Online Analytics for Brand Marketers

Is the line between brand marketing and direct blurring?

Online it is. Brand marketers now successfully leverage the Internet to promote their brand and learn more about their customers. Data they have access to online can inform future campaigns, promotions, and site design. A marketing analytics solution, typically associated with retailers and direct marketers, can also assist brand marketers and improve their online results.

Brand Interaction

Regardless of whether your goal is online sales (and for consumer packaged goods marketers, often it’s not), know how successful you are at inciting visitors to interact with your brand. Assess several factors: areas of the site getting the most traffic, time spent interacting with the brand, the site’s habitual drop-off areas, and completion rates of any desired reaction (e.g., newsletter subscription and sweepstakes registration).

Gathering this information will provide not only direction for site focus and redesign but also insight for future marketing campaign ideas. Need a good place to start? Identify one strategic section of your site and track drop-off rates and locations by customer segment. You’ll get initial insight into what type of content or process works and what doesn’t for different customer types.

Traffic

Analytics are critical for fully understanding online marketing. One clear online marketing metric is increased traffic (page views, unique visitors, etc.) relative to the ongoing spend. These metrics provide concrete insights into how well the marketing message worked. If a Web site has historically spent $10,000 per month on marketing and received an average 100,000 visitors, but in a given month sees that number climb to 200,000 visitors — without increasing marketing spend — the brand marketing is doing its job.

Cost Per Visitor Session and Conversion

Brand marketers want their Web sites to be engaging experiences that motivate repeat visits, capture customer data, and foster brand loyalty. They also want to know how much these efforts cost. One good way to measure cost per session is to refer back to the original online marketing campaign. If there was a sweepstakes or registration form on the site, the marketer should know how much it cost to capture this personal information. Leverage analytics to track cost per session (and conversion). If the spend decreases over time, the marketing effort can be deemed a success.

Data-Driven Site Design

Analytics provide insight into the full marketing cycle. You may implement a very successful marketing campaign that drives consumers to the site, but then find site drop-off rates are high and consumers don’t complete the desired action. Analytics offer marketers an opportunity to design Web sites around real consumer behavior. That improves return on investment (ROI) on marketing campaigns, as well as on the site itself.

A few ideas to get started. Areas of the site getting little traffic should have more links to drive traffic to them (or should be eliminated altogether); a registration process that’s losing people halfway through is likely too long. Uninteresting content may be the cause of top exit pages. Test new content to see if you can hold consumer interest longer. Test new registration processes to improve completion rates.

Linking Customer Behavior to Marketing Initiatives

It’s increasingly important to tailor outbound marketing messages to individuals’ observable behaviors to create more relevant and compelling marketing messages and drive high response. Analytics can provide the opportunity, for example, to continue a targeted discussion with a consumer through email based about the brand or product in which they showed interest on the site. My next column will cover more “re-marketing” opportunities that aren’t being mined fast enough.

Optimizing Marketing Activities

Analytic-driven data is also helpful for understanding if there’s ongoing value in an existing marketing relationship (e.g., a buy from Yahoo, MSN, or AOL) or what keywords to buy from search engines. Marketers can optimize creative messaging and landing pages to attract and engage more prospects from key customer segments.

Not just for online retailers, Web site analytics speak brand marketers’ language. Analytics inform and assess outbound marketing programs and site design for both. Metrics such as those discussed above can guide site redesign, marketing optimization, and re-marketing based on known customer behavior. The payoff: better ROI from online campaigns and Web sites. Ultimately, increased brand loyalty from customers.

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