Web Analytics in the Eyes of China’s Small and Medium Enterprises

From my conversation with Baidu, there are more than 4.5 million domestic small and medium enterprises that invest their marketing budgets in paid search during Q3 2011. Compared to 3 million SMEs in the same period last year, growth rate is increasing at 60 percent year-on-year.
This sector still has great growth potential, since only 5 percent of China’s 90 million small and medium companies realised the magic of search marketing and/or digital marketing.

Once more and more of China’s small and medium economies benefit from online marketing, they will further rely on web analytics tools, whether it is a spreadsheet or in-depth business intelligence system, to measure results. And nowadays, Microsoft and Google monopolise the market with free tools.

Most of China’s small and medium enterprises are very traditional. They simply adopt a Microsoft Excel sheet to manage their marketing efforts’ ROI, regardless if the products are paid or pirated. And their “R” (returns) is always actual sales without any middle-stage metrics, which could easily make them frustrated due to the slow revenue growth or profit contribution, as they have no idea how to further optimise those activities without actual web analytics.

Depending on the industry, middle-stage metrics can include user registrations, coupon downloads, and cost-per-PV. For instance, if only a single middle-stage index becomes absurd while others remain normal, the SME client would have found the key to further optimise ROI.

Some advanced SME users have tried Google Analytics, while most of them complained about the exhaustive deployment process. Honestly speaking, Google’s product is user friendly to professional users, but its SME clients here in China badly need in-depth guidance and step-by-step implementation training. Because it’s usually quite difficult for local SMEs to find qualified webmasters and an IT team, especially during the debugging or exception handling process. Therefore, it becomes essential for web analytics providers to launch a Chinese version of Q&A and video guidance online. It is even better to have a call centre or hotline.

Other critical issues, such as running stability and data accuracy because of the server location, may also affect the user experience of those very local small and medium enterprises.
China’s small and medium enterprises need customised web analytics tool. The product should base on a heavy weight backbone infrastructure, OLAP for instance, to deliver true insights. Meanwhile, it had better be free with functions to cover clients’ practical pain points.

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A photograph of Mike Millar giving his presentation on digital business in Asia, to a room of attendees at Shift London.
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