Marketing Analytics: SA companies must shape up

Analytics guru, Antonio Petra, Head of Digital Strategy at Cambrient, a company that specialises in digital marketing and Web development services, discusses why Web analytics can literally change the way of doing business for the better, and why South African companies should step up to the plate.
Web analytics, the process of measuring, collecting and analysing Web site data in order to improve a site's performance, dissects an organisations' online and offline marketing activities to provide valuable insight into their customer base (and potential customers), which truly translates into tangible business earnings.

However, Google Analytics, the defacto free analytics tool today, and other players such as SiteCatalyst and Truviso, are not being used extensively enough in South Africa. While the practice of analytics is nothing new with local companies who have been making their living online for several years now, sectors such as retail, where an online presence may be perceived as secondary to the offline store, there is still much upskilling to be done.

In fact, in our experience, many South African companies have not been in a rush to embrace analytics as part of their marketing strategy, and many of them may be losing out of valuable business opportunities as a result. It comes down to basic Web dynamics, knowing how a particular site performs, what's working below the surface, what isn't, and what can be done about it to turn clicks into cash.

So where does one start to gather all the necessary facts and figures and translate it into meaningful actionable data that can be represented at boardroom level? I believe companies should start engaging with professional digital solutions providers that have a solid track record in not only specialising in Web sites and Web design, but in monitoring, improving and optimising Web sites for their customers.

These days, good Web design alone is not enough - in order to not only attract visitors to a site but to ensure they keep coming back, strategists have to analyse how a site's visitors use it and which parts they visit most, and report that data to top management to reach a defined set of business goals. Above all, the crucial factor is to understand how to increase propensity to purchase.

Analytics reporting should be solidly tied into the bottom line, so that companies can have the facts and figures at their fingertips - those metrics that they have control over, that they can tweak in order to lead them to make a purchase. Analytics can provide all this, and more - but it doesn't help to merely look at the traffic figures and the statistics. The trick is to learn how to extract the greatest benefit from those figures.

For example, companies should use the data constructively to set up custom segments of individuals and see how they perform against each other. A retail business can group its visitors by the number of repeat visits, and correlate each group's data with sales. Which group is making the most purchases? Is it the one-visit group, or the three-visit group? If it's the latter, why? Maybe they need this time to learn how to purchase, and therefore some modification may be necessary to entice interaction.

In closing, using analytics intelligently will help to unearth that core of people who are committing the desired act, so that changes can be made that will influence more of them to do it. At the moment there simply aren't enough good analytics agencies that can perform at an international standard in South Africa. But that too is changing. Analysis is becoming a specialised field that cannot simply be the exclusive domain of a Webmaster or content editor. It is a role that requires a wide experience and understanding of all things World Wide Web, maintenance, and above all, the fine art of digital marketing.

Cambrient is a digital marketing services and Technology Company who has helped leading brands use the web as a marketing and business tool and produce meaningful digital success stories for more than 10 years. With a full service offering of strategic thinking, creative design and a proprietary technology platform, Cambrient is a complete outsourced digital solution for any larger corporate or dedicated web business wanting to build a strong brand and improve relationships with customers, employees and partners.

28 Jul 2010 15:30