Robert is a Google Analytics specialist with a lot of experience in everything web related. He is able to give meaningful insights from a data first seen 5 min ago, as well as to play drums in front of 10.000 people. He studied psychology, therefore he over analyses everything. He has more than 20 years of experience in digital where he started as a web developer and spent the last 10 years as one of the most prominent analysts in the region. That’s why he seems to be appropriate person to talk to about analytics, online/offline data, Internet of Things etc.
Below you’ll find some interesting questions and answers, which are to-the-point and spiced up in his own recognizable style with funny and easy understandable examples. You’re welcome to share your thoughts 🙂
In your experience, is digital analytics underused and undervalued in today’s digital world? If so, why?
Digital Analytics is getting more and more attention every year, because shareholders know they can find a way to spend less money on advertising using analytics tools. The only problem is that marketers, who usually come from the world of traditional (offline) marketing, are using analytics tools at a very basic level. Digital analytics tools are very powerful these days, and they can provide you with answers and guidelines for your marketing campaigns that you couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago—but you have to invest some time in teaching your team to use them. It’s too bad many companies think they don’t need to afford themselves some extra analytical education—while figures are rising—and I’ve seen many teams wasting their clients’ money on poorly optimized campaigns while maintaining “everything is OK”. Believe me, once those figures start dropping, they won’t have a clue as to what just happened.
It’s almost like driving a fancy new car, compared to an old, let’s say, Ford Escort. On a sunny day, they’re both fine, and they’ll get you to your destination. But once you’re there your boss tells you to get back fast, because you have to meet a client. Night falls, rain starts to pour down and now the trouble starts. If you drive a fancy new car with all the controls, GPS, air conditioning, trip computer and (which is most important!), you know how to read all those messages and information displayed on your car dashboard, you’ll be able to tell your boss when you’ll be back (deadline), you’ll know if you will have enough gas and time to arrive at the destination under the current driving conditions (marketing budget), you’ll be able to choose the best route (marketing strategy), you’ll be able to see the road clearly, and you’ll probably be able to accomplish the task the given time. Will you be able to accomplish all of that with an old Ford? Probably not—or at least not that easily. Well, analytical tools are like good car dashboards. They’re able to give you a lot of useful data, but it’s your job to read it all and use it well.
In another words, yes, analytical tools are undervalued and underused because:
- you need to know them well to get the proper insights;
- and sometimes people simply don’t want feedback, because someone might see they’re lousy at their job!
What would be the most effective way of raising awareness on the importance of digital analytics among analytics service providers?
Sharing knowledge is always a good way to raise any awareness of any kind. Many of my colleagues ask me why I teach customers about analytics so much, because they think that afterward my clients won’t need me any more. They’re wrong, because every time I teach an associate something new about analytics, I know next time we won’t waste each other’s time on simple tasks and/or problems he could solve himself. Analytics specialists don’t usually want to reveal their “secrets” for fear that the “clients won’t need me anymore”. But that’s just plain wrong! If you solve your client’s problem well, next time you’ll be the person they’ll look to for the right answers, and not somebody else.
Case studies are also a very good way of showing how valuable analytical tools feedback can be. A good case study can be worth a thousand theoretical good blog posts, and that’s why I think it was a good idea to include some case studies and cases of best practice at the inOrbit conference.
How important is data acquisition, processing, mining and reporting for online advertisers?
Digital/online advertising introduced data mining in a whole new way, something that was unimaginable in the traditional marketing world. We’re able to measure the way people are interacting with our brand, our products and our services. We’re able to determine which website content techniques are valuable and which digital marketing campaigns generate good results both for us and for our customers. We’re also able to give our customers only the information they need at the moment, so without being not too pushy, polite, etc. But most of all, we’re able to see, in near real time, where the leaks in our budget/strategy are and what we can fix to stop wasting our (client’s) money and produce and maintain great results on our website. There are also many unbelievable things we can measure (some you’ll be able to get a sneak peek at, at inOrbit) but none of those measures are worth much unless you have a decent marketing strategy, a corresponding website, and a team that understands how digital marketing works.
People in Analytics often pay too much attention to data acquisition, processing and reporting—and in the end don’t having enough time to provide their clients with useful analysis and insights, which is actually the most important part of using analytics. Of course, you can’t have accurate insights if your data is lousy, but as an analyst you have to move beyond just setup and reporting towards insights and analysis, because then and only then you are bring some real value to your company or client. For me, insights and analysis are the most fun parts of the whole Analytics process. It’s rather easy to produce a report with 500 rows of data, but it’s hard to generate a 2×4 table that contains the exact data your CEO needs to make some business decision.
What impact does IoT (Internet of Things) have on the evolution of digital analytics?
In the beginning, web pages generated a lot of data for analysis, making marketers shift from classical analytics based on users to an analytics based on user behavior. IoT comes with a lot more online/offline data, and with another shift that brings a more holistic approach to the marketing. There won’t be any more “online” and “offline” or “social” marketing, because that’s all just marketing through different channels. Marketing strategies will have to use many channels in order to send the proper message to the user, depending not only on his current interaction with our brand, but depending on his current location, feelings, his friends’ actions and so on. We will definitely have more data to analyze.
Particularly in light of IoT, what trends do you see and expect in gathering, combining and processing data from online and offline worlds in the near future?
We’ll definitely see more behavioral data, like sleep patterns walking/running, travel and similar—data that marketers will use for more accurate content and geo-targeting. For example, your FitBit will upload the data to a cloud, which will say your heart rate is high after your run. Your smart watch or smartphone will send you a personalized ad saying something like “Did you know you can buy the new Coca-Cola Zero in the supermarket that’s just 50 meters away? Click here to get a 10% off coupon”. Not to mention that your smart fridge will contact your online grocery shop to obtain all the things you need for your weekend dinner with your friends, which you included in your cloud calendar, telling your smart car the best route available to pick them up (if you like). There are endless possibilities for data analysis before us, and I can hardly wait for the future to start.
As a Google Analytics specialist, what are the most important benefits to using this tool?
I’ve studied psychology, where I learned I shouldn’t just be looking at numbers I get from various tests, but that there are people behind those numbers in the first place. Google Analytics enables me to dig into various reports and figures, to figure out why people behave the way I see the doing from those figures, especially after they saw or were exposed to various messages, design schemes, etc.
You simply can’t do any online advertising if you don’t have analytics. But if you do, than you’re simply wasting half of your budget not knowing which half you spent wisely, effectively. As I’ve said so many times, Google Analytics is able to tell you useful things for your online business— you “just” need to know to read them, and read them well.