User behavior is a funny thing - on the surface it can look like a promotion or interactive contest is performing quite well - lots of entries, a growing database and good traffic numbers, but it isn't until we start to drill down into the numbers that true behavior begins to surface.
When analytics shows that many users are dropping off at a specific point in the process, it is time to act. Here at LEAP, we use several industry leading analytics programs to track user behavior not only for the benefit of reporting but being able to tweak promotions and interactive contests during their run to maximize their impact.
This sometimes means daily analysis to label trends and behavior that have an impact on results and follow a user from start to finish to determine why they are making the decisions they are. The "why" is often the most difficult but also the most important as the contest progresses. Missing a user's expectation leads to drop-offs during a contest and drop-offs mean lost conversions along the way.
It is also important that measurement be built into the process. For instance - if your promotional site is built in Flash, and many are, you must build in tracking databases to feed analytics. You also need to have a stepped conversion process. Figure out at what point to engage the user by asking for personal information. Ask for too much up front and you create a barrier. Ask for too little through the process and end up with a consumer database that is weak. Setting "goals" along the path will help identify the steps you are wanting the user to take and can help guide analytics.
Because everything we do as an interactive agency is tracked and reported on, it is necessary to have the right tools on hand. Knowing your tools is also an important step and often forgotten or tucked away as an unnecessary expense. We make sure our team is certified in the tools they will be asked to use and experts as they begin to measure and report. Having the right tools is extremely important - having the right tools in untrained hands is downright dangerous.
So - to sum things up... use the tools you have to learn user behavior. Be willing to make changes along the way and be prepared for surprises. Having the right tools and the right people makes a huge difference and will help your interactive contests succeed and achieve your contest goals!
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