Founded in 2006 by former Space Shuttle technologist Timothy Childs and chocolate industry veteran Karl Bittong, TCHO manufactures and sells "obsessively good dark chocolate" sourced from cacao bean growers around the world. The San Francisco company works as a "direct, transparent connection between the farmers and the consumers, from the pod to the palate, from high concept to sensual experience".
TCHO's business DNA is rooted in Silicon Valley start-up ideals and San Francisco food culture. Louis Rossetto, founder of Wired magazine, is CEO. The company regularly launches limited "beta" editions and a/b split taste tests that encourage customers to provide feedback, in the same way that high-tech startups release and solicit feedback on technology.
TCHO.com functions as both an online store (currently the only way you can buy the chocolate) and a way to connect customers to the minds making TCHO. Cash Shurley, IT Director explains "TCHO is about helping you become a knowledgeable enthusiast, since without context and meaning, complete enjoyment of chocolate is impossible." A key part of this strategy is to make it easy and fun for customers to provide feedback on specific batches and editions of chocolate. "After we began using Google Analytics in February of 2008, one of the first things we did was look closely at how successfully people were finding and using our feedback page. We were able to move things around a bit and through some experimentation and monitoring the Google Analytics reports, figure out how to encourage much more feedback."
TCHO places a lot of emphasis on information and educating customers. "Tracking sales on the site is important to us, but we're also very interested in tracking what is being read within our store and blog environments", says Cash. "Through our videos, our blog and everything else on our site, we enjoy sharing our excitement about what we're doing. But, it's important to find the best ways to reach our customers - to look at where they linger on the site, find out whether they watch the videos, and understand what parts of the site are most and least popular". TCHO has found that Google Analytics is an easy way to get this information and share it with others in the company.
The marketing and web team at TCHO have found Google Analytics useful for identifying online initiatives that provide the biggest return on investment. The team regularly looks at the All Traffic Sources and Referring Sites reports to pinpoint new sources of traffic. "We look at everything we do and try to do it better, so we love using Google Analytics as our feedback mechanism," says Mag Donaldson, Director of Marketing. She goes on to explain that creating the filters they needed to exclude traffic from certain IP addresses in their reports was so easy that she didn't need her webmaster to do it for her. "You don't have to be an IT person or be a web analytics specialist to use it. That's important because we're a small company and all of us have to be generalists. Being able to quickly go through reports together and uncover new information quickly is essential."
Innovation continues at TCHO. Cash explains that the TCHO.com website is again being redesigned and that it will be launched on a new platform. "We're just getting started using Google Analytics to monitor sales conversions and click-throughs and I expect that we'll learn even more as we go along".
CEO Louis Rossetto says "We focus on the details of every facet of this business. How do you innovate - not just the chocolate making process but the business as a whole? You find the right people and the right tools and equipment. So, Google Analytics is perfect for a startup like ours and helps my web and marketing team execute on one of our core beliefs - to innovate and relentlessly improve".