Third-party analytics are tools and platforms (like Google Analytics) that allow marketers to collect, analyze and report on data to drive insights and transform them into action items. When it comes to ecommerce, leveraging these insights is crucial to planning your marketing strategy - and now that we’re in Q4, you can use these marketing tips to inform your holiday marketing plan.Don’t have third-party analytics set up for your website? Check out our related piece on how to place a Google Analytics pixel to begin tracking user data.
Comparing annual data can show seasonal gold mines - that is, times of year where ecommerce conversion rate, value per site session, and average order value are high. This can help you plan out your budget accordingly, spending more and getting the most bang for your marketing buck during your customers’ most active times of year. It’s critical to benchmark your seasonal performance against macro trends - for instance, global advertising costs skyrocket during Q4, as advertisers compete for limited inventory to market their products for the holidays. So while your brand may be a great holiday seller, you should still consider the rising cost of advertising around that time of year when planning your increased spend for the holidays.
Identify which segments (age demographics, locations, browsers, devices, etc.) drive the most sales for your product or service. Adjust your marketing budget away from low-performing segments toward the ones that drive the highest ROI. You may also find that different demographic cohorts perform differently at different times - for instance, if sales are higher during the week for desktop devices, but mobile sales are higher on weekends, you would plan your ad spend by device accordingly. Discoveries like these allow you to target your various segments even more specifically and efficiently. It may also help to look at recent shifts in performance and consumer behavior to realize emerging segments within your customer base.
Compare your web traffic by source on last-90-day, year-over-year basis to determine which channels drive the highest conversion rates, revenues, and value-per-session. With this knowledge, you can optimize resources and maximize returns - you just might find that one of your lower-traffic channels earns a high conversion rate, in which case you might reallocate budget toward scaling impressions in that channel. While Facebook and Google can be highly competitive (especially around the holidays), you can look to smaller platforms (like Snapchat) that tend to be less expensive, affiliate campaigns that only cost you money if they result in sales, or email campaigns that are very cost-effective when it comes to nurturing traffic to conversion.
Having a strong understanding of your customer journey will indicate the optimal digital mix to drive conversions. Google Analytics reports on last-click conversion models (an attribution model that assigns 100% of the credit to the final touchpoint immediately before conversion), so you may notice that one source of traffic (such as direct-to-site traffic, email, and paid search) converts well. If you’re using branded CPC campaigns or trigger-based emails, last-click numbers don’t always paint the whole picture. Looking into top conversion paths (an attribution model that shows all of the unique conversion paths, allowing you to see how channels interact) can help identify not only the source of traffic, but the specific campaign that drove awareness of interest in your brand, product or site - even if the ultimate conversion came from a different channel. Third-party analytics won’t always account for or give credit to the initial touchpoint in a simple report.
Third-party analytics platforms like Google Analytics can help you identify which times of year, which segments, and which channels drive the most success. Combined with an understanding of how your marketing channels integrate with and support each other, these insights will help you build a strong funnel with appropriately allocated budget and resources.
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Jeeyan is Hawke Media's VP of Marketing. He's managed millions in media dollars, but also enjoys collecting sneakers, eating food, talking about business and hanging out with cats.