Digital analytics is a concept having to do with consumer traffic on the Internet. From where do they come to visit your website?From which web page have they navigated to your website?What keyword or phrase did they use to land on your website? How long did the customer stay on your website? What did the customer do on your website? How many of the customers come to your website per day, per month, etc? Who are they? Young persons? Female? Male? Professionals? What device have they used? Simply put, this looks like consumer behavior on the net.
It is logical to assume that content will influence digital analytics. It is content, the key words or phrases, the ad words, etc., that drive visitors or traffic to websites.
A given content can lead to a better or different result when compared toanother content. Content should,therefore, influence results of any digital analytics exercise.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS CONTRIBUTION
This work is intended to explore and review the practice of digital analytics. Content will be examined and positioned as a necessary condition that precedes good performance in the firm’s effort to drive traffic to a site while digital analytics shall be viewed as a dynamic dash-board for the firm to monitor traffic behavior with the intention to provide appropriate responses and interaction with the traffic.
Being an initiative to understand the way web customers behave, digital analytics is akin to market research. As such, digital analytics can be seen as a tool for data collection and analysis to aid marketing decisions.
Digital analytics, like its mother – digital marketing – is a relatively new and dynamic concept. Many practitioners and scholars are contributing to its evolution almost on a daily basis. For this reason, there are many flashes of thoughts and definitions of digital analytics.
In this paper, the author has selected three of the popularized definitions for review and analysis for the purpose of conveying insight about the subject. Furthermore, the author has selected his preferred definition among the many that are available in offline and online literature.Finally, the author, using his own marketing experience as a practitioner and scholar of marketing, has advanced what he considers to be an improved definition of digital analytics based on the marketing philosophy.
After reading this Chapter, one should be able to:
1. Define the term “Digital Analytics”.
2. Relate digital analytics with market research.
3. Compare and analyze various definitions of digital analytics.
4. Suggest improvements in the definitions of digital analytics.
5. Explain the importance of Content.
6. Discuss the relationship between content and digital analytics.
7. Suggest ways of creating effective content.
8. List best practice content development strategies.
9. Select keywords and phrases to target unidentified audience(s).
10. Describe the scope of digital analytics.
11. List digital analytics tools.
12. Select a tool to suit a given digital analytics task.
13. Describe how digital analytics is carried out.
14. Define “Big Data”
15. Explain the role of digital analytics in facilitating analysis of big data.
16. Appreciate the impact of digital on online marketing.
17. List key success factors in digital analytics.
18. Assess the future of digital analytics.
DIGITAL ANALYTICS DEFINED
There are various viewpoints on the meaning of digital analytics. For instance, Avinash Kaushik gave what is regarded as a comprehensive definition of digital analytics when he referred to the term as “the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from your business and the competition to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers and potential customers have which translates to your desired outcomes (both online and offline)”. He went on to expatiate that with the right skills, processes and technologies, one can uncover the vital information about how to engage with customers, assess the effectiveness of online engagements and obtain the data with which to take action to improve the outcome – business results. (cited in Liang Cheng, 2014).
The definition implies the dynamic nature of digital analytics. Kaushik’s further explanation of this definition emphasizes the interactive nature and the necessity of customer engagement in every digital analytics process.
Of the various definitions, the one which may be considered apt and easy to relate with web marketing is that which has been fashioned by Srinivas Chari (2012). He defined digital analytics as “the collection, measurement, analysis and reporting of data for optimizing channel usage, that:
(a) Presents the entire spectrum of data across silos;
(b) Helps answer questions of Who? What? How? and Why? people visit your portal;
(c) Provides insight for business action”.
The non-technical approach in the definition makes it appealing and potentially broadly user-friendly. This is a strength in this definition because, in many cases, undue reliance on technical jargon to explain ideas has often alienated many and discouraged others from embarking on attempts to understand and use the ideas.
According to Judah Phillips (2013), digital analytics is the current phrase that describes a set of business and technical activities that define, create, collect, verify, or transform digital data into reporting, research, analysis, optimizations, predictions, automations, and insights that create business value. He noted that the activity of digital analytics, at the highest and best application, helps companies increase revenue or reduce cost. Although the definition conveys the nature and content of digital marketing through the key activities associated with it, there is no mention of the element of engagement, which should be the key to any discussion of digital analytics.
Gayathri Choda (2014) argues that digital analytics, web analytics and online analytics are different names for the same concept. According to her, “digital analytics is a marketing-centric practice, which helps businesses to gain better return on investment (ROI) for digital channels that are used by marketing departments. This process does not stop at collecting and reporting the data, but it is meant to provide optimised recommendations for marketing teams to make maximum use of available resources.
One can clearly see what digital analytics can do for a business and the various names associated with digital analytics, but there is no clear definition in Choda’s submission on this matter.
Based on his marketing experience as a practitioner and scholar of marketing, the author has advanced his own definition of digital analytics. According to him, digital analytics is the process and practice of dynamic online market research and study of web customer behavior designed to deliberately identify and generate information on those who visit a web portal or website, what they do on the web portal, why they visit, how they visit, what device they use to visit, from where they navigate to land on the website, when they visit, what key words brings them to the website, their responses to engagement, all for the purpose of collecting and analyzing online data on consumer behavior to foster greater insight and understanding to aid marketing decision making.
Someone may probably complain that this is an overly verbose and too long a definition. The motivation has been to encapsulate the merits and correct the drawbacks of the definitions advanced by Chari (op. cit.) and Kaushik (ibid) and, while doing this, to domicile and domesticate the definition to the field of marketing. The author’s sole defence is that digital analytics is a marketing tool and should be explained in non-technical jargon, using familiar marketing terms.
Content implies what gets the message on the web conveyed across to visitors on the organization’s website. The performance of content analysis helps to determine if the audience is receiving the message intended to be sent about the brand, whether or not the information they want is there, and if the site’s functionality is helping them find it. The result of the content analysis can, therefore, provide organisations with the capacity to revise their website’s functionality and message to strengthen consumer relationships (evolytics.com, 2014).
Digital analytics is embryonically tied to content. It is content that drives traffic to a website or any internet tool of exposure. The traffic generated by content is then a key element in the digital analytics process. The question then is: How does one improve or optimize content in such a way that the purposes of digital analytics will be fully served?
As a tribute to the increasing importance of digital analytics and content, the web is replete with ideas and submissions on how to improve web content. Two such sources shall be used here to indicate the direction of thinkers on the subject.
Internet Brands Inc. (www.wahm.com) have suggested six methods of improving website content to improve site traffic. As a general rule, Internet Brands Inc. have counseled that the first step is to take the time to explore ways to increase website engine ranking and then create a website with interesting products, services, and/or content. The six tips proposed are:
2. Market Research
3. Using simple website design
4. Search engine submission
5. Studying competing websites
6. Ensuring that the website is properly maintained
Creating Effective Content
Website content is an important element of marketing strategy. The content needs to be convincing, persuasive and give incentives in order to make visitors or readersto contact the organisation and, possibly, purchase a product or service. (McCarthy, 2014).
Website content that is well-crafted plays a key role in the attraction and education of visitors to an organization’s website. It also maintains search engine visibility so that online users can discover the organization and its brand. Indeed, website content is considered to be the most important aspect of a website. It has the potential to make or break a brand in the online market place. (Pulsemarketingagency.com, 2014). Website content is not really about the sale, but rather about online consumer behavior, interaction, the conversation and the engagement that may lead to the sale. (Zimmerman & Ng, 2013:356).
To create an effective and powerful website content, the following guidelines have been outlined by Pulsemarketingagency.com (2014):
1. Always provide value: In order to encourage interaction and nurture visitors to the conversion stage, web content needs to offer clients something valuable and useful. This can be achieved in the following ways:
a) Present a variety of content: Engage a wider range of website visitors and keep them interested by offering new and exciting ways for them to gather the information they need. Aside from product or service descriptions, the website could include white papers, e-books, articles, videos, tutorials, testimonies, or even discussion panels. Links can also be provided on each page to guide visitors to helpful resources on other sections of the website.
b) Sell the brand, not the product: Talk about thebrand rather than about the superiority of products or services. Focus on showing the website visitors that the brand is unique and it can solve their potential problems. Provide solutions, information, or resources that address the challenges visitors face in their daily lives.
c) Write for the relevant audience: Consider who is actually going to read the web content, what they should get out of it, and what is likely to motivate them to spend more time on the website. In so doing:
i) Research the target audience:Make the website contentmore personalized, relevant, and compelling by specifically defining who the potential visitors to the website are going to be.
ii) Speak a language they understand:Use simple language that can be understood by all visitors to the website. Endeavour to avoid the use of grammatical jargons, acronyms, or lengthy explanations. Instead, speak to visitors directly, with the kind of information they seek to learn about.
iii) Be real:Visitors need assurance that they are dealing with a brand that is “human”. Therefore, ensure that the content is kept professional, while genuine emotions are used to resonate with the audience.
iv) Guide viewers to the information they need.This can be achieved through the use of straightforward headlines, titles, and links, and always encourage that next step with a clear (and relevant) calls to action.
2. Stay relevant: Creating fresh content on a regular basis keeps visitors engaged and interested. This boosts the website’s relevance to search engines like Google. The more new content is produced, the more visitors are likely to keep checking for updates and the more Google will refresh the website’s search engine ranking. To stay relevant:
a) Share the news: Posting regular news promotes engagement and anticipation for more.This helps visitors to know exactly what to expect from thebrand. In addition, it allows the media and other industry leaders to see the brand’s unique insights, interests, and expertise.
b) Be a blogger:People generally rank blogs as the most influential digital resource when deciding what to buy (second only to primary brand and retail websites). Blogging is an easy, cost-effective way to engage website visitors, and for that reason, it is one of the most important assets of an online marketing strategy. A well written blog will, therefore:
i) engage and inform readers
ii) help prospective customers get to know your brand
iii) build a relationship with customers
iv) drive traffic to the website and boost organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
v) show industry expertise and help the brand become a thought leader
3. Pay attention to quality: The quality of a website’s content is of great importance. Take the time to cross those “t’s” and dot those “i’s” before considering anything to publish. To achieve quality, ensure the following:
a) Be precise:Maintain precision by writing exactly and accurately the content that visitors are expecting.
b) Back up researched data with sources: This validates information provided as well as shows how well-informed one is about current issues within the organisation’s industry.
c) Optimize for search engines: Craft each piece of content around 3 to 5 relevant keywords. Try to anticipate terms consumers might use to search for products or services.
d) Analyze: Check the website’s performance metrics regularly for insights on the audience, traffic sources, conversion rates, etc. This is one of the most important reasons for the existence of the website and its content.
In summary,effective and engaging website content potentially improves SEO, draws traffic, and forges a strong connection with potential customers. To drive visitors to a website, there is no alternative to ensuring that content stays valuable, relevant, and qualitative.
In a similar fashion, Zimmerman and Ng (2013:356) highlighted some tips for creating good content as follows:
1. Do not make everything serious and deep: People prefer light brand interaction with thought provoking questions and discussions garnished with a little homour.
2. Be Brief:Endeavor to keep website content and updates brief because too many words make visitors lose interest.
3. Stay on topic: Write on topics that are related to the organisation’s brand. Otherwise, it makes visitors wonder what the off-topic has to do with your brand.
4. Open-ended Content: Include questions and talks that provoke discussion. Give the website community an opportunity to respond by ensuring that everything posted invites a response.
5. Ensure error free communication: Proof read everything to be posted in order to eliminate errors, otherwise the community will think you do not you do not care enough to communicate with them error free.
6. Look for ideas from the website or blog traffic: People use terms, phrases and certain topics to land on the website content. These can also be used to create good content.
SCOPE OF DIGITAL ANALYTICS
Digital analytics covers a diverse number of analytic sources and marketing areas. This includes web analytics, social media analytics, direct marketing analytics, data mining etc. (www.digitalalwaysmedia.com). Digital analytics is wide in scope covering, but not limited to, customer characteristics, demographics, customer web navigation, the what, how, where, when and why of customer web traffic, customer engagement experience, data reporting and online marketing data-based decision making.
TOOLS OF DIGITAL ANALYTICS
There many tools that are used in the conduct of digital analytics such as:
1. Adobe Analytics
2. Google Analytics
3. IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics
4. Webtrekk Q3 (SaaS)
5. Webtrend Analytics (SaaS version)
6. comScore Digital Analytix
7. AT Internet Analyzer III
12. Celebrus (Speed-Trap)
14. Facebook Insight, etc.
Of all these, however, Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics have been recommended as the top 3 tools by the website, aboutanalytics.com, based on an AA Rating (http://www.aboutanalytics.com/select-tools):
1. Adobe Analytics
Adobe Analytics helps organisations to create a complete outlook of their business through the conversion of their interactions with customers to actionable insights. Through the use of intuitive and interactive dashboards and reports, businesses can sift, sort, and share information in real-time so as to provide insights that can be used to detect problems and opportunities available to a business.
Adobe Analytics has been described as the industry-leading solution that delivers the analytics and reporting capabilities that enable data-driven decision-making for organisations. It also provides critical insight to the optimization of marketing efforts, irrespective of whether they are used for delivering personalized experiences, driving better advert spending, or monetizing content with the highest ad rates possible (aboutanalytics.com).
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is another tool that is used in the conduct of digital analytics. It is probably the most commonly used free tool for web analytics. As a result of its perceived high quality, and coupled with the fact that it is free, its users range from the not-so-experienced analysts to the most advanced users. The basic dashboard can be customized to the user’s needs to give the desired insights in web traffic. Google Analytic does not only measure the chosen metrics but offers businesses the possibility to convert these to desired customer responses. It can also be used to segment visitors to your website, measure the effectiveness of email campaigns and optimize your conversion to sales.
3. IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics
According to the website, aboutanalytics.com, IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics is the complete, cloud-based digital analytics product that sets itself apart by providing marketers with data as well as with answers for increasing ROI. It enables marketers gain competitive edge because they get the benefit of state-of-the-art analytics, comparative benchmarks about industry peers, and advice on how the best performers are actually achieving success.
Coremetrics Web Analytics is at the heart of the IBM Coremetrics Digital Marketing Optimization Suite which itself is an integral part of the IBM Enterprise Marketing Management suite. It provides marketers with data warehouse on visitors’ digital journeys, across marketing touch points and channels, including offline interactions. This helps marketers to go from insight to personalized marketing action with just a few clicks. Because the analytics are tightly integrated with the IBM Coremetrics marketing applications and the IBM Unica Interaction Optimization solution, no IT efforts are needed to derive benefits from the process.
Coremetrics Web Analytics is also associated with the power to remove barriers in going from analytics to action to enable marketers achieve revenue increase by targeting prospective customers using relevant content across digital channels. It helps marketers increase visitor re-acquisition and retention rates, thus improving multichannel strategy formation and implementation. This contributes to the optimization of budget allocation and marketing mix. The tool is applicable in a wide spectrum of media channels including email marketing, mobile marketing, display advertising and social media marketing. (http://www.aboutanalytics.com/select-tools).
Facebook Insight is also a highly rated tool specifically designed for Facebook analytics. Given the size of Facebook membership, the significance of the tool in analyzing and measuring traffic on this major social media cannot be overstated.
There are many digital analytics tools out there but that should not pose much of a problem in deciding what tool to use. If a firm sets clear online marketing goals and uses targets to inform it of progress towards the goals. That process should constitute a practical framework to decide on what tool to select. What will work for the firm and its marketing initiatives should be the over-riding consideration.
HOW TO CARRY OUT DIGITAL ANALYTICS
Facebook Insight Analytics
To demonstrate how digital analytics works, Facebook Insight Analytics tool shall be described in this section. Facebook Insight Analytics is a tool which provides information about a user’s page’s performance and is available after at least 30 people have liked the Page. (Facebook.com, 2014).
Facebook Insight Analytics tool provides insights so that the page’s owner can have better knowledge of the people who interact on its page and show interest in its brand. Knowing how people are reacting to the content provided enables one to plan the type of campaign people will respond to. One can also take advantage of the additional benefit of demographics to appeal to gender, age and location of visitors. (Zimmerman & Ng, 2013:381).
Facebook Insights works by aggregating information on the sharing and engagement of the website links spread throughout Facebook. Website owners can see information for URLs from their domains through the Insights Dashboard.
KEY POINTS TO WATCH OUT IN DIGITAL ANALYTICS
Irina Len (2014) noted that mobile devices and social networks have come to stay asintegral parts of consumers’ daily lives. Businesses cannot avoid the acquisition and processing of the data from these sources.Businesses need them to improve their marketing performance. Econsultancy, in their 8th edition of the Digital Analytics Buyer’s Guidereport (2014), highlighted the following key current trends to watch out in digital analytics. (Irina Len, 2014):
1. Digital Analytics Will Encompass More Sources of Data
In the current era of digital marketing, analytic technologies are mainly focused on the measurement of website performance and desktop traffic seems to be no longer sufficient. With the shift towards mobile and cross-platform campaigns in marketing, the scope of data analytic tools has expanded drastically. In a twist to justify the current reality, Econsultancy renamed their research from Web Analytics Buyer’s Guide to Digital Analytics Buyer’s Guide. This is to justify the fact that Digital now encompasses so much more than just the web.
2. Excitement Around Big Data Drops, But Its Potential Remains High
Big data is no longer considered as the most exciting opportunity of the upcoming years by most marketers. Nevertheless, there are other opportunities (such as customer experience, personalization, and multi-channel campaign management). These are all based on the proper usage of data as a foundation in business operations.
3. The Understanding of The Mobile User Is Crucial
It is imperative to understand the users of mobile devices. Activities of users on mobile devices provide valuable data to marketers. Although mobile analytics are expanding fast, there is still so much uncertainty in comparing mobile with desktop in terms of performance. Econsultancy in partnership with Adobe in their report,Finding the Path to Mobile Maturity, found that despite the growth of marketing spending on mobile analytics, the understanding of mobile users is still lagging behind.
4. Measuring Data From Social Media Though A Challenge, Is a Necessity
It is a daunting challenge for most businesses to measure and analyze consumers’ activities on social media sites.(Irina Len, 2014). Another of Econsultancy report on marketing budgets, as noted by Len (ibid), demonstrates that there is a remarkable increase in investments in social listening and online reputation management. That notwithstanding, measuring the ROI on social media investment is a challenge to most businesses today, as only few marketers claim they have the ability to measure it.
USES OF DIGITAL ANALYTICS
In life of every modern business organisation, the failure to track and get an understanding of what is happening on their websites can be damaging, just like the failure to implement an effective marketing plan. Digital analytics and its increasing sophistication have, however, eased the task for businesses.(University Alliance, 2014).
In simple and straight forward terms, digital analytics is used to measure how many visitors a site is drawing, who those visitors are and whether they are buying the products and/or services that the site is offering. The correct interpretation of this information has the potential to help business owners effectively administer their websites or implement their marketing plans in order to provide greater ROI.(University Alliance, 2014).
IMPLICATIONS FOR ONLINE MARKETING PRACTICE
The power of digital analytics and its utility to marketing can hardly be over-emphasized.Several scholars have highlighted the value of digital analytics. Digital analytics assumes an all important role in providing the edge that marketers are looking for (Srinivas, 2012). According to Judah Phillips (2013), digital analytics helps companies increase revenue or reduce cost. He noted that the performance of digital analytics activities require coordinating processes, people, and technology internally within a company and externally from partners and vendors to produce analysis that answers business questions, makes recommendations based on mathematically and statistically rigorous methods, and informs successful business activities across many functions from sales to marketing to management.
CHALLENGES AND DIFFICULTIES OF DIGITAL ANALYTICS
A number of challenges have bedeviled the effective use of digital analytics by marketers in most organizations. Mike Dixon (2014) has outlined some of the challenges as follows:
1. Finding the right analytics tool for the job: As discussed in the earlier section on success factors, finding the right analytics tool is a critical factor. This poses a challenge to most organizations. Deciding which analytics platform to use is often an issue. Google Analytics is a free product which happens to be the first option for many marketers, especially small businesses that have limited resources. It, however, has its limitations.
2. Hiring the Right People:Another very important aspect that poses a challenge in digital analytics is to ensure that you have the right people in place to be able to help set a sound analytics strategy, implement the code, analyze the data and make recommendations.For organizations that are just starting, it is recommended that online marketing consultants are used as and when required. It may not be financially feasible to hire a full complement of experts to man this function.
3. Training: Having the right people in place is very important; so is keeping their skills in line with current trends and new technologies. Besides, training existing staff to be able to pull basic reports themselves is also very important.
4. Tracking Cookies Vs Tracking People: Dixon argues that digital analytics tracks data on cookies and does not track people. It tracks cookies on devices. This leads to multiple tracking of individual users. Some users could visit a site via different devices such as their laptop, their mobile phone and their tablet. This one person would be tracked with three separate cookies, and, therefore, as three different users. This poses a challenge to marketers and organizations in their digital analytics efforts.
5. Cookie deletion/Private Browsing:It is a fact that a lot of people now visit websites using private browsing mode and this constitutes a challenge in digital analytics. Private browsing only stores cookies and browser history for the duration that the window is opened. As soon as the browser is closed, all cookies and data that would normally be stored by the browser are deleted. This means that any time a user visits a website in Private Browsing mode, they are tracked as a new user and duplication occurs. The good news is that private browsing does not stop their internet activity being viewed by third parties – such as ISPs, governments or hackers.
6. Tracking traffic from Apps:Web analytics system looks at header information that is stored in the web browser to work out whether there was a referral and if so, the URL of that referral. A referral occurs when a user clicks on a link from one website (probably in an affiliate marketing arrangement) to another in a web browser. When a user clicks on a link from an app, the mobile device starts up a new browser session and sends the user to that website. The problem here is that the analytics tool will not see a referral in the headers because the user did not click a link in a web browser, but in an in-app link.
7. Implementation: Having a standardized implementation across the board really helps with insight and analysis. However it is not always easy and this poses a challenge.
8. Big Data: Big data has been likened to “teenage sex”. Everyone talks about it; nobody really knows how to do it. Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it. (Dan Ariely, 2013). Meanwhile, Big Data is effective mostly when the organization is dealing with millions of rows of raw and unstructured data that needs a lot of filtering. In essence, tools such as Google Analytics are big data platforms. That the data is “big” itself poses a challenge to digital analytics. What should be discarded? What should be used? These are not questions with straight forward answers.
SUCCESS FACTORS IN DIGITAL ANALYTICS
A number of factors account for success in digital analytics. To achieve success in digital analytics, it is important for the organization to understand and embrace these factors as outlined by Trustradius.com (2014):
1. Executive Level Support: Top management support is necessary to achieve success in any digital analytics initiative in the organization. This implies that digital analytics is not a chanced event but a conscious effort by the organization’s top management to make use of digital data in improving business processes.
2. Understanding of Key Questions: The understanding and the ability to correctly answer certain basic questions helps in terms of technology choice and implementation. That is the main purpose of and objective of the proposed digital analytic initiative.
3. The Right Analytics Team: The right analytics team is needed to staff your organization’s digital analytics programme. This, however, depends on the size of the end-user or how big the company is.
4. Find tools that fit your organization’s analytics maturity level:The ability of an organization to find the tool that fits its analytics maturity level is another success factor in digital analytics. Selecting the right tool is much critical. It is not about comparing the features of one tool with that of another. Instead of doing that, an organization is expected to think about its ability to use the tool. This requires an assessment of its team’s skill set. Are they more of marketers, data scientists or IT oriented? What process and methods are used to handle analysis requests or communicate insights?
5. Quality of Content: It is worth repeating that the content is critical for visitor traffic. As it is traffic that gives birth to the results of analytics, it is necessary to take steps to ensure that content is relevant to the firm’s business and the goals it seeks to achieve through digital presence. (Huffingtonpost.com, 2014).
BEST PRACTICE DIGITAL ANALYTICS
Success in digital analytics does not happen by accident. It requires a lot of planning and thought, and action. Specifically, building a best-in-class digital analytics function in an organization requires the following, according to Chuck Hemann (2014):
1. Building Analytics Toolbox
Building a high quality digital analytics function in the organization requires a consideration of search analytics, content analytics, audience analytics and influencer analytics tools. Having a quality listening tool is also important. This requires due diligence? Because most of the data are in silos at this point, according to Hemann, it requires a comprehensive analytics toolbox.
2. Identifying a Team Leader
It is necessary to identify someone who possesses leadership qualities to build the capability required. It is possible that someone on the team already has the required capability. Firms should build in-house capacity, preferably, as part-timers may not be ideal. Another approach is to hire a consultant if the volume of work does not require a full-timein-house staff.
3. Building the Rest of the Team
Having found a team leader, the next step should be to hire people to support the leader. The support staff should be adequate in terms of mix of required skills to deliver.
4. Developing Digital Data Use Cases
The most common uses of digital data are for public relations and marketing. Goals of digital analytics have to be outlined from the very beginning. The goals influence the kind of data collected, the way the information is analyzed and to what uses the analytics reports are put.
5. Determining the Reporting Cadence
One of the biggest issues with digital data is its volume. Marketing a large number of brands meansthat enormous amounts of data will be encountered.If one imagines what companies like Procter and Gamble, Sainburys and Unilever may be going through, this point is better appreciated. Tools that are equipped to handle big data are the way forward in tackling the challenges of big data. Digital analytics is one of such tools. There will be some metrics that are better for annual reporting, while others will be better for more real-time reporting. Whatever the cadence, it should be clearly spelt out for the right analytics tool to be selected and applied.
THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL ANALYTICS
The future of digital analytics appears to be a bright one in a vibrant environment full of economic opportunity (Phillips, 2014:329). A research firm, International Data Corporation (IDC) claims that between now and the year 2016, the business analytics market will grow at a compound rate of 9.8%, reaching $50.7 billion. Besides, a global job aggregator, Indeed.com claims a 4000+% increase (and rising) in digital analytics job trends. Clearly, the future will involve digital analytics in the economy, in business, and in consumer environments. (Phillips, 2014:329).
According to Phillips, the collection of data, its application in solving business problems and value generation will continue to evolve and spread in importance across industries. In his words “Data and the resulting analytics from it will continue to tendril and pervade into everyday life – from the ubiquity of recommendations for related content already widespread on the web to penetration of more powerful applications and devices to wearable devices such as Google glass” (Phillips, 2014) and more recently Samsung Galaxy Gear.
Phillips describes this evolution, The Analytical Economy:
“The Analytical Economy describes how data, research and analytics are being used in traditional, new, and different ways by unifying insights derived from more than one channel (or source) about audiences, customers and media and using those unified insights to create, evolve and optimize existing and new methods for creating global commerce and culture”. (Phillips, 2014:329).
“Big Data is the biggest game-changing opportunity for marketing and sales”. (Gordon, Perrey&Spillecke, 2013).Gordon et al. (2013) observe that many companies have already leveraged Big Data and converted its promise into reality. They argue that companies who use Big Data and analytics effectively have increased productivity rates and profitability 5 to 6 percent higher than their peers.
In another analysis of over 250 customer engagements reported by Weber and Henderson (2014:34) in a period of over five years, McKinsey drew the conclusion that companies who put data at the center of their marketing and sales decisions have been able to improve their marketing return on investment by 15 to 20 percent. This is equal to $150 – $200 billion of additional value based on global annual marketing expenditure of an estimated 1 trillion. (Gordon, Perrey&Spillecke, 2013).
Obtaining business value in “clicks, shares and swipes” requires the ability to capture data that is relevant, integrate data from disparate sources, maintain and store massive amounts of information in order to detect the important signals through the application of advanced analytics. (Weber & Henderson, 2014:34). Digital analytics as a methodology and tool, has a role in this emerging trend.
Gordon, et al. (2013),argue that data itself is just about 1s and 0s. There is no value in that. For companies to succeed in this data driven age, they must do more than that. What more should such companies do?
1. They must use analytics to identify valuable business opportunities.
2. They must start with the consumer decision journey.
3. They must keep it fast and simple. (Weber & Henderson, Ibid).
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In the course of this discourse, it has been established that digital analytics is a necessary tool to understand the behavior of internet traffic to any given website. If knowledge is power, then, knowing the behavior of visitors to a website can be a potent source or power for optimizing the Return on Investment for a given website. The following recommendations are submitted as possible best practices, based on the conclusions arising from this discussion and review:
1. Customers visit websites for different purposes. It is recommended that website owners design the way they elicit data from visitors so as to optimize digital analytics.
2. Customers use keywords to search information. It is recommended that website owners carefully study and discover relevant keywords associated with their offers. Such keywords, if included in the web pages content, can drive traffic to the website.
3. Digital analytics is capable of indicating if the right keywords are contained in the web pages under consideration. It is, therefore, recommended that web owners institute the practice of digital analytics to serve as a tool for discovering whether the right thing is being done.
4. There are free digital analytics tools such as Google analytics. This means that even small enterprises that cannot afford the fees of digital analytics experts can have some form of access to this useful tool. It is recommended that small and medium sized enterprises seriously consider the use of digital analytics by taking advantage of the free tools.
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