Cross-Pollinate Data and Harvest Better Information

Many companies are organized in isolated silos, which often limits their ability to take full advantage of all the valuable data gathered by individual business groups.

Savvy fruit and vegetable farmers have long used cross-pollination to solve problems, such as low yields or pest vulnerability. Smart companies are starting to do the same with their data to more effectively solve their business challenges.

Hidden Stores of Data

There are a number of ways to improve your site’s performance. The first is to define overall site goals and identify the key metrics that support those goals. This information is used to develop your Web analytics data. It’s equally important to take advantage of data gathered by other groups in your organization. Numerous data sources include:

  • Surveys
  • Usability Studies or Expert Reviews
  • Customer/Prospect Panels
  • Competitive Information (from comScore, HitWise, etc.)
  • Additional usability information from companies like NetConversions
  • Customer Profile Information (demographics, offline buying behaviors, etc.)
  • Campaign Information (both on- and offline)
  • Research Reports
  • Customer Care Information

This is just a sample of the data points many companies focus on; there are many other data types available that can add to the insight. In many organizations, six to nine individuals manage these nine data types. They don’t communicate or share data with one other. Each individual may benefit from the data, and improve his portion of the business based on that information. Often, the information can benefit others within the organization. When analytics data are combined with usability and competitive data, for example, the benefit can be exponential and result in a more elegant, effective solution.

How Do You Weave It All Together?

Where do you start with data integration? The panoply of articles, information and companies dedicated to sophisticated data integration tactics can overwhelm. For many organizations, it may take a while to implement a fully integrated system that houses and catalogs most of this information. Rather than focus on that, following are ideas that can help you get started with data integration right away.

Companies can benefit from each of these options. How your company is organized will determine which it makes sense to start with.

Awareness

  • Understand what data types and information are currently available within your organization. Investigate what other departments use, and find out how they use it to make decisions.
  • Identify potential holes in the types of data you have, and potential solutions and providers that may be able to provide that information.
  • Determine which data types can help you make better decisions and understand site performance.

Comparison (Manual Integration)

  • Arrange access to the data and information you need based on what you determined is most useful.
  • When you identify a problem on the site using Web analytics, collect information from the other data sources that correspond to the problem to better understand behaviors.
  • As you become more comfortable with the data, you may want to start integrating the data into your reporting via a scorecard or other report.

Advanced Integration (data warehouse, advanced business intelligence tools)

  • Depending on your current needs and data-sharing infrastructure, you may start to investigate a more sophisticated system.

While we all strive for a fully integrated view of our clients and their behaviors, some intermediate steps can provide immediate benefits to your analysis and overall site performance.

Want To Know More?

Share your success stories of integrating data types and I’ll write about them here. Also, let me know if you’re interested in exploring more sophisticated data integration tactics. If you are, I’ll cover them in a future column.

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