When it comes to Web analytics, what do marketers really focus on? What aspects of their Web sites do they optimize on an ongoing basis, and what tools do they use to get it done?
A new survey developed for the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, held this month in both San Francisco and London, reveals some surprises. For one, predictive analytics seems well below the radar, logging the attention of just 9% of respondents. And to date, there seems little synergy between online analytics and offline business activities in terms of reinforcing each other. (The survey was conducted online for three weeks in February and drew 202 respondents.)
On the other hand, optimizing landing-page effectiveness and working on things that produce conversions are top-of-mind among some three-quarters of marketers.
“A classic conversion might be, "Did someone buy something?'” said Jim Sterne, producer of the annual eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and founding director and chairman of the Web Analytics Association.
“But in the b-to-b space, that could be something else, like whether someone called an 800 number, or downloaded a white paper or contacted a salesperson,” Sterne said.
Chris Parkin, senior director with Web analytics firm Omniture, agreed.
“We look at conversions at the micro level,” Parkin said, “for example, if the prospect engaged with us at a trade show, or downloaded a white paper—and if so what types of offers was he most responsive to. Knowing this, you can craft different marketing recipes.”
This analysis is possible as never before thanks to multivariate testing, a tool used, according to the eMetrics survey, by about one-third of marketers to quickly see what content and which designs produce the best results.
Sterne says multivariate testing has been used to good effect primarily in the b-to-c world. But he predicted that as its impact on b-to-b conversion becomes more apparent, it should increase in popularity among b-to-b practioners.
Almost half of all marketers are focused on optimizing online advertising, according to the survey.
“This delivers strong and visible ROI,” said Kathleen Brush, CMO with Web analytics company WebTrends. Automation does the trick, she said, noting that one WebTrends customer that tested and analyzed its advertising made 4 million changes over the course of a year.
“That's how dynamically the changes can be when you're using paid search,” Brush said. “You need to do this fast; otherwise, you can go out to lunch and come back to find you've just spent a thousand bucks for nothing.”
Stamps.com, whose product allows businesses to print their own postage, uses a multivariate testing product called Test & Target from Omniture.
“After two weeks, we knew what elements on our main landing page had influenced our conversion rates,” said Sebastian Buerba, VP-marketing at Stamps.com. He said that implementing changes recommended by the tool produced a 13% conversion boost. A second run of the tool produced an additional 7% spike.
Buerba also relies on Omniture dashboards for their quick alerts when something succeeds or fails unexpectedly: The alerts link directly to what caused the anomaly, for quick action. (Dashboards are among the most used tools cited in the eMetrics survey, relied on by 57% of respondents.)
Knowing the effectiveness of combinations of messages and design, Buerba said, also has helped him refine such offline marketing efforts as direct mail, print ads and radio spots. For companies to do this effectively is a virtual holy grail of marketing, Sterne said.
“Cross-channel metrics are the bane of our existence,” Sterne said. “It's the hard part, but the area with the greatest potential competitive edge.” M