Did you know the top priority for CMOs is marketing analytics? In this opinion piece, 24 Digital managing director Zaac Woodhead explains how insights can help marketers drive value to websites.
Having worked in web and digital marketing for over 15 years, I’ve seen it go through some incredible shifts.
When websites first burst onto the scene in the 90s, they were a destination for basic company information and essentially just static HTML pages…an online brochure. Today, that has changed with the emergence of a new trend: website personalisation. This means a website will adapt the content presented on screen in accordance with the audience, their device type, any previous interactions, and even their locations. Most importantly behavioural intents such as where they are in their customer buying journey. Thus, it’s the data that has made all of this new personalisation possible and holds the key to organisational success.
A report released by Gartner this month reveals that insights and analytics are the two most important capabilities supporting the delivery of marketing strategies over the next 18 months, the success of which is heavily dependent upon website data. The report showcased that marketing analytics is the single largest area of investment by CMOs, making up 16 per cent of the budget allocated to marketing programs and operational areas. This strategic importance is underscored by the fact that overall marketing budgets have shrunk to 10.5 per cent of company revenue, the lowest it’s been since 2014.
To help us make the most of data and analytics, we use WP Engine to optimise digital experiences by providing actionable insights on site traffic, content, and performance.
As a digital marketer, equipping yourself with the knowledge to properly harness insights and analytics is now paramount. However, it can often feel overwhelming to navigate this space.
Driving consumers to the website
Websites give an organisation the ability to measure a customer’s journey. Organisations can now understand how many visits a site has each day, if a user is male or female, where users are located, what content they viewed, whether they converted, how they shop online and what their interests might be. Basically what parts of the site are working and what visitors want to see more of, or less.
For marketers to have a true and accurate understanding of their customers, they need data and a marketer’s best vehicle to generate data is through their owned properties, most typically through their website. Owned media is precisely that, wholly owned by the brand or organisation. As such, all data and information generated by those sites belongs to the company. This isn’t true for social properties or ad units. Thus at the core of all digital marketing strategies should be a call to action that drives users to an organisation’s site.
The power of websites today means that organisations can trace how users were driven there to begin with and most importantly provide attribution for the actions taken with respect to content on the website and what may have influenced a sale. These insights are incredibly valuable as they help measure the success of digital marketing campaigns, content and brand initiatives. Behaviour intent typically varies depending on where they came from. For example a person who has come from a Google search is doing so with specific intent based on their search term, whereas someone who has come from socials may be more in ‘discovery’ or ‘inspiration’ mode.
Building personalised experiences
With access to data and insights, organisations can now understand their customers like never before and can build personalised digital experiences, and even experiences that anticipate their needs.
This is invaluable as today, consumers have created the expectation that the level of service they receive online should mirror the service they receive offline. In fact, when you factor in the personalisation angle, they expect a better, more customised experience online. Online Australian retailer, The Iconic, is a leader in customised website content. One person’s experience on The Iconic is very different to another’s experience. The Iconic gathers information to better understand consumer preferences, taking note of individual tastes and then modifying their offering to better suit their consumers wants and needs.
Dealing with data ethically
Data management is currently a media and governmental hot topic and brands who misuse consumer data can suffer both reputational and financial damage.
Collecting data is valuable only if the data is applied in an ethical manner to make meaningful contributions to a customer’s online experience. This is where marketers need to be fully cognisant of their country’s data regulations as well as their customers’ changing expectations around how their data is being used.
There are undoubtedly more avenues marketers can take with consumer data, especially as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning advance. We have already seen AI completely shift our approach to analysing data. The need to operate transparently and ethically is more important than ever, ensuring the consumer trust that takes so long to build is not lost. A recent report by WP Engine found that 93 per cent of Australian consumers want brands to be transparent about how their data is being used for personalisation purposes.
Capturing data is essential, but it’s how the data is applied that makes the difference between a poor online user experience and a seamless online user experience that mutually builds trust between the brand and the consumer.
Something our agency 24 has observed in the market is that organisations have become much better now at capturing data, however they need to improve on consolidating disparate and fragmented datasets (aka sales, customer service, product segments, operations etc) together and asking the right questions of it that can then be acted upon to improve the customer experience and business as a whole for growth. Using customer-centric data to drive decision making ensures the right problems are being solved, with the most focused effort and ROI.