Web analytics have been around for a long, long time – almost two decades now! We’ve come a long way in that time. What started out as lists of technical information that were not very actionable has evolved into measuring detailed visitor behavior. These reports now provide critical business information that companies, specifically marketers, use to make important decisions with on a daily basis.
But the measurement challenges continue to evolve. Sophisticated marketing in today’s increasingly connected world demands that we better understand our visitors. So ask yourself: who is your customer?
Understanding the Visitor Journey
We all know how easy it is to find information on the Internet. A common shopping behavior pattern is to find a product or service online, then research the product or company, shop against the competition, price compare (and if you’re lucky, maybe find a coupon or a deal) and then purchase. Each visit could come from the same device, or different ones. Certainly, visitors visit at multiple times, possibly interacting with multiple ads before a purchase or conversion.
The Limitations of the Cookie
Identifying visitors and customers with web analytics has long relied on cookies. Cookies typically provide a unique identifier for that browser on a specific computer, but not necessarily for the user.
Multiple Visits, Multiple Devices – One Visitor Profile
Since cookies alone are not sufficient, there must be another method for effectively identifying your customers, right? That is where IBM Digital Analytics’ LIVE Profile shines. Rather than defining a visitor by a single cookie ID, the LIVE Profile uses a much more robust identifier: a customer ID or email when a visitor performs a one-time action like signing up for a newsletter, logging on to a website, or making a purchase. Once “known,” this identifier can then subsequently be automatically tied to many different cookies associated with different devices or visits. Importantly, this view is retrospective as well! Once a visitor is associated with a specific cookie, the LIVE Profile in Digital Analytics allows the marketer to map their interaction backwards to connect the dots to past actions. Once automatically associated, this retrospective view can offer incredibly rich insight into each individual customer’s lifecycle of interactions. This way, the visitor’s past and future interactions can be more easily understood to provide a complete, accurate, single view of every single customer.
Why Does This Matter?
This 360 degree view of the customer really opens up a lot of possibilities. Knowing what product someone had viewed, carted and then abandoned allows marketers to create highly personalized retargeting campaigns. Knowing the lifetime value (LTV) of customers can drive changes in decisions about marketing spend – some campaigns may cost more initially, but result in driving customers with a high LTV.