Mobile Analytics: Attaining the Insight to Drive Multichannel Sales
Attaining satisfactory mobile analytics is one of the keys to a successful mobile strategy. Here, we look at what options and goals ecommerce and multichannel retailers need to think about to get started
Posted by Killian McAleese, 5th December 2011
For many retailers, this discussion about mobile analytics will take place in the context of analytics in general. But to put things in context from an mcommerce point of view, the first major step in developing a mobile strategy for retail is the development of a mobile-optimised website. Beyond this, no practical steps can be taken with any degree of confidence without a drill-down into customer behaviour and the performance of a mobile-optimised site.
Furthermore, when it comes to developing a native application 'app', neither standard Google Analytics nor app marketplaces such as the iTunes App Store will provide sufficient analytics for the specific needs of your retail enterprise. It's therefore vital that online retailers have satisfactory mobile analytics in place when developing a mobilestrategy.
Unfortunately, out-of-the-box Google Analytics is 'desktop-centric', meaning that although site visits can be understood with reference to browsers including Android and Blackberry, common data collection methods are still unreliable for understanding mobile visits, omitting substantial amounts of data.
Google Analytics for Mobile
Research published by Econsultancy over the summer revealed that 44% of participating businesses now use Google Analytics exclusively for their analytics needs, the figure up from 38% in 2010. Impressive evidence of Google's growth in this market space, but it still leaves 56% either using Google Analytics alongside another solution (42%) or not using Google Analytics at all (14%). The reason given by the majority of respondents for not relying entirely on Google Analytics was that the service wasn't sophisticated enough for their requirements (28%). This latter issue will likely be the kernel of your decision making process when it comes to mobile.
As mentioned, out-of-the-box Google Analytics is unlikely to offer sufficient mission-critical mobile analytics, but Google does provide Analytics for Mobile. Google Code Labs provides a developer guide for this service and you can also find community support and blog articles on the subject.
The two issues to consider in relation to Google Analytics for Mobile are 1. whether you have the in-house technical knowledge to implement and run it and track mobile users effectively with it; and 2. whether this service will suit your needs. For sizeable businesses the answer to 1. is likely to be yes, but smaller businesses may need third-party assistance. The second issue is more complex, depending on your reporting requirements and your budget.
If you currently rely solely on Google for your standard analytics, the next logical step is likely to be to implement Google Analytics for Mobile and begin measuring with this solution. Your IT team should read the documentation in Code Labs and assess whether you have the in-house capability to implement it. While there have been notable problems with Google's mobile analytics in terms of its limitations in the past, there is an emerging view that businesses often opt for paid analytics because they have not fully exploited Google Analytics' capabilities, and this includes mobile. The best initial approach is to define data, reporting and analytics needs and begin with GA for mobile.
Other Mobile Analytics Options
Analytics offers enormous potential for sales optimisation, and in most cases it is likely that there is potential for incremental improvement of your use of analytics within a business. Google recently announced the release of Premium Analytics, a service priced at £96,000 a year, offering additional features such as increased data collection, more custom variables, attribution modelling tools and downloadable reports. However, such a price-tag is obviously a huge decision for SMEs. And reading between the lines, it's difficult to believe that standard Google Analytics is everything to all businesses when Google themselves endorse an alternative paid service, albeit one aimed at larger enterprises.
Other paid solutions might therefore be worth considering. Notable alternatives include Bango, which has for some time been considered superior to Google's offering, although Google are catching up quickly with basic free services. Kontagent, for example, also offers user-focused proprietary analytics for social apps, and Amathon provides content fingerprinting tehnology which includes analytics, tracking and monetization of P2P shared content on themobile web, as well as basic analytics for mobile browsing. Open Plus also offers a SaaS service called InsitePlus which is an advanced business and reporting solution for high-growth retailers on Magento.
A Single View of the Truth
While there are sevices and solutions available, the key is to focus on what is appropriate for your business goals and ultimately to be able to integrate analytics so as to gain a single view of the truth.
Adam Bennington, key account manager at eCircle, highlights the potential for true multichannel analytics in Internet Retailing: “having fully integrated analytics set up on each channel with the data fed into a single engine enables retailers to track indirect sales as well. It’s the only true way to show ROI where it matters and to ensure marketing spend is allocated optimally, rather than simply crediting the last channel that resulted in the sale.”
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