If you’re picturing your analytics data as another source of slideshow-fodder for your meetings, you need to focus on a much larger prize - analytics isn’t just about getting statistics for your spreadsheets. A robust analytics program will open up new capabilities for your digital presence and organization.
Effectively building an analytics program is difficult, however; and it’s not uncommon to wonder, “Should we even go through with this?” or “Will this end up being worth the cost and man-hours?” It’s okay - analytics can be a labyrinthine undertaking if you don’t have the experience and it’s certainly not one-size-fits-all.
At the bare minimum, creating an effective analytics program will allow you to get the right data to the right people in your organization and give you the reputation of being ‘the one who knows what’s going on.’ If that doesn’t get you excited or if your supervisors are balking at taking the next step, I’ve outlined some thrilling possibilities that result from a solid analytics framework. Having insightful analytics data in your corner can bring these hallmarks of today’s (and tomorrow’s) internet into your reach, while your less-savvy competitors are left counting page views like it's 2002.
Dream #1: Seal the deal with your window shoppers.
At Stratigent, one task we often undertake for our clients is helping them map their customer funnel – when there’s a multi-step conversion process, it’s important to know the abandonment rate for each step. By effectively targeting these window shoppers and missed conversions, you could see a huge lift in ROI over time.
Some abandonment is guaranteed but excessive amounts of visitors leaving in one step may be a sign that an element of your customers experience is poorly-executed, inconvenient, or worse, non-functional. If you’re not capturing this data, every person who leaves your funnel takes with them the information about why they left – it simply slips through your fingers. With an analytics system in place, or a Voice of Customer solution, even lost conversions can be valuable learning experiences.
But that’s not the exciting part - think those people who don’t convert are gone and all you can do is learn for next time? Not so fast! A well-designed data layer can effectively scoop them back into the funnel, snatching conversions from the jaws of defeat, by giving you the fuel you need to retarget them later on.
Thinking bigger, if you’re dealing in e-commerce and customers are abandoning at checkout with a certain product at an alarming rate or a product is scoring high on views but hasn’t turned into actual sales, you’ll know about it. Now you can test price variances in a controlled manner to lure those customers back, or just deliver that information to your marketing department and collect your pats on the back. Taking this information to your email marketing team can also help deliver more effective messaging and result in more wins.
Dream #2: Identify invisible marketing targets and empower your offline marketing.
A colleague of mine worked at an independent record label that managed smaller clients – each artist/band had perhaps 1-4 thousand devoted fans. They weren’t large acts but their followings were enough to keep these performers and the label afloat. Traveling was a financial bottleneck so tours were tight; the bands needed to go exactly where they had a following and not waste time elsewhere. It might have worked to naively send bands to a bunch of major cities and let the ‘Law of Large Numbers’ sell tickets at tiny venues, but then they’d be the smallest fish in a bunch of far-away massive ponds, making promotion tough.
If that record label had even the most simplistic analytics on their website, they would have the ability to collect useful & actionable data, including geographic data. Just by monitoring the locations of people viewing a tour schedule (looking for a city near them, no doubt) and combining it with the places where merchandise-buyers live, you might have half of what you need. And if one of your bands suddenly is getting a lot of attention in the UK (like Kings of Leon famously did before making it big here in their home country), you’ll know before you see any sales numbers.
Let’s go big picture again for those of you not running a record label. The internet is global, but physical channels are often local. Knowing you have a small following in certain places can let your marketing team nurture those leads locally. A cheap ad in a local subculture publication or a billboard in a certain neighborhood can push the kind of brand awareness that gets people talking. On top of that, you could save the investment allocated to create dozens of mobile apps and websites (that few fans actually use) designed to count the number of people asking for a live show in their town.
Needless to say, your analytics can go so much deeper than one dimension and the web isn’t the limit: incorporating your physical channels and offline campaigns is possible, though that’s a topic for another day.
Dream #3: Give your visitors exactly what they want, without having to ask.
Organizations spend a lot of time and money making their users experiences the best they can be, that’s no surprise. But without robust analytics, most site redesigns are based on guesswork. A/B and Multi-Variate testing is a hot topic in the digital channel, for good reason. Why do surveys to see what users like, when the results speak for themselves? A well-designed test can provide valuable feedback without explicitly asking for it.
For instance- if you change the layout of your main page, give half of your visitors the old variation and half the new one, then see if there are any statistically significant differences in your KPIs. If you’re collecting enough data to segment user demographics, maybe you’ll find that one segment really loves one version and others don’t. Now you can consider permanently changing what each segment sees when they visit your main page. You’ve made an instant optimization and your first step towards experience personalization, one of the current holy grails of the internet zeitgeist.
One great example is that of Upworthy, a website that functions mostly as a repository of left-leaning, socially-conscious videos. Their trick is A/B testing all of the titles to hone in on the perfect click-bait. Most titles contain cliffhangers and implications that you’ll be surprised (“He thought ____, but what happened next left him speechless”) Views are great, but they want shares, as implied by their motto, “Things that matter. Pass ‘em on.” After about a year on this path, they secured big money from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to push some videos around their issues. Upworthy is not the only site doing this, mind you. It’s a simple strategy, but their consistent million-hit results arguably pushed many other on the internet to follow suit. Simple testing like this made their empire, as well as those of Buzzfeed, Cracked and countless often-fraudulent, billion-dollar internet advertisers claiming “one weird tip” that burns bellyfat/makes you a millionaire/lets you live forever.
The bottom line? Results like this are attainable but this is one case where a rock-solid analytics program is not just a catalyst for efficiency, it’s an absolute requirement. Once your analytics system is in place, your development team can do amazing things. Without it, they could be stabbing in the dark or worse, harming less visible KPIs while they improve the surface-level ones like visit counts.
If you know you want an analytics program that can enable these things and more but you’re not sure where to start, get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll put our 12+ years of experience in the analytics space to work for you and help you tailor an analytics program that fits your needs.
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