More than two billion internet users conduct business on the web today, and research firm IDC predicts this number will rise to 2.7 billion in 2015, when 40 percent of the world's population will have access to the web. Global B2C ecommerce spending will grow from $708 billion per year today to $1.285 trillion in 2015. Clearly these are numbers that businesses cannot ignore.
With more and more people turning to the internet to find information, products and services -- whether they are looking to buy on the spot or to make an informed decision when shopping online -- marketers need accurate data to strengthen their understanding of and connection with their online audience.
Online marketing: You're only as good as your data
The average online user spends only seconds visiting a website, and companies have only a short window of opportunity to directly connect with visitors. As a result, online businesses are continually looking for new and better technologies that enable them to become more relevant online and make immediate connections.
There are a number of technologies that promise to deliver better audience segmentation and targeting capabilities. But in reality, do they? Once the window dressing has all been stripped away, online marketing comes down to one thing: relevance. At that point, you're only as good as your data.
IP data adds depth to analytical tools
Reliable IP-based datasets allow cutting-edge businesses to look at web traffic from a whole new perspective, bringing a greater understanding of the factors that impact the performance of local and international marketing campaigns.
IP-based data puts a number of useful parameters about the entire universe of web visitors immediately in the hands of online marketers, such as:
• Geographic location (country, region, city and postal code)
• Company name
• Connection speed
• Domain name
• Time zone
These parameters can then be layered with financial, demographic, lifestyle and purchase data to produce additional customer insights that affect an even wider range of online interactions.
Steps to properly evaluate data vendors
Keeping up with the breadth and depth of available data can overwhelm marketers and make them feel very unsure, especially if they aren't confident the information they're getting is reliable and accurate. Whether you're a boutique retailer or a multinational corporate giant, the quality of your analytics data determines not only how you market and sell your products and services to customers, but also how you will continue to engage with and build loyalty among them.
While most marketers do understand the significance of accurate data, the real problem lies in recognising what's accurate and what's not. Unfortunately, there have been -- and still are -- a number of online technologies on the market that fall short in their drive to deliver the desired results simply because their datasets are outdated, unreliable and inaccurate.
When it comes to acquiring data to enhance analytics packages -- and ultimately drive online marketing efforts -- don't just take vendors at their word when they tout the accuracy of this type of information.
Organisations need to spend a little time and do their due diligence, looking for companies that:
• provide third-party audits conducted by reputable organisations, audits that are conducted on the vendor's data itself as opposed to solely on the data collection methods;
• continually work to improve their accuracy levels and validate their information, year over year, either through partnerships or technology innovations; and
• can supply a list of customers whose business model relies heavily on providing precise and dependable data.
Use analytics to improve segmentation, performance and action
Clearly, having the right combination of data and analytics can make marketers more effective and improve the online experience for consumers. Specifically, when IP geolocation and IP intelligence are applied in analytics packages, marketers can expect to:
• improve segmentation by leveraging new data inputs, such as country, region, city, and postcode-level location information, to geo-segment online audiences and benchmark campaign performance;
• increase performance through deeper insight into customer behaviour, which enables marketers to uncover actionable intelligence for campaign and website refinement; and
• inspire action by moving quickly from analysis to engagement. Data can be leveraged not only to understand your online audience, but also to act upon that knowledge with real-time content targeting based on user location and other IP data elements.
IP geolocation and intelligence technologies provide businesses with actionable insights about web visitor behaviour, allowing marketers to create more relevant messaging and instant connections. Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data should be at the foundation of any analytics strategy --- and consistent across all marketing channels. Accurate IP data deployed correctly can make the difference between instantly engaging a new potential customer and retaining them for a lifetime, versus watching them bounce off your site in seconds, never to return.
Kate Owen is the MD Europe for Digital Element