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Quirk London: Analytics and Social Media: Strange Bedfellows?

Submitted by on May 30, 2012 – 7:18 am |

Today’s guest post is by Sam Oakley from Quirk London. Enjoy!

It would be appropriate to begin by stating that I’m not an expert in analytics software, far from it. However I work in an industry where analytical tools are indispensable. They enable us – as digital marketers – to gain insight into an increasingly granular level of detail that the likes of Don Draper could only dream of. We now have access to such detailed information that many of us have lost sight of how to use it appropriately. The emphasis should be on improving conversions and increasing revenue on a website. There’s a variety of analytics software on the market, much of which pre-dates Google Analytics. However, since Google’s Analytics package is free, it is undoubtedly the most well known, with that in mind their software will be the focus of this post.

What’s so special about Google Analytics?

From my research into Google Analytics, I identified two features that I considered to be the most important. It is easier to highlight the challenges that Google Analytics has resolved rather than simply state why it’s such a useful tool. While many analytics packages came before it, Google Analytics was offered for free, meaning that the vast majority of webmasters now had access to data previously unavailable. It was suddenly possible to understand the full story of a user’s experience on a site. Through the use of cookies, we were able to understand which pages were visited during a single session and whether the last click resulted in a successful conversion. If a user visited a site, viewed an item and then proceeded to purchase that item, we would be able to recognise that as a successful conversion.

However, with the growth of online shopping came the inclination for users to research a product before they buy, in order to find the best deal. This may involve multiple visits to a site over multiple sessions, or conducting research on other websites and forums before eventually returning to the original site to purchase that item.

This is why Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel funnels feature is so useful; it is able to track a user’s online journey over a longer period of time, allowing marketers to understand the full story behind a conversion. This allows marketers to identify the facets of a user’s online experience that are a catalyst for a conversion. For example, a user may be perturbed by high shipping costs and leave the site, before later returning with a discount voucher. Analytics packages can track this customer journey (and even the discount code that was used), refining the businesses use of discount codes.

Social Analytics?

Possibly an even greater challenge is measuring the impact of a social media campaign for your business. This is where the new(ish) Social Analytics feature demonstrates its importance as an analytical tool. It has a variety of reports to help move your social tactics from a “gut feeling” to a data-driven decision. The reports attempt to bridge the gap between social media and the important business metrics. Google targeted three key areas:

  • To identify the full value of traffic coming from social sites and measure how they lead to direct conversions or assist in future conversions
  • To understand social activities happening both on and off of a site to help optimise user engagement and increase social KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Make better, more efficient data-driven decisions in a business’ social media marketing programs

The key report is on social conversions; it attempts to measure the monetary value of conversions from a social media campaign, a question that has been on marketing managers minds for a long time. The key criticism of spending on social media has been measuring ROIs, however it is now possible for analytical software to track the last point of referral from a social media platform, therefore providing real evidence of campaign success.

Another issue for a business is knowing where to target their consumers and which communities to engage with. Social Sources provides insights in to where social media campaigns have been successful and who was engaging with the content. For example a campaign may have received more engagement on Twitter than on Facebook, subsequently providing a business with the data needed to adjust their campaign and target more efficiently in the future.

The development of analytics software has provided marketers with a clearer picture of a user’s experience. Although still not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, the data it provides allows businesses to draw conclusive insights and adjust their digital marketing strategy accordingly.

One thing that is likely to affect the future of analytics software is an increasing need to measure social media data. These changes, in addition to Google+ and Google ‘Search plus your World’ have seen SERPs change depending on whether your social circles are +1-ing or sharing content about certain topics. The algorithmic change that appears to be prioritising content from influential authors using the ‘rel=author’ code and presenting content relevant to a user’s social graph. It is widely considered one of the biggest changes in search and increasingly we can expect to see Google Analytics (and other analytics packages) to be able to track more in-depth insights into individuals’ social habits, giving us even richer & personable information.

Sam Oakley is a Social Media Executive at Quirk London, a Marketing Agency for a digitally enabled world and part of the broader Quirk Group. He, amongst others, can be found on Twitter @QuirkLondon

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