The “freemium” business model – now common among Web 2.0 services (where the basic service is free because of the subsidy from the premium features) – calls for careful tracking of the numbers. Grabbing eyeballs via the free content is easy. Converting them to paying customers for your premium service is the challenge.
Today’s Dashboards by Example case study comes from dashboard vendor Sisense and examines dashboards used by Wix.com, a very interesting online flash website creator that offers drag and drop ease to the myspace crowd.
First, let’s take a look at a screenshot of the web analytics dashboard used by Wix.
Here’s the case study itself:
Wix.com: Using Business Intelligence for Instant Web Analytics and Reporting
Wix.com, a leader in fast and easy graphical content generation on the web, uses SiSense’s Prism to assist it in the process of optimizing traffic generation and converting its users to premium services.
Using web analytics to drive user conversion
Wix is a content generation tool for high-end graphics web sites. Wix lets you make stunning flash web pages with no more effort than creating presentation slides.
The Wix beta launched in mid 2008 as a free service. In late 2008 Wix revealed its monetization model – charge users $5-10 for premium features. As of writing this case study (November, 2008), there are over a quarter million Wix users, all of them power users who use Wix to build several sites and generate a large amount of content. Wix had become, in a relatively short while, a very complex site. Monetization became a process that needs to be closely monitored and managed.
Ad-hoc MySQL Analysis and Reporting – easy, quick and lowest cost
“The site mushroomed; there are 20 million views of Wix widgets and a similar count of page views. There are multiple traffic sources and a conversion process that is relatively lengthy” begins Avishai Avrahami, Co-founder and CEO of Wix. Part of his role is to optimize conversion and understand it, managing AdWords, traffic sources and a host of other drivers.
The data comes in from the Wix application, Google AdWords and Wix billing. “It had taken some time to set up all the data in MySQL”, says Avrahami, “this took the most time”. Now Wix required access and analysis. “I needed to find what I call a ‘presentation layer’ for the data”, he explains.
Finding the right tool for rapid analysis and fast report creation
Web Analytics at Wix is a succession of real-time ad-hoc analytics and then reporting of the results. Reports are distributed several times a day. “The management team wants to see what drives conversion, which of our traffic sources are profitable and by how much” says Avrahami.
He tried some of the classic reporting tools. “We live in the digital age” he says of them, scrolling down one of the ten Prism dashboards he uses. “I never print my reports so tools that require me to define pages for printing are out of the question.”
Google Analytics, although useful for a high level snapshot, was not granular enough. “Analytics systems like Google Analytics are very rigid”, says Avrahami “When you drill down all you do is change some parameters, but you still end up looking at the same user group from a different angle”.
Avrahami can write SQL queries, and the company had no shortage of IT staff or programmers. But writing SQL queries for quick and dirty ad hoc analysis took too long. It wasn’t accessible to less technical members of the marketing team. It also required a full time employee and several hours to check each hypothesis.
Using Prism: fast, cheap and exactly what Wix needed
It was then that Avrahami happened upon SiSense Prism. It was exactly what he was looking for. “Setting up Prism took a fraction of the time of setting up MySQL” he says. “Prism lets us create a visible system for the management team. We didn’t need fancy visualization; we needed a front end that lets us quickly research a hunch. We can then send everyone the results as a report. We’re a curious bunch: every day someone else has an idea of how to optimize the system. With Prism we can check it immediately and then, in a matter of minutes, publish a report for everyone to see”. Since the reports are interactive, they let viewers filter, sort and sum the data.
Avrahami points at one of the Prism widgets he often uses: time aggregations (by week, day, month, quarter). “I can do this in SQL” he says “but I need to be able to generate a report in a minute. I love the ability to analyze the data at the marketing level without asking the R&D people to do this. Using prism profoundly affected the way Wix conducts their business. “Prism allowed us to immediately change the way we use our channels and drive traffic”.
Reports are generated to see:
- How many premium users sourced from which domain.
- Analyze how each traffic source generates revenues.
- Figure out where users are lost in the acquisition process, a multiple step process, and what and how long it takes for a user to become a power user.
- How to price traffic sources.
- Time to purchase of various user groups and optimize sales efforts accordingly.
This dashboard is the main Wix dashboard (the actual numbers have been modified). Click to enlarge.
This dashboard shows new users and new pages for a given period and serves as the main entry point into analysis.
The following dashboard tracks user behavior, looking at time to monetization of new users, as a function of how they use the Wix tools:
The last dashboard also compares use of Wix to conversion, focusing mainly on the amount of sites powered by Wix.