Tracking Web Initiated Conversations with Users

To close off the content-valuation section of this series, I’d like to discuss how off-line discussions can still be integrated into our model. As the web-environment evolves to include functionality for phone call, text message, and real time chat integration, we need to keep in mind how it is that these discussion venues can create real value for a web-asset, to the point at which they can drive real revenues. However, until we can keep track of how it is that these transactions are taking place and what kind of results they are driving.

The first way to keep track of off-line interactions occurring with your website is through using a click-to-call mechanism. While this feature never really took off as it was initially predicted to do, it is still an extremely effective mechanism for medium or larger websites to use when trying to engage customers into a more sophisticated transaction. From here, we can use software to record the conversations had with users, and transcribe it into a document that can be indexed.

Upon completing the transcription, we are in a position to benefit in a number of ways. Firstly, we can scan the conversations for recurring themes, and make adjustments accordingly to create intangible value. More importantly, we can use these conversations as content for increasing the relevance of our page. Particularly relevant conversations can be posted as anonymous examples of how to engage the company, and what the experience entails.

That being said, it’s pretty difficult for us to value an entire phone-tracking mechanism against a tiny piece of content that is created once and a while. As such, click-to-call tracking needs to be about valuing the ability of a sales representative to convert a call into a sale, and how much tangible worth that creates for the company on a per-call basis. This can then be measured against the cost of posting a phone-book or publication ad that would drive similar kinds of telephone traffic. On a cost-per-call basis, the comparative value can then be a function just how effective the mediums are.

The second mechanism to integrate into a valuation platform for web assets is one to track text-messages associated with the page. As SMS functionality moves out of its infancy, we can find more solutions for indexing and manipulating incoming text messages as they come from our user base. While this sort of functionality is obviously reserved for higher-scale websites, it is important to remember that such a size is still a goal for growling platforms. From there, we need to determine the cost of the SMS platform, and determine the tangible value it creates for the page itself.

Are these premium messages being sent through a phone network?

Then we need to understand the break-even cost of running such a system (to be discussed in a later section), and what kind of premium the vanity number and short-code are worth. As assets, we can then value the lease of this capacity on a fixed basis, with a fast-moving amortization, and an understanding of the third-party solutions that could provide a more cost effectively solution for a smaller scale operation. From an investment standpoint, we can then look at this section to determine if there is an opportunity to unlock economies of scale in an already successful web-asset with SMS integration by changing the way in which the messages are processed (ie. on a fixed or variable basis).

As mentioned before, the personal nature of off-page ‘content’ is hard to place a value on, simply because of the way that it requires person-to-person communication. That being said, the thing to remember is that online interactions should always be the goal of a website, and therefore looked at as highly valuable. By encouraging offline transactions, a relationship with the page is taken into the user’s real-world life, and ideally, into their real-world wallet.

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