data marketing analyticsThe majority of businesses now not only recognize but are embracing digital as a non-expendable part of their marketing strategies. A recent report from Econsultancy says that 71% of businesses are planning to spend more on digital marketing in 2013, and of those 46% are investing in analytics. Evaluating marketing data is an important part of any business, but because online marketing is still a relatively new discipline, digital analytics metrics are still being developed to best understand the impact of digital marketing campaigns.

In order to maximize the usefulness of digital analytics data, business marketers and IT developers need to bring their ideas together to ensure new technologies can be efficiently used on both ends of a transaction. The main problems facing marketers trying to read and respond to digital analytics data today are many sided. Obstacles include, broadly:

Device differentiation

How is your business’ content accessed? From which kind of device: desktop computer or laptop, tablet or smartphone? Is your audience primarily mobile or stationary?

Source differentiation

Where are your online visits being sourced from? Do most people come across your business through organic search, direct traffic, paid elements, or referral? Which social media sites are successfully generating leads?

Cross-Metric Analysis

Is your money better spent per thousand impressions or per click? How many leads per dollars spent does a particular digital campaign produce? Are you able to compare data from different digital media?

Real-Time Response

Is your marketing department able to respond to digital data in real-time? How does this change the meaning of your end-result numbers when analyzing campaign effectiveness?

Gleaning Meaning from Data

Marketers need multi-platform analytics in order to run integrated digital campaigns. What are the limits of data in a fragmented platform/metric environment? Where are the data gaps? How will changes in the digital playing field, such as the expansion of encrypted search, affect your ability to parse relevent data?

While businesses wait for marketing people and IT people to come together and create love children who can surmount all of these analytics obstacles, there may be a couple of tactics that small-and-medium-sized businesses can employ in the meantime to help dodge some of the common pitfalls created by them. Waiting to achieve integrated digital marketing is not an option.

1. Know Your Audience

Know where they’re coming from. Is it likely that first time visitors to your website type your URL directly into the address bar? Is it likely that mobile users are spending a lot of time interacting on social media? Reflect on your own media habits and use a little common sense to determine what kind of customer your data is representing. Then, make sure your marketing tactics across those platforms are tailored to reach them.

2. Know the Weight of Numbers

What’s more valuable, an impression or a click? What are the limits in understanding the meaning of a Click-Through Rate (CTR)? How can you measure engagement? The goals of your digital marketing campaign will help you determine which route to go: Are you trying to create brand awareness or trying to generate new leads? Choose a paid strategy to complement these goals in a cost-efficient manner.

When it comes down to it, the only thing digital marketers can really do to keep up in the swamp of often conflicting analytics is to keep learning. Monitor your incoming data so that you’ll have a better idea of when changes in the data are meaningful. But also, use your limited understanding to your advantage – relying solely on analytics will limit your ability to be candid in real-time with your customers.

Digital marketing is about building relationships, and that’s one thing that humans are better at than robots.

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