The Web 2.0 revolution continues to dramatically change the way consumers and brands interact online.
Today, people get their news, reviews and insights primarily from other consumers through social networks, blogs, news feeds and other 2.0 sites. In order to keep up, brands are exploring the 2.0 possibilities via blogs, podcasts, social network applications, videocasts and more. While the shift has been fluid for early-adopting consumers, businesses are struggling to join in. For direction and insight into the value of Web 2.0 marketing, companies are turning to Web analytics.
Web analytics have become the cornerstone of online marketing, offering clear, measurable indications of how well your efforts are paying off. They allow marketers to better understand their customers by tracking their online behaviors and buying patterns. But how do you measure the business value of a customer who researches, buys and posts an online review of your product without ever visiting your Web site?
Ask the right questions
It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page if you don’t know how to measure its performance. Web analytics are all about asking the right questions, and metrics for Web 2.0 technologies and techniques are no different. You must ask the right questions and use the answers to guide business decisions.
The first step in any successful measurement strategy is to define your goals. Whether you're trying to build brand awareness or generate leads, everything you measure should have a direct impact on business. This allows you to make adjustments based on those measurements to more effectively reach your goals.
In the new, largely uncharted territory of the Web 2.0 world, these metrics may not be immediately obvious. When traditional engagement metrics don’t apply, set new standards and use them as a map to guide you to your own success metrics.
Assume your goal is to increase the visibility of your blog, for example. In addition to traditional Web analytics — such as time spent on the site, frequency of visits or percentage of sites visited — you'll also want to measure forwards to friends, social bookmarking placements, trackbacks and more.
Also, if your blog allows reader comments, quality counts as much as quantity, and your response matters most of all. If you get 500 positive comments and three negative comments, that's good — unless you don't respond to any of them. Your audience will flee if it thinks you're not listening.
A marketing evolution
Web 2.0 constantly is evolving, and so must you. Consumers are accustomed to chatting with five friends, updating their Twitter statuses, reading breaking news headlines, checking the weather and the score of the football game all at the same time.
As a result, marketing via Web 2.0 is all about engagement and interaction with customers, which can provide far more insight than page views. Get maximum value out of your 2.0 channels by incorporating comment sections wherever possible, hosting surveys on your social network page, and/or installing a live chat feature on your site and blog.
Web 2.0 data is a window into the hearts and minds of consumers. Take advantage of it now before your competitors figure it out and impede your ability to impact those hearts and minds.