The Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom sequence has been applicable since time immemorial, but has gained new significance in today’s age of information technology. The reason for this is that computers are extremely efficient at collecting and processing data – taking it further along the sequence usually requires the intervention of a human.
Since software vendors are well aware of the value of business intelligence, there are plenty of options from which to choose. In spite of the breadth of choice, when a market-leader like Google introduces an updated tool like Google Analytics Premium, it at least merits investigation. Google has become the phenomenon that it is, largely by understanding how to give its customers what they want and that means understanding what it is they want. Google Analytics is a tool for tracking customer interaction with an online presence, which can then be used in a variety of ways.
Google Analytics is used widely amongst Fortune 500 companies, as the graphic shows below it has just over half of all of the market share when it comes to business intelligence solutions.
Understanding your website
An effective website will have been designed from the customer’s point of view and in large enterprises, this may well involve getting feedback from a sample of volunteers after any major change. However, Google Analytics can track every action made by anyone who visits your site. This raw data can then immediately be turned into the knowledge needed to answer crucial business questions such as:
How can I direct visitors to the most profitable products/services in my range?
You can set up multiple versions of a page and compare user behaviour via Google Analytics to see which one generates the best result.
What keywords do I need to use?
An effective search function plays a crucial role in any large-scale website and it works best when content is optimised for the search terms your visitors use. Google Analytics will guide you as to what they are – but be aware of the increasing Keyword (not provided) trend.
What do visitors actually do on my site?
Do they take one look at the front page and go away? Do they look at the value-added content without actually buying anything? Google Analytics not only tracks how visitors move around your site, but also how they interact with it, e.g. do they play video clips or download brochures. Knowing what your visitors are doing is a prerequisite for guiding them to do what you want them to do.
Understanding mobile users
Smartphones and tablets are now established tools for accessing the internet. Whilst they are often associated with people on the go, they are equally likely to be used for quick queries from home, as this is often quicker than booting up a computer. Large enterprises need to understand the different needs of mobile users in order to engage with this crucial market segment. Google Analytics will help answer the following crucial questions.
Where is my app being downloaded?
Knowing where your app is being downloaded can help give you a lot of information about who is using your products. For Android Apps, Google Analytics can go even further and identify the device being used and the operating system, which can prove hugely useful in terms of further development.
What do users do with my app?
Do they actually use it the way you’d intended them to? What screens do they spend time on and do they actually interact with the app or just have it running?
How do mobile device users interact with my website?
Users of mobile devices have to contend with smaller screens and may well be operating the device with one hand, in a moving vehicle (not driving, of course). If users are to become repeat visitors and customers, they need to be able to use the site in a meaningful way, in spite of these issues. Google Analytics will let you see whether or not this is happening and if not, where the stumbling blocks are.
From where are mobile users accessing my site?
Location data is becoming increasingly valuable to organisations for many reasons, not least of which being the fact that it is a prerequisite for geo-specific marketing activities. Google Analytics lets users see the locations of mobile users.
Understand the impact of social media
While traditional engagement channels such as printed media still have a role to play, social media has become a crucial channel for connecting with customers. Google Analytics supports literally hundreds of social networks, including all the key players. They can help to answer the following questions.
How does social media impact my key metrics?
Every aspect of a business needs to be assessed in the light of its key performance metrics. Google Analytics can provide a clear and objective means of assessing the return on investment of any form of social media or paid advertising activity. It is able to distinguish between customers who came to your site directly for a social media platform and those who visited other sites in between.
Which social sites provide the most valuable referrals?
There are plenty of sites which offer to generate pay-per-click traffic but there is a big difference between quantity and quality. Visitors who simply click through to the front page and go away again are worth very little. Sites which can deliver engaged visitors, who will at least take the time to browse and investigate the site, are the ones in which it’s worth investing.
What are my visitors sharing and where?
The modern internet demands that users are given information which is relevant, useful and/or educational to potential customers. Search has become incredibly sophisticated and maintaining an internet presence that’s trusted is no simple task.
Content marketing has been around for decades, in one form or another and is these the days the primary way for companies large and small to get information about products and industry out there. This ranges from blogs, case studies, white papers to video, presentations, social sharing and so on.
The data that this activity creates and you may have heard the term Big Data, which is just the term for data sets generated by software that are too large to work with manually. Analytics and Business Intelligence tools help various departments to disseminate this data in order to make sense of it and use it for generating reports. These can be used across the organisation to demonstrate ROI and to give more focus on areas that are proving successful, whilst doing away with those that don’t.
Further Reading: Analytics and the Reporting Lifecycle