Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Marketing and the New Media - The Analytics Challenge

One of the main attractions of the Internet for marketers is the ability to track and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing efforts. There’s a lot of help available, but complete tracking and evaluation is still more difficult than it sounds.

In June 2005 WebTrends published the results of a study that found only 5% of marketers “very confident” in their abilities to measure web marketing efforts while 43% said they were “fairly confident.” A scary 26% admitted to “flying blind.” Has the situation improved since then? Probably; there are a lot of good web analytics programs out there and marketers of all types are increasingly cognizant of their importance.

But that begs the real question because web analytics are the easy part. Measuring the offline activities that are still an important part of the marketing mix is still harder. A recent chart caught my eye, because it highlights important issues.

Click here to view article.

Marketers still see data quality as a problem, but by far their largest problem is marketing and tracking the results in multiple (sales) channels. That is closely followed by what marketers express as “closing the loop on campaigns by merging response and transactional data.” In other words, we also have multiple communications channels. So we have multiple communications channels inciting action in multiple transactional channels. The marketer is faced with a spaghetti-like network of activity and action, and it’s hard to follow the strands from beginning to end.

The web analytics providers are doing a heroic job of integrating non-website channels like email and search into their solutions. However, it’s easy to surmise that the new media channels like blogs and social networks are going to grow (and sometimes shrink) faster than the integrated analytics solutions can incorporate their metrics.

For now, we’ll be working with individual solutions in various channels. For example:
•Blog platforms provide basic metrics for each user blog
Analytics widgets for social networks like MySpace and Facebook have become a booming industry. Some of them are purely for the gratification of the page owner but some are useful for a commercial page
•Social networks have been a focus of research for many years and the research has produced appropriate metrics
•Analytics packages like Google Analytics can be included in various social media applications.

More generally, the Web Metrics Association is encouraging the development of metrics for social media with a combination of virtual and real-world collaborative activities. The metrics are evolving but putting them together into a complete picture is a moving target.
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