Breaking Away with Smarter Decisions & Better Outcomes for Your Online Initiatives
Posted on July 20 2011 by
As much as you would not continue to throw money at a bad investment, constantly building, modifying and later recreating your company’s website or other online tools without a significant return on investment can be as disastrous for your profitability. 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.
Age of Analytics Begins
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 IBM’s Coremetrics, Adobe’s Omniture, Webtrends and Google Analytics to measure and evaluate different aspects of their online operations. While most enterprise level web analytics providers can reach into the six-figure range, Google Analytics is free and can be configured for your site in less than 10 minutes. It is trusted by many large brands such as Visa, the BBC and General Electric, and is increasingly being adopted by smart organisations in the region to improve their marketing function and other important aspects of operations.However, the level of success with web analytics depends on access to talent, which is a problem in the region where there are less than ten, perhaps even five trained and or certified web analysts. Though some executives are ambitious and resourceful in their approach to web analysis by trying to do it alone or delegating it to a mathematically astute employee, this regularly results in web reporting and no actionable insight about what to do next is given. There are trained web analysts based in Barbados who are 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 so it can be more responsive to operating in dynamic markets and meeting the needs of the warm bodies that frequent their digital touch-points.
Web Analytics in Action
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 improving by over 500%. As reported by Webtrends in their case study, 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. Web analysts were able to help executives understand which specific 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 perhaps 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 complex 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 needs, habits and preferences, which can effectively guide marketing and sales efforts. Also, insights about site visitors enable decision makers to efficiently tailor and match promotions to the most suitable and valuable segments of their site visitors. Furthermore, 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.
Embrace 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 of course, 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. This obviously 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.