Understanding How Retailers Can Use Analytics to Optimize Their Digital Marketing

Analytics Retail Analytics Spotlights

The-Marketing-ScopeIn 2016, global e-commerce sales are expected to eclipse $1.1 trillion, according to leading consulting firm A.T. Kearney, with annual growth of 15%-20%. When the money is that big, you can bet that competition for wallet share in digital marketing will be stiff.

A competitive advertising space can drive up costs rapidly, so retailers need to make sure they are using analytics fully to optimize their digital marketing campaigns. When you dive into any analytics package, even free ones such as Google Analytics, the options can get complicated and overwhelming quickly. However, understanding the basic key performance indicators (KPIs) and using them correctly can help you optimize your website and improve conversions, which in turn boosts your digital marketing ROI.

I sat down with Eric Vidal, Editor & Chief Content Officer of The Marketing Scope, to discuss “Why Digital Marketing Analytics Is Important for Retail Sales.” This video is part of the “Marketing Mash” series produced by Vidal. We talked about how to understand what you’re looking at when you open your analytics package then, more importantly, how to use the data to optimize your website and drive more conversions from your digital ads.

Hitting Mobile Targets Where They Roam

Analytics Mobile Retail Analytics

Mobile Mall shoppingAs you walk through the halls of any shopping mall, chances are you will have to sidestep several people who are looking down at their cell phone. They may be texting their friends to determine where they’ll meet for lunch, or they may be searching to see which retailer has the best deal on the latest fall fashion.

Based on data from BIA/Kelsey, eMarketer estimates there will be 81.8 billion searches conducted via mobile devices in 2015 – just in the U.S. According to a recent report from Alphabet (parent company of Google), mobile search has surpassed desktop search worldwide.

Another recent study projects this holiday season will be the first time that the majority of online shopping visits in the United States (51%) will occur on mobile devices. To give that percentage some historical perspective, in 2014, Cyber Monday sales alone accounted for nearly $2.7 billion of sales, with 40% of that coming from mobile devices.

Now, think about those people you had to sidestep in the mall. Each one is quite literally a mobile target for your digital marketing campaigns. What do you need to do to ensure you’re capturing your share of those 81 billion mobile searches?

The good news is, if you have been creating and managing digital ads geared toward desktop searches, you are well on your way toward mobile success. You still need to create ad groups and keywords. Those really don’t change between desktop and mobile, so the work you’ve already done can still pay off. As I mentioned in a previous post, the analytics are largely the same as well.

You may, however, need to make other adjustments. For example, ad extensions for mobile may need to change from “click for more information” to “click to call.” Using a mobile device’s ability to place a call can have a huge impact on moving prospects through the funnel and improving your conversion rates.

You also may need to change your bid strategy. Getting the #4 position on a desktop might work, but on a mobile device it won’t be enough. If you can, you may want to change your bid modifiers so you’re showing up in the top three instead.

In addition, you may need to change your web development strategy. Even if your site is optimized for mobile using responsive design, it may not be delivering the desired experience. Again, check the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your analytics to ensure your mobile site is delivering the appropriate experience.

One final word of note: these principles apply to B2B advertisers just as much as B2C. Don’t assume a B2B buyer will be office- or PC-bound. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has created a tectonic shift in the workplace, and many B2B searches now begin on a mobile device – even if they are ultimately fulfilled on a desktop. A poor mobile experience means they’ll never get to that desktop.

Hitting a moving target is far more difficult than one that’s standing still. But it’s not impossible. Use what you’ve learned already, make the proper adjustments, and you’ll find yourself leading the pack in our increasingly mobile world.

Improving the User Experience to Hit a Mobile Target

Analytics Mobile Retail Analytics

Chasing a Mobile Target In less than a month, we will be staring down the Internet pipe at the busiest online shopping day of the year: Cyber Monday. Last year, Cyber Monday sales accounted for nearly $2.7 billion of sales, with 40% of that coming from mobile devices.

Retailers are already sending out teasers, inviting us to watch for their special deals. But while they are putting thought and effort behind what they will offer, how much attention are they putting on how they will optimize the shopping – and buying – experience? It’s not easy to hit a moving target, nor is it simple to make the user experience swift and seamless for a mobile customer.

According to a recent report from Alphabet (parent company of Google), mobile search has surpassed desktop search worldwide. A separate report from eMarketer based on BIA/Kelsey data, estimates there will be 81.8 billion searches conducted via mobile devices in 2015 – in the U.S. alone. That’s an increase of 23% over 2014.

The challenge for marketers, especially those who may have paid little or no attention to their mobile strategy, is how to deliver a fast, efficient customer experience from search to purchase.

The user experience is critical, especially given the lack of patience the Internet has created. When users go to a site, whether it’s via a desktop or mobile device, they expect it to work quickly and seamlessly. If the site doesn’t, they’re only a back button away from checking out a competitor. And once they hit that back button – whether because a site isn’t loading fast enough or isn’t readable on their mobile device – you don’t just lose that sale. It could have a significant effect on the lifetime value of that customer or prospect.

Think of what that does to your investment in paid search. You spend many months and dollars developing ads, researching keywords, testing and analyzing to determine what will be most effective in driving customers to your website. Then when customers arrive, what they encounter immediately drives them away. That’s like spending millions of marketing dollars to draw guests to a hotel, but when they arrive the staff is slow, the elevators don’t work, the roof is leaking and the paint is peeling. It’s unlikely many will stay even one night, which means all that marketing investment is lost.

So, how do you know if your online experience is welcoming visitors or driving them away? One good way is to use your analytics package to get into the details of user behavior online. By analyzing every step in the buyer’s journey, you can determine not only how many visitors your search campaign is drawing, but also what they’re doing when they get there.

A high bounce rate, for example, tells you people are coming to the site but they’re not clicking through it. That could be because your campaign isn’t drawing the right people, or because the right people are having a poor customer experience. A little investigation should help you determine which one is the actual cause.

Now comes the big question: With all of this happening, what do smart marketers need to do to ensure they’re hitting those nearly 82 billion mobile targets? That’s what I will cover in my next post.

Retailers: Attract the Right Prospects from Your Digital Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

Analytics Retail Analytics

Retailers Use Analytics to Attract the Right Prospects from Digital Marketing Retailers who are investing money in digital marketing—and really, who isn’t these days?—want to drive as many prospects to their site as possible. But more importantly, they need to understand what is working—or not—in their paid-search and digital marketing efforts.

Getting people to your website is one thing, but it’s far from the only thing.

To be successful and cost-effective, you need to drive the right people to your site. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are we attracting the right prospects? If the wrong people are clicking your ads (like they were in this case study), that’s costing you money while not leading to a sale.
  • Are we reaching as many of the right prospects as you could? If you aren’t, you’re leaving money on the table.
  • What happens after those people arrive on our site? Knowing where and what they click can help you convert more sales. 

Do you have a way to answer these questions? Savvy retailers turn to analytics packages to help them get more from their digital advertising efforts.

There are numerous quality analytics applications that retailers can use, but we recommend Google Analytics. It’s free; others aren’t. But more importantly, its tight integration with Google AdWords gives retailers a broad and deep view into the performance of their digital marketing campaigns. With other packages, it might take some effort to gain the same level of insight. What’s more, Google is nearly undisputed as the market leader in search engine marketing. In a presentation to company management, having the Google brand behind performance and analysis figures can lend instant credibility.

Improving Paid Search through Website Visitor Tracking

So, how can tracking visitor behavior at a retailer’s e-commerce site improve paid-search campaigns? With Google Analytics, retailers can go beyond just seeing the number of people attracted by the digital marketing campaigns to understanding whether they are prospective buyers, now or in the future.

The tool provides two valuable categories of metrics: session metrics and performance metrics.

As the name suggests, session metrics deliver information about customers’ behavior during a specific visit to the site, including:

  • Average page views per visit is a good measure of how compelling content is and how easy a site is to navigate. When a prospective customer clicks on an ad and is taken to a website’s landing page, ideally the customer would navigate through the site to see what else it has to offer. These are high-value prospects and are worth heavy pursuit.
  • Average session duration is another excellent indicator of how engaged visitors become with content or a company. By measuring the total time someone spends on the site, it also gauges the effectiveness of a campaign—especially if the products are complex or require considerable thought prior to a purchase. Long session durations usually mean retailers are attracting the right visitors, and they’re engaging with the content.
  • Bounce rate, or the percentage of single-page sessions, tells retailers how many visitors hit their landing page but leave without seeing another page. A high bounce rate could mean that a retailer is attracting the wrong targets initially, that there is a problem with the landing page messaging or that there are site design or usability issues.

Armed with this insight, retailers can begin to deliver more personal, dynamic digital advertising. That was the point of my previous post, where I described how one retailer’s search engine marketing program was underperforming, especially in attracting new customers. After some fine-tuning and implementing new digital marketing strategies and programs, that retailer increased its revenue by nearly 40%, year over year, fueled by a 45% jump in orders.

In my next post, I’ll discuss performance metrics and how retailers combine them with session metrics to turn browsers into buyers. Until then, you can learn more by visiting our website or blog.

Seeing Beyond the Obvious: How Retailers Use Analytics to Improve Digital Marketing

Analytics Retail Analytics

Seeing thru digital chaosHow do you envision the future of digital marketing for retailers? In the blockbuster movie “Minority Report,” Tom Cruise’s character, Chief John Anderton, lives in a world where personal, dynamic digital advertising is the norm. Even as he walks through a crowd, he’s constantly singled out and presented with digital signage targeted directly at him—they even address him by name. The technology uses his eyes to identify him, and the ads he is shown are, one assumes, determined by data on his interests and previous purchases.

How close are retailers to this digital future? In the here and now, most retailers know that data helps them gain insights into the behaviors of their web visitors. In fact, in a recent survey by Experian Data Quality, cited in Retail Online Integration, nearly 100 percent of retailers said they feel driven to turn data into insight, and all said some form of data is essential to marketing success.

While the technology in “Minority Report” is years away, today’s analytics applications, such as Google Analytics, can help retailers glean similar kinds of information for their digital marketing. These applications give retailers a better understanding of whether their paid-search and digital marketing efforts are bringing the right prospects to their e-commerce sites.

But they’re not just for e-commerce retailers. A Forbes article declares that by 2020, analytics will be widely used by brick-and-mortar stores.

Seeing Beyond the Obvious

A popular digital advertising tool, Google AdWords is great for quantifying the basic performance of retailers’ digital marketing programs. It provides a variety of valuable performance indicators—opens, impressions, clicks, conversion rates and more—so retailers can see how effectively their digital marketing efforts are driving traffic to their websites.

While getting people to your website is important, to be as effective and cost-efficient as possible, you need to drive the right people to your site. Do you know now if you are finding the right prospects? Are you reaching as many of them as you could?

One retailer struggled with these challenges before turning to True Interactive. This retailer’s search engine marketing program was underperforming, especially in attracting new customers. We worked with this client to develop and implement new digital marketing strategies and programs. The result? Their revenue increased by nearly 40%, year over year, fueled by a 45% jump in orders.

The retailer also was able to stretch its search engine marketing budget farther with a more effective SEM program, improving Return on Spend by more than 10%. Read the case study to learn more.

In our next post, we will look at how tracking visitor behavior on your e-commerce site can improve paid-search campaigns, which, in turn, can help drive more people to your website.