Extended Google Analytics Benchmark Capabilities Threaten To Disrupt

Blogged in collaboration with Samantha Ngo, Senior Research Associate, serving Customer Insights professionals.

You’ve heard us saying a thousand times: the buzz about big data isn’t about the amount of data you’ve collected; it’s how you digest that data and turn it into actionable insights. With the revamp to Google Analytics’ (GAs) benchmarking, Google is taking the next steps in allowing us common folk to process data in a platform with a simple UI, built to enable you to draw insights to catalyze actionable improvements to your marketing program.

Google’s vision is there. GAs extended benchmarking capability  – available to free and premium users - offers some sparkly new features such as 1600 industry categories (previously 26), size buckets, and location filters that allow for basic segmentation; and, the tool can automatically place you within one of these categories according to your web traffic, etc. Also, you have to give to get: Opting out of allowing Google to collect your information anonymously means you won’t have access to benchmarking features. Given GA’s huge deployment footprint — we’re talking about big time big data and a great opportunity for firms of all sizes and verticals to compare themselves to relevant markets.

But as you excitedly dive into Google’s benchmarking big data lake you should consider that;

  • This isn’t quite ready for enterprise. For the moment the benchmarks can only be viewed via Google reports; and digital marketers will not be able to suck this benchmark data (via APIs etc..) into their favourite dashboarding or BI tool.
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The Forrester Wave™: Web Analytics, Q2 2014 Shows That Web Analytics Is More Important Than Ever

At Forrester we have talked about the fact that digital intelligence has replaced web analytics.  Digital intelligence tackles emerging channels, sophisticated consumers, technical challenges, and the enterprise democratization of digital analytics.  Achieving this requires a technology toolkit which far outstrips the data, analytics and action remit of even the top web analytics tools.  Does that mean we throw away web analytics?  Absolutely not!  Forrester’s most recent research shows that web analytics remains relevant even as digital intelligence strategies mature because top vendors are:

  • Extending the capabilities of their web analytics tools to collect and ingest multiple on and offline data sources and democratizing insights and discovery by improving usability and support of sophisticated data and analytics techniques.  
  • Supporting other processes, systems and tools within the digital intelligence toolkit which provides actionably (e.g testing, behavioral  targeting, etc.) by making web analytics data and insights available to these systems – in real time.

Don’t throw away web analytics; use it as a starting point and cornerstone for your firm’s digital intelligence journey.

Check the recent Forrester Wave™: Web Analytics, Q2 2014 wave report to get further insight as to how enterprise web analytics vendors have advanced their products to support digital intelligence.

Technology Alone Won’t Take You Beyond The Campaign

As digital marketers, we know the importance of tracking, measuring, understanding, and meeting customers’ expectations at their preferred interaction points. We have convinced our budget masters of digital intelligence’s importance to the business as a whole and our spend on digital measurement and marketing technologies continues to increase—exciting vendors and enticing new ones to continually improve products.

But despite this increased investment in technologies, the same stubborn problem remains: different teams are working with siloed data sets while failing to understand and delight the customer across a variety of digital touch points. Why? Because while technology has provided the pieces for digital marketing, these pieces have not come together to deliver completed suites. Achieving this suite goal requires more than just an investment in technology; it requires a considerable effort and a strategy supported by executives that:

  • Recognizes the multi-channel digital customer experiences firms wish to project using customer insights
  • Realigns teams and processes to for better cross functional cooperation
  • Builds skills set and focuses more investment in staff and partnership

Following my report, Decipher the Digital Intelligence Technology Code, I will talk through creating a strong digital marketing foundation for a world beyond campaigns. Catch me during the upcoming Forrester’ Forum For Marketing Leaders on May 13-14, 2014 to learn more about a balanced approach to building out digital marketing suites.

Take The “Big” Out Of Big Data With Customer Recognition

I remember my first day at high school. Yikes it was scary. The older kids were BIG! The teachers were BIG (the phys ed teacher was even a little mean), the school was BIG . . . Everything felt so BIG! But as the year ticked by, l became familiar and comfortable with my classmates, teachers, and the school -- the place shrunk to a more comforting size.

Today marketers feel about data as I did about my first day at big school -- it’s BIG. There is lots of it, and it’s coming at them from many directions and in many forms. But data does not feel so big and daunting to the marketer who recognizes their customers buried in the fog of big data. The fact is, customer recognition is the key for marketers to make sense of big data; and it is at the heart of all effective marketing activities. I write about this in my most recent report: “Customer Recognition: The CI Keystone.”

So what is customer recognition?

  • Recognition associates interactions with individuals or segments across time and interactions. The strength of recognition is gauged on its ability to associate interactions to anything from individuals to a broad segment; and to persist those associations across different touchpoints over time.
  • Keys are needed for recognition at touchpoints. There are many types of keys, ranging from IP addresses, to cookie-based TPIKs, to phone numbers and customer account numbers. At Forrester we call them touchpoint interaction keys (TPIKs)
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Set Your Digital Marketing Programs On Fire With Tag Management

This year tag management is a sizzling hot topic. Why? Firms are really struggling to with their JavaScript tags and scripts on their websites and other digital channels.  As they get serious about their digital marketing programs the number and types of digital tags being managed is exploding. Costs are increasing, errors are creeping in, customer experience is negatively impacted, and costly digital marketing programs have been rendered useless in some cases.

Tag management tools are much more than the management of tags. Strategic use can:

  1. give control of digital marketing campaigns to marketers – relieving significant IT burden,
  2. significantly reduce digital marketing implementation and operational costs,
  3. garner support for digital marketing programs – even in highly regulated firms – by offering detailed multi-stakeholder visibility and control of scripts and digital data,
  4. reduce the “stickiness” and dependence on digital technology vendors, and
  5. enable digital data syndication, which in turn drives dynamic segmentation and bottom-up attribution programs.

Forrester is currently assessing the tag management capabilities of top global brands, advising on their strategies and guiding them with their digital marketing road maps.  Also; tag management research is ongoing with a few papers due for release later this year.