Malcolm Duckett, VP Marketing and Operations at Speed-Trap, the online customer insight providers, argues that too many marketers are having to rely on scant information about the performance of the corporate web-site, presented in anonymous and broad generalisations.
For many organisations the web-site is now fundamental to the marketing operations and hence the profitability of the business. In a marketplace awash with business intelligence on every part of the organisation, why is this part of the business expected to be the poor relation when it comes to performance measurement?
From this they are still expected to rationalise all their past, present and future activity and hence they are failing to tap into the wealth of information the internet can provide. It may be considered useful to have an amalgamated view of the behaviour of a proportion of your customers, but why settle for this when detailed, insightful and, individual views are at your fingertips?
Living the dream
Less than a decade ago, marketers and advertisers were animated by the prospect of entering the internet market in force and being able to not only approach an unprecedented share of the market but also accurately quantify every element of activity.
They were quickly disappointed. It soon became clear that the presentation of this information limited its utility. Numbers of visitors and where they were coming from excited marketers at first but they were soon asking questions and requiring even more detail.
The main reason for this is the absence of usable business-orientated data, covered up by the use of oversimplified charts and graphs. Many marketers are presented with ‘unique visitors’ or ‘hits’, which should have long-since been consigned to history.
They were once great for baffling the board with huge numbers and marvellous graphics which actually meant nothing. Today the web has become a central part of most companies’ marketing and sales strategies – businesses need information which actually means something!
The use of complete data, detailing every single visitor, any problems they had and the opportunity they presented to the business, will allow marketers to identify their best and worst performing advertisements. Today the web is really just another channel to market, why should it be treated any differently to your shop, catalogue, or call centre?
Web-savvy marketing departments need systems that provide an insight into each individual customer’s specific interactions with the brand, not impersonal figures that tell them how many ‘page impressions’ the IT team is valiantly coping with – pages don’t buy products, people do!
People not pages
Decision makers want analytics that give insight into how customers are interacting with their brand and whether the company’s website is fulfilling their goals. Marketers want to know who is coming to a site, what they can learn about their needs and how well the site is succeeding in steering visitors into interacting with the brand in line with business goals.
Otherwise, the individual who spent 45 minutes researching expensive Hi-Fi systems before abandoning his search and instead buying a new low-cost battery charger is invisible, as are countless other lost opportunities who, had the site search presented the appropriate results or had the advertising been sufficiently targeted, would otherwise have become paying customers.
Decisions rather than graphics
Lots of solutions major on the beautiful graphics in the reports they produce. There is no doubt that a good picture can be worth a thousand words, but drowning the marketing department in pictures is probably not the most efficient way of utilising the insight contained in the data.
Giving a marketing department a good report once a month on the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns will allow them to make a few hundred thousand good decisions about next month’s marketing spend by using data to drive a pricing engine, giving great offers to the customers you really want to acquire and less attractive prices to the high-risk clients you could would prefer your competitors to own.
Thorough analytics, rather than generalised ones, allow a marketing department an opportunity to see the full picture. Only with full appreciation of the individual can a marketing strategy be successful.
Be more practical
Detailed, accurate information on your actual customers can satisfy many company needs. Marketers must know what their target consumers are doing. Website developers need to know that their links, pathways and technical processes are all operating to specification and the finance departments need to be reassured that the money spent on marketing and website development is reaching full potential.
Your customers must be encouraged to approach your site by targeted marketing techniques such as personalised follow-up emails or telephone calls, and must be able to travel through the site without links failing. Your website must be strong enough to allow all your customers to complete their transactions. Broad ranging graphs that average out potentially critical data fail to provide this and companies that rely on these are jeopardising their effectiveness in the marketplace.
Start treating your web-site like a shop or store and start talking to your customers as individuals! The web is a quantifiable and measurable channel full of real flesh and blood people, but your appreciation of that is only as good as the data you are using.
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