free of lawyers and whatnot it would be funny if other PC makers not affected by the defective batteries would have “Fire Sales” on their web sites. Or have slogans saying things like “Fired up about your last PC?….then buy one of ours!” And the potential is endless. Feel free to post your best attempts. I welcome it.

So longtime West Coast Diary reader, Bobby Haywood (aka Pedro Guerrero), asked about the legendary Conan O’Brien Harvard speech a few years ago. So here it is in all its comedic glory:

Other news….good luck to fellow Lenovian, Mike Mann, on his travels to China. He is now the secondest tallest person in that country, behind Yao Ming. He’ll be there for a year, and you can follow his adventures via his new China blog:

Today’s Jams:

1) The Rosebuds – Unwind

2) Black Sabbath – Paranoid (Ozzy!!!)

3) Radiohead – How to Disappear Completely

4) Hand-Me Down Syndrome – Tickin Time (that is actually me and some friends)

5) Bob Dylan – Seven Curses

6) The Strokes – Alone Together

If you are remotely curious about Hand-Me Down Syndrome, the mp3 can be had at:|pe1|WdjZPXLrvP2rY1SxZG0

I think we made that song like 5 years ago, and it still trips me out. Its me on vocals and acoustic guitar, and the Brothers Pflasterer on the rest. the banjo is actually a keyboard, which makes the song even funnier. enjoy.

Talladega Nights

So I checked out Will Ferrell’s new flick, and it was quality. Exactly what the doctor ordered in that it is basically an excuse for Ferrell to make a movie with his friends and be a redneck racecar driver. Shake and Bake! So many funny lines and what not, all the kids will be reciting dialogue the rest of the summer.

For your reading enjoyment, I’ve also added Ferrell’s classic commencement speech at Harvard in 2003.¬† Almost as good as Conan O’Briens, which is the gold standard.

Today’s Friday jams:

1) Death Cab for Cutie – President of What?

2) Allman Brothers – Don’t Keep Me Wonderin

3) Interpol – Take You on a Cruise

4) U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

5) Arcade Fire – No Cars Go

6) Ryan Adams – She Wants to Play Hearts

7) Sunny Day Real Estate  РShadows

8) Dolorean – Hannibal, MO

9) Uncle Tupelo – Give Back the Keys to My Heart

Using Regression Analysis for Web Metrics

So like I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to try my hand at using some of the techniques that the authors used in “The Wages of Wins” to look at web traffic variables. At the time I had asked if anyone had any decent tools to use for this kind of analysis. Low and behold, the answer was already on my desktop. Microsoft Excel actually has the capabilities, you just need to install them. In Excel, go to Tools and select Add-Ins. This will give you some nifty analytical tools to use, I chose Analysis Toolpak. And then it shows up in the dropdown under tools as Data Analysis.

I only did a couple of simple studies. Of course, I’ll have to do a lot more tests with a little more sophisication and thought before declaring any revelations. That being said, I did a simple one where I looked at the correlation with web traffic (visits) to online commerce on one of our sites at Lenovo. I chose the web traffic to the commerce section specifically as the piece to look at. This is all to test the premise that if you get more traffic to your site, you should see more revenue. Right? Well, based on my simple study I got a correlation of .393, which isn’t all that high. Again, this was a simple one where i took weekly visits and weekly revenue for 2006. I decided to try it again with other parts of the site to see if one piece correlated better. The homepage actually came out a little ahead with .42.

What does this all mean to me? It says to me that sheer volume is not exactly the answer to driving revenue. There are obviously other factors. I’ve always said that getting more traffic is not the answer, but getting the “right” kind of traffic is. What is the “right” traffic? Not sure yet. I want to test different things like kinds of referrals, pricing, sales promotions, marketing spend, seasonality, etc to see if I can find the magic formula. Thought I’d share what I was working on, and if anyone else has done similar work please share.

How to Become a Decent Web Metrics Analyst – Vol.2 (The Wrath of Khan)

Since Vol.1 was so hugely popular, it has spawned Vol.2, though I contemplated calling it Volume 3, just like the Traveling Wilbury’s did with their second album. From a metrics standpoint Vol.1 was the most viewed post on the Diary, thanks in part to linkage from Churbuck. Referral links!

7 – Read other web analytics blogs. There are a slew of them with good info. My fav is Avinash Kaushik, as he is passionate and articulate about the web metrics space. He’s sort of become a cult hero with some of our analysts at Lenovo. Other good ones are the Web Analytics Forum at Yahoo Groups.

8 – Understand the intagibles in the data. Sometimes you’ll get metrics such as huge exit rates, and really not understand what its telling you, unless you know some pieces of information that aren’t part of the data. Sometimes the way your analytics solution is set up could be treating internal links as external and you’ll get huge exit rates. Always understand the data before marching down the hall and telling your boss that there is a problem with the site. It saves you from the embarassing awkward silence after someone corrects you.

9 – Take the time to read the documentation for your web analytics solution and take all online training you can get your hands on. One of my biggest frustrations is when you have a tool available for web traffic analytics and no one takes the time to really understand how to use it, instead expecting information to somehow reach their brains through osmosis. There is nothing overly complex about web analytics, this isn’t chemical engineering or anything. Just take the time and learn the tool.

10 – Segment your metrics. Sometimes looking at an aggregate view of your metrics can give you the wrong message, break it down to smaller pieces. For instance your overall conversion rate might like terrible, but once you segment into smaller subsets you might realize that a particular product line is dragging your conversions down.

Songs for a Monday:

1) Sorry about Dresden – A Brilliant Ally

2) Grant Lee Buffalo – The Shining Hour

3) AC Newman – The Cloud Prayer

4) Afghan Whigs – Debonair

5) Bloc Party – This Modern Love

6) Saves the Day – At Your Funeral

7) Twilight Singers – Real Love

2 songs in the mix today from Greg Dulli (member of Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers). Its funny, cuz I was messing around YouTube this weekend came across a live version of the Afghan Whigs song ‘Faded’. Here it is:

Its a quality song from the underrated ‘Black Love’ album, but hilarity breaks out when some drunk fan gets rowdy and trys to start something. Dulli is completely cool about it, and finished up the song as if the event was scripted even adding lines to the song.

The World is Indeed Flat

So if any of the avid Diary readers have been wondering where I’ve been…I’ve essentially been holed up in a cave of a room working on deploying Omniture at Lenovo. In doing so, I invited a colleague from Argentina to help with the fun of deployment as his javascript skills destroy mine. So he caught a last minute flight from Buenos Aires to RTP, NC last week and was a huge help.

Besides just doing the deployment stuff, it was enlightening to hear him speak of life in Argentina. The crazy part to me is just how much people down there are aware of life here in the States and how very few here have any idea of what is going on down there. It blew my mind when he was asking me questions about TV shows that are playing on A&E. First question…people in Argentina have the A&E channel?? You think writers of shows on A&E considered it was being played in places like Argentina?? I think not. He also told me NFL games are on occassionally. THat is nuts to me. Last time I looked, we didn’t have really any programming from other countries, besides BBC news on PBS for like 2 hours…and of course, Benny Hill.

Anyone who has read Freidman’s “The World is Flat” knows the rest of the world is catching up in a big way. And I am not talking of just knowing what all is up with our pop culture garbage. There is a serious technological revolution going on around the globe. Folks in places like Argentina, Eastern Europe, India, and parts of Asia are gaining a serious IT knowledge. And they’re hungry. These guys have tons of tech knowledge and a serious work ethic. Add that with a decent understanding of the rest of the world, and seems to me that the US is in for a rocky road in about 10-15 years. If we are to remain complacement in our current educational system, we are going to feel the effects in years to come.