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Business people reading graphs and charts

Digital analytics: What you need to know and how it can aid your digital market-ing strategy

By: Tom Blightman, Digital Analytics Manager at Ready Steady Store.

13 - Business Express

Measuring success is something businesses are constantly striving for and the performance of your digital channels is no different.

But with a change in the privacy landscape among other challenges, it’s getting more and more difficult for businesses to target the right people. For example, Forrester reports between 60-73% of all data within a business goes unused in analytics.

Digital analytics, if used correctly, can be a great asset to your business, but what actually is it? Digital analytics is used to track and measure the performance of a business’ online channels and campaigns.

As a whole, digital analytics is quite a broad category and covers the collection, analysis and reporting of digital data. Likewise, digital data is quite a broad term – central to this is web analytics, but it also covers digital marketing data including SEO, PPC, CRO, customer surveys etc.

Ultimately, the goal of digital analytics is to identify trends and opportunities for the business to enhance the customer experience, optimise marketing budget and overall business performance.

Here is my go-to guide on digital analytics and how you can utilise it to aid your digital marketing strategy.

How does digital analytics assist businesses in reaching the right person or target audience?

Given we share so much of our personal data online, there’s a wealth of information available to help businesses understand and target potential customers, whether that’s understanding the demographics of people coming to your website, who is interacting with your ads or what keywords different audiences are searching for.

This is an area that potentially may get more challenging as legislation around data and the use of third-party cookies develops (a whole other topic in itself…) However, it will encourage new ways of thinking about customers and ensure your activity is well aligned to their needs and will make advertising less ‘spammy’!

How important is measuring the business objectives of digital analytics?

KPIs must be set at the forefront of any activity to be able to understand the ROI of any activity.

From this, understanding what data needs to be collected and ensuring it is accurate is vital. The area of technical implementation/tag management to ensure robust data collection is a specialist skill in its own right, so you should be sure to consult technical experts before any significant project or investment.

Identify what digital metrics are right for your business and your strategy

The KPIs and metrics that are right for your business are totally dependent on the project or initiative. As one of the godfathers of digital analytics, I always refer back to Avinash Kaushik’s Digital Marketing and Measurement Model to help me hone in on what it is the business is looking to achieve.

This provides a robust framework for thinking about the strategy and objectives which in turn will help define relevant metrics regardless of the digital channel being deployed.

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How should digital analytics support your wider-reaching digital marketing strategy?

It’s not possible to separate out digital analytics from digital marketing – given you will (or should!) judge the success of any digital marketing efforts based on the data, then by definition, this will involve digital analytics. However, thinking about digital analytics up-front rather than as an afterthought can help your marketing strategy go further.

For instance, the most successful businesses will have a CRO test plan defined to run AB tests on-site and within ad copy or creative assets, to understand what resonates more with customers and drive revenue.

Again, CRO is an area of digital analytics that is a somewhat specialist area. However, it’s very easy to get started using free tools, such as Google Optimise.

Advantages of having a Digital analytics strategy

Again, I’d argue that a digital analytics strategy should be one and the same as the overall business strategy. It’s a bit of a cliché, but so many organisations talk about being “data-led” so, if this is actually the case, digital analytics should be at the heart of their strategy.

It’s also not really about the advantages of having a digital analytics strategy – it’s about the risks of not having one.

If you don’t have one, you won’t have a good handle on who your customers are, what products are selling well or why your competitors are getting so much more organic traffic than you are.

It may be that this activity is happening without a clearly defined strategy, but it’ll be much more effective if it’s defined up-front and in conjunction with the overall business strategy.

Best tools/resources for Digital analytics

Google Analytics remains the best free web analytics tool for SMEs. As part of the Google stack, Google Optimise and Google Data Studio are very good. As an analyst, you can’t live without Excel.

My own personal bias as a BI tool is Microsoft Power BI – purely from a usability perspective and getting buy-in across a business, given so many people are familiar with Microsoft products I’ve found uptake of PBI much higher than Tableau – as excellent that is as a BI tool the learning curve is steep.

There are so many other tools that are great – but here is a list of the tools we use on a daily basis at Ready Steady Store:

Digital analytics gets you closer to your target

Whilst no practice is perfect, digital analytics does take away many of marketing’s unknown variables. Having the correct consumer insights will be key in determining the success of your digital analytics strategy and any subsequent marketing campaigns you launch from that.

Like most things in business, getting the best out of your data will be down to proper planning, analysis and hard work.

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