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Web analytics and beyond ... it's a multichannel world

This article appears in the issue November/December 2012, [Vol 21, Issue 10]
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With so much commerce taking place on the Web, it's not surprising that corporations are taking a close look at the data collected from interactions on websites. According to Forrester, 84 percent of businesses are using Web analytics technology, with the heaviest use by marketing departments. Marketing through mobile and social channels is growing, and one of the challenges is to measure the effectiveness of such initiatives.

"Companies understand that consumers move seamlessly across devices and touchpoints, and that they expect their experience to be consistent and relevant," says Joe Stanhope, principal analyst at Forrester. Marketers are steadily tapping into the data flow to find out whether they are meeting consumers' expectations, and which channels or elements are most effective.

Analyzing social media

Motorcycle Superstore is a leading retailer of motorcycle gear, parts, accessories and clothing in the United States, primarily through online sales. The site, which has been operating for more than a decade, receives about a million visitors per month. To increase brand engagement and create a sense of community, Motorcycle Superstore launched a Facebook page in summer 2009. To measure the impact of various ads and promotions, the company began using Webtrends for its social media analyses, which was already in use on its website.

In addition to creating an online community, the role of the Facebook page is to drive traffic to the website. Initially, the Motorcycle Superstore's Facebook page was promoted by a single ad of general interest that appeared on the right margin of a user's Facebook interface and was linked to the retailer's Facebook page. The clickthrough rate to the Motorcycle Superstore website was only .05 percent, which is the industry average. "We began testing various strategies," says Graham Hetland, social media community manager for  the Motorcycle Superstore, "focusing on specifically targeting different segments of the motorcycling community such as cruisers, street bikes and scooters."

By monitoring response to the more targeted ads on the Facebook platform, Hetland discovered that the clickthrough rate from the ad to Motorcycle Superstore's own Facebook page had increased to .5 percent, a tenfold increase. Because users generally give permission for Motorcycle Superstore to access their demographic information, analysis by age, gender and other factors is possible.

"Most of the Facebook visitors are younger as compared to website visitors," Hetland explains. "Analyzing this information lets us choose certain promotions for Facebook—for example, casual apparel, which appeals to this demographic." Motorcycle Superstore also uses Webtrends to track how much traffic Facebook and other social channels drive to its website. "We can track conversions through Webtrends to begin to understand the ROI of these efforts," Hetland adds.

The Facebook page is used to handle customer service issues. "When a customer has not gotten a satisfactory outcome through other means," continues Hetland, "they post a comment. It's up to us to resolve the issue to keep our reputation and brand positive." Typically, Hetland will check the backstory on the complaint, discover its history and work out a positive outcome. Metrics provided by Facebook help track customer sentiment ... positive or negative comments or actions such as "Liking" the page.

Positive engagement

Caption contests are another form of engagement, in which visitors suggest captions for pictures and vote for their choice. The winner receives an item such as a hat or T-shirt. "We look each week at how many people are participating," says Hetland, "along with the number that shared, liked or commented, which provides other measures of positive engagement with our brand."

The Motorcycle Superstore uses  Webtrends for analytics on its website, which is where purchases occur, to identify products that are producing a high number of views or sales. The information helps determine what promotional actions the company takes. In addition, the company used Webtrends analytics for behavioral retargeting in conjunction with an e-mail marketing software solution to leverage its knowledge of customers.

That integration allowed Motorcycle Superstore to offer one-on-one promotions to individual customers. Those customized picks were added to the e-mail newsletters sent to a subset (10 percent) of newsletter recipients, while the remainder received standard recommendations. Purchases from the customized mailings increased e-mail revenue by 24 percent, and the customers in that category, who accounted for just one-tenth of the total number of customers, accounted for 22 percent of e-mail clickthroughs.

Webtrend's analytics have also been used by Motorcycle Superstore to measure response to a new version of the checkout process, to compare its effectiveness to the original. The updated version has improved graphics and additional information about security. Motorcycle Superstore attributes an increase of $2.5 million in revenue to the new interface.

Mobile measurement

The retailer is also measuring the results of its mobile initiatives, which surprisingly makes it an exception to most companies. Despite the large amount of data that is collected on mobile devices, many companies that have mobile applications are not making use  of the information. Motorcycle Superstore is using Webtrends to determine the amount of time visitors spend on its site using mobile devices, what items they are looking at, and the conversion rate (purchases or other actions).

The focus of Webtrends is on multichannel, real-time digital marketing. "Our analytics solution cuts across mobile, social and Web metrics," says Jared Roy, director of global client services at Webtrends. "We move from the community side that is driving engagement to tracking the effectiveness in getting a visitor to the landing page of a website." The conversion might be a purchase, a request for more information or signing up for a newsletter. "You can't make decisions without analytics," he adds. "Our new release, Analytics 10, presents the information in a way that allows marketers to understand it quickly and take appropriate action."

Putting it all together

Linking different information streams can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The Ektron Digital Experience Hub is middleware that connects the Ektron content management system (CMS) with analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) and other data sources. "Much of the customer information has been in silos," says Bob Canaway, director of marketing at Ektron, "and  therefore the analyses could not utilize information such as the fact that a visitor has also been a customer in the past." Information collected from websites and other customer touchpoints is most valuable when a comprehensive view is available.

The Ektron Marketing Optimization Suite integrates with three different analytics packages—Google Analytics, Omniture SiteCatalyst, and WebTrends—to present customized reports about visitor behavior on various channels. "What you see is aggregate data about a visitor,"

Canaway explains, "but you also can access the analytics data and reports." The Ektron Marketing Optimization Suite can pull in data from third-party sources that provides additional details about visitors, such as the industries in which they work. That context allows for customization of the Web experience.

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