Simply deleting extra data fields on your website can potentially save you millions, as shown in the article “Expedia on How One Extra Data Field Can Cost $12 M“. Expedia utilizes SAS® predictive analytics, which helps them understand their customer base statistically, based on web traffic and user behavior. They realized from studying this data, they they needed to eliminate ambiguous data on their online form that was misguiding their customers away from their product.
Expedia realized customers were inputting their bank name in the optional ‘Company’ field and proceeded to enter their bank address instead of their home address in the subsequent field. This was preventing the credit card verification process and consequently driving customers away. By simply removing one misguiding data field, an immediate improvement was noticed resulting in a $12 million profit per year.
We can all learn from this example. It is essential that the direction on your website is efficient for the average online user. Remember that people do not want to spend extraneous time on a website if they don’t need to. The information you provide on online forms must be straightforward and free of misunderstandings. Analytics can only obtain so much information about online users. One way to completely understand your website users’ behavior is to physically observe them navigating the website and note their confusions.
According to SAS analytics (http://www.sas.com/success/expedia.html), Expedia applies their resources in three ways: inventory selection optimization, website design and fraud reduction. Each facet of SAS analytics observes data in order to learn and optimize on previous customer behavior. These data collections ultimately prevent issues like credit card fraud and help interpret data that will be useful to a specific customer.
Although the primary purpose of using analytics is not eliminating problems such as these, it has proven to be useful in removing glitches to optimize a website’s performance. Analytics only provides statistical information which is why it is crucial to understand your customer in order to make your website as efficient as possible. Who knows, maybe removing a couple of optional fields on your website’s online form could result in similar benefits.