Improving digital measurement strategies
What if everything we thought we knew about digital measurement was wrong? Web analytics consultant Gary Angel explains how the failings in digital measurement have come to be and how to bypass them to make every retailers measurement better
What if everything we thought we knew about digital measurement was wrong? Web analytics consultant Gary Angel explains how the failings in digital measurement have come to be and how to bypass them to make every retailer’s measurement better
In the digital age being able to track where messages/brands are being discussed and monitor an organisations digital footprint is a key component to proving that a marketing strategy is having the desired effect. But Gary Angel, president of the web analytics consultancy Semphonic, contends that a few simple steps can ensure retailers can improve their strategic online view and planning:
1. Get your focus right
He told RetailTechnology.co.uk: “Let’s address the common belief that the key to successful dashboarding and reporting is finding a small set of KPIs [key performance indicators] that are understandable and immediately actionable. Your measurement department has probably delivered a dashboard populated with a few key metrics like lead conversion rate, total visits trend, overall site satisfaction, etc. all laid out in an easy to read format. Sadly, these reports deliver neither understanding nor actionability.
“Suppose your site visit-to-lead rate is up 5% and at the same time, suppose your search engine traffic is down 20%. What you may not realise is that in all probability, the two metrics are related and are, in fact, telling you exactly the same story. As you drive less early-stage traffic to your site via natural search, your visit-to-lead will go up. But in this instance, that isn’t a good thing.
“The fact is that site-wide metrics like "leads / visits" are nearly all worthless. There are an infinitude of reasons why your Conversion Rate might change and by removing all but a few key metrics from your dashboard, it is almost impossible for you to ever find out which explanation is correct.
“To be meaningful, a metric needs to be placed in the context of ‘who’ it’s about and ‘what’ those customers were trying to accomplish. If your dashboards aren’t built around this simple two-tiered (audience/visit-type) segmentation concept, they probably aren’t very useful.”
2. Be wary of site satisfaction surveys
“If there is so little utility in site-wide metrics reported from web analytics systems, you may be tempted to populate your dashboards with online survey data,” Angel continued.
“Online survey research is based on a sample of your site visitors, but every time you change your marketing campaign and improve (or worsen) your SEO [search engine optimisation], you effectively change the demographics of your website. This renders site-wide trends in satisfaction almost useless as, rather than tracking true changes to site satisfaction, you are actually tracking changes to the site population caused by your marketing programme.”
3. Understand the value of social ‘measurement’
“If your marketing team is on the ball, you probably have a social media measurement programme, along with a set of reports showing you how well it's doing. At the heart of those reports is something called total mention counts – a simple measure of how often your brand is mentioned in the social realms. It might be compared to other brands to demonstrate ‘brand share,’ or trended over time to demonstrate ‘social success’.
“These are, however, very poor measures,” Angel warned. “Social media chatter is nearly always tainted by (and largely made up of) commentary driven by professional influencers. When you include all these mentions in a count, you are measuring a bizarre combination of PR [public relations] messaging and actual consumer sentiment. Unless your team has aggressively pruned the counts of all professional posters and commentators, your figures have zero correlation with actual consumer sentiment and therefore represent nothing of value.”
4. Dispel the myths
“If you're like most marketing executives interested in digital, it's time you realised that the un-segmented metrics used by your measurement teams are not fit for viewing, much less basing decisions upon. Do the people feeding you these numbers know better?” Angel asked. “Probably not.”
He concluded: “It's up to you to demand more, and by dispelling these common, easy metric crutches from your dashboards, you'll be on the right path to getting the information you need.”