05 Dec 2018 18:29 IST

Web analytics: beyond web performance, a business tool

Companies can use this data to re-evaluate their digital strategy and identify potential customers

Anything digital can be measured. Digital practitioners exploit this to squeeze more out of their web assets. However, measurement of digital performance can tell us more about our business — opportunities and threats that have a direct bearing on the business itself. For instance, in a recent discussion, a financial services provider defined its competitive set narrowly to other similar providers (Exhibit 1). An analysis of search results, however, showed that consumers were searching for providers (Exhibit 2) who were not on the radar*.

Exhibit 1: Competitive frame before search


Exhibit 2: Competitive frame after search


Seeing this, the company re-evaluated its digital strategy in both, the digital marketplace and the traditional marketplace.

Finding new markets with web analytics

All log file analysers such as Google Analytics provide rich data on the source of web traffic. Looked at from a filter other than just improving web metrics, this data can provide insights into new market opportunities.

Consider this Australian company which thought that its marketplace was limited to Australia. The analysis of its web traffic showed that its website drew traffic from nearly all over the world, obviously offering an opportunity that would otherwise have been missed.

Exhibit 3: Source of traffic


While traffic to a website by itself may not suggest the existence of a market, it does suggest an interest and, therefore, an opportunity to explore and expand the market.

B2B marketers can use web analytics to even identify potential customers by drilling down to where traffic to their websites originated from, provided they are willing to invest some effort on it. Consider the table below:

Exhibit 4: Description of referral traffic


The table not only shows the URL of visitors to the website, but also the level of their engagement. Using this information, marketers can not only determine who their visitors are but also their interest in the services of the company. The marketer can further examine the analytics to zero-in on the specific areas of interest of their visitors and gain valuable information in their sales efforts that just about falls short of a physical introduction to their potential customers.

Opportunities for B2C marketers

Search and search queries are a goldmine for an imaginative marketer. Most times, marketers plan their marketing programmes based on data from pre-digested research. Such pre-digested research, because it compartmentalises data, often conceals significant consumer insights. Search, on the other hand, is actual consumer behaviour, and the next best thing to talking directly to consumers. Thus, an analysis of the what consumers are searching for and its associated intent yield information that can indicate incipient consumer trends, which throw up new needs, new customer segments, new markets or combinations of these.

Not only do search results provide such cues, they also show how a brand performs relative to different search terms, aiding the marketer to identify strengths and weaknesses, exploit potential opportunities and reduce these weaknesses.

Consider, for example, search behaviour related to detergents as shown in the table below:

Exhibit 5: Extract of search results for detergent


The data shows that the click-through rate for the search queries highlighted in green is higher than for the rest of the search queries, possibly signifying the strength of the website and, hence, the brand on those attributes. On the other hand, on two queries where the search volume is high (highlighted in red), the performance of the website is not as good. Clearly this is a potential opportunity that the brand is currently not participating in. Thus, the brand should consider how it can participate in this opportunity — whether with the same brand, a variant or a new brand — and take advantage of a consumer trend that it may otherwise miss.

Mining the treasure trove of analytics

The examples provided above are just the tip of the iceberg. Most analytic platforms provide a large number of application programming interfaces that can be imaginatively used to:

- Assess market opportunities

- Evaluate the power of value propositions

- Spot emerging trends

- Assess the effectiveness of the website as a marketing tool

- Identify the touchpoints in the digital eco-system (website, apps, social media, aggregators) that are most efficient in engaging and acquiring customers

All it requires is to shift the focus outward and ask a very simple question: ‘so what?’, when encountering a piece of data.

*Identities have been masked for confidentiality