When it comes to digital marketing channels and understanding what and why people do the things they do online, it can become a complex and daunting task. With the plethora of recording tools, testing, experimentation and analytics applications available to us, the decisions of which one and what data do I need to be looking at – becomes harder and more time-consuming all the time. Have you sat there, staring at a Google Analytics dashboards, flicking through the massive amount of clickstream data, hoping to pull out any number of insights to justify your involvement in a project? If you said yes – don’t worry you’re not alone.
In a book by Avinash Kaushik, called Web Analytics 2.0 (The art of online accountability & science of customer centricity), Kaushik points out that we need to look at a combination of tools in order to get closer to insight. He also points out that we can still do this without investing huge sums of money and in fact for SME’s we can still do it for free (well not including someone to implement the code and test it).
So what do we need? Below is a list of free (or relatively cheap) tools you can implement to start to build a powerful web analytics tool box. I’ll go into detail in later posts, but for now, here’s an overview for you to get going.
- Clickstream eg. reporting from Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicktale.
What is it? Collecting, storing and analysing your users click-level data such as visits, time on site, page views, bounce rates, campaign traffic and user stats like browser, mobile software and geo-location. All the while allowing you to store specific reports, customise dashboards and schedule reports. This is collecting the ‘WHAT’ users are doing. It can also be extended to email, online advertising, mobile apps and software i.e. basically any interaction with a digital device can be recorded and contribute to your clickstream data.
Why we care? Remember the terms ROI, cost per acquisition, cost per conversion, cost per lead etc? In plain and simple terms these mean – money gained in relation to the money spent. The first step in getting to arrive at ROI, is the recording of what users are doing when they interact with your digital marketing. Access to these reports should be a given – not an option.
- Multiple Outcomes Analysis eg. goals and sales funnels analysis in GA, task completion rates in iPerceptions, social media outcomes in Sprout, recognising customer struggle via Tea Leaf.
What is it? This data looks at how user activity (and the end outcomes) are tied to the underlying business goals of the project. Albeit increased revenue, reduced cost and/or increase customer service/satisfaction (there’s not much that doesn’t fit into one of these 3 broad categories). These measures look at the macro goals (eg. sales of products) in relation to the micro goals (eg. sign up for newsletters, social interactions on site etc). To effectively report on multiple outcomes however, it relies on the fact that the project and business goals are clear from the outset and that it has been identified upfront, what outcomes are to be measured.
Why we care? Because essentially – this what we are here to do? Deliver digital solutions to help achieve our clients business objectives. It is a necessity in order to remain competitive.
- Experimentation and testing eg. Google Website Optimiser, Optimizely.
What is it? This helps us understand ‘Why’ something has performed good or bad. Through experimentation and testing we can run real-time experiments on site with various ideas and let our customers tell us what works best. Many are afraid of failing in this area and don’t test to avoid embarrassment with the client or boss. But in the good news is, this type of failing allows us to quickly (and with minimal cost) re-adjust strategy. We can do this with sales messages, images, copy & entire pages, not to mention the many email broadcast and ad-serving solutions that offer these features built-in.
Why we care? Why guess, when you can upload a number of versions and let the customer help you ‘optimise’ the content. It’s an easy win for everyone.
- Voice of customer eg. TestmyUI & OpenHallway for usability, Treejack for card sorting.
What is it? Measuring again the ‘Why’ but this time via direct interaction and feedback from the user. This gives us valuable insight into the customer experience and therefore at the end of the day – readiness to purchase or engage with our products and services. Could they find what they were looking for, how long and how frustrating was it to get there?
Why we care? These are some of the questions we should be asking to ensure that our customers have a positive experience with the interaction (and ultimately the brand experience). The great news is – it’s not expensive or going to push your project deadline out by weeks like most would think. For usability testing, 5 users is enough to get worthwhile results and with the above tools listed can be done within a day.
- Competitive intelligence eg. Compete, Google Ad Planner, Google Trends, Wordtracker, Quantcast, Trackur.
What is it? Measuring the ‘what else’ or how do we compare against our competitors? Taking your analysis and optimisation to the final level, is looking at your performance outside a vacuum and in context to your competitors.
Why we care? There is a plethora of data sources out there that provides information (much available for free) and analysis based on your performance against your competitors. Use this to help set competitor benchmarks and mine industry trends for actionable insights to help you better plan for future developments and marketing activity
In summary, the aim of this article is to highlight that we should and can easily be using a broader set of intelligence tools to build effective understanding of the success (or failure) of our digital work. One tool from each of the categories is adequate to cover the 5 bases. Kaushik calls this the ‘Multiplicity Strategy’.