Move Web Analytics Data Out Of Silo

Web Analytics tools are great for providing a good view of one channel i.e. your website (ok, maybe slightly more than one channel e.g. some email, some social media, some offline). They worked great in silo for first few years of the internet because the only way for customers to interact with your brand online was on your site and websites were not an integral part of the business. Nowadays the story is different, customers interact with your brand in so many way, your website is just one small part of the whole “web” ecosystem and “web” is just one part of the whole “customer” experience and buying cycle ecosystem. Customer’s don’t think and operate in one channel i.e. your website. However, many “web analytics” tools do not even provide you full view of a customer journey and interactions online let alone the offline journey.

To understand today’s customer and performance of your marketing efforts, web analytics data has to move out of it’s silo and needs to be integrated with other data sources.

Many of you might be already be using 3rd party solutions to pull data from few sources into a dash boarding tool. That is a great start but it still does not provide you a complete view of customer journeys. For example, just because you have social media mentions on the same dashboard as your on-site analytics data does not tell you if those mentions are from your customers or somebody, who is neither a customer nor is your target customer, just blabbering in social media. But I will give you credit for thinking outside the Web Analytics tool.

To understand complete customer journey (i.e. 360 degree view of customer) and to conduct analysis that take you from marginal improvements in conversions to something that has a huge impact on the business you need much more detailed data than a web analytics report or a dash boarding tool can provide. First, you need to collect individual data for each customer in various channels then warehouse the data in one place where you join various sources via common key such as customer id, email address, phone number etc. Only then you can create and run complex cross channel queries to understand customer behavior and campaign performance.

Many mature organization are already doing it or are working on it. If you are not then it is about time to start thinking about if you want to stay competitive.

Don’t think that just because you are using Google Analytics you can’t have this level of data because you can. You just have to push yourself and start thinking outside what your web analytics tool can provide.

How Can You Do it

Web Analytics tools already anticipated this needs so they have built a way for you to get the data out easily. You can use either of the two methods listed below to get the required data

  1. APIs – Many tools like Google Analytics provide data via APIs. Use those APIs to pull appropriate data into your datamart/datawarehouse.
  2. Data Feeds – Many tools provide data in a flat file that you can use to populate your datamart.

Here are few things to keep in mind before you start putting this data in your datamart

  1. Make sure your tools are configured properly to collect the data in the right format and
  2. Your data transformation process should be able to understand the difference between various custom variables that you have used in the data collection
  3. Various data sources also need proper identifiers (keys) to match them together.

This is not going to be an easy project but this is a critical step in using your web analytics data to stay competitive.

There are few 3rd companies who are already providing tools and service to help you with it. You should also check out Gary Angel’s Blog. Gary has worked and written extensively on this topic.
If you have any question, I will be happy to chat. Email me.
Questions/Comments

 

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Web Analytics Jobs

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One Prediction and Five Web Analytics Tips for 2012

For past few years I have made several predictions about Web Analytics. This year I am going to make only one prediction but will provide five tips for 2012.

Prediction

This year the push will be towards “Multichannel Analytics”. Integration of various data sources, e.g. email, CRM, social media, call center etc. , with Web Analytics will take center stage.

Five Tips for Web Analytics

  1. Expand your web analytics to consider other data sources
    We all know by now that no one channel exists in isolation. Web, email, mobile, social media, catalog, stores, call centers etc. all impact each other. Web is a just one part of the customer’s experience and journey towards purchase. To fully understand customer behavior and optimize your marketing you have to go beyond web analytics and look at data from other channels.
  2. Move from “How Many” to “Who”
    Majority of the web analyst today analyze “How Many” e.g. how many people landed, how many bounced, how many converted etc. “How many” is a great start but it is time for you move to “Who”, e.g. who bounced, who did not convert etc. and then think about how to engage with those “Who” did or did not do something. (if you need help with this then ping me)
  3. Understand the data structure behind your web analytics data
    I am surprised that many web analysts today don’t understand how the web data is structured, how it is collected, where all the variables that are passed in your JavaScript end up at and how various data elements are related to each other. If you are one of those analysts, take some time to understand the data structure. Open a raw web server log file and start from there. If you company is porting the web analytics data into a database then open up that database and look under the hood.
  4. Learn SQL
    This is going to be critical. You can only do limited segmentation and optimization with aggregated data that is provided in the web analytics tools interface. To really understand customer behavior and capitalize on that you should be able to extract the data from the backend. Even if you are not going extract the data yourself, having an understanding of SQL will give you tons of ideas on segmentation, optimization and targeting.
  5. Make friends with “HiPP” (Highest Paid Person) and say goodbye to “HiPPO”
    HiPP is your friend, not foe. If you really want to create a culture of analytics in your organization then make friends with HiPP, get them on your side. You need their support. Stop using the term “HiPPO”.

Comments? Questions?

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Web Analytics Jobs

Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?

Due to organizational structure, many marketers/analysts get a partial view of the customers’ conversion process data.  This result in them optimizing the wrong steps of the conversion funnel /channel.

Read below about a shopping experience I recently had, it will make it clear how this narrow view can come in the way of an organization’s ability to effectively optimize the right step/channel in the conversion path.

 I was recently in the market to buy a laptop. I had a Lenovo laptop in past, which I really liked, so I decided to buy another Lenovo laptop.

I went to their site, configured the laptop and chose various options. When I got to the last step, I decided to contact a live person because I was not sure of all the options that I had picked. I clicked on the little chat button on their site and connected with a sales guy. The person asked me to save my order (create an account etc.) so that he can find the order and help me with it.

I did what he told me to but to my disappointment, the sales guy (online chat) was not able to find my order even when I gave him the email address I used to create the account. 

I had my credit card ready and was willing to make a purchase but they just could not close the deal. 

Where do think the problem is in this conversion process? Which steps are you going to optimizing?

Someone just focusing and looking at online channel data will not know the complete pictures. They will see a drop-off at the last step of the funnel and if there are a significant number of visitors like me, they will most likely focus their attention on optimizing (A/B testing, MVT etc.) the last step. Right? This is where the problem lies.  You may live in your little silo of online optimization but customers don’t follow your organizational boundaries. They will flow from one channel to other and convert from the channel that they are most comfortable with.  You can go ahead and A/B test all you want to the last step of the funnel but if the issue is not with the page layout, heading, fonts, colors etc. then you A/B test are not going to help.

As an analyst you should go beyond your designated channel. If there are other channels (e.g. contact center) that the visitors can use to complete the process then don’t ignore them.  Get a complete view of the data so that you don’t end up optimizing the wrong steps in the conversion process.