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10 Web Analytics Trends for 2014

  • July 2014
  • lagrafica

by MARK RYAN | Mashable.com

Analytics

Last year was a great year in the web analytics world. We saw awesome advancements from just about every vendor in the web analytics industry.

Some of my favorite achievements of the past 12 months were:

  • Google rolled out the Google Tag Manager to the masses and launched very cool functions such as auto event tracking.
  • The addition of demographic data in Google Analytics has led to amazing insights.
  • Adobe launched a new (much improved) interface to Adobe Analytics which showed how useful a web analytics solution can be when owned by a company that made its name with UI design tools.
  • Tag management companies such as TagMan and Tealium landed many great new customers as well as big rounds of funding.

With the start of 2014, we have more experienced web analysts out in the field than ever before and organizations are now relying (rather than hoping) upon analytics for improvements in their bottom line.

In the year ahead, I am optimistic that we will see the pace of advancement in the web analytics world accelerate. Below is my top 10 list of trends that I would love to see over the next 12 months.

1. Better Content Analysis Tools

When it comes to engagement with content (text, graphics, video, etc) most web analytics platforms show the same data – views, landing page visits, next page views, exits, goal contribution, etc. To get reporting on actual engagement with the content, analysts need to implement other tools to track engagement such as scrolling, mouse movement, zooming, and highlighting. This divide in reporting is a major challenge for content producers.

2. Multi-visit Click Paths

Unless you’re selling competitively priced pencils at auction, odds are that your visitors are looking at your site multiple times before (and after) converting. But today almost all web analytics platforms focus on reporting for a single visit. There are persistent tracking variables that can be used to show multi-visit attributes. But site owners need to see how visitors’ behaviors change as they learn more about products/services and as they start to interact with the organization offline (i.e. sales calls).

3. Physical Interaction Tracking

The way we interact with websites is changing. Touch screen laptops, smartphones, tablets, gaming systems with web browsers, etc all allow us to physically interact with a website. Web analytics platforms need to help us track pinches (zoom), swipes, device orientation, tilts, and other physical movements. With the current platforms tracking this type of activity requires a lot of custom JavaScript. In 2014 we want to see the web analytics tools provide out of the box tracking of this type of interaction.

4. Better Video Tracking

Sites have been using more and more video content every year for the last 5 years. But most web analytics platforms still don’t do a very good job of helping analysts understand how visitors engage with videos. There are a lot of fancy things people can do to track video engagement with integrating with players (i.e. YouTube) and custom JavaScript functions. But this level of complexity prohibits most site owners from tracking common video functions (i.e. Play). Web analytics vendors should provide better out of the box video tracking functions. It would be great to see specific video reports in web analytics tools the way we see specific mobile reports today.

5. Multi-domain Tracking

Many corporations big and small have multiple sites across multiple domains. Their prospects, customers, partners, employees, etc likely traverse across domains in multiple visits or possibly single visits. But today, most (not all) of the web analytics platforms don’t do a thorough job of enabling site owners to track visitors across domains. While this is not a problem for most site owners, for companies with diverse initiatives in marketing, demand generation, lead nurturing, and customer support this can cause a major gap in tracking the customer journey. In 2014, we want all major web analytics vendors to solve this tracking problem with easy to use configurations.

6. Compensate for “Not Provided”

As Google continues to encrypt more and more user search submissions we have seen the percentage of users with Not-Provided search phrases grow by over 100% across sites that we monitor in the last year. This makes measuring SEO performance and optimization very difficult. Analysts need Google to provide some sort of help with this. If not showing the exact search phrase, perhaps they can expose search phrase categories or better integration with Web Master Tools. It would be easy for tools like Google Analytics to create reports that show which search phrases generated traffic without associating the phrases with individual users. This would help site owners with SEO reporting without risking user privacy or website security.

7. Better Tools for Integration with Third Party Data

If 2013 was the year for “Big Data” then 2014 should be the year for data integration with web analytics. While platforms like Adobe Analytics and IBM CoreMetrics did a decent job at enabling analyst to integrate data from multiple sources (i.e. CRM, Call Center, Lead Nurturing) with web analytics data, most platforms are lagging in this area. This year we want to see web analytics platforms help site owners to have a more 360⁰ view of their prospects and customers by providing excellent tools for integrating data from other platforms into the web analytics environment.

8. CMS integration with Web Analytics:

The most commonly used administrative tool on most sites is the content management system. This is the area where people making site updates need information on how pages and pieces of content are performing and how visitors are interacting with the site. We are hopeful that some CMS vendors will make big improvements in 2014 by enabling plug and play integration with web analytics tools to empower their internal site owners.

9. Better Data Exports

Google made some great strides in 2013 to share Google Analytics data with other platforms and a large number of dash-boarding companies built/updated plugins for Google Analytics. But almost every other vendor in the web analytics space does an insufficient job at sharing data which makes dash-boarding and analyzing closed loop sales cycles unnecessarily difficult. We are hopeful that the other web analytics vendors will follow Googles lead this year.

10. Data Manipulation within Web Analytics

Platforms such as Google Analytics, Webtrends, and Adobe Analytics are great at tracking visitors and then presenting the data. But the platforms do no provide much functionality in terms of manipulating the data once it has been brought into the platform. Providing tools for editing fields and values would provide web analysts with powerful Business Intelligence capabilities to fit the tracking to the organization.

This year has barely started, but I am very hopeful that it is a defining year for how organizations worldwide gain and utilize customer intelligence in the digital channel. While few organizations fully utilize the web analytics tools they have in place today, there are progressive teams pushing the limits of what website tracking can do to improve digital experiences and I am optimistic that in 2014 the industry tools are going to evolve even farther to drive the entire web industry to new heights.

Image: Mashable composite. iStock, tumpikuja

7 Simple Social Media Moves That Work

  • February 2014
  • lagrafica

by Allison Fass | Inc.com staff

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Likeable founder Dave Kerpen personally responds to thousands of Tweets, emails, and messages every day. Crazy, or genius?

Before he started to dole out social media advice for entrepreneurs like you at Inc.’s recent GrowCo conference in New Orleans, Dave Kerpen, chairman of Likeable Media and now founder of offshoot Likeable Local, had a few things he wanted to get out of the way.

First, he said, social media is not free. Second, it won’t bring you immediate results. And, third, it can’t make up for a bad product or service.

If you can cope with all that, you’re ready to learn how–and why–Kerpen still recommends you get involved:

1. Listen, Then Talk
A couple of years ago, when Kerpen went to Vegas, the check-in line at the Aria hotel where he was staying “took forever,” he said.

So Kerpen did what he does best–took to Twitter, and quickly posted: Waiting on line for 45 minutes at the Aria. Not worth it. #fail

Did he hear anything from the Aria? No. But he did hear from the Rio, a hotel down the street. Within two minutes, the Rio Tweeted back to Kerpen: Sorry you’re having a bad experience, Dave. Hope the rest of your time in Vegas goes well.

Kerpen didn’t switch hotels on that trip, but where do you think he stayed the next time he went to Vegas? The Rio. And he “liked” the Rio on Facebook. And sometime later, a friend going to Vegas saw that Kerpen had “liked” the Rio, so asked if Kerpen would recommend the hotel. His response? “I don’t think it’s the fanciest, but I know that they listen,” Kerpen recalls telling that Facebook friend.

Kerpen pointed out that all the Rio did was pay attention to Twitter, and respond with empathy.

Kerpen recommends you do the same thing, regardless of the business you’re in. “If you’re an accountant, go to Twitter and search ‘need an accountant’,” he said. “Your customers are asking for you.”

2. Respond (to Everyone!)
Kerpen said 60 percent of brands–mostly big ones–currently do not answer customers or prospects on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. As a result “you have a huge competitive advantage if you respond to your customers–and theirs,” he said. (Case in point: the Rio hotel in Vegas.)

If a customer complains, don’t delete. Instead, you have an opportunity to respond publicly that you’re working to solve the problem, and will send a private message to the individual so it can be fixed.

“We all know that companies are going to make mistakes,” said Kerpen. “The problem isn’t when companies make mistakes, it’s when companies don’t say, ‘I’m sorry.'”

Instead, if you delete a complaint, you’re sending a message that the person who wrote it doesn’t matter, and you’re, in essence, “inviting him to go tell someone else, to start a petition,” warned Kerpen.

The only types of posts you should consider deleting? Those that are obscene, or bigoted.

When you respond, do it in your brand voice, whatever that is: serious, funny, full of puns, scientific, whatever. As long as it’s true to the brand.

3. Tell, Don’t Sell
Social media is most powerful when you use it to tell personal stories, not to sell your products, Kerpen said.

Kerpen likes to tell the story of how, when he and his then fiancé couldn’t afford a lavish wedding, they raised $100,000 from sponsors and got married at Brooklyn Cyclones park. That personal story, he says, helped propel Likeable into a $7 million business.

Didn’t get married at Shea? Consider your humble beginnings, your personal leadership characteristics, customers who have overcome obstacles, employee challenges, community or charity partnerships. Look at your employees, products, or customers, and identify a story people will want to talk about, and disseminate it across social media.

If yours is a business-to-business company, tell a story on social media using webinars, e-books, and white papers.

“The only thing better than telling your story on social media is to inspire your customers to tell your story,” said Kerpen.

4. Just Be You
On this, Kerpen quoted Oprah Winfrey, who said: “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had I’d have done it a lot earlier.”

As Kerpen puts it: “When I am authentic, when I am vulnerable, when I am me, customers want to do business with me.”

Who does a lot of this on Twitter, according to Kerpen? Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley, who has even posted about where he lives.

5. Advertise (Better)
Social media is not just touchy-feely, said Kerpen. It can drive leads, and sales.

On Facebook, rather than just get your ad in front of huge a swath of people, you can target the right people–based on job title, interest, age, location. “Every single piece of data that Facebook’s got on people you can target based on that,” Kerpen said. “What’s cooler than reaching a billion people on Facebook? Reaching the right 1,000, the right 100, the right 10, or the right one.”

Another perk of advertising on Facebook? Word-of-mouth endorsements. You can target ads against just the friends of people who have “liked” your brand on Facebook, and when those people see your ad, they will see listed the names of their friends who like your brand, too.

6. Give Stuff Away
If you take 10 percent off, you’re marketing, 50 percent off, you’re giving away value, 100 percent off, you have loyal customers for life, Kerpen quipped.

Give away good content, webinars, articles, and white papers. “I’ve had two people come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for all that valuable information you gave away, I’m starting my own social media agency,’ but I also got dozens and dozens of inbound leads because of all the value we put out there,” said Kerpen.

Recently, a new client told Kerpen she had $250,000 to spend on social media marketing she’d move to Likeable because of all the free, yet useful information the company has made available.

7. Be Grateful
In your social media posts, regularly thank your customers, and partners.

According to the non-profit organization DonorsChoose.org, Kerpen said, of those people who received a thank you note, 38 percent were more likely to donate again.

He writes three thank you notes every day.

“It puts me in a great mood every single time,” he said.


Allison Fass

is deputy editor of Inc.com. A longtime business journalist at Forbes and The New York Times, Fass has also held roles in venture capital and innovation at Hearst Interactive Media and digital strategy at a start-up consultancy.