Online data powers better decision-making
Just about everything that you do in your online marketing and advertising will create a wealth of data about the way that your business is interacting with its customers and prospects.
Learning to effectively harvest this data and then use it to glean insights into the way your customers are behaving can help you to drive better performance throughout your business. It empowers you to make better business decisions that can translate directly into more revenue or lower costs.
This is one of the key advantages of digital marketing channels. Not only do they provide you with data that helps you to understand the return on investment you are reaping from your marketing budget, but they can also produce the actionable information that you need to drive better returns in the future.
To take advantage of data to drive your business, you should start out by understanding what is available from your various digital marketing channels and systems. Many marketers do not know about the full range of data available to them, while many others get caught in the trap of measuring the wrong data.
From your online ad-servers through to your own website, you can follow a trail of data that will tell you a powerful story about who your prospects and customers are, how they arrived in your environment, and at which point they decided to convert or walk away.
Page impressions and unique users are merely the starting point - there is so much more you should be striving to understand. The clickthrough rate is one of the most basic metrics you can measure - how many people clicked on your ad compared to the number of times the ad was served.
You can drill deeper into ad-serving data to see which time of day or week produced the most clickthroughs, which creative executions drew in the most people and which environments attracted the most clickthroughs. Other basic data you can collect relates to the paid and organic search terms that draw people to your website.
But it starts getting really interesting when you start to use sophisticated web analytics tools to chart in great detail how people arrive in your own web environments and where they leave off. For example, you might be interested to know not only which search terms attracted customers to your website, but which ones reeled in users that made a purchase or signed up for more information.
Other questions you can ask include: What proportion of the visitors to your website arrive via social media, search, ads or your marketing emails? What sort of path do they typically make through your website? How many of them abandon a transaction and at what point of your website's checkout process? Which creative placements attracted customers that converted?
Gathering data isn't an objective in its own right. It is about understanding your customer's experience and relationship with your company so that you can keep improving your offering.
To achieve this goal, you need to know what questions to ask of the data so that you can make better business decisions. For example, you should be using data to decide which environments and creative placements deserve your budget and how to streamline the checkout process on your website.
With the right data in hand and the right tools to analyse it, you can improve your conversion funnel from the channels you use to attract customers right to the point where they hit the checkout button and convert on your website. You will be making informed decisions rather than basing them on guesswork.
About the author
As managing director of Acceleration Media, Diane Charton oversees the growth of South Africa's leading digital media strategy, planning and buying company, and helps clients to maximise their use of the Internet.
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