Break Through With Digital Analytics
:: By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief ::
In the hyper competitive digital landscape, the only way to thrive (not just survive) is to increase familiarity with, and reliance on, analytics. And the time is now to break through.
The market for Web analytics solutions and services has never been greater, expected to more than double in the coming years, from $1.33 billion in 2014 to $3.09 billion by 2019 (wsm.co/analytics2019).
Digital measurement and reporting is playing an ever-more prominent role in the enterprise. According to a recent study by eMarketer, 85 percent of marketers worldwide are feeling the pressure to understand the business value of their marketing efforts. If your brand is ready to take the next step toward digital greatness, analytics is the only way to break through.
What is often so challenging about digital analytics is that it can be so incredibly varied in both scope and implementation. Anything can be measured (although many Web professionals don’t measure anything) and that presents some significant problems - namely the management of people, processes and, most importantly, profits. Fortunately, there are a vast number of opportunities (both technology and tactics) for every type of Internet business to get more out of their digital presence thanks to analytics.
Internet professionals cannot manage what they cannot measure, however, so those motivated to propel their enterprises forward and break through, better start measuring everything that affects the digital experience.
If you’ve spent any time owning or operating a Web business, you’ll recognize and be familiar with the vastness of information related to analytics. Breaking through, for our purposes here, really means finding new ways to understand the data that digital properties and virtual communities generate, in order to drive deeper engagement with those audiences and increase the revenue companies can secure. The following are some of the best available analytics solutions and approaches for e-commerce merchants, information publishers and digital service providers.
Visualize the Data
Check out 10 of the tech world’s best data visualization dashboards including Chartbeat, Klipfolio, Domo and others at wsm.co/topvisual
The Fundamentals of Analytics
Even if websites and digital enterprises aren’t planning a major investment in analytics, they should still focus on the fundamentals - having a clear plan on what to measure of course (e.g. specific events like a link click or completed goals such as an actual sale or form lead), but perhaps more importantly, making sure it is being measured correctly.
One of the most common failures in analytics and digital measurement is the most easily fixed - not having the right tracking code in the right places. Most analytics platforms provide validation, but there are some standalone solutions that work well for a quick check. GA Checker, for example, “spiders” a site like a search engine and identifies which pages contain Google Analytics code and which ones do not.
Without confidence that digital information is being gathered correctly, what hope do Internet professionals have of obtaining an accurate view of performance and potential? Analytics initiatives can quickly seem wasteful if the fundamentals are ignored - take this step and put your brand on the right track to break through.
Internet retailers have a vast amount of information at their disposal; data that can be used to accelerate their success and provide a better user experience. It can be surprising to see how just one view into data-driven activity can influence a fundamentally important metric like conversion and revenue, for example.
“Analytics in and of itself is often an intimidating term and can create this expectation of massive spreadsheets and deep analysis,” said Ed Stevens of Shopatron. “For me, the analytics making the difference are simple and actionable.”
Retailers/merchants with both an offline and online presence are turning to solutions such as Shopatron to help bridge the often massive analytics gap, providing a meaningful view into product performance, and improving operational efficiency along the way.
The company’s recently released “inventory lookup” tool, for example, essentially shows a retail customer whether or not a product is in stock. Shopatron, however, logs all the searches conducted on the website (storing the data on its servers) and makes the data available for review to store allocators and merchandisers. If you are in charge of putting product inventory in store (increasingly important with “Ship to Store” and “Pick Up In Store” gaining interest among retailers and consumers), it may be one of the most appealing solutions on the market today as it provides information on the products that people are searching for that previously could not be found - at least not for each location.
“If there is any reasonable number of searches, then you can go and stock that product,” said Stevens. “It’s basic, it’s obvious, and it’s a breakthrough.”
What Shopatron presents, as well as many of its competitors in the e-commerce software space, is a way to bridge the gap between the offline and the online. There’s still, of course, a great deal of opportunity to break through on the Web itself thanks to the increasing sophistication of measurement and reporting tools like Google Analytics - particularly for those retailers that know analytics is how they must break through.
Google rolled out “Enhanced Ecommerce” in early Aug. 2014, offering online retailers deep insights about visitors’ behaviors. E-commerce enterprises now have access to a meaningful view into their website traffic, shifting to more of a product perspective instead of the traditional page perspective to which most have grown accustom. The revamped approach represents a significant and powerful shift in analytics, providing sellers with data about customer behavior and a method for measuring the effectiveness of merchandising activities.
The changes essentially introduce a series of funnel-based reports, greater support for Google Tag manager and the use of the Product ID dimension – giving Internet retailers the ability to see which products convert well and which are abandoned frequently, visualize where shoppers dropped out of the funnel, create richer user segments and more. With conversion rates often topping out at 3 percent, any change whatsoever in product strategy could result in massive revenue improvements over time. Website Magazine has assembled a hands-on guide for getting started with Google’s revamped analytics approach for e-commerce merchants at wsm.co/ecommanalytics.
It’s time for retailers to get a handle on their digital measurement initiatives. A recent survey from business analytics software Looker (wsm.co/lookerdata) revealed that 66 percent believe the number one way to ensure a successful shopping season was to understand customer behavior when the aim was to drive sales and build loyalty. Four in ten, however, feel they are ineffective when it comes to using data to improve their business’s performance.
Social Media Engagement
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn all drive traffic to websites (and, in some cases, a great deal of it). Nonetheless, it’s still not easy to prove the value that investing in the social channel provides.
Fortunately, social media workers are putting more emphasis on the value of these networks and their ability to drive conversions and are turning to some powerful tools to make it happen.
Popular social media management platform Hootsuite (ranked fourth in Website Magazine’s “Top 50 Social Media Management Solutions” on page 14), for example, is now providing its users with deeper audience insights thanks to the company’s recent acquisition of social analytics solution uberVU.
The analytics technology will be combined with Hootsuite’s social management platform to provide enterprises with a better understanding of audience behavior, which ultimately should lead to the development of more meaningful social conversations. uberVU’s technology aims to help businesses identify key influencers, spot real-time spikes in engagement and recognize important mentions. In addition, the platform offers insights on audience sentiment, location and demographics.
The acquisition could help Hootsuite expand the functionality of its enterprise solution, as uberVU’s user base consists of more than 200 enterprise level customers including 3M, NBC, Heinz and Getty Images. Website Magazine readers will find many of the vendors included within Top 50 this month, which is available online at wsm.co/oct14top50, to offer competitive or at least supplementary analytics tools to measure performance and better inform their social media initiatives.
Google Analytics Dominates
BuiltWith reports that of the top 10,000 websites, more than 70 percent currently use Google Analytics. While it is certainly a popular and powerful solution there are many viable alternatives ‘Net professional should consider. Check out Website Magazine’s “Master List of Digital Analytics Solutions” at wsm.co/danalytics
Content Marketing & Conversion
The purpose of measuring website activity is to obtain both a quantitative and qualitative understanding of what influences performance. Increasingly, content is the source of influence, but what’s the best way to measure it?
Internet professionals, content marketers specifically, should focus primarily on reach, engagement and sentiment, as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) of each. Measuring reach, for example, will yield metrics including unique visitors, whereas engagement might show a metric such as bounce rate or time on site. Sentiment on the other hand, is a little more difficult to measure. Read more about three solutions enabling Internet professionals to know more about consumers’ attitudes, feelings and emotions about their companies and their products at wsm.co/feelings3.
So, what metrics are the right ones for enterprises to measure if the aim is to understand more about how users feel and react to a brand and the impact on revenue?
Ideally, the KPIs put in place will enable content marketers to compare channel performance to determine where traction is received, so they can stop creating content for non-productive channels, identify which content produced in the enterprise inspires the most engagement, and evaluate which have generated the most activity, spotting keyword and topic trends, for example, for future content production. More specifically, consider measuring content performance by revenue as well more granularly with metrics such as profit per customer.
Ultimately, what marketers should be after is an understanding of how their content satisfies the broader business objective. For example, if the aim is lead generation (in the case of a service provider), the number of form completions and downloads are effective. These metrics can be tracked through a CRM or marketing automation system and reveal how often visitors access gated content. Email and blog subscriptions (even though RSS has fallen out of favor somewhat, replaced by social media metrics) are also important channels to keep a digital eye on.
Many content marketing efforts can only, or rather should only, be measured indirectly. Many popular analytics solutions provide some means of tracking specific events, but it is important that marketers establish a monetary value for each content asset as well as action or event (e.g. a form lead is worth $25). Within Google Analytics for example, analysts can look at the page value data which assigns value to each page by corresponding how often it is viewed on the way toward a conversion. Powerful tools and accurate attribution will provide the force required to break through.
Revenue attribution is arguably the end-all, be-all of understanding how content performs, but there are some solutions that are enabling Internet professionals to compare their own efforts to that of their competitors and get a better view into what’s working and what’s not for others.
GinzaMetrics, for example, recently announced the availability of its new Audience Insights feature within its enterprise marketing strategy and SEO platform. Audience Insights provides users the information they need to stay ahead in the marketplace by automatically tracking the Web presence of their competitors. The feature will automatically discover and report on activity on social networks, email marketing, offsite content and audience data for competitor sites.
As with other GinzaMetrics tools, Audience Insights is completely customizable, allowing the customer to rank competitors according to individual viewing and reporting needs. The intuitive dashboard uses a simple green check mark to easily identify the organization with the most traffic. In addition to the networks discovered automatically through the platform, customers can modify each network profile for their own site as well as for their competitors. GinzaMetrics plans to release future versions of Audience Insights that will include trend tracking and views that include overall content campaigns.
With an understanding of how content is performing on its own website, as well as how competitors’ content is performing, an enterprise is closer than ever to breaking through. It’s far from the last step however. Internet professionals must eventually turn their attention to customers directly and do everything in their power to provide a satisfactory interaction…every time.
The ultimate aim is a loyal customer, a repeat client that just can’t get enough of the information you publish and the brand you present. To understand just how well your content is inspiring recurring activity, you need to ask the right questions. Discover five ways to make better use of content and increase loyalty metrics at wsm.co/loyalcontent.
User Experience Measurement
Imagine having a 360-degree view of a customer’s digital experience – everything from understanding what a user is doing on a website to, possibly, even why he or she is doing it.
ClickTale recently announced an integration with Adobe Analytics, which just might provide that coveted 360 view and, even more importantly, ways to monetize it. The integration enables companies to create revenue-generating customer experiences based on heatmaps and playback of anonymous user browsing sessions identified in Adobe Analytics segments.
“The ClickTale and Adobe Analytics integration has given us a much deeper understanding of how different customer segments experience and navigate our website,” said Ashish Braganza, director of global business intelligence, Lenovo. “It’s the perfect combination of segmentation and visualization.”
Website owners can now use the insights from ClickTale to test and deliver an optimal user experience for each audience defined in Adobe Analytics.
Customer Service Analytics
The true measure of success for many enterprises is just how well their customers are being serviced, and there are an increasing number of solutions to make that happen.
Zendesk, for example, recently released an analytics tool for enterprises designed to measure and visualize the impact of customer service interactions.
The customer service platform’s new Insights tool filters metrics by such categories as support channels, groups of agents and specific sets of customers; zoom into a worldwide map of support inquiries; and compare themselves to industry peers through the Zendesk Benchmark, which combines customer service data from more than 23,000 participating Zendesk customer accounts globally.
“Organizations today are facing a data deluge, and they want information that they can use to reshape their operations and customer relationships,” said Sam Boonin, Zendesk’s vice president of products. “With Insights, Zendesk does the heavy lifting to help support leaders apply their data and make business decisions that improve their relationships with customers.”
Video Advertising Analytics
While video consumption continues growing at a phenomenal rate, digital advertisers remain challenged to understand just how well these creative assets are influencing prospective users. That could change by changing what is being measured.
Digital advertising company AdKnowledge recently partnered with Realeyes, an emotion analytics platform that measures how people feel and react when they watch video content. AdKnowledge is able to offer its advertisers reporting on how audiences respond emotionally to the video campaigns it delivers across social, mobile, apps, games and sponsored content, enabling marketers to make better decisions to test creative, plan media spend and analyze performance.
Discover alternative solutions to measure this non-traditional digital experience at wsm.co/watchmetrics.
The Many Ways to Break Through
Analytics is a tricky digital beast, and there is no one-size-fits-all program to tackle it. The way you measure, report and ultimately optimize is far different (and should be) from your competitors. The idea is to find opportunities to break through – to find the data points meaningful to improving the digital experience for both your unique customers and enterprise.