Data can tell us many things. For example where most of your customers live, what interests they have and how they behave on your website. But most significant, data can tell us how we can influence consumer behaviour. Sounds kind of creepy right? Well, digital marketers use data every day to do this exact thing. They make sure they are visible on every touchpoint relevant to you, tweak their website to your preferences and so try to influence your decision making.
I enjoy looking at this subject from two sides, from a consumer perspective and that of a digital marketer. As a consumer, of course you don’t like being unconsciously influenced and many are concerned with their privacy. Luckily you can always reject the tracking cookies. However, data can also work to your advantage as a consumer. Say you’re looking for a new couch. You’ve looked everywhere online, but you can’t seem to find one you like. Then, the next day on Instagram, while you’re just scrolling, you see an ad of a sofa company selling the exact couch you’ve been wanting. Amazing! This is when personalisation by data actually does you a favour. However, it’s good to be aware as a consumer that online businesses use these kind of targeting tactics.
But for us digital marketers, we just see the endless possibilities that data brings. Targeting options, personalisation and behavioural knowledge, just to name a few. So, let’s have a look at what data can do for you.
Why let data drive your decisions?
The very short answer is, data is knowledge. So why not use this knowledge to your advantage? To do this, you have to let the data speak for itself. How often I have encountered situations in which data was only used to confirm what was already planned. Of course, if the data actually confirms your plans, that’s great. But, you would be surprised how easy it is to bend data to say what you want it to say. Be sure to let the data guide you in the right direction. Only then the data can serve its purpose.
In order to take advantage of data, you will first have to collect it. Let’s start by having a look at website analytics. You’ve probably heard of Google Analytics, but also Adobe Analytics is a great tool to measure website performance and gain knowledge on user behaviour. Before collecting any data, you have to think about what you want to know. Sounds maybe a little too logical, but often people really don’t know what to measure and end up measuring everything. Afterwards this will always cause confusion as to if something was successful or not. As my colleague always says (and Albert Einstein), “you can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree”.
Setting up for success
What is your objective? Is it knowledge that you want to gather or is there something you would like to improve? These questions lie at the base of determining your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). You could also call them success indicators, because they decide what success will look like. Here’s an example. You want to improve the average time on site. Before you do anything, look at what the current status is of this metric. It’s 2:53 on average for the last three months. You have some optimisations in mind and think they will improve your average time on site by at least 10%. This get’s you an average time on site of 3:19, your KPI.
The part you’ve been waiting for
Now onto the interesting bit. I’ve talked about influencing consumer behaviour in the beginning and of course you want to know how to do that. It’s been great, all this talk about analytics tools and determining KPI’s. But, you want to know the how. To be honest, everything you do will influence your potential customer’s behaviour. The look of your homepage, the video that you advertise with, even the smallest things like the shape of a button will influence their behaviour. Therefore, think very carefully about what the desired outcome of your efforts looks like. Please use KPI’s. Also, don’t go with your gut. You think of a possible solution? Test it first to see if it generates the desired effect. Only then implement it and test your next possible optimisation. This is the only way to accurately use the power of data to your advantage. Testing, testing, testing.
I got you excited for testing optimisations, haven’t I? If you want to know more about website optimisation through A/B testing, then this is your next read.