How to Integrate your visitor data – both on and offline
This started off as a reply to a comment from Sara Andersson (of search-input.com) concerning my post about the accuracy limitations of web analytics and the difficulty of aligning data from disparate sources: 2008/02/16/accuracy-whitepaper/#comment-2153
However, the subject is broad enough to warrant a separate post, and probably subsequent ones too! To start off, I paraphrase Sara:
“Most sites are not conducting e-commerce and we [marketers] need to spend our resources analysing the lead generations through a combination of the online traffic to the other trend tools available. In your opinion, how would you best go about to study a trend when you have to aggregate additional resources of information from various tools – all with their accuracy problems?“
As I said in my initial reply, this is a very good and difficult question and it got me thinking…
Huge sums of money have been invested by many a corporation in trying to achieve this, but the fact is, its difficult. For example, how can you compare a TV audience that is passively digesting your ad which mentions your web site (with an unquantifiable number of viewers reading a newspaper, checking emails, making a cup of coffee, taking a bathroom break, putting the children to bed or any other activity that takes place during an advertisement break), with a pro-active person that has connected to the web, conducted a search engine query with specific keywords, and landed on your web site?
Assuming some TV viewers remember your brand or web URL and later visit your web site, are these two types of visitors comparable? The simple answer is NO.
Marketers still need to analyse and compare data from disparate sources
So what can be accomplished? First, lets set up some examples:
Example 1: You are a non-eCommerce web site and you are using and ad serving platform (e.g. DART from DoubleClick) to display banners on a selection of related portal sites in order to drive enquiries to your web site. Your web site’s call to action is to generate a telephone call to your call centre to complete the transaction. You use an internal tool to track how many calls are being made as a result of this.
Example 2: In addition you are running a print campaign (magazine) driving brand recognition by directing visitors to your web site and you wish to measure its impact. All you have from the magazine publishers, is a monthly distribution figure of 50,000 readers.
How to integrate data
The key to be able to make comparisons is to ensure you have an integrated approach to your marketing That is, don’t treat different channels as silos. Keeping web analytics at the heart of your strategy gives you the best possible chance of success – consider Figure 1. Put simply, the web is the most accurate form of marketing measurement. Therefore use it to your advantage.
Using Example 1, integration could be achieved by the use of a unique telephone number on your web site landing pages. Ensuring your specific DART landing pages are not accessible by non-DART referred campaigns (not linked to within your web site or visible to the search engines), your call centre could then identify these calls as originating from a particular banner advertisement.
In fact, a clever CRM system can dynamically assign the page’s unique telephone number on-the-fly depending on the referring source. For example, if from a DART banner use: 1234-5678, if not use: 4321-09876. By this method, you are able to directly measure, and differentiate, how many visitors and how many telephone enquires are received from your DART campaign.