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5 (or 6) home truths about reporting and analytics

25/03/2009

In theory digital is a highly measurable channel. In reality there’s a lot of lip service paid to reporting. Campaigns are either summarised with too little data or too much and in many cases with little thought to the initial objectives and strategy.

But it isn’t difficult to get it right. And here’s why…

1. Strategy & reporting are two side of the same coin…

If you’ve a poorly defined strategy for your digital activity then the reporting will be largely meaningless. Yes you’ll get the usual stats from your analytics package or registration data from the site. But you won’t get any meaningful data to indicate how successfully the campaign has delivered against your objectives. The metrics need defining at the briefing stage. Otherwise it’s difficult to demonstrate accountability.

2. Think holistically

Reporting should encompass all aspects of the campaign and be part of the brief. It can also go beyond just the online metrics and include customer feedback, surveys, etc.

If your digital marketing mix involves search (natural and/or paid), display, social media components as well as your site then you need to create a reporting framework that let’s you assess the impact of each and push spend into the best performing areas. And that leads onto…

3. Don’t let the tail wag the dog…

If your using multiple suppliers then make sure that you get the reporting YOU need to measure success. Don’t be satisfied with the lazy report from the web developers or the basic display report from the media agency. After all you know your business better than your suppliers do so push them to get you what you need to continue justifying your digital investments to senior management.

4. Less is more

There are some very powerful analytics packages to choose from. And they can produce very detailed reports. However, keep it simple. Focus on the key statistics that will be of interest to your boss (and senior execs). It’s also important to pick the right package for your needs. Google Analytics is spot on for many businesses and you don’t necessarily need to invest in a more expensive solution.

5. It’s a moveable feast

As your online presence develops and expands, as you start to use new channels such as blogs or forums to reach and engage with audiences so you’ll need to update your reporting to factor in the impact of these. Keep an eye on what’s hot and what’s not and ensure that any investment in new channels can be measured and assessed.

The final home truth is that if your agency(ies) aren’t talking to you about the above, if they aren’t talking about ROI or KPIs then talk to someone who can. Investment in digital can only continue to grow if it can demonstrate that it delivers genuine results for the business.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 20/04/2009 9:09 am

    I am a total believer in statistics, even for smaller sites, they are essential, not only for measuring the performance of the site, but also to analyse why certain pages, campaigns aren’t working.

    On inheriting the management of a site, one of the first things I do, is carry out a full benchmark and analytic study, these can be surprising in what they bring up, glaring holes, because previous reports have been long-winded and therefore glanced through – at best, or not aimed at what the site owner really needs to glean.

    It is true as a site owner you should know your business better than anyone else, but unfortunately this is like asking the racing driver to repair his own engine.

    Agencies or individuals employed to a manage a clients website should sit down and think seriously what is essential and what isn’t before bombarding a client with a whole bunch of seemingly mysterious figures.

    Thanks for the article, makes me once again reassess my performance.

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