By Lukas Teply, Business/Tech. Analyst
SuperWeek – Digital Analytics on Fire is definitely one of the biggest and most important events for digital analytics in Europe, and in my opinion is one of the top worldwide. It attracts big names from the industry such as the digital analytics guru – Avinash Kaushik, GTM experts such as Simo Ahava or Doug Hall, analytics ninja Yehoshua Coren, and analytics advocates Daniel Waisberg and Caleb Whitmore. There were many other top-names but all of the visitors shared something in common – we are passionate about data. Even the conference motto speaks for itself – DATA BEATS OPINION. Simply said, it means making decisions based on data instead of executing business decisions based on assumptions. However, it doesn’t mean collecting all possible data from your websites. You should only collect data that makes sense and that you can use in your business context.
There were many speakers talking in SuperWeek, so it would be a pretty long article if I wrote about every topic. Given that, I chose just some of the thoughts that were shared there.
Tag Management and Data Layer
It’s the year 2016 and you still do not use a tag management system? Hmmmm. “Use tag management or leave the conference,” said Avinash Kaushik. Why? It was launched many years ago, and nowadays it should be considered a standard. Get ready and start using it. However, honestly said, how many websites use it? Still not enough. Despite that, the popularity of tools such as Google Tag Manager, Tealium or Adobe Dynamic Tag Manager is rising. Furthermore, a tag management solution is needed on a daily basis in our industry and it makes our life easier (you especially appreciate these tools if you are not a coder). Some of the sessions showed nice ideas how to use a tag management solution. For example, there was a very nice demonstration how to collect data from government sites, given by Damion Brown from Data runs deep. I assume tag management systems will become more and more popular. In conclusion, it is 2016 and the data layer is crucial to your success!
Data Explanations – Simplify Them!
Avinash spent one session talking about data explanation and data visualization. He showed us how to explain data and shared some tips. For example, he highlighted that it is important to keep in mind that data itself has no purpose if it is not put into a business context. Simplify the message you want to tell to your business owners. Do not overwhelm them with tons of data or stories you created based on data. Simplification – that is the right ingredient. Pick one story to tell, highlight important numbers to amplify your message and stress on business impact. Do not mix different numbers as this can result in a mixed outcome. If necessary, sharpen your focus and aim at a shorter period to show the changes in trends. Follow this advice and you could find a new way to dashboard awesomization.
In November 2015, Google finally released calculated metrics as beta functionality to Google Analytics. Actually, it was available before in beta version for Google Analytics Premium users. Calculated metrics are an awesome feature to compute metrics based on standard metrics and they allow digital marketers go deeper in their analysis. Again, even though it has been around quite some time, usage is just beginning now. And can you do miracles with them? Say you want to calculate profit (revenue – cost). Not possible before? You can do that now. Why to take into account only revenue when you can easily calculate profit as well. There are many other useful calculated metrics you can rely on, as well. For instance, think of the potential using other available calculated metrics: revenue per user, avg. time per user or calculate conversion rate per user – all easily done.
Not many sessions were spent on data privacy, but there were some and it would be a shame not to mention them. There has been a lot of attention on this topic in the past few months, especially here in Europe. All of us in the digital analytics industry know that PII collection is not allowed (at least, hopefully we all know). Although PII is not allowed there are some sensitive data that are allowed and therefore we can collect them.
Aurelie Pols spoke about data ethics and mentioned an example when the site asks users about a specific disease: “are you a diabetic”? “Yes” or “No”? If data is collected can we be sure it is allowed? Let’s say yes, but honestly speaking this is very sensitive information being collected. We should be careful about collecting data and information like this is very sensitive. Remember to get consent from users. Collecting data is not bad; the question is how we use this data afterwards. If we provide a better user experience to our customers or want to target them better then it is fine but if collected data is not used wisely then this is questionable. Overall, cookies are not a bad thing but they can be used for bad things (as Caleb Whitmore said during his presentation).
In almost every third session we heard “data automation” and “reporting monkeys”. What does this mean? Automate things, do not report like monkeys! If possible, use tools that help you in this journey. Many are available on the market – Tableau, Qklik or Cloudera. Start using them and spend more time in getting insight from your reports and providing recommendations. That brings value. The business value is not brought by running reports manually on a daily basis.
Offline Transactions and Cross Device Tracking
The merging of the online and offline world is becoming more and more visible. We see transactions that can be made online and finished offline (i.e., picking up stuff we bought) or you can start your purchase by visiting a store, grabbing a leaflet and then going to a website for more information. That is how it works today and the good news is you can measure these two worlds. Two Googlers showed us how to send sales and refunds to Google Analytics using the Measurement Protocol. It can go even further by tracking offline transactions by scanning a bar code, sending data to GA and assigning it to a specific customer by a key (for example an ID from a loyalty card). This could even lead to a nice cross-device tracking, which GA has had enabled for some time (even if not perfect). Another feature mentioned at the conference was Adwords cross-device conversion tracking.
If you did not have a chance to visit SuperWeek, then I suggest to follow some of these people on Twitter, Linked, or G+ to get inspired:
Peter O’Neill or Daniel Waisberg and many others