SAScon: Where Next For Metrics?

The second talk of the SAScon Mini Conference, which we attended on Friday 17th February, saw a panel which included Tim Langley of Canddi, Ryan McKay of MediaCom and David Gerrard of PushON, chaired by Richard Gregory of Latitude, focusing on the subject, ‘What Next For Metrics’.

Discussing why we need metrics in the first instance, there was a consensus that setting the right objectives for a campaign and establishing what you are trying to achieve are the first things to consider, which will differ depending on the brand and type of campaign. Leads and revenue were, perhaps unsurprisingly, the obvious KPI’s, although while eCommerce seeked aspects like order value and total amount spent, for a news website the focus is on loyalty, frequency and page views, for instance.

Tim from Canddi added that more importance should be placed on visitor analytics, to show whether they are engaging in online content and how much they are buying. Richard added that too much emphasis was placed on attracting new customers rather than focusing on repeat business, and that remarketing and measuring customer behaviour to specifically target them was another key element.

A move towards the personalisation of metrics

The personalisation of metrics was brought to our attention by Tim, who explained that both customer data and web data should be looked at together to build a complete profile, showing not just web visits but user behaviour too. By tailoring marketing activity to customer variables, this is the route for a more successful strategy.

Following on from this topic, David mentioned Universal Analytics and using User IDs to show which devices they have used to access a site, paid or organic, tracking their journey through different channels and the path to conversion. This would provide marketers much more information about their activity, while being able to provide the consumer with relevant results due to this user recognition; treat each visitor as a person.

David talked about using Custom Dimensions, saying that businesses should bring in more details to analytics to track how behaviour differs, using the weather as an example (alongside gender and age), referenced from Simo Ahava. By including this seasonal element which perhaps might have been previously dismissed, David looked at user behaviour online when the weather changed; there was a higher conversion rate when it was a rainy day. Marketers can gain a wider scope on activities, such as increasing paid search bids when the weather is poor, as consumers may be more likely to buy.

A world of too much data?

Bringing up a word of caution, David spoke of the dangers of being able to access all of this data, including user’s personal information such as name, age, etc. A sensitive issue, with consumer data available in the online world, there will always be an argument as to where the boundaries lie… Tim added later on, quite controversially, to capture as much data as possible, as it costs very little to store and it makes sense to keep the information for future reference and assessment – all elements of data are valuable so don’t throw it away!

Ryan suggested earlier that we should be using more detailed metrics as secondary KPIs to support overall objectives should be considered when deciding which metrics to use. For example, SEO-built content should not just be about attracting links, but see how it performs and fits into the complete consumer cycle. This was later discussed again, as David added that it is hard to use one attribution model (e.g.– last click, time decay and position based models) across all campaigns, thus a wider approach should be implemented.

The panel collectively suggested that setting a time scale, establishing key objectives (starting small), and taking action when tracking the consumer journey should be a crucial part of any strategy when looking at metrics. Another piece of advice was to tie offline measurement with digital behaviour, bringing together the relevant metrics from social media (‘the ones that matter’), for added value and to act as secondary objectives.

On the subject of loss of keyword data, the consensus was to GET OVER IT! It was pointed out that although people have used a combination of keyword rankings an CTR, Webmaster Tools’ latest updates now provides much more accurate data. From an SEO angle, the recommended metrics to use are conversion and landing pages, looking at the specific points and behaviour of users on the site, to emphasise what was mentioned earlier.

Rounding off the discussion, the key messages emphasised the innovative uses of data, to use consumer information as effectively and efficiently as possible, and to focus on the right metrics that are most relevant for your business’ specific objectives. All in all, a good debate and insight into metrics with some thought provoking concepts for us to think about!