There's no other way to say it: when connecting data to customers, it is easy feel as if you're suffering from analysis paralysis. You feel like you are hearing the word analytics for the first time, not to mention the intimidation that comes when you look at a dashboard or a report.But you certainly understand the importance of the connection. So how do we make the most of the data we have? You can start with small steps that tease out data that truly reflect your customers’ tendencies. That, in turn, can guide your sales and marketing efforts.
The first essential step is to make sure your analytics solution has a clear goal, be it reaching a page or event tracking for downloads and video plays —you can review this in an earlier post. Setting a goal keeps the analysis focused on traffic that helps you reach that goal rather than aimlessly examining changes in site performance. The next step is to establish online marketing efforts — ads, contributing to blogs, physical exposure, etc. Then, use the following ideas as starting points for your analysis: tease out where your traffic is coming from and what you can do to encourage meaningful conversion, like sales, registration, or a video play.
Segmentation is the division of your data based on one or more characteristics that reflect trends in the data. There are numerous ways to approach segmentation (we'll cover other segmentation ideas in another post). But you can start with reviewing a traffic sources report with your marketing and business structure in mind. There are three basic traffic sources:
- Direct: Arrivals to your site directly
- Search: Arrivals to your site via a search engines
- Referral: Arrivals to your site through other websites
Each of these traffic sources can tell you what kind of digital exposure your business is receiving. Examine the time on site and consistency of the traffic being drawn to see which of these sources is contributing to your site’s goals. Your site is exposed to all sources, but chances are one or two may be contributing to more online sales or registrations. With referrals, for example, you may discover which blogs or sites are sending worthwhile traffic and probably could be strengthened by further effort.
A map overlay report simply shows the geography from which your visitors are arriving. It is valuable to know, for instance, if you have more site visits from Illinois than Indiana! But most analytics solutions can combine traffic sources in the map overlay report, providing nuanced look at site arrivals. A great example is direct traffic. Direct traffic implies that the visitors are highly motivated to learn more about your site and business. Thus you can filter the map overview report to show which regions are sending direct traffic, implying areas where marketing could be further exposed (or exposed less).
Most map overlays do not distinguish visits among neighborhoods — such as going from Brooklyn's Prospect Heights to Fort Greene. But this segmentation can help if your business serves a larger metropolitan area, like from Chicago to its suburbs.
Incorporate your analytics into a CRM
Many analytics solutions can feed analytics data into a CRM system (customer relationship management). The reason is that it provides a better sense of customers’ sources and refines lead generation efforts. Justin Cutroni, a well known Web analytics consultant in the measurement community, provides a wonderfully detailed look at a what a CRM modification to Google Analytics code would look like — see his post here.
The best ingredient in the secret sauce for maximizing your customer data is appreciating how your business model is represented online through the analytics features. Many businesses are unaware of the shifting behavior of customers reviewing a website before deciding to purchase (note my mention of online stats in this post ). So regardless of whether you or an analytics team is managing your analytics dashboards, stakeholders should have a feel for how your operations serve customers through the site. That can help you focus on the metrics that are most important to your customer data objectives.
With these initial steps, you will reinvigorate your sales cycle, finding ways of increasing leads or enhancing your marketing efforts. All in all, your data will point you in the right direction to retaining the customers with the best service.
Learn about all the different ways Pitney Bowes can help you communicate better with your customers.
Pierre DeBois is a marketing analytics expert. He is the founder of Zimana (www.zimana.com), a small business analytics consultancy. Pierre is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.