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This coming year will see an increased focus among marketers on digital analytics, rather than traditional web analytics, according to the annual forecast from Katharine Hulls, vice president of marketing for Celebrus Technologies. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

Organisations and their marketing departments are increasingly realising that simply building web analytics reports does not deliver the best possible value out of online data. Online data is much more valuable than producing a series of reports and website tweaks to increase conversion.

It is perhaps noteworthy that the Web Analytics Association recently changed its name to the Digital Analytics Association, demonstrating an already-increasing focus on the importance of social and mobile and other digital channels - a trend which can only continue in the future.

Developing multichannel insights
So, according to Hulls, the focus for 2013 and beyond is more likely to be on developing digital multi-channel customer insight in order to transform the level of customer understanding, increase customer engagement, drive revenue and enhance marketing effectiveness.

In order to do so, organisations need to have a greater understanding of individual customers' behaviours across multiple digital channels - a conclusion which the market is now starting to appreciate, due mainly to the heightened expectations of customers about their relationships with brands, along with greater levels of both competition and price pressure.

Tag Management practices under review
Tag Management Systems (TMS) have experienced accelerated growth over the last couple of years and have seen considerable investment being made by some organisations. Whilst a TMS does help alleviate some of the issues with tagging, it does not solve all the problems as considerable up-front thinking is still required in order to collect the right data regardless of the technology used.

The data is also not available in real-time, therefore cannot drive real-time personalisation via websites, emails and other digital channels. This is a function that will become increasingly important and widespread in the future, in order to appeal to customers at the time they are actually engaged in the purchase process.

The rise of the Digital Database Marketer
There is more data available to marketers now than ever before and that pool of data is only going to get bigger. However, there is a real issue with the lack of data scientists - the people possessing the right skills and mindset to turn that data into actionable insight. While this problem is not likely to be resolved in the short term, one option is the creation of a new role which brings together the disciplines of digital analytics and database marketing. Digital analytics brings an understanding of online channels, and database marketing brings robust, long-standing tools, techniques and methodologies to interpret the data and turn it into action. Organisations that are creating cross-functional teams to combine these two disciplines to make them a key part of the marketing team go far beyond simple reporting and making tweaks to websites. They are on the road to driving highly sophisticated, value-adding marketing programmes.

One example of an early adopter of these techniques is that of mail-order sellers. These companies already understand and appreciate the importance of data, and have used it to their advantage, targeting online customers with tailored special offers and driving sales as a result.

Increasingly, however, there has been a broader group of sectors that have seen similar successes and have started to adopt a similar approach (such as financial services organisations and multi-channel retailers). If organisations are to continue to be successful then it is a priority that they grasp the importance of the 'big data' available to them - and the added value it can deliver.