2005 Predictions: Web Analytics (2 of 2)

Today we wind up Monday's interview with Web Trends’ vice president Brent Hieggelke about how he sees Web analytics changing in the coming year. If you missed the first half, you can read it here.

iMedia: Let's dig a little deeper into two things: 1) branding and Web analytics, and 2) what role Web analytics plays (or fails to play) with regard to integrated marketing.

For branding, toward the end of your answer to question #1, you mention how analytics are helping to redefine the role of branding. So much of the value of online marketing is in its measurability, yet measuring brand awareness can be difficult. What sorts of information on brand campaigns do you predict Web analytics companies like yours will bring to the table in 2005?

Hieggelke: With branding there are a few ways to use Web Analytics to measure the net change in your branding balance sheet (adding to or subtracting from the brand value). Here are a few straightforward questions to reflect on as you consider your Web site and its integral role in building your brand:

  • How many visitors hit your home page and immediately leave your site? Negative brand value if this number is rising.
  • How many visitors hit other pages on your site and go no further? Again net brand value decreases if this number is on the rise.
  • Is your number of page views per visitor increasing? Is your average visit length increasing? Both net brand positives if these are the case.
  • How many visitors come directly to your site, without clicking on a link from another site? This measure of direct traffic is a good indicator of brand strength.
  • How popular is your brand, or derivations of your brand, in keywords that are driving visitors from search engines?
  • How well do you rank for your brand in both paid and organic search results?
  • How well do you rank in the most popular keywords for your brand category? How well does your site perform in converting those visitors?
  • What is your conversion rate, and is it on the rise, for first-time site visitors? Do these visitors come back and eventually convert?

These are all measures that can be assigned a brand value, and -- if benchmarked and then measured on monthly basis -- a brand value index can be established and then tracked.

Remember, unlike almost any other medium, a visit to your Web site is, in most instances intentional, and this -- along with the fact that the visitor is actively interacting with your site -- compounds the brand perception that results, either positively or negatively, and it takes a lot more effort to persuade a visitor to come back after a poor experience. So the negative brand erosion from a poor site happens much faster than any other marketing vehicle in history, except for perhaps a major PR disaster, as the drug companies are discovering today.

iMedia: For Integrated Marketing, so much of the time, we hear about marketing organizations being siloed, with online marketing in its own corner. Many brands and agencies are working diligently to address this. How does (or should) Web analytics play a productive part in integrated marketing?

Hieggelke: As far as integrated marketing, who isn't running campaigns today that have some Web-based response mechanism, or even intentional Web interaction? The Web site has become the marketing center for almost all well-executed campaigns. With organic search results, paid search results, email campaigns, banner advertising, newsletter sponsorships, print ads, direct mail pre-populated response forms, and even television ads that allow you to complete the story online, the Web and its ability to be the centralized measurement vehicle through Web analytics gives marketers unprecedented insight. Comparing every element from the media, the media partner, the demand channel, the creative design, the creative copy, the call to action and offer, the landing or entry point, all can be measured and optimized as the campaign is live. And then, in the final analysis, all can be compared with mangoes to mangoes performance-based metrics.

Most of the large buzz campaigns have a Web component now. Think of Seinfield and Superman for Amex, think of The Subservient Chicken for Burger King ... the Web experience makes these campaigns work. Beyond integrated marketing, its Hub and Spoke Marketing now, with the Web site the hub of the integrated campaign. And, of course, with Web analytics quietly behind the scenes validating the campaign’s success, or being smartly used to optimize its success for the Web-smart marketers today.

Brent Hieggelke is Vice President of Marketing at WebTrends.

 

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