Sarah Alem works in the e-Commerce department at Havas Voyages, a brand of the Carlson Wagonlit Travel group. A multi-channel acquisition specialist, Sara drives the performance of online marketing campaigns on different touch points on a daily basis (SEO, SEA, Affiliation, email campaign, retargeting etc.). In this article she gives us an expert insight into her job, the challenges that she faces and how she uses web analytics tools.
What is your academic and professional background?
I graduated in Information Systems Management, with a specialisation in Luxury Travel and the Luxury Goods industry. I started my training as part of my work-study programme in the Carlson Wagonlit Voyages company, as junior project manager, working on the creation of B to C websites and B to B to C white-label products. When the Carlson Wagonlit Travel group took over the Havas Voyages brand, a new e-Commerce site was born, www.havas-voyages.fr. I was in charge of the tagging plan for the new site and from that moment I have been working in my current position as Online Acquisition Manager.
How has Havas Voyages positioned itself in the online world?
The Havas Voyages network is made up of 400 travel agencies and 1,200 travel planners. The group is developing a multichannel strategy relying both on the online sales site and on its “physical” sales points. The havas-voyages.fr site has both online sales objectives and recruitment objectives for its network of offline agencies. To illustrate the link that exists between the network’s on- and offline activities we have recently taken advantage of the partnership that exists between AT Internet and Are You Net, which showed that 53% of Internet users surveyed on our site (coming from our online acquisition) stated that they wanted to go to one of our brick and mortar agencies after they had browsed through the site.
What are your tasks?
I work on the ‘Site-Centric’ aspect in the e-Commerce department of Havas Voyages. My tasks range from studying browser patterns on the site, through to sales and campaign performance attribution. I focus completely on acquisition and on analysing the different touch points for all types of web marketing campaigns: SEA, SEO, price comparison websites, affiliation, retargeting. My aim is to further develop the channel acquisition performance analysis, which explains why I spend lots of time providing our sales teams with data on the quality of leads recruited and their conversion in our physical points of sale. I work on both implementing (tagging) and analysing campaign performance by using data segmentation and exploration tools (data query). Today these tools help me create reports which are used to provide statistics to both my service and other services within the company such as senior management, marketing and sales.
With that in mind, who are the people that work with the online data?
In our team, one person who is in charge of merchandising consults the AT Internet platform to optimise the bounce rates on our landing pages and to help them identify Internet user interest in relation to the offers on our site. Our web designer is also an AT data “consumer”, whose task is to improve the performances of our newsletters. A technical project manager also uses the AT tool to analyse and optimise browsing sequences, tunnels and conversion paths.
Can you describe your typical day?
My first instinct is to open the site to make sure that it is working correctly. I then open my emails with the daily scheduled reports to measure sales and evaluate performance by touch point. Depending on what I have just seen, I sometimes continue by analysing the most enhanced traffic sources, even if it means using segmentation to take my research that little bit further. If this is not the case, I sometimes focus on project management or on implementing new campaigns … 75% of my time is spent on analysing and enriching dashboards to find answers to optimise investments as best as possible, and to find new metrics to improve how our campaigns are monitored. The rest of my time is devoted to exchanging with our service providers (technical and web marketing) and our network of agencies. In any case, my AT Internet interface is always open. I consult it after any email exchange, or any idea that I might have, to find information which I can then exploit when making a decision.
Is there one specific project that springs to mind?
It’s not really a project, but rather the idea of successfully sharing a common vision with our network of agencies, that of multi-channel. In the beginning our agencies saw the Internet as being a competitor. Today, we have been able to show them that the havas-voyages.fr site is not there to cannibalise their activity, but is rather a real recruitment channel. The site is there to provide them with new traffic and new opportunities. The havas-voyages.fr site has positioned itself as a real touch point for its network of agencies. It was a long-winded project, and I can safely say that the AT Internet solution really helped us in our approach to evangelise the network of agencies by providing us with figures which supported and backed up our decision to choose this strategy.
Which trends are starting to appear in web analytics?
Today, we are able to improve data flexibility and data manipulation. Apart from constraints such as the Google “not provided” keywords, there is less data missing and we are getting ever closer to a situation where we can manipulate data in any way we want. Now with all of these large volumes of data at hand, a lot of time, specialist systems and resources are needed to extract, manipulate, analyse and interpret the data.
Where do you see your job in the future?
If we push the multi-channel strategy to its extreme limit, we can imagine that maybe one day it will be possible to completely measure web-to-shop and mobile-to-shop data, in other words from the online to the offline sales point. It would be, in some sort, the ultimate outcome of tracking. It is difficult to imagine it today (unless we insert an RFID chip into the arms of our customers and prospects 🙂 !), but it could be the future of tracking. The job of acquisition would be even more powerful.
What motivates you most on a daily basis?
Consumer habits change very quickly and as a result our business must keep up. This forces us to always be on the lookout for new technology, meaning that we are continually re-assessing the technology that we have. Paradoxically this endless quest, which sometimes makes us “schizophrenic” by continually doing and undoing what we have implemented, is also the most interesting part of the job.
What I also like is that there is no absolute truth. We search, search again, try different things, test and start again. This requires us to continually monitor what is happening, and this is also a fascinating part of the job!
What piece(s) of advice would you give to anyone starting out as a web analyst?
I would say that it is an absolute must to implement the most complete tagging possible (even if it means too much!) to leave as many doors open as possible in terms of analysis possibilities. We keep repeating it over and over again, but in our job as performance manager, everything starts with tracking. This job only gives us very few responses and only tracking is able to provide us with the answers after, as a result tracking must be given priority as it is essential to what happens later.
Thank you very much Sarah!