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To many brands, web analytics is all about reporting. They use their website data to see which pages are popular, track their site's bounce rate, and understand the customer journeys which drive conversions.
But in 2017, argues Tealium's Andy Clark, we will see the role of web analytics greatly expanded. It will, he states, be used both to enhance external communications as well as internal analysis.
In the video below, Mr Clark lays out his vision for web analytics in 2017 and I've then provided a summary, examples, and additional commentary.
So, according to Andy, in 2017 we will see brands:
1. Combine web analytics with marketing automation for a 360-view of the customer
In the past, customer views to websites were largely used for one thing in marketing – to create a personalised ad campaign through retargeting. That is, if someone visited a web page for 'red shoes', we made sure that those 'red shoes' followed them all around the internet.
Now, brands are using customer browsing behaviour as input data in order to change many things besides just an ad campaign. Through combining analytics data with marketing automation, marketers are able to use data from multiple sources to achieve multiple marketing objectives.
For example, here a marketing manager from LL Bean describes how abandoned shopping cart data not only improves a retargeting display campaign, but can also improve email, paid search, and the user's future website browsing experience.
Then through assembling all of the captured data points, companies can produce a 'Universal Visitor Profile' which will be the central repository and source of data about identifiable customers.
This will allow brands, then, to treat each member of their audience pool uniquely. The excellent example provided by LL Bean is that having this profile allows the team to assemble an audience of people who have viewed an out-of-stock item and advertise it to them when it becomes available.
In doing so, marketing has captured website behaviour, combined it with their stock system, and leveraged it to give customers information that they are looking for through an email or display ad.
2. Integrate web analytics with offline systems for new business insights
It's curious that while most companies will use website data to improve their web experience, it's rare to find one which uses it as an input for enhancing other, non-web related data.
This could mean using page views, time on site, or even bounce rate to determine the level of consumer interest in a product or category. Or, with the right data, a conjoint analysis of product features and benefits could be carried out through highlighting particular combinations on the website.
American airline US Airways (now American Airlines) had a particularly interesting external use case for its website data. Besides providing air travel, US Airways also made significant revenue from its data monetization partner Adara Media.
But while US Airways had long ago integrated its offline booking system and loyalty programme database, the company website was changing so frequently that the web analytics data was often missing many key data points.
Using a tag management solution, though, US Airways was able to greatly enhance the website data passed to Adara, and achieve an annualized ROI of over 400%.
So whether it's through using web analytics to improve your marketing via enhanced automation or repurposing your web analytics to improve internal analysis, 2017 is going to see big changes in how brands use their website data, according to Tealium's Andy Clark.
And while it will still be useful for more traditional reporting, the data marketers harvest from their websites can then be used to provide greater value both internally and to customers as well.