The limits of web analytics can be expressed in one sentence: You don´t have online customers, you have customers with an online behavior.
If your business is strictly online, these two will coincide. But if you do business both online and offline it is true: People tend not to shift personalities, or transaction history, just because they call you instead of visiting your website.
But still most companies analyze and act upon online behavior as if they had a segment of “strictly online customers”. The reason for this comes down to people skills and technical solutions.
This is my personal short version of how we got to where we are now:
- Internet is relatively new (…in the bigger perspective).
- First of all companies had to get out there.
- Then websites should look good.
- Then websites should be usable.
- Then everyone was exhausted and reorganized a few times trying to make online fit in to the rest of the organization.
- Then the ideas of usability had changed and things needed to be redesigned…
…and along the way, as a parallel process, people recognized that you could measure all actions online, and therefore you should have advanced systems and skilled people for this. And some successful companies also managed to make use of their online data in developing the user experience, and profitability, of their websites.
But something obvious was lost in this process of dealing with everything new, which is now to be rediscovered; companies where still doing business with the same people, they just added new channels for interacting and doing business with them.
The consequence of this is that the web analytics solutions hold the online data separated from the rest of the customer data. And also, the web analysts have become experts solely on their specific tools and the specific characteristics of online data and are not at all contributing with this data to the overall customer analysis, segmentation and crm. Added on top of this comes the the fact that digital channels remains relatively unknown to some senior people, not daring to ask what´s so special about it that makes the online department unable to present understandable and actionable information about its business.
So what to do now?
Stop for a while, take time to look beyond the daily details and ask yourself: If a customer sees your ad in the paper and buys the advertised sneakers, using her membership card, in one of your physical stores: Do you want to target her with the same sneakers in e-mails and on the landing page of your ongoing campaign, or do you want to target her with the matching socks? If you go for the socks, it´s time to realize the limitations of Google Analytics, or many other web analytics solutions, and look for a new, or additional, solution that is customer centric and is able to structure your online data in a way that it can be integrated with the rest of your customer data.
Andreas Franson, andreas[@]internetintelligence.se, +46 733 56 41 51