Getting Started with Digital Analytics

The online advertising realm is full of possibilities and opportunities to understand your key target. Did you know some tools can determine what type of person visits a website, and how they act? As in, perhaps a female, age 35-44, who is interested in comedy television programs, spends twice as long on the site as any other visitor. Or have you ever looked at an item for sale on one site, only to find that same item in an ad on your Facebook page? Those are two examples of digital analytics at work, and if used correctly, can be a tremendous driving force of online marketing and overall business knowledge.

In order to begin collecting any type of digital metrics, you must first start tracking activity on your website. This can be accomplished using an array of products, from the open source (ie, free) tools like Google Analytics or Piwik, to the cost-based tools like Kiss Metrics, Webtrends, and Adobe Analytics (also known as Omniture or SiteCatalyst). (Knowing which analytics tool is right for your business is another topic, which I will get into at a later date.) One of my favorite sayings around website analytics is 'If you can't measure it, it's not worth doing.' That is to say, why have a website if you can't tell that it's working for your business?

Once you get an analytics tool on your website, you can start collecting basic metrics to measure site performance. These metrics will serve as a litmus test to future marketing efforts.

The rest of your digital marketing metrics will come from external channels, such as email, paid search, display advertising, and social media. By collecting these multiple sets of data, and connecting them through tagging, you can map external marketing data to onsite data. In a sense, digital marketing data is a great example of the Big Data principle.

To paraphrase, the first step of digital marketing analytics is actively collecting the proper data from all potential sources. The second step is connecting the data for measurable impact.

For example, a digital banner ad has a 5.25% CTR (click-through rate) compared to its competitor's CTR of 4.25%. Is that ad working well?

You may say yes, since the measurement referenced is higher. However, by looking beyond the CTR you can collect information on how the ad click performed once on the website. In this case, the digital ad with the 5.25% CTR converted only 10% of the time when on the website, while the ad with 4.25% CTR converted at a 65% rate. Clearly the competitor's ad is working much better.

This is the classic example of the element digital analytics - using all the sources of digital marketing data to tell a complete story.

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