Why use Web Analytics in Real Time?



First of all we need to sort out what the term “real time” really indicates? Most of the free tool vendors have a 24hr delay in the data visualization. So, when you are the Marketing Director or the Campaign Manager of an eCommerce shop you miss 24 hours of knowledge on your current situation. That is a lot. But on the other hand the analytics service is for free.

Even the new Google Analytics Premium version with 150.000 Dollar (well we know you can get it also for half the price since the commission for the selling agency is 50%) has a 4 hour delay in the system. That is still a lot.

High-End vendors like IBM, Webtrends, Webtrekk or AT Internet offer a much faster response between action on the website and accuracy within the solution. That is one of the reasons why you pay for those solutions.

No delay between click and data integration

But there also exists fine differences in the meaning of real time. Ideally there is no delay between the click on your website, in your eCommerce shop or on your latest news article and the presentation in the analytics system. But we all know the ideal world is hard to find in the digital space. Getting as close as possible to real “real time” is one of the key priorities on every vendor’s roadmap. Now, it is possible to have a 10 second update. What does that mean to you? What are the benefits?

Before we start discussing those, I can clearly say that there is no benefit at all if your company and your organization are not able to react on real time data. If your content management system or any other internal software does not guarantee a quick response to real time insights, then real time is completely worthless for your business model . The importance of speedy response or insights need to be enabled by your internal system and company structure. So, don’t list it on your RFP (Request for Proposal) when selecting a vendor unless you plan to change that in the near future.

Avinash Kaushik also outlined this point on Real Time Analytics, and he even did that more than 5 years ago. Now times have changed and you should enable the company to react in a more speedy way, if your website content can profit from fast reaction on real time insights.

Real time can be important for different website content

What kind of content would that be:

  • News
  • eCommerce
  • Social Media

I could not think of any other sector or website type that needs a very fast reaction. If your website has Support as a core discipline that could be an argument, but still non-real time answer is flexible enough here in general. If you do find another content that needs to be taken care of in real time, then just let me know via the comments.

News in real time

The value of a news site is to generate traffic and gain durability. If you can achieve this, your advertisers will be happy and the media department will love you. The more accurate and up to date your content is the more likely it is that people searching for a specific hot news topic will get to your website. Of course, SEO and SEM and Usability (…) play an important role as well, but in general that is the key requirement. If you are able to deliver news about the latest development in politics (election results), sports (latest football result or stream of a Tour de France stage) and economics (current stock exchange data) you will be ahead of the game.

And you can use real time not only to react but also to pro-actively act on your website and for your content. Testing is always an option, but sometimes needs a lot of preparation. With a real “real time” analytics solution you can create your own A/B Testing on the fly. Just show Layout A on your website for 30 seconds and after that Layout B for another 30 seconds. This way you directly get an answer to your gut feeling about the quality of your different versions. Yes, you might argue that it is not 100% accurate Testing since it is not live parallel but if external circumstances happen that would have such a big impact on it, you wouldn´t be testing anyway because you would be worried about those external factors. And yes, it needs a high traffic site to get relevant data. You can expand the 30 seconds to 60 seconds or 5 minutes to get more accurate results when your website is not a high traffic site.

Image depicting Real time analytics

 Let your website visitors decide about the most interesting topic in real time

eCommerce with real time data

You want to know what is currently sold in your eCommerce shop? You want to react to this with your external campaigns via Pay Per Click, Banners etc.? Then, real time is unavoidable. You should even be able to change the layout/content of your website or landing page or homepage. When people search for a specific brand or product and get to your website you should be able to illustrate their search result. The more people search for “Nike”, “Armani” or “UGG boots” in search engines the more you should visualize that brand on your homepage or any other parts of your website, when you offer that brand or product. If you have a rotating animation on the homepage you can include your UGG-offers directly in that rhythm so that real time visitors feel welcome on your side.

 screenshot of an eshop

Be able to change the homepage teaser to act on real time search key words (like UGG boots)

Social Media Action real time

Social Media is live. There is nothing on the web that is more live and direct than Social Media. There is nothing that needs more attention if you take that channel seriously. So, to be able to act on real time analytics insights within the Social Media sector is key. Answer open questions via Twitter, act on Facebook Likes or even discuss specific topics in chat rooms. When you are not informed about the current discussion about you, your company or your brand you will miss out relevant information and positive options for your company.

Using real time analytics is a key benefit when trying to be one step beyond competition. Being able to act accordingly to the real time insights is to be taken into account within your own organization. If that is not possible or still you have not considered Web Analytics as being useful that should be the first approach to solve this situation and move on to a deeper understanding of analytics as well as optimizing your website and (online)marketing actions.

Trend Analytics to see the future

In case of real time analytics it is very important to understand what the hard figure shown to you means (for example: 126.407 Clicks on Cricket Game, see above). So, is it good to have more than 100.000 clicks currently on that article or is that an average result? How do I know if I should keep that headline and article?

The answer is Trend Analytics.

By checking the development of that article with an overview of the last 30 minutes or last 2 hours you can directly see if the traffic increases or is starting to lose attention. Then, you can judge the article by clicks but also by trend. You want to be sure your visitors get the most current content with the best mix of article, picture and layout. 

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