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Five Questions with Ryan Urban, Customer Acquisition & Analytics Manager, BrickHouse Security

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How to become a successful online retailer? Here are the key steps to take according to BrickHouse Security Customer Acquisition & Analytics Manager Ryan Urban who spearheaded its rise as an ecommerce force, culminating with a spot on the 2010 Internet Retailer Top 500 list. If you’d like to learn more about how BrickHouse thrives online, read our extensive interview with Ryan. (LINKS to: Part 1 and Part 2).

1. What are the three most important ecommerce metrics that you track?
First, I really dislike ecommerce metrics such as time on site or bounce rates. I don’t give them any value. The data can be meaningless. If you’re going to use bounce rates you need control rates. If you use really advanced analytics, bounce rates can be meaningful. But in general, though, I don’t think it means much unless you have really sophisticated analytics tools and know how to use them. Similarly, I don’t concentrate on macro stats like revenue or transactions.

  • Organic traffic is the first metric I track. I want to ensure that it is growing.
  • The second metric I closely follow is site conversion rate.
  • I also like revenue per unique visitor.

It is really simple: consistent flow of quality traffic and maintaining conversion are the keys to making money on the Web.

2. For a new retailer just starting out, what are three things you would recommend they do?
You can’t start top down. You need to drive the revenue first and then convert it. The first two employees I would hire are an SEO specialist and a conversion specialist.

The money that these two people bring in will pay for themselves 20:1. The money they make supports everyone else.

The third thing I’d do is invest money in your website. For example, Nextopia’s technology has such long-term positive revenue and ROI ramifications that it is just stupid not to implement it on your site.

3. Benefiting from hindsight, what are some things that you did that you wished you hadn’t?
It depends on the size of your company. In my personal experience, my mistake was failing to hire enough people who can drive revenue. To avoid this I would have hired more ROI optimizers and conversion optimizers.

Those are the people I want our company to hire. I’d also look at people who understand multivariate testing and really good persuasive copywriting.

When you look at filling these kind of testing and optimizing positions, I really can’t see any diminishing returns from hiring lots of people to fill them. There is a lot of room to grow before you dominate a niche so hire as many of them as you can afford.

4. What single thing that you’ve done has had the greatest impact on your business?
Without a doubt, it has been hiring analytics and SEO people. Since I joined BrickHouse Security, we’ve tripled our sales. Analytics really plays a crucial role in our success.

5. The proverbial magic wand…If you could wave one and invent some technology that would make your days easier, what would it do?
It would have to be cloning. I’d love to be able to clone my team. What you can never have enough of is people who can drive traffic and then convert it into paying customers. Sure, it is a human resources obstacle but we’re lucky because our CEO comes from an SEO background. He understands the importance of people who bring people to our website.

There is also a ton of technology that I’d love to have. I’d like really good call tracking. Attribution is an area where a lot of vendors are promoting solutions but, frankly, it is really difficult.

Thanks again to Ryan for taking the time to expound on his equation for success in the ecommerce world.

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