The eCommerce landscape is too competitive and expanding too rapidly for merchants to trust that traditional web analytics will provide a complete picture of how consumers interact with brands.
The dramatic shift toward mobile as the default shopping medium, the rising influence of social networks, and new opportunities to interact with in-store shoppers all create new data sets merchants must effectively manage to grow visibility, engagement and sales.
Unfortunately, much of this data is beyond the scope of a single Web analytics package tracking performance of the eCommerce site.
Today’s merchants must abandon the strictures of Web analytics if they hope to attain the comprehensive insight into consumer behavior that will help them deliver responsive, relevant shopping experiences across touchpoints.
Here then are a few New Year’s guidelines to help merchants focus on the metrics that matter in 2015.
Go “mobile-first.” Above all else, merchants need to embrace analytics that give them insight into the experiences of their mobile customers. Shoppers are increasingly making purchases on their mobile devices, with smartphone and tablet revenues together now accounting for nearly a quarter of all online sales. But most merchants have yet to fully capitalize on the potential power of the mobile medium. Cart and checkout abandonment rates on mobile devices remain staggeringly high, as shoppers find purchase processes overly cumbersome and receive little reassurance about data security. So making mobile measurement as accurate and granular as possible is mandatory if merchants are to achieve their mobile revenue potential.
For a comprehensive view of mobile activity, merchants should:
· Design mobile experiences with tracking in mind. Whether implementing responsive design or launching a new app, merchants should ensure mobile activity can be parsed and tracked down to the device level.
· Add key mobile KPIs. Many data points merchants track for their eCommerce sites are equally important to their mobile sites, but mobile sites also possess unique qualities merchants should quantify. Load time, SMS signups and unsubscribes, and location information are all metrics that offer insight into mobile success.
· See mobile traffic’s social side. Well over half of all social media consumption occurs on mobile devices. When layering in social data, merchants should look for ways to identify mobile activity and parse out mobile social-shopping patterns.
· Track in-store mobile use. Brick-and-mortar retailers should develop mobile capabilities that synch with in-store activities. Whether through couponing, QR code scans that direct shoppers to relevant content or sweepstakes promotions, or mobile signups for in-store events or discounts, merchants should track activity to capture a comprehensive picture of mobile’s role in their business.
Data quality over quantity. As they reach out for all this new data, merchants need to take steps to ensure the data they’re relying on is accurate and meaningful. Without accurate feedback on the performance of their initiatives, merchants have no way of knowing which programs are productive and deserve increased investment, and which can be downgraded or need further optimization. To maximize the utility and accuracy of data, merchants should
· Check those tags. From tags for on-site analytics tracking to video tags ensuring every view is captured, merchants should standardize and optimize their tagging so interactions are captured to the fullest extent possible.
· Dump obsolete data. Just as merchants don’t want to keep inactive email subscribers in their databases, it’s crucial to cull obsolete data – whether from now-inactive touchpoints, defunct sections of the eCommerce site, or old email campaigns. Milestones such as site redesigns or launches often usher in completely new site behaviors, making prior data less useful for historical comparisons.
· Think beyond cookies. Cookie-based analytics are getting stale. Consumers delete them, browsers block them, and heavyweights like Google, Apple and Facebook eschew them altogether in favor of login-based ID tracking. To prepare for this shift, merchants must devise alternatives, such enhanced integration with the customer database, loyalty programs that enhance tracking capabilities, or using social sign-on to gain profile-based insights.
Key KPIs for 2015. Once merchants have established these best practices, they can turn to establishing and collecting the KPIs that matter most to their businesses. Though a challenge to translate today’s two-way interactions with customers into consistently-trackable metrics, a growing number of tools and technologies exist to assist merchants draw a complete picture of their brand’s impact. Merchants should use these tools to:
· Segment relentlessly. To better understand the impact of individual touchpoints, merchants should build in the capability to slice the data thinly according to key parameters. Beyond general categories like smartphone, tablet, desktop/laptop, merchants should be able to view performance by specific device type. The ability to track returnees – and existing customers – separately from newcomers, including the number of times they’ve visited the site before acting, are also key to tailoring campaigns and site experiences.
· Focus on decision points. With consumer’s path to purchase getting more circuitous than ever, merchants should focus on pivotal decision points and analyze them from all angles. For example, tracking top entry and exit pages can illuminate what ones are best engaging shoppers and with which devices. Analyzing what visitors do immediately after adding items to their carts can help merchants address cart abandonment and assess what incentives work to keep shoppers browsing additional products.
· Quantify social media engagement. With new social networks proliferating and attracting niche audiences, it’s essential for merchants to focus their social media investments on those sites that result in increased engagement with the brand. Build engagement opportunities – such as email signup invitations, direct links to live chat, and sweepstakes signups – into social environments and track the results. Experiment with in-social purchasing opportunities, such as the native purchasing tools offered by Twitter and Facebook, as well as purchasing via apps that enable direct sales of gift cards and other products. Equip sites with “Like” and “Pin” buttons to make social sharing seamless, and then track usage.
· Connect in-store and online interactions. Consumers’ skyrocketing use of mobile devices in stores has created huge opportunities for merchants to better understand how online properties influence behavior. Merchants should encourage and track these connections with tools like inventory look-up, store locators, and QR codes on signage. Something as simple as MarketLive merchant Helzberg Diamonds’ option to schedule an in-store jewelry consultation can help forge crucial on-line to in-store connections.
Despite the challenges inherent in tracking interactions with brands across touchpoints, merchants who make the most of emerging analytics opportunities will gain valuable customer insights and make 2015 the year of commerce intelligence.