The headline of a recent cover page article for BtoB Online’s publication (July 16, 2007) stated, “Marketers discover analytics’ power.” Hmm…isn’t it a little late to finally start listening to what many online marketers have been preaching for years? Funny thing is it seems that many businesses have been using analytics “as reports” and never considered the actual value hidden underneath the figures and graphs.
The article references a June study conducted by Web Analytics Demystified, which found that “82% of 856 respondents, who included marketers and web analytic practitioners, said web analytics is poorly understood in their organizations and that the majority of people interacting with Web data do not understand what they mean.” Ever wonder how Web businesses remain in business (and show up on Top 500 E-retailer lists) if they are not maximizing their resources through effectively using analytics? Imagine the revenue increases readily available from leveraging web analytic insights?
An important point that stood out with me was the last statement about “a majority of people interacting with Web data do not understand what they mean.” I wrote an article a while back about the skills I believe are required of an effective analytics user. Uncovering the real power from analytics requires a broad knowledge of the business, its market, its customers and its products and/or services. Data is just data until it is probed and sifted into information and then leveraged further by a skilled marketer into actionable knowledge.
For example, using analytics to assess entry page bounce rates by traffic source uncovers data. It enables businesses to pinpoint visit quality and helps target improvement efforts either with the traffic source or the entry page. However, the real power from the analytical insight is taking the information and applying strategies to optimize the situation. In essence, analytics tell you “what” but they don’t tell you “how” – and the how is what gets better results.
It’s understood that scouring through website analytics is hard work and time-strained businesses have a lot on their plates. But using analytics is not about completing your weekly sales report so the bosses know you’re working. No…analytics is about maximizing your business so you’ll make more money. It’s an effort, when not only the “what” but the “how” is targeted, that generates a direct return on the investment.