Score big with goal-driven Web analytics

John Squire
Chief strategy officer, Coremetrics

Online retailers know Web analytics and automated marketing campaigns are a must, particular in today’s economic environment. Almost as important as implementing analytics tools is finding a vendor that fits your organization’s mission. Web analytics vendors differ on many dimensions, such as quality of customer support, access to best practice talent, corporate culture and analytical tools focused on specific business questions. You must find an provider who is not just providing a service, but also integrates well into your overall structure to support your objectives.

There are several things to consider before you make a decision on what type of analytics provider to work with:

First, remember that cash and customer are king. Having a good Web analytics solution will help you understand what is selling and where you need to send your best offers and specific products based on buying and browsing patterns. Look for a company that offers transparency and access to the rich customer data so you can share that information with all of the marketing optimization tools that you use.

Next, evaluate skill sets. Often people look for companies best characterized as Web analytics vendors. More often than not the providers that will have the biggest impact on your organization are ones that optimize your online marketing strategies automatically. Of course, analytics is a key piece of this strategy, but it’s only part of the picture. No two businesses operate identically. Companies must demand an optimization platform that is designed to integrate with a wide range of real-time marketing systems and processes.

Finally, pursue a straightforward implementation: There is one “must have” before you sign on the dotted line. Secure a service level agreement (SLA) goal. This is a big part of a company’s willingness to stand behind its products and services, if the SLA seems off, so too may be the company. Look for a vendor that can offer you an implementation that follows a straightforward path that many other successful clients have followed.

The Takeaway
Integrate analytics data with a range of marketing systems and processes

Brian Lewis
VP, Engine Ready

When advising clients seeking analytic solutions, the primary decision-making criteria should be goal-centric versus driven by features. Many times, though, clients say, “Well, it’s very important that the analytics solution give our senior management a customizable dashboard so they can easily evaluate the metrics important to them.” That response is somewhat akin to a prospect in the market for an automobile saying the most important aspect of the vehicle is “the ability to drive it.” Despite the usefulness and ubiquity of customizable dashboards, a successful analytics decision requires much greater introspection into what drives organizational direction, strategies and profitability.

So where does one start? First recognize that although Web analytics should serve as one of your primary tools for evaluating marketing effectiveness, it is by nature digitally-oriented, designed to measure digitally-oriented things. That’s perfect for ROI-based metrics such as online sales and costs by marketing initiative and date. Analytics can also measure engagement metrics such as time on page, number of page views and time on site. However, Web analytics cannot give us a direct pulse on the quality of the visit or how the visit impacted our brand. Analytics will also not give you guidance on how your products, services or brand are being talked about on the Web.

Identifying analytics criteria for multichannel merchants should be a cross-functional project involving at a minimum: marketing, sales, customer service, IT, financial reporting and accounting, and perhaps warehouse departments. There are likely to be many users of the analytics data, and it is usually helpful to remember that the analytics should meet the data needs of both middle management for quick tactical decision-making on individual campaigns and resource needs, as well as of senior management for ensuring that longer range promotional and product strategies are aligned with organizational goals.

The Takeaway
Define what to measure and who will use the data, and design accordingly

Jose Santa Ana
Director of product marketing, multichannel analytics, Omniture

The number of channels available to marketers for reaching their target audience has been growing dramatically over the years. Following that evolution, businesses have expanded beyond traditional media to a multitude of channels to reach customers.

However, merely working in multiple channels is not in itself a strategy. Businesses must understand customer behavior and preferences and let that dictate marketing strategy. Companies need valuable information on different customer attributes and how these affect purchase behavior, product selection, sales patterns and channel preferences. This understanding can no longer be achieved by looking at only one channel. Businesses need to bring all this information together across channels in order to see the big picture.

However, bringing together all data from all channels all at once is too ambitious and will likely result in failure. Businesses should start with one easily measurable channel and augment it with data from one other channel. As technologies for Web analytics have matured in the last few years, this is a logical place to start. Most companies with a Web presence should already be analyzing customer behavior on the Web. For retailers, the additional channel would be in-store customer behavior and purchase patterns derived from point-of-sale systems. For other verticals with heavy call center use, such as financial services, travel or telecommunications, analysis of call data merged with Web data would provide quick returns.

By following this approach and then later adding additional channels once the two-channel analysis has yielded benefits, businesses are more likely to develop a successful multichannel strategy to retain and grow their customer bases.

The Takeaway
Ease into data integration by merging data from two channels at the outset

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff
VP of marketing, Webtrends

As online marketing programs become more sophisticated, online data by itself often proves less than sufficient. When it comes to e-commerce, retailers need deep insight into their online information and an effective campaign should integrate both online and offline data. While multichannel buyers comprise a strong portion of the retail market, targeted insight into offline data can help to uncover the customer references, sales trends and targeted marketing and remarketing opportunities essential to online retail success.

In the online world, we have a wealth of data that are not available offline and, as expected, the offline identity for many e-commerce consumers can be difficult to understand. This creates an opportunity for organizations to mine the information that is provided in Web analytics services to uncover trends in previously unidentified segments. In order to unlock the value of information Web analytics tools capture, we must expect and demand analytics tools and vendors to easily export any measure for integration into our other business systems, such as CRM or inventory tracking, or further analysis of a third-party tool, such as a data warehouse or business intelligence solution.

The data from Web analytics can be integrated with data from an offline database. The integration requires analysis to find the common key elements of the data, to make the combined data actionable and powerful. For example, a travel provider might integrate detailed visitor search and online behavior to its in-house CRM database to develop propensity and segmentation models. An auto-retailer can connect online activity to offline visits within a year and then compare the sales cycle adding online visitor data to add to a customer’s offline CRM profile.

For effective e-commerce, the goal is to dig deeper into visitor-level data and tie it in with both online and offline customer actions. A deeper understanding of offline data, integrated with online data, will better enable merchandisers, marketers, analysts, business planners and others to gain greater understanding of their customers.

The Takeaway
Integrating online and offline data should be the goal for multichannel retailers

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