ellipsis flag icon-blogicon-check icon-comments icon-email icon-error icon-facebook icon-follow-comment icon-googleicon-hamburger icon-imedia-blog icon-imediaicon-instagramicon-left-arrow icon-linked-in icon-linked icon-linkedin icon-multi-page-view icon-person icon-print icon-right-arrow icon-save icon-searchicon-share-arrow icon-single-page-view icon-tag icon-twitter icon-unfollow icon-upload icon-valid icon-video-play icon-views icon-website icon-youtubelogo-imedia-white logo-imedia logo-mediaWhite review-star thumbs_down thumbs_up

5 new things marketers should know about analytics

5 new things marketers should know about analytics Nicole Rawski

Web analytics continues to evolve with the digital space, and a lot happened in the industry last year. We witnessed interesting acquisitions and software progressions designed to help analysts and marketers keep closer watch over user behavior, the social media and mobile channels continued to gain traction, and marketers' needs for insights into consumer behavior deepened.

To be successful this year, marketers need to be aware of these developments and understand how they can maximize their analytics implementations. New tools, features, and functions abound, but they're only useful to marketers who take the time to understand the capabilities and put them to proper use.

Here are the top five things marketers need to know about analytics in 2010.

Everything is measurable (and that includes Flash assets)
If digital marketers are held responsible for each dollar spent (and they most certainly are), then web analytics is like their accountant. Thanks to its measuring and tracking power, marketers can vouch for and boast about revenue generated online. Without this analysis capability, marketers would be held accountable for ill-informed decisions. They'd essentially be shooting in the dark when making optimization recommendations, which, to say the least, is not a desirable position.

The good news in 2010 is that marketers will have new depths of visibility into how users engage with their web properties.

Everyone likes a website with Flash components because they're, well, flashy. However, before this year, Adobe Flash assets were a bit of a mystery. They were difficult to track without complicated, customized implementations and costly server calls (depending on the vendor). Adobe's 2009 acquisition of Omniture, a leading analytics provider, will change this. Analytics professionals will now have a more holistic view of user behavior because Adobe can enhance its current products with tracking tools. Essentially, this means that Adobe's products will define what is performing well. Here's what Adobe says about how its acquisition will affect marketers:

"The combination of the two companies will increase the value Adobe delivers to customers. For designers, developers, and online marketers, an integrated workflow -- with optimization capabilities embedded in the creation tools -- will streamline the creation and delivery of relevant content and applications. This optimization will enable advertisers and advertising agencies, publishers, and e-tailers to realize greater ROI from their digital media investments and improve their end users' experiences."

The ability to embed Omniture tracking capabilities within Adobe files will be extremely valuable to marketers, as they will finally have insight into how users interact with their websites and web properties. Measurement functionality will show interactions with the content (e.g., where people are abandoning within a PDF and what content is visible above the drop-off area), which will enable marketers to better optimize their efforts.

Respect free tools
Google Analytics announced new product features in 2009 that are keeping free tools as an extremely viable option for marketers to employ. The updated products allow for additional customization that was previously available only with enterprise solutions. Monitoring and tracking that was once only available through a subscription is now possible with free tools. With these solutions, marketers can customize what's being tracked and how dashboards display analytics reports.

Another improvement is the ability to set additional goals monitored by the software. This means that marketers can set additional alerts to notify them when web performance dips or exceeds pre-set thresholds.

There are pros and cons with using free tools. The main downfall is a lack of privacy and control over tracked data. Depending on the company, free solutions will more than suffice, but for others, enterprise solutions are a better analytics solution. I recommend revisiting these tools with each new release to ensure you're implementing the most comprehensive analytics plan possible.

Multichannel analysis is a must
Marketers are not the only ones who benefit from tracking multiple touch points. It also benefits consumers. By capturing how consumers behave and respond to different campaigns, marketers can target their customers and offer relevant content and savings to entice them to complete the end goal.

This year more than ever, marketers will want to analyze data sources across multiple touchpoints to improve overall customer satisfaction. It will be imperative to understand cross-channel behavior and identify patterns that will help improve end results. Initially, this may seem a bit intimidating; however, there are simple approaches that don't require a major integration of data sources. For example, correlate online marketing campaigns with unique 800 numbers or segment by geographic markets based on offline marketing tactics in those markets.

The key is planning ahead for multichannel campaigns. It's much easier to incorporate tracking in the beginning instead of playing catch up. You could miss out on valuable data.

The next stage integration
Moving into 2010, marketers are going to be much savvier when it comes to analyzing their social media marketing. According to an eMarketer report released in December, marketers travel through three phases of social media tracking: trial, transition, and strategic. As marketers progress through this cycle, tracking habits increase, with 88 percent of marketers tracking website traffic and 75 percent tracking lead generation. The growing trend of social media analysis will help marketers implement strategic social campaigns to boost an entire marketing mix.

This year, marketers need to view social media as a marketing channel that contributes to online revenue. This mentality is already infiltrating most marketing departments, but before launching a campaign, web analytics needs to be considered. How are we going to track this? What if consumers complete a conversion offline?

Tracking promotions is the easiest implementation, as unique links and landing pages can be used to segment referral traffic. However, social media is a fantastic mode for brand awareness. Connecting the dots between a brand-building campaign and other conversion touch points requires upfront, strategic consideration. If marketers can do this, they will have opportunities to learn from socially driven traffic spikes that will provide deeper insight into which stories, posts, or tweets drive buzz across the web.

Mobile devices need to be factored in
I am not here to say that 2010 is going to be the year of mobile. For all intents and purposes, users are already using their mobile devices, and marketers are already using mobile as an advertising medium.

From an analytics perspective, mobile is here. eMarketer reports that 42 percent of mobile users accessed the internet through their devices in 2009, 25 percent used their phones to update a social network, and 30 percent conducted online research on their phone. Measuring and analyzing this behavior will be crucial in 2010 as marketers find new ways to utilize this medium. Mobile users are active and engaged; if marketers can connect here, they can expand these relationships across any number of platforms.

Analysis to live by
As marketers continue to add new media to their arsenals, web analytics will need to bring the data together. Isolated information isn't going to help marketers make informed decisions or encourage interactions with their audiences.

That being said, analysis is the most important part of what a web analytics professional does. All the data in the world won't mean anything if it cannot illuminate a trend or highlight a problem. To be successful this year, marketers need to consider analytics from the beginning of a campaign and make continual optimizations along the way. It will not matter how many platforms or campaigns are in play; progression will rest on solid analysis backed by accurate data.

Nicole Rawski is a web analytics analyst at Geary Interactive.

On Twitter? Follow Rawski at @nicolerawski. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Want to hear the latest from this week's iMedia Brand Summit? Follow the conversation on Twitter #iMediaSummit.

Nicole Rawski can teach us all a thing or two about performance. As an Analytics Manager at Digitaria in San Diego, Nicole uses data to drive clients’ online presence and customer engagement. When she’s not helping clients reach new...

View full biography


to leave comments.

Commenter: J Hi

2010, February 26

Funny you talk about the mobile market. Though its true that 2010 is not the year of mobile, but any marketer should realize they better get their campaigns going and be in that market for branding. Don't wait until the market has been flooded. btw great article


2010, February 24

Re free tools: Another reason to avoid them is NO CUSTOMER SUPPORT at any price. I'd gladly pay to get information from Google Ad Manager and other products that don't function as they should (and thus negatively impact my business). I generate thousands of dollars a month in ad revenue for Google, but I still can't get help. Questions posted to their forums have gone unanswered (6 months later, still waiting to know why the ads don't show). No one should expect everything for free, but when an "industry leader" can't develop tiered pricing schedules to customers who generate money for them, one can only hope that a better-run company will rise up.

Commenter: Kip Edwardson

2010, February 11

Your last paragraph is the best and sums it up nicely. "analysis is the most important part of what a web analytics professional does. All the data in the world won't mean anything if it cannot illuminate a trend or highlight a problem." That's it right there. @ Peter: 15% is a lot, so I wouldn't consider that an "only" figure.

Commenter: Nicole Rawski

2010, February 10

Thank you for the feedback! Your point that "rules of thumb” don't apply across all types of businesses and websites is absolutely valid. B2B marketing is a different beast than b2c, but I think a lot of the concepts can be applied to both. That said, while only 15% of your B2B users access the site from their PDA or Smartphone right now, it's definitely a growing trend. I think it's best to be prepared for trends even if they haven't hit a particular industry yet. It may happen quicker than you think. I prefer to be proactive and prepared when anticipating new ways to approach consumers/leads.
To your second point, this is a challenge that I actually find to be quite fun. There is the ability to calculate the value of a lead based on the average earned contracts and how long it takes to get them to sign the contract. Once you have the value of a lead, you can back that up to the value of a click from marketing campaigns. Of course these users are likely to return to the website through multiple touch points because there is a research phase, so it's important to weigh in the value from different sources. It takes website analysis to understand how often a user returns to the website before becoming a lead and combine this data with how long it takes a lead to convert. Thanks again for your comments, and you've given me a few ideas for a b2b-specific article.

Claudia- It may help to answer that question if I first understand how you are currently measuring brand search. Typically, brand search is attributed to brand awareness campaigns, however, it is important to have visibility in top SERPs and there must be a strategy in place to maintain such placement.

James- Thank you for the comment. Mobile is definitely here and usage will continue to grow.

Commenter: James Read

2010, February 10

Good article and I definitely agree with the analysis part. As I heard from one expert, statatisions and analysts are the sexy jobs over the coming years!

Mobile is a definite, and social media will be interesting to gleam really useful insight to develop contact and engagement strategies. We're seeing this as a culmination of the systems driven analytics and those on the front line who are interacting day in day out, be it client staff or ghost writers.

Commenter: Claudia Bruemmer

2010, February 10

Do you know of any new ways to measure the impact of search branding (paid and organic presence in top SERPs) and how this metric can included in ROI calculations?

Commenter: Peter Kimmel

2010, February 10


You make many good points. I would like to amplify on a few of these. First, I will share with you that my bias is that I am an online Publisher and I do sell advertising.

With that said, I have found that some of the "rules of thumb" must be seriously modified when looking at the difference between a general consumer-type Web site and that of a B2B site. For example, use of social media for work is very different, with a much higher use of LinkedIn and much less for Facebook and Twitter. As a matterof fact, we ran a survey on our Site and found that only 15% of our B2B users accessed the site from their PDA or SmartPhones -- this is a much lower number than more "popular" consumer sites.

Second, many B2B Web sites advertise products and services that start around $5K and often result in $50K or greater contracts. Many are not sold directly online, but through a prolonged kick-the-tires-and-negotiate approach. In these types of cases, the value of metrics is more difficult to measure, and there is not the immediate feedback that a site gets at times such as when purchasing a CD at Amazon because it came up in the Gold Deals Box.

Third, with B2B sites the value of a click through is increased tremendously when one is able to place an ad in a place on a Web site that attracts a targeted audience, and then that visitor is directed not to the advertiser's Home Page, but to a specific content page on the advertiser's Web site -- content that relates to the content on the page on which the ad appeared. This visitor is worth much more to the advertiser than one who just click to the advertiser's Home Page, and may have immediately left the site from there. Unfortunately, many advertisers (and sadly many agencies, who should know better) tend to find it easier to over-simplify and just count all click throughs as equal to one another. Clearly, this is not the case. We have some advertisers who recognize the value of quality versus quantity (and they have their own ways to measure that), and we have some that simply look at numbers of click throughs and let it go at that.

With so many articles being written on metrics, I would like to see more on differentiating between consumer and B2B sites, especially when research numbers are reported. I also would like to see more on the value of a click through, and that they are not all created equal.