As part of The Drum’s special report on analytics, we spoke to a number of agencies operating in the space to gain an insight into the key issues surrounding this heady topic.In a series of features, we’ll be looking at the industry’s responses to the questions we posed, to determine the challenges and trends facing analytics in 2012. In this feature, contributors tell us why they see web analytics as an essential element of any marketing strategy.Conrad Bennett, VP of technical services, EMEA, WebtrendsAnalytics is now an essential component of any marketing strategy. Through a process of continual iteration, businesses can now optimise campaign performance across multiple channels and devices. All of which has one ultimate aim – increase revenue.In a survey published last month by the Boston Reporting Group, the UK has the largest internet-based economy of the G20, 8.3% of GDP. That makes it bigger than construction, healthcare or education sectors. It is expected to almost double in size over the next four years, rising from £121bn in 2011 to £221bn by 2016.If you’re involved in digital marketing you should be measuring, reporting, analysing and making recommendations based on your data.Duncan Parry, COO, STEAKIf data is the blood of digital, then analytics is the microscope. Marketers need data at their fingertips to know the health of their campaigns - and what can be done to optimise them even further. That includes hard metrics like CPAs measured with analytics, as well as softer ones around engagement and brand recall measured with other tools and surveys.Norman Noetzold, CTO, QUISMAWithout analysing the traffic on your website and what impact the different communication and advertising channels have, how can one decide how to spend the budget in the most efficient way? It would be like marketing in the times of Henry Ford: you know that 50% of the budget is wasted, but you don’t know which half... Seth Richardson, CEO of DC Storm Without web analytics, the strategy is all too easily poorly directed and unaccountable.Guido Fambach, VP professional services at comScore Web analytics should certainly be a key element of the marketing strategy. comScore’s Digital Analytix allows users to understand questions such as “Is my website tailored to the audience interests?”, “How are my marketing campaigns performing?”, “To which channels should I attribute my conversions?” and “Could our conversion funnel be improved?”. By accurately measuring your marketing campaigns and the impact that they have on driving your key performance metrics, it is possible to allocate your spending against channels that are really driving results.Carl Fernandes, head of analytics and conversion optimisation, iProspect If we look back only five years, web analytics was not high priority for traditional businesses.Since the economy began to struggle around 2008-2009, much more emphasis was placed on accountability, with web analytics providing an excellent resource to find out the impact of advertising campaigns on websites and understanding more about how visitors behave online.Clients have now “awoken” to the fact there are many metrics that can provide greater insight into performance that traditionally was not available to them.For example, a traditional FMCG brand that does not have e-commerce functionality on its website may wonder if it’s worth putting budget towards a digital campaign (how do you measure the impact?). By using web analytics and analysing metrics such as bounce rate, dwell time, pages viewed, visitor loyalty and content conception it is possible to create a metrics framework for success.Adserving technology that provide metrics such as advertising impressions, clicks and sales only provide one side of the story. Without analysing web analytics data there would be no way of identifying what impact the website had on performance (as opposed to the advertising) and no way of segmenting users based on parameters such as source, location, time of day etc.For many clients it is now not enough to just use web analytics to report on and analyse visitor behaviour. Developing “Actionable Insight” from the data is becoming increasingly important. One method of putting research into action is through the use of Conversion Rate Optimisation tools such as Google Website Optimizer. We have found that in the last year, many clients have combined web analytics and conversion rate optimisation projects, including this work as a separate line in their media plans.Matt Bullas, managing director, Click Consult Combing multi-channel methods successfully is becoming an essential part of any marketing strategy. We have found the use of PPC and SEO together correctly does increase conversion rate. A large part of the use of search engines is the trust their results provide, having two hotspots on any specific keyword has shown positive consumer purchasing. This is down to your site showing trustworthiness, also a small part of a brand building exercise being reflected within a trustworthy search engine. Without Web analytics we would not be able to prove the effectiveness of multi-channel methods, therefore they would have to work independently.As more businesses grow their online marketing spend we must be able to report on different methods, to decide and advise where to invest additional budget, web analytics allows this to happen. The integration of PPC impressions data into an SEO strategy is becoming an integral part of an online strategy. But it provides great market research in general and shows customers routes to market, what search terms they use can reflect in offline advertising. For example with a law firm do people use the term solicitor or lawyer? How does a company brand themselves accordingly, web analytics data for conversions on certain keywords can help with this difficult question. The level of detail web analytics goes into is more than most marketing reports, meaning in tough financial times businesses would prefer online marketing to offline. Simply because often online can be controlled and reported in a more useful manor. It makes business sense to not assume a marketing campaign will always work, how do you know a billboard will attract business, the billboard may be seen but what is the avg time spent looking at? What is its conversation rate? This information can be difficult to record but web analytics for online marketing can, therefore it makes it a less risky marketing strategy. Lynn Wilson, analytics insight manager, EquatorTracking and analysis of the individual marketing channels and their effectiveness is paramount, but you also need to know and understand how the users from these channels are behaving on and interacting with your site. Are they navigating the path you want them to? Are they showing interest in pages of your site out with your strategy? Which pages are most influential to your users’ purchase decisions? These are example questions that yield important information that you can feed into your marketing strategy, ensuring you ‘speak’ to your target customers in the most effective way, deliver them the most relevant content and ultimately make it as easy as possible for them to do what they came to on your site.
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