Analytics; an agency’s secret weapon

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analytics_small.jpgADOTAS — While agencies might have always been granted ‘backstage’ access to their client’s websites, it’s rare for them to influence what behavioural data is gathered, the tools that are used or how it is collected.

Historically, because of this lack of control and input, web analytics hasn’t been something to consider. However, the era of accountability and efficiency has made web analytics an important tool for agencies. As such, greater transparency from the client, and vice versa, provides an agency with data that enables them to make the most of a client’s budget.

A changing landscape and increased focus on accountability & attribution means that web analytics has grown in importance. In line with this, performance-based marketing has become increasingly popular. In the realm of online, clients are paying for success, and expect to be presented with quantifiable evidence to support any spend.

With budgets under the microscope, measurement, data and web analytics are critical areas of opportunity that agencies need to target immediately. Only then will then be able to keep up with consumers that are already ahead of the media industry’s ability to measure, evaluate, buy and sell. Accordingly, Acceleration is seeing the highest uptake of agencies to web analytics than ever before.

In order to understand its relevance, let’s go back to the beginning for a moment and consider what web analytics actually is. The most appropriate explanation is that it means tagging an online presence (be it a website or blog) to gain an understanding of who is visiting the site, where they arrive from, what they are doing once they get there, and when/why they leave.

This is obviously a very top level overview which sounds simple enough, but how can these measures be turned into concrete results that prove an agency’s value to their clients?

There are five key measures which add real value:

1. Campaign tracking and reporting in real time.

The ability to drill down into campaign performance both above and below the line (as it rolls out) provides an agency with the ability to deliver actionable results. By taking all channels into consideration and assessing which one provides the best cost per acquisition, an agency can spend ‘marketing ROI’ more effectively. This means taking an existing budget (which may have been cut in recent months), and making it ‘go further’. Analytics provides live statistics on which piece of creative is providing real return (or not), enabling a shift in budget and reducing waste.

2. Understand the progression of events that lead to a success factor, rather than looking at a campaign in isolation.

If you were to view campaign effectiveness as a silo, an agency would not necessarily think to invest in Banner ads, certain types of generic keywords or other ‘upper funnel’ tactics, as they’d never see any results. The outcomes would instead be skewed towards lower funnel tactics like coupons.

3. Regional testing.

Geo-segmentation allows an agency to determine which adverts work better for each region, and to optimise a campaign for each geography accordingly.

Better rates with publishers.

By using analytics to understand which channels work best for clients across the board – and outlining trends – an agency is able to negotiate smarter rates for specific channels based on volume. This results in yet more ROI for the agency, and once again, a smarter use of a client’s spend.

Optimisation.

By employing tagging (within a campaign micro site for instance), an agency is not only able to view an overall set of performance statistics, but also determine at which stage visitors are dropping off and which part of the site they are visiting in the interim. Understanding these actions and then tailoring the site accordingly can turn users in loyal evangelists of a brand. This encourages visitor engagement, as well as repeat visits to a site.

Taking this into consideration, agencies are faced with two challenges, the first of which being focus. An agency does not necessarily need to understand the technical implementation of web analytics. This often detracts from an agency’s core strength, as there is sometimes no champion within the company to manage such projects.

Second is planning; it is crucial to integrate web analytics into any campaign from the offset, preferably in conjunction with the implementation launch. This often relies on a client’s in-house IT department responding quickly, and therefore factoring in enough time for preparation is critical.

Analytics creates unprecedented opportunities for an agency and its clients. It can provide market distinction, ‘remarketing’ and new market identification by providing behavioral insights. The potential to consolidate digital and offline results for truly integrated marketing means translating digital media into meaningful currency.

— Express your opinion, comment below.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Chris, I certainly agree that analytics can play a crucial role in determining the success and actual ROI of any online marketing campaign. However, I would challenge agencies (and any other internet marketers out there) to take it a step further and explore demand generation and marketing automation solutions. I’m talking about solutions that track website behavior at an individual level, not as aggregate statistics. These types of tools will allow you to see specific buyers’ behaviors from the point of entry through the actual sale. I strongly believe you’d get more in depth information by taking a look at buyers as unique individuals rather than an overall view of absolutely everyone. But in the interest of full disclosure, I’m biased because my company offers this type of solution :-) Still, as an internet marketer, I’ve seen the value and results a demand generation solution can provide and would highly recommend it over more basic analytics solutions.

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