After your company has just completed its website, launched an email or banner ad campaign, mobile site or app, what is next? How do you justify these investments or know that they are fruitful? Do you really understand the people who are interacting with your company online? Are they satisfied?
Everyday, millions of people use the Internet as a means to enriching their lives. From connecting with our loved ones far away to making purchases on the cheap, each byte that we send and receive is a part of a real life event. By accurately capturing and interpreting this trail of digital data, we begin to understand our customers and the ways we can better contribute to their lives, and in turn, our profitability.
Web Analytics Comes of Age
Making these strategic business decisions are founded on sound research and reliable data rather than on what others are doing or from intuitive sense. As someone responsible for your organisation’s website and or overall online strategy, you need to deeply understand how your audience interacts with you online and how this impacts your bottom line. Many companies now turn to web analytics services like Webtrends, Adobe’s Omniture, IBM’s Coremetrics and Google Analytics to measure and evaluate different aspects of their online operations. While many enterprise level web analytics providers can reach into the six-figure range, Google Analytics is free and can be configured for your site in under 10 minutes. It is trusted by many international brands such as General Electric, the BBC and Visa, and is increasingly being adopted by smart organisations in the Caribbean region to improve their marketing function and other integral aspects of operations.
However, the level of success with web analytics is determined by access to talent, which is a problem in the our region where there are less than ten, perhaps even five trained and or certified web analysts. Though some administrators are ambitious and resourceful in their approach to web analysis by trying to do it alone or delegating it to a mathematically astute member of staff, this regularly results in web reporting, as opposed to web analysis, and no actionable insight about what to do next is provided. There are trained web analysts based in Barbados who are often hired to help business executives make sense of their web data and turn it into valuable knowledge about how to run their business more effectively and efficiently. These professionals partner with local businesses helping them be more responsive to operating in dynamic markets and meeting the needs of the warm bodies that frequent their digital touch-points.
Web Analytics at Work
Experienced executives at Microsoft Office Live Small Business UK benefited by leveraging insights from web analytics where they identified and remedied what they were doing wrong and later stood witness to their conversion rates increasing by over 500%. In their case study, Webtrends reports that simple changes such as creating targeted landing pages for traffic from display and search advertising efforts, a more prominent call-to-action button with the right copy and choosing the best visuals and product description based on results from multivariate tests were instrumental in bringing about this great outcome for the company. Analysts were able to help executives understand which factors effectively drove conversions, to what degree and why. For example, a simple change in copy for the call-to-action button to “Start now!” had the biggest influence, which speaks to the customers being already knowledgeable about the service and their intentions to quickly try it.
Extracting insight from online experiences can be used to solve both simple and complicated business problems, and also to identify future opportunities in this dynamic environment. Senior executives of high-performing companies almost always attribute their success to their people who have been not only vigilant but also acted on insights drawn from business data. For example, using advanced statistics, online visitors could be segmented into meaningful clusters to identify their habits, needs and preferences, which can effectively guide sales and marketing efforts. Also, insights about website visitors enable decision makers to efficiently tailor and match promotions to the most suitable and valuable segments of their site visitors. Moreover, by identifying emerging trends in site usage by different segments, knowing what is working on your site, what needs improvement and exactly how you can go about doing this becomes easy.
Foster An Analytical Business Culture
Caribbean executives are known to rely heavily on experience and intuition. There is a widespread myth that if one uses the web, that one’s preferences can be considered as insight and certainly, this leads to many costly mistakes being made in our companies. Sometimes there is also mistrust in data-driven conclusions. This doubt primarily comes from a lack of understanding about data and or its usefulness for specific business functions. However, if we aim to successfully compete in this global economy and truly break away from our competition, we must stop making best guesses and foster an analytical business culture within our organisations. A culture where we not only hire the right talent to build analytical capabilities but also embrace the insights drawn from data and confidently make timely high impact data-driven business decisions. Understandably, this will not happen overnight but it has to happen very soon if we are to compete with the best of the best for our survival.Renaldo Bernard is Principal Partner & Digital Strategist at Bernard Browne – www.bernardbrowne.com