Unlike the instant transfer of sovereignty when the king dies, transition points in industries are much more difficult to discern. A couple of cases in point:
- When did America stop being a manufacturing economy?
- What day did record stores lose the fight?
- When did High Fructose Corn Syrup become a major food group?
The Web Analytics industry is no exception; from my 18 months in point-of-view, there have been at least two major inflection points:
Ubiquitous Availability of Low-Cost (Free), Mass Market Tools — The adoption and use of tools such as Google Analytics (reported to be greater than 50%) is clearly a tide lifting all boats. Not only has this made web analytics affordable for even the smallest of businesses, it has created a much broader understanding, appreciation, and focus on the business value realized from data-driven insight. Eric Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified has an interesting perspective on the Coming Bifurcation of Web Analytics Tools.
Yes, I’m about to join the ranks of the numerous industry prognosticators and predict the 3rd generation of what will I believe will truly be “Web Analytics.” And, out of respect for those before me and those who will follow, my predictions are more a clarification and synthesis of multiple perspectives than true original thought. So if I’ve piqued your curiosity, please read on.
Today’s digital marketers and their agencies are increasingly challenged by three significant shifts in the digital marketing landscape:
1: The Splinternet
On the day you roll into your office and see that more than half the online interactions with your customers occurred somewhere other than your website, what does that mean to your understanding of your business? Because it’s happening. This tsunami has been forming off the shore since 2007 and is now fully engulfing the mainland thanks to iPhone Apps, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The result is that the Internet has become splintered in that interactions with brands and enterprises are increasingly occurring across multiple channels including websites, mobile sites, mobile apps, video sites, social networks, and micro-sites. The proliferation of these points of interaction and the associated volume of interaction data make it very difficult for marketers to fully understand and exploit the opportunities promised by digital marketing.
2: Customer Centricity and Insight-Driven Action
What would it mean to your business to easily leverage — or even automate — data and insight to increase the relevance and value of your interactions? For the past few years, much of web analytics has been about measuring marketing to do better marketing. While this continues to be important, today you see an emerging business imperative to leverage insight to drive customer specific actions. Understanding customer preferences and behaviors across digital channels to uncover opportunities will be a critical success factor in this new marketing ecosystem. Only when a company can truly do this, can they improve their customer interactions and create the most value for both the customer and the business.
3: Social Marketing
The rise of the social web is providing marketers with new and inventive ways to interact with prospects and loyal customers alike. Being less about a social network, channel, or device, social marketing is a new approach using various media and integrated campaigns to drive greater engagement, influence perceptions, and leverage the viral nature of the social web. Today’s marketers are increasingly in need of the tools and expertise to create, measure, and improve their Social Marketing strategy including fully branded experiences across social networks, web, and mobile touch-points. This is a greenfield opportunity being leveraged by some of the web’s largest brands; where does it fall on your priority list?
What Does This Mean for Web Analytics as We Know It?
If you agree these are the issues facing us and facing entire marketing industry, then what are the answers?
Well, Webtrends has some very specific and big ideas about that. Stay tuned — there are some big announcements in the wings. And over the next month, I’ll dive deeper into each of these three and discuss the specific implications and opportunities provided to what is rapidly becoming a new era.
Do you agree with these trends and their significance? Are there others deserving consideration? I would love to hear your thoughts.