2015 has been an year of change. We finally have accepted mobility as a part of our business and not just as a Fad statement . Technology is changing and with it , the way we interact with a customer is also changing. This brings big enough challenges for Marketer’s especially those of us who are involved in the ever changing , and challenging workspace of Digital Marketing. The next step to drive a successful campaign is not just clear message and concise content , it is what lies at the heart of it , Which is the analytics driven data.
In this information age, data analytics is the name of the game. We hear the term the term “Big Data” all the time, but what does it mean to their business? Rest assured, data is becoming a necessity for all marketers, particularly inbound marketers, and the insights provided are profound, important, and readily available to those who know where to look.
Why do u need Data ?
It’s a growing discussion: data and its place in business. For decades, business marketing has been driven as a speculative venture, to a degree , with no direct ROI attached to it. Ad campaigns possessed no direct tracking mechanisms. Collecting customer demographic and lifestyle information required low-response-rate telephone efforts and manual data collection.
Even when data was available, the modes and means for examining, comparing, and utilizing that information was sparse; the technology simply did not exist to make the process worthwhile. Larger companies had the resources to scrape data from their customer base, but small businesses in particular were forced to operate in an ecosystem that was, by today’s standards, opaque.
Flash forward, past the birth of the personal computer and the construction of vast and powerful computer networks: the game has changed. Massive data collection efforts and equally massive computational capabilities have made the analysis and understanding of customer behavior, marketing effectiveness, and business strategy available to enterprises large and small.
This alone is enough to merit the need for data. Whenever technology opens the door for better products and service, businesses must walk through it. However, this motivation alone pails in comparison to the rising expectations of customer in an increasingly enabled environment.
Available Statistics in customer interaction paint a simple picture: modern customers require more responsive and personalized service through channels with which they are comfortable. Long hold times on customer service lines are no longer acceptable. Mass mailings and copy/paste marketing are no longer converting when audience segmentation offers the kind of small-business service that customers have grown to expect.
Data collection and analysis, particularly in volumes enabled by the Internet, provides greater insight into customer lives, preferences, and desires. In addition, it offers greater insight into the efficacy of business practices and strategy, and provides concrete, actionable information on which to base important decisions in a myriad of business contexts.
The very Basic Step !
Digital marketing is fortunate enough to fall within a medium that facilitates the practice of analytics. Whether it’s email campaigns, coupon codes, or just web visits, there are dozens of opportunities for even small enterprises to utilize data.
The most fundamental building block of any business in the modern media ecosystem is the website. Customers no longer use corporate websites just for contact information, but for product inquiries, conversations with other users, and even consumption of relevant content. In this way, the corporate website has become one of the most valuable digital marketing tools, delivering engagement and information in exchange for insight and data.
“Big Data” often evokes the image of large, complex campaigns requiring sophisticated analysis. However, data collection is much simpler than this.
Lets take a look at few of the mediums available :
Forums and Comments
Company blogs are quickly becoming a staple of businesses as part of content marketing strategy that’s connecting customers and opening businesses to new opportunities. Even without an analytics plugin installed, blogs provide fruitful ground for better audience understanding. Is your audience responding negatively to your content? Is your audience responding to your content at all? What concepts or ideas are frequently mentioned in blog discussions? Each of these offers a chance to analyze and better understand your customers’ needs.
This is just one example, and there are many other, creative ways to collect data about your customers. Did your blog posts see any sharing on social networks? What can you learn from a video campaign that encourages your customers to create their own video responses? Each of these avenues provides data and insight in a way that was not possible just a few short years ago.
Of the available options, however, few options provide insight like Google Analytics. By far the most frequently used platform for collection on web properties, Analytics offers a host of tools that can help novices and experts alike understand and reach their target demographics.
If you’ve never used the platform before, the information provided can be overwhelming. Fortunately, for sites just getting started, or older sites looking for some surface-level evaluation of their strategy and customer needs, there are some basic metrics that can provide guidance.
Most Viewed Pages
When you’re looking to nail down the content that converts, most viewed pages is the metric to watch. When you’re first getting started with blogging, it is not uncommon for one or more posts to “miss the mark” so to speak. Your most viewed pages give you insight into the topics that resonate with your viewers, offering helpful direction in future brainstorming.
Most Exited Pages
The most exited pages tells you which pages prompted departure from your site. This information is not only useful in determining which pages failed to convert potential buyers, it can also help indicate pages with technical problems. Take note: an exit rate of over 80% on a single page is significant, and should be investigated, both from a technical and conceptual standpoint.
Rarely will you find that a majority of your users are finding your site by typing in the URL directly. Most sites rely on referral traffic, or links from other websites.
Understanding who is sending users your way is vital to establishing a link-building relationship with them. If a blog is frequently citing your business blog for helpful information, your statistics will show this, and your content marketing will benefit from some cooperation.
Each of these metrics can provide information that’s vital to improving your marketing efforts. Site traffic, exited pages, and bounce rate all help indicate whether your team is nailing your content marketing strategy. With this kind of information, developing better blog engagement strategies and lead-generating content becomes a process of reading and understanding user behavior.
The problem with these metrics in isolation of one another is that they fail to paint a complete picture of user behavior. Customers require customization, and understanding their lifestyles, goals, and aspirations in a meaningful way is tantamount to success. Your visitors are coming to the site, but why? You’re getting a lot of links from some blog, but how engaged are those visitors?
Understanding User Behavior
As you can probably see, user behavior is not a simple concept. This is not only because users are, at their core, individuals with often divergent reasons for visiting, returning, purchasing, or exiting, but because the way that behavior manifests online is not always clear at a glance.
Consider a hypothetical user . She leaves for work every morning at 7:30 AM, but likes to check up on the news before she departs. Because she has limited time, she saves these links in a reading program called Pocket and then catches up with them later. Half way through the day, she decides to do some online window shopping over lunch. She adds some items to her cart, but has to close the web page when she realizes that she has a meeting in just a few minutes. She returns home later that night, reads her articles, forgets about her potential purchase, and falls asleep to some Zeppelin.
To a human, these actions make sense. To a computer, they make far less sense. Her quick visit to several web pages early in the morning registers an average visit time that is very low which, to the untrained eye, would suggest that the content therein was not engaging. Her abandoned cart in the middle of the day looks like a failed conversion to the analytics software, while a human understands that it was a simple mistake of timing. What does the link look like in Pocket? Does it register as a visit? What does the source look like?
Adding Context to Content
Each of these interactions, observed in isolation, lend some pretty misleading insight to the untrained viewer. A more seasoned marketer might look at her sessions, and notice that she is a returning user who has made several purchases in the past two months. In addition, she has left several comments on the company blog, despite her seemingly brief visits to the site itself.
In truth, there is no one-size-fits-all combination of metrics that, when observed in tandem across all industries, indicates success. Savvy marketers understand that user behavior is individualized, segmented based on persona and product, and manifest in often irregular ways. What matters is that your team knows your audience, can track and empathize with their journey throughout the buying cycle, and develop strategies and analytical goals that indicate fulfillment of their needs.
Metrics to Consider
While there is no catch-all package of metrics to monitor, there are some more nuanced analytics that provide valuable insight.
Organic Search Traffic
While direct and referral traffic are helpful, organic search traffic remains one of the most potent avenues for traffic generation. In fact, in a head-to-head matchup between organic search results and paid traffic, organic search results land the user 94% of the time.
Google Analytics provides information regarding keywords that lead to your site. Look specifically to build non-branded keyword volume; an indication that traffic is generated through relevant content and a perception of trustworthiness. Doing so will generate more traffic in the long-run, and help facilitate link-building and future direct traffic.
Top Landing Pages
Users don’t just magically find information on your website. Often times they must traverse a series of web pages, beginning first with your landing pages. This metric looks at what pages are greeting your customers. These pages should be optimized, both in terms of load time and copy, to quickly and seamlessly engage readers and lead them to further browsing or sales conversion.
When customization is expected, buyers can no longer be lumped into one broad category. Google Analytics allows for the filtering and analysis of user behavior based on characteristics, traffic source, and keyword search, among many other criteria.
Using each of these requires understanding of their use on a case-by-case basis, but suffice to say that user behavior depends on more than just your copy. Understand your audience’s intentions, goals, and referring source, and you can better understand their subsequent behavior. Doing so can help facilitate better marketing and targeting for current and future campaigns.
Putting it All Together
As we’ve described already, user behavior manifests online through a combination of statistics. For site owners looking to understand these statistics in conjunction, manually checking each one individually can become a chore. Fortunately, Google Analytics carries the capability to look at the fulfillment of multiple metrics at once through “goals”.
Site goals are as individual as businesses themselves. A business looking to build a contact list for in-person sales calls will obviously have differing goals from an eCommerce site. No matter the specific needs of the entity itself, Analytics provides a platform that is both versatile and customizable.
The Future of Data is “Big Data”
As complex as these ideas may sound, site analytics only scratches the surface of what Big Data can attain. Before you invest in large scale networks or widespread data collection, however, begin with the basics.
Use Google Analytics to understand your audience and apply those insights to your marketing campaigns. Examine user behavior and strive to understand your buyer’s individual journey. Segment your audience into individual “personas” and build content around their specialized needs.
Above all, never stop iterating. Technology and marketing continue to evolve, and with them, customer expectations. Understanding and fulfillment of their needs should occur before they even know what their needs are, and with data and a little marketing savvy, this lofty aspiration can be achieved.