Before starting with Tourism Ireland I had never heard of digital analytics. I was vaguely aware that websites and links had some sort of measurable metrics available, but that was as far as my knowledge went. In my past six months at Tourism Ireland I have slowly been introduced to digital analytics and how it is used as method of analysis within the marketing industry. I am developing a deeper understanding of the importance of measuring brand presentation online and the different elements involved therein.
What is Digital Analytics?
Digital analytics expert Avinash Kaushik describes it thusly:
Digital analytics is the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from your business and the competition to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers and potential customers have which translates to your desired outcomes (both online and offline)(1).
The most important part to take from this is the focus on the customer. In this digital age customers are no longer following the traditionally prescribed linear purchase funnel – instead they can partake in purchases at any point along the decision path, ultimately giving them more control. Marketers use digital analytics as one tool which helps them gauge what customers want to hear, along with where they are most likely to buy.
The Google Analytics course not only hones in on the technical aspects behind digital analytics, it also sets out an overarching game plan that businesses should follow when developing their digital strategy. The first and foremost thing businesses should do is to determine exactly what outcomes or objectives they want to achieve, before putting their strategy into effect. This is reiterated by industry leaders, Bhandari, Singer and van der Scheer. They state that ‘a company’s overarching strategy should ground its choice of analytical options’ (2).
There are five steps that a company should go through when developing their digital strategy. These are:
- Define the business objective
- Agree on a strategy for success
- Set specific key performance indicators to measure success
- Segment the market
- Set clear quantifiable targets for the key performance indicators
From my own personal experience at Tourism Ireland, I know that quantifying the effects of their marketing strategies can be difficult. While overall metrics are measured by either the CSO in the Republic and NISRA in Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland does not have the means to directly measure the success or failure of its work. As the Tourism Ireland website does not provide a booking service there is no measurable data, or macro conversions, to see if a person will visiting Ireland or not. Instead Tourism Ireland has to measure the micro conversions, which encompass things such as time spent on a particular web page, the click-through rate, newsletter sign ups and online brochure ordering. Additionally, link tagging is used extensively throughout all social media and marketing campaigns showing the relative success or failure of each. One of the things I have implemented since joining Tourism Ireland is the tagging of links within the press e-zine. Since doing this it is much easier to track which news stories are popular, and which format of press release works the best. These things help give a general picture of both individual campaigns and how Tourism Ireland is performing overall.
I found the assignment to be quite challenging. There were things I were familiar with from my own role in Tourism Ireland, though much of it was new to me. I also did not really enjoy the video based learning, though there were transcripts available they did not follow the text completely, so to get full understanding I had to watch the video as well as read the transcripts; something which at times felt a little protracted. When I first did the test at the end of the assessment, I only scored a 16 out of 20.
As most of my incorrect answers were in the latter part of the quiz, I realised I had rushed through the end sections. After going back and reviewing the material again, I was able to get a more satisfactory result.
(1) Avinash Kaushik, 2007. ‘Rethink Web Analytics: Introducing Web Analytics 2.0′
(2) Bahndari, Singer & van der Scheer, 2014. ‘Using marketing analytics to drive superior growth’, McKinsey Insights and Publications