Pop Quiz! How were impressions calculated for each of the digital channels shown below:
Integrated Campaign Impressions by Channel
|Paid Search||391 million|
It’s a trick question. Impressions are calculated differently by channel and by tool. Some channels even have multiple impression metrics! So, even if you know what tool is being used to measure impressions on each channel – you won’t find much meaning in cross-channel comparisons of impression data. And that’s just trying to integrate one metric.
In addition to integrating digital metrics across channels, there is an increasing need to marry what is happening online with offline. Web analytics is looking more like business analytics because more and more business functions are being conducted in digital. Businesses bringing offline processes to digital are interested in the effects of online activity, and vice versa.
Just like Ice-T implores in ‘Check Yo Self’, be aware of what you’re up against before you try to go big. Be aware of how messy digital data can be before you try to integrate it with other data.
Having awareness of the inherent inconsistencies will lead you to create the frameworks needed to glean real business value from digital data. Frameworks that encompass metric definitions, analytics tools of record, as well as data integration and analysis skills required.
For instance, as a digital analyst for lead generation campaigns, you should connect inquiries generated from campaigns with call center data to determine which digital creative generated qualified leads. In this way, campaigns can be optimized for qualified leads that create real business value vs. online conversions which are (at best) directional. Success in such endeavors requires a framework that allows marketers to understand which metrics to optimize against. The framework must also ensure qualified lead data is provided in real time so marketing dollars are efficiently allocated.
The analytics tools are not there yet (in terms of seamlessly integrating data), but they are getting much better. Where web analytics used to be a doorway to page views, visits and time spent, now they are doorways to attribution modeling, audience segmentation and personalization. Google Analytics is being completely reinvented to track users across devices and allow for offline data integration. The Adobe Marketing Cloud introduced cross-channel solutions through Adobe Campaign. Sitecore’s digital marketing system ties the site experience in with email and sales data. Web analytics is skipping past digital analytics to become business analytics and it is not stopping to ask for permission.
Meanwhile, digital analysts are quickly developing the skills needed to leverage the transformative nature of integrated data. Digital analysts are being challenged to creatively combine data, utilizing knowledge from statistics, data visualization, data mining and programming to elevate the quality of their insights. The challenge is that these skills are rare to find in one department, let alone in one person.
Any framework used to reign in digital data must also address the skills gap. Digital analysts must act as connectors to mobilize the right set of experts for an integrated data initiative. Getting the mix of metrics, tools and skills right requires experimentation cycles that will vary from organization to organization. Don’t wait for standards. Those experimenting now will be ahead of the competition, especially those who have chickety-checked their digital data.
What framework components have helped you succeed with an integrated data initiative?