Defining what's involved in digital analytics could mean the difference between collecting lots of data and getting actionable insights.
In my last column, I shared a recent experience at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit on the Analytics Symposium. There, the question of the day was, what is analysis? That column included an overview of some definitions of analysis provided by my colleague Chris Kerns' Web analytics team. Based on his team's input, I shared some of the top 10 terms that describe analysis.
As promised, this column will go deeper here into what analysis is and what it isn't. This again will expose why so many companies fail to reach the potential Web analytics has to offer.
Before digging into that topic, let's consider a question posed by a reader in response to my last column: what type of analytics are we talking about here and how do you use it? It doesn't matter what type of data you use; the principles of good analysis are the same. But in terms of specific analytics discussed here and at the Analytics Symposium, it's all about digital analytics -- with the goal of using metrics to improve your digital properties' performance. (Note: I'm wording this carefully to avoid saying "Web site" because that's only part of the story. Mobile, media, social, partner, offline impact of the site, etc., are part of the story, too.)
The primary type of data and analytics that most people think of in this space is Web analytics, but there are many other data types that can help you understand how your Web channel is performing, including:
This is only a partial list and will vary depending on your industry, company size, and other factors that must be balanced against the value of the action you may be able to take from insights you gather. The descriptions outlined in my last column offer a good view into any type of analysis, but I was referring specifically to experiences that came from digital analysis and insight.
But what is analysis and what isn't it? The following lists include a few important distinctions between the two categories. These lists could go on and on, but these items are the ones we see most companies struggle with.
Analysis is not:
What can you do to transition from a lack of analysis to true insight and action to improve your digital properties? Start by finding a executive or senior sponsor who can get excited about the insight digital analytics can bring to her team; this person will be your ally and help you shift the way people within your organization think about data. Second, create a cross-functional team and make sure the channel goals are clearly defined, agreed on, documented, and shared throughout the organization.
Now comes the hard part: find an important initiative and, using data analyze, have the team analyze how it's performing and make recommendations to improve it. (Yes, I'm glossing over this, but I've covered it in depth in other columns.) Finally, the most important aspect: help the team take action on that insight. This may include A/B or multivariate testing. Until you can get your organization to take action on insight, your analysis is really just good-to-know information and won't be seen as the truly valuable information.
How else have you moved from reporting to insightful analysis? Please share in the comments section below.
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As president of the Americas regions for the digital agency POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. Jason has 20-plus years experience in digital strategy. He is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports our clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works.
Jason speaks frequently about helping marketers take advantage of data to make smarter business decisions and improve the success of their organizations. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
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