Data Driven: Under the Hood

Taking a look at data practices and Web analytics

Web analytics are notoriously difficult to reconcile with other reporting sources, as well as to comparative Web analytics. So let’s explore why this happens and what can be done about it.

This reconciliation is perhaps the most difficult challenge marketers face in making sense of Web analytics. We will look at three of the most important reporting objectives for Web analytics: merchandise, comparison with industry key performance indicators, and social marketing.

More than anything else, merchandise drives the success of a business. In the case of a service offer, the service becomes the “merchandise” for reporting purposes.

Reconciliation with marketing costs in the print world, before the Internet, always had “real estate” or square inches to serve as a common foundation for analysis. A product or service took up all or part of a printed offer where the cost of that space was clearly visible.

In today’s marketing world, that foundation has become a moving target. Web pages are dynamic and only exist for the person looking at them—in a moment in time, in many cases.

Reconciling this moving merchandise target with some kind of financial evaluation of marketing costs is very difficult. Also, a product or service may be sold through other media, further complicating things. Unfortunately, the reporting practices around this calculation vary with each brand and its e-commerce marketing key indicators, so a best practice has not yet evolved.

At the end of the day, determining how marketing costs can be calculated consistently within your brand objectives will arrive at the solution. It can range from an indexing calculation based on impressions, clicks or purchases, to an analysis of the relationship between merchandise and shopping cart behavior. Marketers must all understand a value that is relevant to each of us with consideration of contribution to overhead and profit after cost of goods sold.

Geoff Wolf is EVP of client strategy at the Mission, Kan.-based direct marketing agency J. Schmid & Associates.
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