Below is a video of Enhanced Editions’ Ignite speech from this year’s Tools of Change conference, originally intended to be delivered by Rhys Cazenove but eventually given by Peter Collingridge. Beneath that is a transcript of the speech, including the slides.
I’m not Rhys Cazenove, who has had to fly back to the UK at short notice. Nor am I Nick Cave, whom I think Andrew really wanted when I was invited. But I am going to channel Rhys a little to talk to you about the kind of data we can all capture.
When we founded Enhanced Editions we knew that, alongside a compelling reading experience, insight into user behaviour needed to be a core part of our approach. That’s because for as long as we have worked with the web, we have been collecting and acting upon data.
Rhys worked at Comedy Central building branded video sites such as The Daily Show and South Park, which drove revenue from advertising. They used data from analytics to help increase traffic and visitor retention, and ultimately revenues. We bring that to the apps we do at Enhanced Editions.
So. What are Analytics?
Analytics are the feedback loops between your customers and your marketing, and that help you make smarter decisions in an ever changing landscape. They come from lots of different sources. By paying attention to them, you can improve your strategy and effectiveness.
Technology-based companies like Google & Amazon have been using customer data from Day 1. Make no mistake – anayltics are hugely important to these guys’ success. Compare publisher’s attitude to intuition, to that of Jeff Bezos. It couldn’t be more different.
From the moment the very first printed book was sold, there has always been a relationship between publishers, readers, and marketing activity. It’s just been invisible. Short of breaking into people’s houses there is very little a publisher knows about a book after it is sold.
This all changed with the web, email, blogs and social media. All of these allow readers to gather and communicate on their own, or with authors and publishers. Keeping track of what your readers are saying is a vital part of making sure you’re doing the best job.
The recent explosion in smart, connected devices takes this relationship to it’s logical conclusion. Readers have a profoundly personal relationship with these devices, as they live in their pocket or handbag. We can now get data from this.
Let’s get specific.
At Enhanced Editions, we track everything we can about usage. What people use, how long they spend, at what time. And, so far, (Jeff will be happy) much of our intuition has been confirmed by data.
But – people’s reading habits vary for different books. While commuting hours are popular across all books, people LOVE reading Nick Cave’s Bunny Munro between one and two AM. On the other hand, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama seems to be a lunchtime favourite (but is read for nearly four times as long).
The average use of an iPhone app is less than 5 mins. Happily, the average time that people use our apps in a single sitting is around 24 minutes. Perhaps we can confidently say that people enjoy reading on the small screen.
Similarly the feature set we put together seems to resonate. For example, our synchronised audio features are incredibly popular. Integrated video clips have also been popular, but not as much as audio, interestingly.
Another hugely popular feature is the news feed, which we can update at any point. The idea here was to encourage customers to keep engaged. Again the app store average is a 5% retention after 1 month. Our apps retain over 20% of active customers.
Moving out of the app usage, by triangulating sales and web analytics, we can piece together purchasing drivers. For example here we can see the direct correlation between media coverage and downloads of both the free and paid-for versions of the app.
One of the most staggering insights was sales in Norway, which were off the scale and comparable to Canada. It turns out that this combination of factors was responsible. But – we are now actively pursuing publishing opportunities in Norway.
Analytics also means keeping track of social media buzz. Twitter was great fun to watch for the launch of Bunny Munro, but it also allowed us to get a feeling for how many people were talking about the apps in the real world
We also found out some less good things. Some of our favourite features – send to a friend and search – are scarcely used. I say this hoping there aren’t any sensitive lawyers in the room, but people really don’t read the copyright page, even by accident.
Talking of lawyers. It’s important to respect people’s sense of of privacy – almost 50% of installed users decide to turn off analytics. We have no problem with this – we are looking at aggregated user behaviour.
So, Enhanced Editions, as digital publishers, are using data to help define and refine our offering. In-app analytics is a cinch – you should make sure your partners are supplying you with the data by default.
Without analytics, your digital strategy will remain guesswork. Rest assured that your competitors are collecting this data, so you should too. Our advice to you is collect and track behaviour, experiment around it, and be prepared to act on what you learn.