Future Trends for Web Analytics in China

  |  January 13, 2012   |  Comments   |  

In China and worldwide, "social media analytics" receive a ridiculous amount of attention, while people are not even able to deal with their "traditional" online channels. So which is more important?

Together with Baidu and other partners, we talked in-depth on web analytics with tens of companies, including innovative MNCs, family businesses that have gone public, as well as traditional SMEs, in a province in southeastern China. Understanding and expectation on web analytics from those clients did impress us, and we really gave much thought on future trends of web analytics development in the country.

China is a large country with typical disequilibrium of development. Professionals working at CBD in Beijing or Shanghai process data mining models, while some marketers still deal with tens of millions dollars businesses using spreadsheets. Web analytics firms have to use their methodology based on automated tools or hands-on services to solve clients' problems, take care of their cross businesses, and guide them to set boundaries for web analytics.

1. Routine data and reporting is good, but clients need insights to actually solve their problems.

As new comers to the world of web analytics, marketers in China are still obsessing about shining key performance indicators (KPI) dashboards, complicated technical implementations, and abundant data reports. Even worldwide, the industry also complains about how no one takes action on any data or routine reporting provided by web analytics tools. We need to embrace business centric structured approaches, such as attribution models, and finally, to choose testing and optimization as a way of life.

The good news is marketers in China are getting more and more innovative and with enough budget for trial and error. Here is one of the best practices we served clients: standardized reporting in the first year, systematic training on in-house marketers and other related 4A agencies in the second, and monthly analysis on certain tasks of actual digital problems during the last final years.

2. When client's business is integrated, web analytics need to be cross channels, cross platforms, and cross devices.

Bubbling and de-bubbling of China's online B2C shows online and offline becoming more and more entangled in business nature. The best business and marketing strategies will be those that can take advantage of this integration between different channels, platforms and devices, along with customers that switch between online and offline. Clients will naturally search for such solutions, while web analytics find itself on the path to convergence to provide a more complete intelligence.

Mobile is recognized as one of the important touch points among customer relationship management category, and these applications will be enrolled into Web analytics solutions as a must-to-arm component. It's the same, even with more general group of end users; just where they come to you, whether on a mobile phone, a tablet, or at the desktop, is different.

3. Analysts should help and guide clients to set boundaries for analytics activities.

In recent months, in China and worldwide, "social media" or "social media analytics" receive ridiculous amount of attention, while people are not even able to deal with their "traditional" online channels, such as websites/mini sites or search engine. Tens of thousands of followers on Sina Weibo,, or satisfied and profitable customers from paid search and organic traffic, which is more important?

Stop trying to do everything and put first things first, that's the truth dealing with our web analytics activities in the year 2012, and other digital things as well.

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Michael Xu

Michael Y. Xu has more than 15 years of digital marketing and financial services experience serving Fortune 500 clients and China's top-tier state owned enterprises in both North American and Northeast Asian markets. He joined Gridsum, China's leading online business optimization company, in early 2008 as senior vice president of business operations. Michael manages Gridsum Technology's strategic cooperation, business development, and marketing teams, while determining how Gridsum Technology would use partner connection to deliver the best results for clients and the entire ecosystem. Under his leadership, Gridsum Technology successfully initiates solid partnership with iCrossing and Microsoft. Michael worked in the Strategic Investment Department of Sinochem, China's top national oil company with 19 times entries into Fortune 500, from 1994 to 1999, where he got deeply involved with major transactions, including China Unicom, Shanghai Grand Hyatt, Suzhou Industrial Park, WEPEC, and Zhejiang Aoshan National Petroleum Base. He then joined one of China's leading real estate companies as financial controller. Michael is currently the board of director of SEMPO and the co-chairman for SEMPO's Greater China Working Group and Member of Global Committee. Through his coordination, SEMPO Greater China formed in-depth partnership with Baidu, China's top search engine. He also speaks at conferences on online business optimization and SEO/SEM. Michael received his MBA and MS degrees from California State University in 2003, and his BA degree in Accounting from Renmin University of China in 1994.

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