DM News' Essential Guide to Interactive Marketing Technology: Web Analytics or 'Strategic' Web Analytics?

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I remember my old marketing days at Kraft General Foods managing Jell-O and Post Cereals. Though our job description included P&L responsibility, there was little true P&L accountability. Our focus was on positioning, new product development, advertising, promotion and strategic planning. Whether a specific campaign generated a meaningful return on investment often was unknown.

Boy, has marketing changed. This new world of digital marketing has ushered in an era of ROI focus. Marketing has become very accountable. As we create new programs, promotions and ads, we're expected to show clear, measurable results supported by ROI metrics. As recent chief marketing officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp's EPI division, I was expected to provide this regularly.

When it comes to our company and branded Web sites, we look to data coming from a range of Web analytics tools in the marketplace. I'm certainly a fan of these tools as they help monitor and dissect many aspects of customer Web movement, from where people come, at what point they drop out and what appears to work best.

Though these tools are important and useful, they measure only a slice of the strategic, revenue-driving landscape. In addition, the volume of available data can be daunting to most, sometimes hard to interpret and often lacking in competitive insight. Most importantly, when you finish sifting all of the data, do you end up with a short list of actionable, meaningful next steps or do you scratch your head and say, "OK, now what?"

The Internet and the digital capabilities that surround it are really direct marketing at its best. If only we could bring our analytical capabilities to the next level, the Internet provides almost unlimited opportunities for revenue growth. But to do so, marketers, and especially consumer packaged goods marketers, need to go beyond click-stream and traffic data, brand experience studies and search engine rankings and evaluate a wider range of strategic business drivers.

Here are some core strategic aspects of a digital marketing campaign not picked up in a standard analysis of Web site performance:

Customer acquisition. When you use search engine marketing, do you send customers to your Web site's home page (where they ask themselves, "So what am I supposed to do?") or to a custom, relevant landing page with a clear call to action ("To get your free sample, click here")?

Navigation. If a customer has gotten to page No. 5 of your Web site, can he return to the home page easily if necessary?

Customer retention. Do you ask for an opt-in e-mail address? If so, do you give them great reasons to respond and provide a strong "What's in it for them?" Unilever's Dove Soap does a great job in its "Join Your Dove" program, which is full of exclusive and valuable content and offers.

Revenue maximization. Do you maximize revenue potential by cross-selling products beyond the initial intended purchase? Have you ever gone to Amazon.com to buy a $20 book? The site automatically offers a related $22 book and bundles it with the first ("Get both for just $32"), thereby increasing revenue by 60 percent.

The industry needs to borrow from the powerful strategic platforms of classic consumer product marketing and apply them to the Web to create new measures beyond the basic metrics of standard Web analytics. Imagine if we could evaluate more broadly the overall capabilities of our sites and how they stack up versus our competitors and best practices. We would be better positioned to leverage them to much higher levels.

To explore this wider strategic landscape of our digital marketing efforts, we can borrow from CPG platforms and evaluate sites across what I refer to as a site's "Eight Strategic Revenue Driver Categories" to create a framework for strategic evaluation. The majority of what drives a site's effectiveness, and therefore ability to drive revenue on the site (or at retail), lies within how well the site performs in these eight categories:

  • Potential traffic and customer acquisition.
  • Home page (storefront) and branding.
  • Products and product merchandising.
  • Navigation and customer experience.
  • Entertainment value and stickiness.
  • Customer care and trust.
  • Call to action/revenue maximization.
  • Relationship building and customer retention.

For a refreshing view of Web site performance, look at your site and ask yourself how well you leverage these eight strategic revenue drivers. How well do your competitors? By applying this framework, you take a solid step toward expanding your site's marketing horizon.

Direct marketing via the Web and other digital media is growing at unprecedented levels. To seize the moment for your company, look beyond basic Web analytics and toward a wider strategic Web analytics landscape. As the industry expands our analytics horizons more broadly and strategically, we will have the tools to uncover deeper, more actionable insight to propel that growth engine even faster.

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