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. Here we’re asking:
How difficult is it for companies in deciding what to measure?
Conrad Bennett, VP of technical services, EMEA, Webtrends
Put simply, companies need to measure what makes them money. Every website has a macro conversion point that is supported by micro conversions – sign-ups, registrations, search, reviews, calculators, product descriptions, etc. These conversions can happen on the main website or channels like mobile, apps, social, email etc. Businesses should also consider the ROI of content that is expensive to create and support, e.g. video, flash, live chat etc.
While there is a genuine reason to understand your place within your industry, too many businesses get distracted at how they compare against their perceived competitors. Every business is unique; what works for the competition may not work for you. There are KPIs that are specific to industry verticals, but the most important thing a business can do is know how its own website is performing.
James Holding, PPC analyst, Epiphany Solutions
Companies need a key metric to measure, such as sales or revenue, in order to determine performance of the site and the influence of any promotions/campaigns. The best way to decide which metrics to measure is to simply take a step back and look at what the website is actually there to achieve.
It is also important to fully understand what the value of each metric is; what one site visit or conversion is actually worth to the company.
Some websites may be all about sales, in which case the number of orders would be a KPI metric. However, some may be primarily for building brand awareness/loyalty or for research/informational purposes and so some kind of interaction or request could be the most important thing for them to measure.
John D’Arcy, lead consultant, Foviance
Many companies find it difficult to deliver measurement reporting that can be used to take actions and improve the customers’ experience. Companies should be asking:
- What are the right things to measure?
- Does this data exist now and if not how do you get it?
- How are you going to change your business based on what the data is telling you?
Clearly it is the third of those issues which is the most important and difficult to act on. But in addition to that, many companies still find it difficult to get into the minds of the customer and measure the customer experience. I very much believe that it is those measurements (e.g. key task success) rather than traditional volume driven measures (e.g. visits) that can be used to support true optimisation of a website. It generally isn’t that difficult to find the right data but the key is analysis and presentation in an interesting way that will engage stakeholders enough to help you take action on the data.
Ron Person, director of analytics, Sitecore
After consulting in business performance improvement for the last 12 years, I would say many companies have difficulty selecting metrics and targets because they haven't clearly identified their strategic and operational objectives. And even after defining their objectives they don’t know which metrics are the "Critical Few." The Critical Few are the first-order drivers of performance and measures of success. I remember two of the largest corporations in the USA that called for help. Each month they were each reviewing over 100 metrics in a "death-by-PowerPoint" meeting. With that many metrics it’s impossible to understand what is happening. No one knows what to focus on.
Most web analytics software forces marketing to focus on visitors and conversions. Other metrics may be more important depending upon a company’s strategy, audience and competitive position. There’s also a big problem with these two metrics: not all visitors are worth the same, and not all conversions are worth the same. Marketing must first identify the company objectives they want to impact then identify the marketing objectives that can drive the company objectives. At that point marketing can begin to identify what metrics are important to them. Each combination of strategy, competitive position and target audience needs to have a different combination of channel mix and message.
Even companies with a simple marketing strategy need to measure effectiveness across multiple channels, campaigns and messages. Anyone trying to measure their impact across multiple channels is going to have a very difficult time unless they have a single cross-channel measure like the Engagement Value.
Duncan Parry, COO, STEAK
Beyond obvious metrics like CTR or sales volumes, brands do find it difficult. As measurement widens into "softer" metrics like brand recall or the characteristics of newer channels, they can overwhelm themselves with data points, before they even think about looking at attribution.
A sophisticated e-business measurement and optimisation culture is about all the data marketing, customer services and proposition/merchandising people can interrogate jointly - not just one or two on-site packages. They're the tip of the iceberg.
Businesses need a defined measurement strategy, not just a series of software tools.
Joanna Chmielewska, head of analytics and conversion, I Spy Marketing
We recommend that our clients define their overall business objectives first, then identify the specific goals for their website that will help them achieve these business objectives. This helps focus web measurement on visit outcomes rather than top of the funnel activity.
Regular analysis of user feedback can give you a good understanding your customers and help you make continuous improvements to your conversion rate and revenue.
Dan Peden, head of SEO, Epiphany Solutions
With companies that have several different internal departments, each having their own objectives for the website (i.e. retaining customers vs. acquiring new ones vs. building brand awareness), the website should be structured with those multiple objectives in mind. It is about finding a balance between different the goals. If a website has multiple goals, then it becomes necessary to assign a level of importance to each goal so they can be accurately prioritised. If your website generates sales and drives people into local stores, you could attribute each store page a value. This then gives you a single measurement scale for your site.
When users visit your website, are they actually doing what you want them to do? Studying their behaviour through analytics would provide the insight into what needs to change in order to direct them towards where you want site visitors to go.
Seth Richardson, CEO, DC Storm
Knowing what to measure poses a huge challenge to companies. They are often provided with out of the box solutions to measure performance, without taking the intricacies of their particular business in to account. Specialist consultants can make a real difference in identifying KPIs that enable decisions to be made that positively influence business performance.
Guido Fambach, VP professional services at comScore
It is difficult, but should be a key component of any analytics planning, implementation or assessment process. Measurement should be derived from a company’s key performance indicators, and provide signals to help them make their most important business decisions. While the fundamentals (unique browsers, visits, page views, etc.) are core elements, it’s the more custom metrics that are most helpful in really driving growth.
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