This is part two of a series. Read part one.

Hopefully we all know a little about marketing analytics, at least on the periphery, so I would like to delve deeper into the analytics process. First, let me start with a little history. For a long time, companies simply spent money on websites and online marketing because everyone else was doing it. Since then, the Web has really “grown up”as a vehicle, and people are realizing that we need to be held accountable, just as with other vehicles (TV, radio, print, etc.).

If you are still living in the traditional world of Web analytics, you are looking at page views, hits, click-thru rate, bounce rate, etc. — sounds good right? The problem is these KPIs (key performance indicators) actually tell you very little. They tell the what but not the why. They aren’t specific to a particular industry. So if these analytics aren’t giving us the full picture, then what will?

Today we are seeing Web analysts use what we call KIA (key insights analytics). As the name suggests, it’s the insights that are important. For example, if you have an e-commerce site, you can see through analytics how much shopping cart abandonment there was, but this still doesn’t tell why the user did not complete the sale. Only by combining the what and why will you fully understand the effectiveness of your website or marketing efforts.

As another example, consider direct-mail pieces, print advertisements or e-mail blasts. Hopefully you are doing at least some of these. Now, I suspect you not only have your website address on the ad, but your phone number. To track the efforts of people going to your website to, say, make a reservation or redeem a coupon, people typically send them to their home page. This make the effort impossible to track. So a better solution is to try setting up a separate landing page that you only use for that particular ad. This way, you can at least see how the ad performed in driving traffic to your site.

Now for the phone number. Do you tell your staff to ask how a customer heard about you? This is better than nothing, but you are at the mercy of your staff to document and report this to you. A much better way is to use a third party vendor, that will set up a special number for you to place on your advertisements. What happens is when the prospective client calls, the call is routed seamlessly through their system and tracking software then to your number. Now you have a clear picture of the ads effectiveness.

So back to KIAs. How can KIAs help us understand the whys? Many marketers will tell you the quantitative data is important (raw numbers), but in reality the qualitative data is critically important. It can get us substantially closer to understanding the why. This qualitative data helps us peek into the mind of the customer. Combining the what (quantitative) with the why (qualitative) can be exponentially powerful.

Here are some examples of qualitative date: Customer satisfaction, opinion tracking and visitor engagement (think social media).

Examples of these methodologies would be experimental or A/B split testing. Surveys, usability testing, site heat-map overlays and behavioral analysis. You can infer someone’s intent, but sometimes two people might look at the same set of data and clicks and form two different opinions. Because of this, I like to use with clients is called outcome analysis or also called the what element. People get so bogged down with quantitative analysis, they forget at the end of the day, the real question is, “So what happened, what was the outcome?”

As you can see, this can be a very complicated process, filled with many landmines. If your marketing agency is simply giving you quantitative data like bounce rates, the question always comes back to why, as why is my bounce rate so high?

Paul Beaulieu is president of Harrison Marketing. With more than 20 years of industry experience, Harrison Marketing operates as a market consulting and design firm. Harrison Marketing assists organizations in creating awareness, visibility and revenue through media planning, website development — including mobile sites and mobile loyalty programs — social media, content management, business development and consulting services. Beaulieu is also an adjunct professor at Stratford University, where he teaches culinary arts and ServSafe, sales and marketing, and accounting and finance. He may be reached at 443-690-7400 or pbeaulieu@harrisonmarketingmd.com.

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