bowling balls in a bowling alley
Marketers struggling with analytics could do worse than look to The Dude for inspiration PHOTO: Jess

Little did the Coen Brothers know it when they made the film, but "The Big Lebowski" has a lot to teach us about digital analytics. Just ask Phil Kemelor, partner and vice president of client services at MaassMedia.

Kemelor shared tips on implementing and maintaining digital analytics programs in the CMSWire DX Summit Leaders webinar, "The Dude's Guide to Analytics." Kemelor will also present a session at next week's DX Summit in Chicago titled, "Shaping Commerce Experiences for Revenue Outcomes Using Analytics Frameworks."

Kemelor said The Dude, aka Jeff Lebowski, always brings the "right amount of chill to stressful situations and focuses on things with a higher purpose, like bowling. He always knows when it’s time to have a white russian." 

So while your boss might expect you to forego the afternoon cocktail, marketers should approach analytics following The Dude's lead: keep calm, leverage the right tools and create a culture of analytics learning, terminology and consistent best practices.

Organize Before You Analyze

Just like the perfect rug brought The Dude's living room together, marketers can knit together insights to understand the customer journey. You have to organize before you analyze. Organize different people that own data sets: pull together market research, user experience, optimization and testing for fully integrated analytics. 

"There are a lot of different groups involved with whole digital process," Kemelor said. "The first thing you really have to do is figure out how to get everyone together." 

Make a plan, know what you have to collect, how you’ll tie it together and visualize it.

Keep Going Beyond Basics

Phil Kemelor, MaassMedia
Phil Kemelor

Many organizations are strong believers in Google Analytics. Platforms like Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics provide high value, but marketers shouldn't stop there. 

Kemelor recommends layering in sources like web data, mobile data, social, email, digital display ads. Add in surveys, call center analytics and purchasing data and customer data. Start with one data set, get value from it "and you just keep going," Kemelor said.

Multi-Channel Attribution

Which channel or combination of channels are paying off? You should know. Experiment with multichannel attribution analysis. 

"There is a lot of buzz around the need to do multichannel attribution," Kemelor said. "You can spend a lot of money on this. I don't think you should spend a ton of money on it. Google and Adobe have built-in capabilities." Customize around multi-channel attribution and get a sense of which combinations of channels is making the most sense for you.

Digital Analytics Q&A

In addition to providing these and other analytics tips, Kemelor caught up with us to answer some questions from analytics practitioners that attended "The Dude's Guide to Analytics" webinar:

Are there content tests other than A/B testing that you can use?  

Kemelor: A/B testing is good for telling you which content performs better both in general and with specific audiences. You can do multi-variate tests to understand what elements of a page perform better, such as text link vs. an image link, or the placement of content in one part of the page vs. another part of the page. If you want to understand what content on the page is viewed, heat mapping tools like Crazy Egg and Clicktale are useful. And if you're on the editorial side of the fence and want to understand in real time how articles are performing in real time, then you should consider Chartbeat, an analytics tool used by a lot of news organizations. And if you want to go deeper into understanding "why" visitors engage with content, consider pop up and exit surveys from vendors such as KnowClick, Qualaroo and Qualtrics.

Can you recommend a tool for data visualization?

Kemelor: There are so many out there and they're all pretty good — Domo, Tableau, Sweetspot, Datorama — are platforms I'm most familiar with. You can also consider Google Data Studio. Like any technology platform, it helps to consider who's developing it, and who's consuming the visualization: analysts, data scientists, decision makers and so forth. With the visualization platforms, it's critical to know how they ingest data from the multiple sources you're planning on using: web, social, customer, email, financial. The data connectors ease of use is something that you should really be clear about with regard to how you're going to source data into the tools. And then of course there's the visualization itself: how interactive is it, do you need to do analysis within the platform? The other key feature that is often overlooked is the level of support you think you'll need either from the vendor or consultants versus how much of this will be reliant on your team and resources.

When comparing digital analytics providers, what is your opinion of IBM Coremetrics? is it comparable to Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics?

Kemelor: IBM has been evolving its digital marketing analytics solutions since they purchased Coremetrics in 2010 to include their purchase of Unica, a digital analytics and multi-channel marketing platform, Silverpop, for email marketing, and mobile push technology vendor Xtify. Everything now is included in Watson Marketing. So from a comparability perspective, this bundling is similar to Adobe's strategy of grouping complementary platforms into the Adobe Marketing Cloud or Adobe Analytics Cloud. In both cases, you are dealing with enterprise-level technology and vendors who would love to see you get completely integrated into their suites. Google's Analytics 360 suite plays in the enterprise space and also offers a host of marketing and optimization services in addition to the fundamental analytics capability.