Friday, May 10, 2013

Insight, the one digital metric we don’t measure

I hope that by now most large company execs by now will have heard of the existence of website analytics. Some (especially the more marketing and technology focused) may even have seen dashboard reports from their analytics suites.

These displays of graphs and numeric tables can help the senior team quickly get an idea of the value of their digital channels, with ‘Goals’ (online results such as sign-ups or purchases) and ‘CPA’ (Cost per acquisition) figures being obvious KPI’s to get regular updates on.

These hard and fast numbers can go a long way to dispelling half-truths, rumours and ‘gut feel’ that humans instinctively use when there are gaps in their knowledge.
Note: I still see and hear of execs citing ‘hits’ as a great indicator of online greatness, with no understanding of how this figure is derived nor the understanding that traffic without purpose just creates a burden on IT infrastructure more than anything else.

Receiving and reviewing these dashboards might be one way of checking the digital success of an organisation, but a few pie charts and year-on-year comparisons does not even start to show the key output that needs comes out of these figures… insight. Insight that your digital analytics team (perhaps only made up of one person or even just part of a role somewhere) should be craving to provide

Measuring facts from all your digital touch-points is now possible and relatively easy in the online world. You insert a tag or two into each page (or action) of your website and sit back and watch the numbers scroll before your very eyes. Real-time reporting is now a reality, with even the free packages such as Google Analytics telling you where, when and what your visitors are doing at every step of their connected customer journey. But gaining insight from these figures is a different matter and measuring the value of this insight is exponentially more difficult still. Perhaps that’s why to-date it isn’t measured

But actually, it is...kind of. Insight derived online reports can show up in all sorts of ways, usually when there is a feedback loop from this data back into the business, for example:
  • Geographic data about where website or app visitors are coming from can inform business strategy. Imagine the mergers and acquisitions team knowing which counties the biggest increases in valuable business traffic have recently come from
  • Significant differences in the search engine keywords entered by users to reach your sites can predict market or investor trends. Data that could be of potential use to many central functions, including finance, proposition and commercial teams
  • Site bounce rates can not only inform your User Experience team of potential issues, but can reflect on product price, content quality or site speed (or a possible combination of all three plus other factors
It’s a shame however that this contribution to the organisation can’t be effectively measured. You can’t really put a price on the provision of internal data within a company, without coming up with some sort of mad model that will be more hypothesis than fact… the very thing thatdigital analytics tries to constantly minimise
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