Your digital channels aren't fields of dreams. You can’t just build them and wait for engaged people to come.

Managers of digital channels must intelligently engage their visitors -- and that’s not an easy task. CMSWire, Semphonic and Sitecore recently explored the topic of Smarter Web Engagement during a live webinar and even livelier Q&A session. Here's the written recap and the full video replay.

Webinar Recording

Connecting Analytics to Digital Goals

After a brief introduction by CMSWire's Managing Editor, Barb Mosher Zinck, Phil Kemelor, VP of Strategic Analytics at Semphonic, kicked off the event with a discussion of the techniques you can leverage to get more value from your digital analytics tools.

Most business have similar high level goals for their digital marketing efforts:

  • Acquisition of new customers
  • Customer advocacy
  • Retention of current customers
  • Up-sell and cross-sell products and services

The good news is that organizations are increasingly turning to their analytics tools to help them monitor these goals. Unfortunately, according to Kemelor, traditionally analytics tools have offered a wealth of metrics and reports, but little business insight.

In other words, the tools often provide lots of data, but it is often difficult for organizations to connect raw metrics to real world decisions and progress toward business goals. Increasing your page views is not a business goal, says Kemelor, it's an analytics metric.

No Context, No Story

Contextualizing the information these tools provide is critical for overcoming these challenges.

Drawing upon his extensive industry experience, Kemelor suggested that organizations monitor and evaluate data within a framework that makes sense for their business, instead of getting lost in raw metrics.

Marketers can use what Kemelor refers to as the “Success Metrics” methodology. This methodology helps organizations eliminate the disconnect between metrics provided by digital analytics tools and business goals and objectives.

Construct Your Success Metrics

R. Donald Daniel of McKinsey and Company developed the framework and John F. Rockart of the Sloan School of Management later refined it. The success metrics approach encourages marketers to begin with a high-level organizational mission then:

  1. Identify strategic goals that map to the mission
  2. Determining concrete and measurable objectives that help evaluate if strategic goals are being met
  3. Define success events (site/digital activities that analytics tool can track like conversion or a form submission) that can be used to evaluate the objectives
  4. Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success events based on the goals

Kemelor provides multiple real-world examples to illustrate how organizations can use the methodology to associate web analytics with real-world business goals.
Success Metrics framework Example by Phil Kemelor

Once organizations understand the relationship between digital events and their business objectives, determining the drivers for conversion is often the next step.

From Measurement to Understanding

According to Kemelor, the first step to understanding what influences visitor behavior is actually understanding visitors.

The process starts by segmenting visitors into groups based on demographic and behavioral attributes like their physical location or how they arrived at your digital property (e.g., via a search vs. campaign X).

Once organizations understand the different types of visits, they can begin analyzing their behavior for similarities and differences. This information helps organizations understand the types of visitors that are interacting with content, how they are interacting and ultimately converting to customers (or repeat customers). Organizations can also use segmentation analysis to refine their goals, objectives and engagement strategies.

Optimizing Digital Marketing with Engagement Analytics

Ron Person, Sr. Consultant, Business Optimization Services at Sitecore, continued the discussion (after a small over share about buying Jerry Garcia ties at Nordstroms!) by revisiting what engagement means in any human context, and exploring how marketers can move away from focusing on driving high levels of traffic to their sites towards raising experience quality across the board and refocusing budget where resulting visitor engagement and response are strongest.

According to Person, the smartest and most effective digital strategy is to leverage segmentation but strive to create a more engaging digital experience that increase the visit quality for all visitors.

Measuring Engagement: New vs. Old Methods

Engagement is critical. However, Person admitted that measuring true engagement with traditional analytics tools has been difficult.