Every startup, enterprise and business in between has recognized the value of web analytics by now. It has become a standard part of the modern day organization’s online toolkit. It has been a hot technology topic for years. And it has formed a multi-billion dollar industry.
But is web analytics doing its job?
Many of you may know Woopra as a "real-time web analytics" service. You may also know that, unlike web analytics vendors, Woopra is heavily focused on individual level tracking of each customer and visitor. Woopra has taken the concept of traditional web analytics and refined it to make it more meaningful to businesses who care about the customer, rather than the "impression" or the "traffic data".
For the inaugural post of Woopra's re-launched blog, we'd like to take a moment to re-introduce you to Woopra's real-time customer analytics.
Customers, Not Numbers
Traditional web analytics focus on aggregate and anonymous data. You see web traffic as a series of “uniques”, rather than individual customers. This works well for some companies, such as media sites, who care primarily about aggregate traffic data. However, for customer-focused organizations, like SaaS and e-commerce, it’s not traffic numbers that matter, but rather real customers - the people who are paying you - and their engagement with your site and product. These businesses need to track not just how many page views they receive, but how individual customers actually use their products.
Unlike traditional web analytics, customer analytics operates at the user level by bringing you individual level behavioral data on each customer. What was once “how many uniques from San Francisco visited more than twice today?” becomes “how many customers from San Francisco visited more than twice today, and what did each of them do?”
That means customer-facing teams - think sales and support - are able to gain access to customer data that helps them perform their jobs more effectively. For example, a sales representative attempting to convert a free trial user will know how the customer has been using the product, how much they value it, how many of their team members are active and much more, before she even picks up the phone.
I’m not saying those aggregate numbers aren’t important - they are. Every company needs to be measuring and optimizing their website and product, and that’s what those numbers help you do. However, you need to be able to tie those numbers to actual customers rather than looking at them as “uniques”, which brings us to the next point: tracking one customer across multiple devices.
It’s Not Just The Web Anymore
How many devices do you have? I personally access the same service from four different devices: my iPhone, iPad, work computer and home computer. Traditional web analytics services would track me as four “uniques” because they are not able to identify me as the same person on each device. This may have worked years ago, before the rise of mobile and tablets, but in today’s hyper connected world, it spells disaster for data teams.
Your customers are interacting with your product from more devices than ever before. In fact, according to a 2012 report by Cisco, there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita by 2016. And that’s just mobile.
Businesses must track a single customer everywhere, across all their devices, no matter how many there are. Traditional web analytics aggregates unique visitors based on cookies or IP addresses and therefore lacks the technology to identify the same user across more than one device. With the popularity of mobile and tablets, this ultimately results in wildly inaccurate data.
For example, I might sign up for service X from my home computer, subsequently use the service’s app on my iPad and end up upgrading my account from my work computer. I did complete the onboarding process, but traditional web analytics reports get stuck at step 1 (signup) because they can’t identify me as the same person across all those devices. They fail to recognize that I have in fact completed steps 2 and 3 of the funnel.
Customer analytics on the other hand recognizes each customer as a unique individual, regardless of how many devices they access your product from. In the example above, customer analytics would report that I completed the onboarding process through each of my devices.
This technology ensures the accuracy of the data on which companies base decisions. Customers often tell us that they see different results using Woopra and another web analytics service. Of course every web analytics vendor uses different tracking standards, but a large part of the discrepancies are often a result of vendors' inability to track customers across multiple devices.
Leveraging Customer Data for Customer-Facing Teams
CRMs are designed to deliver contact and business information to customer-facing teams, such as sales and support. Traditional web analytics services are designed to deliver behavioral information about website traffic to data and marketing teams. Customer analytics bridges the wide gap between the two and brings behavioral insight about the customer directly to customer-facing teams.
As Omer Minkara writes in Aberdeen Group’s customer analytics report, businesses “need to be laser-focused on utilizing customer data as the key ingredient of each customer-facing activity.” Not convinced? Minkara found that companies who centralize customer intelligence for use in customer-facing activities enjoy 3.5 times higher retention rates, 20% year over year customer lifetime value growth, and 20 times greater revenue growth on a per customer basis.
It seems obvious: when numbers are tightly tied to customers, your data is directly actionable for your customer-facing teams, ultimately resulting in more effective customer interactions.
There’s Still a Place for Web Analytics
Despite its demonstrated deficiencies described above, traditional web analytics is still dominant and probably always will be for online publishers and other organizations where the impression is more important than the person.
But for SaaS, e-commerce and other online businesses, forget about it; what matters is the person, the lead, the opportunity. Simply, the success of your customers.