Web Analytics Will Emerge As A Cornerstone Of Customer Intelligence

Joe Stanhope

Last week I hit a major personal milestone.  My first report as a Forrester analyst went live!

As thrilling as this is for me, I hope it will be even more exciting for Customer Intelligence professionals.

The report is titled How Web Analytics will Emerge As A Cornerstone of Customer Intelligence, and is based on the premise that the web is the common demoninator for customer experiences and that this information can be harnessed and subsequently applied throughout the enteprise. This report outlines the future trajectory of Web analytics technology and gives CI professionals pragmatic advice about how to use that technology as a foundational component for customer intelligence that fuels multichannel marketing effectiveness.

Marketers today have a dizzying array of online and offline touchpoints at their disposal, but without a doubt all roads lead through the Web. For most organizations, Web sites, microsites, landing pages, communities, and other interactive properties are mission-critical for acquiring, retaining, and nurturing customers and other target audiences. By definition this reality makes the Web one of the most crucial sources of insight for Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals. To put that insight into action, firms must leverage Web analytics beyond isolated Web site marketing and operations to feed analysis, decision support, and execution for the entire marketing function.

I believe that Web analytics will extend beyond the Web site in two phases. 

First - Web analytics platforms will cement their position as the nucleus of online measurement by continuing their current diversification efforts to extend beyond core Web analytics capabilities.

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Customer Intelligence Can Drive Irrefutable Marketing Accountability

Carlton Doty

Would you classify your marketing organization as "highly accountable"? What I mean is, are you always able to accurately measure the true business value of your marketing efforts, and do your senior leaders trust the results? If you're like most marketers, the honest answer to that question is a resounding "no". Proving the business value of multichannel marketing is getting progressively harder—and more important—because:

  • Traditional marketing measurement practices are rooted in stable but inflexible tactics that leave marketers ill-equipped to keep pace with the real time nature of channel digitization.
  • CFOs wield ever-more influence over marketing budgets, which is driving your CMO to lean harder on you to measure business results with scientific rigor.
  • Your customers are in control; uncertainty and unpredictability are the norm; and marketers that can't adapt appropriately are doomed to fail.

This is where you come in. I believe that Customer Intelligence professionals are remarkably well positioned to address these challenges head on, and improve marketing accountability across the enterprise. Why? Because you sit at the cross-section of unfettered access to mountains of customer data from a dizzying array of online and offline sources. "Big data" as the recent article data, data, everywhere in The Economist puts it, is big business. CI professionals are right in the middle of it all helping firms capture customer data, analyze it, measure business results, and act upon the findings.

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Google announces plans to offer Google Analytics Opt-Out

Joe Stanhope

I was on client calls most of the day, and when I came up for air in the afternoon to check my RSS reader and Tweetdeck to see what what going on in the world I made a fascinating discovery.  Like many of you I came across the following post from the Google Analytics Blog:

http://analytics.blogspot.com/2010/03/more-choice-for-users-browser-based-opt.html

This was most unexpected, and my Thursday suddenly got alot more interesting.

Before we go any further let me state that I have not been briefed by Google on this news item.  This post is purely based on my own initial thoughts on the matter.

The blog post announces Google's plans to release a browser plug-in that would allow consumers to opt-out of Google Analytics tracking.  This offering is still in development, and the post offers no specifics on the release date, although it implies that this is only weeks away.

(Side note: It is also interesting to note the language used in the post.  The post leads with "As an enterprise-class web analytics solution..."  This isn't a surprising or entirely inappropriate assertion, but it strongly implies Google's aspirations for GA.)

There are many reasons why Google's course of action is counterintuitive.  Naturally, the marketer in me recoils at the idea of voluntarily allowing measurable data to slip through our hands.  Rationalizing web analytics data is already hard enough, and now this?  And we can certainly debate the true privacy impact of web analytics on consumers. 

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Welcome To The New Customer Intelligence Blog

Carlton Doty

Hello Customer Intelligence Pros:

In case you haven’t heard by now, Forrester just launched its new blog platform yesterday. Why bother you ask? Well, most importantly, we want to more easily allow you to follow individual analysts and streams of research that are most relevant to you. Here is what Cliff Condon, our guru of Forrester communities and blogs, has to say about the new platform. I urge you to please take a look around, and let me know what you think. Also, let me know what type of content and discussion you would like to see from the Customer Intelligence team in the near future.

Thanks,

Carl

Online Testing and Targeting Platforms - We want your input!

Joe Stanhope

Greetings from beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah, where I'm at the 2010 Omniture Summit. It's been a good week, I must say that my favorite part has been the opportunity to meet with so many web analytics practitioners, friends, Forrester clients and the Omniture team.  If you didn't attend but are interested in getting a feel for the event, check out the Twitter hashtag, #omtrsummit.

I am pleased to announce that this week we are initiating the research process for the inaugural Forrester Wave™ evaluation of Online Testing and Targeting platforms.  We plan to publish this Wave report in the third quarter of 2010. Upon completion this research will be distributed to senior marketing executives at hundreds of large marketing organizations globally.

The first phase of the process is to determine the field of vendors who comprise the Online Testing and Targeting landscape.  We have already identified and contacted a number of companies who participate in the market via previous research efforts.

Forrester is actively innovating our use of social media, and this extends to the research process.  I would like to solicit your input through two modes of participation:

1. If you are a practitioner, please share which Online Testing and Targeting vendors you currently or have previously used.  Also please let me know if you would be interested in receiving followup communications to discuss your experiences with vendors and online testing in general.

2. If you represent a vendor in the Online Testing and Targeting space and would like to be considered for inclusion in the Wave report please let me know and we'll send you  our preliminary vendor survey to complete and submit.

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Exciting times in Web Intelligence!

Joe Stanhope

Hello everyone, welcome to my first blog post as a Forrester Analyst.

I joined Forrester in late January after nearly six years at Alterian, an Enterprise Marketing software company, where I was Vice President of Platform Strategy, supporting Product Marketing, Analyst Relations and Corporate Development.

First and foremost, I’m thrilled to be on board at Forrester and I’m looking forward to getting to work!  Many thanks to the Forrester team and our clients who have been so supportive. 

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Welcome Joe Stanhope to the Customer Intelligence team!

Carlton Doty

Happy New Year!  Okay, a bit late on that. However, I have some exciting news. I’m thrilled to announce the newest addition to Forrester’s Customer Intelligence (CI) team—Senior Analyst, Joe Stanhope. Joe starts on January 25, and he will be our go-to analyst for site optimization strategy, which includes coverage of Web analytics as well as online testing and targeting platforms.

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What to do with Social Media and Market Research?

Brad Bortner

Social media is the interesting guest at the market research party that the hosts don't quite know what to do with. (My past blogs on this topic include: Social Media, Even Home Home on the Range, and Will Private Online Communities Transform Qualitative Research

Vast numbers of people are congregating online to discuss a vast variety of issues, ranging from their social lives to what is the best server to buy for their business. It is so vast, that it is troublesome getting a handle on it. Surely, any specific online community has lots of systematic biases, so it can't be treated as projectable to anything but that community, right? Of course, the same can be said of any qualitative research. Some of the approaches and techniques that are of interest to market researchers include:

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A Fond Farewell to John Lovett

Carlton Doty

About a year ago, I took over the management of what has become Forrester's Customer Intelligence (CI) team. In doing so, I've had the pleasure of working with Senior Analyst John Lovett, who joined the team after our acquisition of Jupiter Research last year. Regretfully, I must tell you that John has decided that it's time for a change of pace.

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Is The Other Shoe Dropping In Panel Quality?

Brad Bortner

Some recent events make me hopeful that major moves are afoot with enhancing panel quality.

Since the beginning of online surveys, there have been questions about how clean the online panels that enable them are. Questions abounded about representativeness, fraud, professional survey takers, inattentive survey takers and the like. The response from panel vendors has been that they have strong measures in place, and that the problems were overstated. Naysayers have claimed bad sample numbers that range from 20-30%. Buyer's of sample were largely in a "trust me" position, since most of the quality measures were in the hands of the panel vendor. Associations (such as ESOMAR and ARF), have come up with protocols that all good panels should follow, and many have.

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