In a crowded online retail market, Web analytics have become essential. But visitor counts alone aren’t cutting it anymore for e-commerce firms looking to provide ultra-personalized shopping experiences.
“Budgets and marketing performance are under scrutiny,” explained Bob Barker, VP of corporate marketing for Alterian.”Measurement is critical for justifying ROI and ongoing activity. Standalone Web analytics is too isolated to provide visibility and functionality that marketers need.”
Integrating different data sources is a big part of putting analytics into context. Online retailers must combine data from multiple sources — social media, company Web sites, customer call centers and even bricks-and-mortar stores — to best serve customers.
“People are using tools to keep track of every time the company or product is mentioned,” said Jim Sterne, founding chairman of the Web Analytics Association. “The secret sauce is, integrating all of these data and getting insight from them.”
Social media is a major point of integration for Web analytics users these days. By monitoring and analyzing what consumers do and say on Twitter or Facebook, companies can gauge what they’re doing well, where they need to improve and where their customers’ interests lie.
“CMOs have to be where their customers are talking,” said Jim Schwab, VP of business development, social media, for Techrigy. “The excitement in monitoring and analytics is really driven by customers’ adoption of new technology.”
Bryan Kelly, CEO of Quantivo, agreed that social media is a hot space for Web analytics because these group spaces show consumer trends in real-time.
“Companies, especially e-tailers, need to be able to take advantage of this dynamic behavior,” Kelly said.
Once an integrated, nimble Web analytics program is in place, retailers must use it well. A personalized experience is one of the best strategies, said Marc Caltabiano, VP of marketing and products for online loyalty shopping program Mall Networks.
“The key is to use that data for personalization, so when people use the site they see offers that are more relevant to them,” Caltabiano said. “Instead of asking the user his preferences directly, use what you know about them and what they’ve done.”