October 21, 2014

Ecommerce Research Chart: The value of analytics and data

SUMMARY: Analytics. Big data. Accountability.

Are these just buzzwords, or are they part of an advanced measurement program worth investing in?

To help answer that question and give you the information to help secure a budget to make your own measurement investments, we explore data from 2,472 marketers in this ecommerce chart.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study survey, we asked:
  • Question #7. Which statement best describes the process your organization uses to plan, execute and measure the performance of ecommerce marketing programs?

  • Question #13. How did your revenue growth compare to your goals in 2013?

  • Question #19. Which best describes the marketers in your organization?

Dr. Diana Sindicich, Senior Manager, Data Sciences, MECLABS Institute (parent company of MarketingSherpa), combined responses to these questions by identifying a group of companies with similar characteristics based on their responses.

"I created a subset of those who responded either 'Almost all of the marketers know how to access and interpret basic analytics data' or 'Many of the marketers know how to access and interpret basic analytics data' [to Question #19] and 'We have a formal process with thorough guidelines which we routinely perform' [to Question #7]," Dr. Sindicich said.

She then correlated this subset with Question #13 to create the chart below:

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Investments in advanced measurement programs pay off for marketers

As you can see in the above chart, 44% of companies identified as "high expertise" in analytics and measurement outpaced their industry growth, with only 15% of "high-expertise" companies reporting slower growth than their competitors.

"From looking at the growth of the high-expertise companies in comparison to the other expertise levels, they've outpaced both their own revenue goals and their industry's revenue growth rate," Dr. Sindicich concluded.

Optimizing the company's performance

What sets these high-expertise companies apart? How can you lead your company to becoming high expertise?

"As part of this group, your company is measuring and monitoring the performance of your site and marketing organization proactively, regularly and consciously," Dr. Sindicich observed.

"The company is making changes based on that feedback that might affect all aspects of the business, including sales, marketing, product and other business practices. There is someone monitoring the security of the site, as that's a potential threat to company success. Through this system of feedback, the marketing organization should be able to optimize the company's performance," she concluded.

Using analytics and data to better understand (and serve) the customer

As Dr. Sindicich mentions, one key element of these high-performing, high-expertise companies is that they are able to use their measurement programs to get a better understanding of:
  • What customers want and need

  • How well they are delivering this value to customers

  • How customers want to be communicated with (which channels and messaging)

  • What they can do to improve the customer experience (from site security and usability to product marketing and design)

While one marketer responded in the Benchmark Study survey by lamenting, "No analytics [are] set up, so we don't understand our website and how it is used," we received many positive responses from marketers who are using analytics and data to better understand customers.

Here are a few observations from Benchmark Study survey respondents that you might find helpful on your own journey of customer discovery:
  • "Using analytics, I focus day-to-day marketing on hottest response levels on social media or email activity."

  • "We just hired a third-party marketing and media firm with analytics to assist us in determining what our [media] mix should consist of."

  • "Analytics — we then use the data to try and meet customer needs and expectations."

  • "We use [analytics platform] and email marketing to create and design emails specific to their location and language."

  • "We track our analytics program along with the sales data on our ecommerce system. Utilizing this data, we follow the trends of shopping in those demographics and make changes to our sites and sales process (direct emails and PPC campaigns) accordingly."

  • "Using statistical data from [analytics platform] gives us insights in the segments of our customer bases. This can then be used to target specific segments with paid advertisements and TV campaigns."

  • "[Challenge was] poor conversions. [We're] modifying user experience based on analytics."

  • "We had a very low conversion rate. Based on analytics, we improved site navigation and made it more comprehensible. We also improved and extended the display of product information and made the checkout process faster. We also continuously narrow down the focus of our ad campaigns."

  • "We plan to aggressively pursue the social media platforms to tell the world about our product. This strategy will provide us with the most exposure for our marketing dollar. We will then selectively choose where to place more traditional media buys based on analytics and data from the social media campaigns."

  • "Always be evaluating the metrics, analytics, etc., and implement change quickly to address and leverage trends."

Related resources

MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study — Made possible by a research grant from Magento, an eBay company

Copywriting Research Chart: What do customers want from your copy?

How a Single Source of Data Truth Can Improve Business Decisions

B2B Content Marketing: 100% increase in lead gen for customer service software company

How Dun & Bradstreet's Infrastructure Supports Data-driven Marketing Decisions

Marketing Analytics: How a drip email campaign transformed National Instruments' data management

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