The challenges of being data-driven in a digital world
Data-driven decision-making is so important in today’s digital landscape. But collecting data alone isn’t enough to get you there. Companies have to determine what metrics are key to measuring success and how to collect them. Once the key metrics are defined, they also have to determine what data sources contain the most accurate information, then compile the data into a unified database for analysis. Not a simple task, especially not with multiple data sources that are often siloed and often don’t even use the same naming conventions.
Data is powerful, but it can be misinterpreted, misunderstood or even misleading. In this age of big data, with all the data from different sources, some of it conflicting, it takes experience to understand what data to use and where to get it. For example, big data sounds great in theory but figuring out where and what to fish for is crucial. For the data you collect to be actionable, it also has to be synthesised down and the meaning of the data needs to be transformed into insights that are easily understood.
A company’s website is one of the efficient ways to collect valuable information on its customers. Understanding customer behaviour on their journey from exploration to conversion can tell you a lot about what is working and what may need some improvement. The issue many companies face is making sure that they’re collecting the right information and have an analytics system in place to manage it. Most companies use Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics which are the most popular solutions. While these platforms contain basic data collection capabilities, they aren’t automatically customised for each business. Not all customer interactions result directly in a purchase. Many businesses have longer purchase cycles that may take days or weeks to complete. Capturing key milestones in the customer journey can help you understand where barriers may exist that represent lost revenue.
In addition to analytics platforms, websites use Tag Management systems such as Google Tag Manager, Adobe Launch, or Ensighten. These systems are used to collect and manage the information found in the data layer of your website. The data layer is where all the behaviour information from your website is stored (clicks, page views, downloads, etc). This information is used to track key moments in the customer journey, to be tracked in your analytics solution. It’s important that the data layer on your website capture these key moments. While it may seem like that would be obvious, many times, people are very focused on the look and function of the site and don’t look ‘behind the curtain’ to ensure that the proper data elements are included in the data layer. This can result in lost data since you can’t go back and capture what has already happened.
One of the biggest issues with collecting and analysing all this information is that there isn’t really a clearly defined owner. Many people assume the marketing people are handling it, and others assume the developers have it under control. The reality is that it usually falls somewhere in the middle. Without a clearly defined measurement and operations function within an organisation, much of the data that could be captured falls through the cracks in the age of AI and marketing automation that can have significant impact on the bottom line for companies.
Unfortunately, companies are already struggling with finding resources with the right skillset and experience to do crucial functions. Many don’t need a full-time measurement and analytics team. But every company could benefit from having the resources to manage and audit their website analytics as well as create events, metrics and reporting to put the right information in the hands of the people responsible for the day-to-day operations.
This is where our Measurement & Analytics team can help. Want to know more about us? Let’s talk.