It is time we view data for what it really is: an Asset.
Collecting data (a whole lot of data) has begun to get trendy as more and more companies are starting to move with the Big Data wave. Companies that would normally look at their data once and move on are now stock piling as much data as they can hold and then diving deep into its limitless potential. Sounds pretty easy right? – Well… it is, as long as you ask the right questions.
The very second your consumers set foot on your site, they leave a trail of breadcrumbs; where they went, how they got there, how long they stayed, there final resting place before leaving, the list goes on. It is your job to find those breadcrumbs, those granular points of consumer activity, and optimize them against your key business goals.
However, before you jump into the pool of data you have collected, it is important to ask yourself: “What is my goal?” You do not need to know what you’re looking for or what the data can tell you, those questions will come later. It is crucial to know exactly what your goals are on a business perspective before ever touching the data. Are you in business to make money? (Most people are) Maybe you want to raise awareness, supply knowledge, start something, end something, make noise or shut something up, etc. Determine the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) of your business and then from there you can develop your data game plan.
It is the HOW and not the WHAT that makes the data one of the most important assets your company can obtain. In other words, how you use and analyze your data is far more beneficial than just having a bunch of it. Think about it, do you recognize baseball players for the amount of bats or baseballs they own? No, you value them by how they play the game. Any business can gather a ton of data and call themselves big data players but what are they even doing with it? You will quickly find that the companies rising the ranks of the economic ladder are doing so by efficiently and effectively using their data in the right way.
So what do you do? If it is that easy, why isn’t every company flourishing on their ROI? The answer is simple, to find the right answers you need to be asking the right questions. Every business is different in nature but the core concept of driving more traffic and producing more leads is the same throughout; the consumer will show you the way.
You can break down almost all types of questions to ask in four distinct categories, each aligning with the consumer’s journey through the marketing funnel.
- Referrals: Focuses on how the visitor got to your site
- Awareness: Focuses on metrics that help describe the visitor
- Engagement: Contains the metrics used to measure the visitors interactions
- Conversion: Goal based measurements indicating completion of a desired outcome
Below is a partial list of the many important questions to ask when looking at consumer activity on your site:
Referral relates to cross sell and up-sell activity. These questions help determine what is bringing traffic to your site and what isn’t.
- For the sources that are bringing in traffic, is there room for improvement to increase traffic?
- Which pages are driving the most referrals?
- What specific content is helping increase referral rates?
- Is there a specific traffic source that is helping to increase the referral rate?
- How can I leverage the traffic source with a particularly high referral rate into other parts of my site?
- What is the current referral rate and volume by each consumer segment? How does this compare to what I was expecting?
Awareness specifies a benchmark for the traffic (visits, visitors, page views, etc.) that can occur on a site on any given period of time.
- What specific channels are generating the greatest amount of activity on my site?
- Is the amount of traffic on my site matching that of my targeted predictions?
- How many visitors/ visits does my site have on a daily, weekly, monthly scale and how does that compare to previous periods.
- Which parts/ sections of my network can be worked on to better increase awareness?
- Are some parts of my site not being seen? How can we make them more visible?
- How do I get first time visitors to have repeat visits?
- How are my traffic sources impacting awareness?
Engagement is involved with what your consumer actually does while on your site. Their interactions with the various different components on your site will serve as a critical data point for you to better understand your consumers. For example: “Did they learn about your service or product?”, “Did they try the product or service?”, “did they like it?”, etc.
- Are my consumers engaging with my site?
- Is my content being fully delivered to my visitors?
- Is my site receiving the targeted level of engagement I expected?
- What is the amount of engagement like for the top components of my site?
- Which traffic channel results in the most productive visits?
- Out of all the content on my site, which drives the most engagement and in turn what content drives the least amount of engagement?
- How can I help my consumers engage with my more important content more effectively?
- What traffic sources are driving the most engagement?
- What parts/ pages of my site are experiencing a high bounce rate?
Conversion is the direct relation between the consumers final actions on the site to the specific goals and objectives set by the owner of the site. More specifically it a measurement to determine if you got what you wanted out of your consumers and if the consumers got what they wanted out of your site.
- What is the conversion rate for each goal you set? (Downloads, purchases, link clicks, etc.)
- What is the conversion rate and volume of each consumer segment and how does that compare to what I expected?
- What factors are helping push each conversion and how to we track them?
- What is the impact of my traffic sources on each conversion rate?
- What content on my site is helping to increase conversion rates?
- Is there an opportunity available to improve the conversion funnel?
- What is the most successful click path to a conversion?
There are some top level questions that do no distinctly fit into the four categories above. When you have a large amount of data and you want to take a more over view approach rather than diving deep into it you can ask these types of questions:
- What are my top entry and exit pages?
- What are my top links for each page?
- What are my top URL’s?
- What destinations are my visitors clicking to?
- What are the top search engines driving traffic to my site?
- What are the top internal search terms on my site (If your site has search)
- What downloads are receiving the most clicks? (If you have downloads)
- What are the top operating systems and browser combinations that visitors are using?
Lastly there should be questions that you should ask about the overall goal of your site and how your data compares to it. These are the types of questions top level executives would want answers to; less technical and more summary.
- Am I meeting my traffic goals?
- Has there been a change in our goals in a given period of time and if so, why?
- Are my visitors engaging with the content and what level of engagement is it?
- Are my visitors converting and is this rate higher or lower compared to last week, month, year?
- Do we need to come up with a different strategy to drive more traffic to the site?
- What areas of the site need improvement and how can we improve them?
- Are there any parts or pages of the site that are not receiving any traffic? If so, should we remove them or improve them?
Collecting data is the easy part, turning the data into information and then into insight is a bit more difficult. As more and more companies start and try to take advantage of all the new data they are collecting, competition is starting to get tough. Stay above your competitors and figure out how to navigate your sea of data by asking the right questions. Follow the breadcrumbs left by your visitors and use them as clues to improve their journey through the marketing funnel. Know your goals and align them well with your KPI’s so that when you dive into the data to try and look for those insights, the business objective is always kept in mind. Ask the right questions and you will find the right answers. Let us help you use your data for what it really is: an Asset.
Image Credit: http://www.information-age.com/
I love the combination of business and technology, not only as a career but as a passion. I found my niche in working closely with people and data and I am constantly applying what I am learning in my classes to real world applications. After 6 years in retail and customer service I know what makes or breaks customer relationships. After 4 years in college with a concentration in Management Information Systems, I have the ability and motivation to put my ideas and knowledge into action. I am fascinated by what technology can do to help further the progress of a business and even more so what I can do with technology to keep that progress flowing.