Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Embracing Analytics

I really only started getting interested in web analytics when we started this blog (in May). Since then Google Analytics has been my friend, one I check with each and every day to see how our site is growing over time.

Of course, analytical techniques have been an important part of our direct marketing tool kit for years. RRW excels at using statistics and modeling to better target our clients' marketing. We build response models, custom segmentation schemes, up-sell and retention models. We score databases and help our customers make best use of their customer and prospect databases.

But, I promise, this post is not a shameless plug for our analytical prowess. Instead, I wanted to share this article about integrating web and other analytics: The next step: Evolving from Web and marketing analytics to customer analytics.

From the article: "Of course the specific challenge with Web analytics is the anonymity of the Internet. Much of the information captured is anonymous session data and statistics. But through the integration of Web analytics with e-mail and database marketing, we can better tie information to specific users, adding session data to customer profiles. Right now, this information is most often stored in the Web analytics tools. But why keep these powerful data segregated from everything else you know about your customer? Why not export and mine them along with your offline data for a more comprehensive analysis? If your marketing team doesn’t have access to all customer data across the enterprise, they can’t have a complete picture of your customer. They can’t help your customer as muxh as your customer expects, and they can’t anticipate what your customer will want next.

Analytics is about competitive advantage—something none of us can afford to ignore. It’s about knowing your customers better than your competition does, and using that knowledge to create long-term value for everyone."

I heartily applaud the thoughts behind this article. Interesting to me--many marketers started with web analytics (heck, the tools are even free, sometimes). They know exactly who's clicking, and what they're clicking on. They've quantified the web experience six ways to Sunday. Now, it's time to apply the same analytical techniques to off-line marketing. Tie web behavior to off-line behavior. Understand what your customer looks like, not just in terms of how they transact on your site, but in terms of their demographics and other available external data.

How old are they? What do they do in their spare time? Where do they live? What kind of car do they drive? Do they have kids? Are they college grads? Do they ski, snowboard, or play tennis? Do they like to buy from catalogs? Are they tech-savvy?

All of this data is readily available from compilers such as Experian, InfoUSA, Acxiom and Equifax. Think about the rich picture you can begin to paint once you tie this type of data to your customers. Think about how you can improve their web experience, presenting offers that will truly resonate with them.

The marketers who learn to tie web analytics with off-line analytics together will truly be on the leading edge. I'd love to hear thoughts, challenges or success stories about experiences when this was done right.

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