As you track your web initiatives, think about how much time you spend reconciling or explaining the differences between the numbers contained within your web analytics platform and other data sources (i.e. paid search, offline data, etc.) in a given week. Extending that across an entire year, my guess is that you spend a large percentage of your time going to bat for the validity of your data.
All of the data you are collecting exists for one reason: to provide you with the insights needed to drive the optimization of your web presence and online marketing programs. However, you can’t harness that value until you can trust the data and get past the hurdle of having numbers that just don’t match.
So here is my question to you: Does the data across your data sources need to match? The answer is “It depends.” It depends on how you are planning to use the datasets and who the intended audience is for the reporting and analysis that you provide. In the online world alone, each dataset collects and presents information in a different way. As a result, numbers generally aren’t going to match 100%. However, your offline transaction data with your analytics transaction data should match without question. So, there is a use case and scenario for each dataset which generally aligns across the visitor lifecycle. Here at Stratigent, we generally analyze the visitor lifecycle across the following stages:
You need to determine which datasets, or integrated datasets, you are going to use to address each of the above stages. For example, you might use your analytics package for the last three. If that is the case, then don’t use the reporting in your other datasets to address those areas. If you only configure the reporting to address the predetermined use cases you can avoid many of the fire drills that companies face today.
Now, having a strategy in place for the datasets is only half the battle. The other obstacle that lies ahead deals with establishing confidence in each of your datasets. To clarify a bit further, let me ask the following question:
“Are you confident that your company’s data collection process delivers accurate and complete datasets?”
Chances are, you are not entirely confident in the data you are collecting, and you are definitely not alone in that sentiment. Establishing confidence allows you to use the data to make business decisions, which will ultimately enhance the visitor experience on the web for your customers.
How do you establish this confidence? Here’s a short list of areas to assess:
When dealing with multiple systems, you will never be able to get the numbers to match. I’m sorry to break that to you, but only concern yourself with what you can actually control. That is, validate that you have everything set up correctly and establish a solid foundation for your online efforts. If you can get there, you’ll be ready to spend much more of your time each year being proactive with your data. Your customers will thank you.