In the early days of the internet, measuring the impact of online marketing activities was very simple. Those who owned a website were already satisfied if they could see how much traffic was being generated, how many pages visitors viewed, and which ones.
Email marketers monitored how much e-mails were being sent, how many people opened them, and how many times a link was clicked upon.
The integration of web analytics and email marketing rarely happened, and web analytics by itself often consisted of nothing more than looking at some data that was gathered through a simple measuring tool or through the server.
Tactical and channel-centric marketing metrics are not enough
Today, the internet has a profound impact on all aspects of our business. We have moved from a basic hyperlink system, connecting online destinations and content, to a social internet, connecting people in every aspect of their lives and over multiple channels. Online applications, resources and interactions have become the backbone of our business this real-time connected world where the focus has evolved from outbound to inbound, from selling to buying and from "us" to "them".
It's an important evolution that's not black and white, not either this or that: it's integrated and multi-channel. However, most of all it's customer-centric.
People can use a huge amount of online channels to get into contact with businesses, and they'll do this whenever they feel like it. The internet, available on a multitude of devices, plays a crucial role in the way (future) customers find businesses and how they interact with them.
Therefore, whoever wants to serve his customers professionally and wants to generate and "feed" leads through online channels - the ones that people use - or convert visitors, recipients and connections into customers must have an integrated customer and online analytics approach that goes way beyond the tactical metrics of the early days and those that are offered by web analytics, marketing channels, etc.
Nowadays, we should look at metrics and key performance indicators that tell us something about the bottom-line, and follow both the lead and the customer throughout the entire life cycle.
So exactly how does one decide which customer analytics are important in these connected and customer-centric times?
Web analytics expert Jim Sterne always advices companies to keep three things in mind: increasing the revenue, improving the customer satisfaction, and lowering the costs.
And remember: it's not only about the systems and metrics; it's about people and processes as well.
The customer journey needs to be analyzed from a cross-channel approach
All of these evolutions have an impact on the various forms of online marketing. A typical example is e-mail marketing, where data like the 'open rate', 'click rate', etc., don't suffice anymore these days.
Among the more strategic metrics and key performance indicators within e-mail marketing, we find, among other things:
- The steps which the receiver takes after clicking on a link
- The behavior of people after actions, and the interaction with follow-up actions
- The type of information that is valued the most by the subscribers
- The percentage of leads from a campaign (for example, with downloading a white paper)
- The cross-channel behavior of people (e.g. social sharing)
- The percentage of leads that takes proceeding steps and becomes qualified
- The percentage of qualified leads that is delivered to sales and effectively becomes a customer
- The different lead nurturing stage conversions
- The bottom-line: revenue and ROI
- Up-selling and cross-selling results
- The level of base sales
- Incremental effects of integrated approaches
- Cross-fertilization effects of multi-channel contact strategies
Where CRM comes in
The list goes on, but it's clear that simple metrics just don't cut it anymore. In fact, even channel-centric metrics are not enough.
The customer journey is complex and needs to be analyzed from a cross-channel approach.
Metrics are customer-centric and goal-oriented. Dashboards have to look beyond the "here" and "now" but include all touch points, past behavior and even prognosis about the future.
A solid integration between CRM, channels such as e-mail and social, and marketing flows and scenarios is crucial.
It's an integration that goes in all senses with data steering interactions - automated and personal (but always personalized) -and interactions leading to data and insights.