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Getting to grips with data through business intelligence

Data is one of the most powerful tools that online retailers possess. Every tangible action taken by a consumer should be trackable, providing retailers with a wealth of data relating to customer journeys and purchasing patterns.

Operating within an online environment enables retailers to understand the influence that each touchpoint has had upon the purchasing decision whereas with offline campaigns it is much more challenging to tie success to a particular advert or advertising campaign.

The performance channel is a perfect example of how measurable online activity is. Affiliate networks are able to see each affiliate partner that has been involved within a transaction - although this only tells part of the story. Where this becomes increasingly interesting is when additional data is pulled in from retailers and agencies in order to see the complete digital picture. It is only then possible to understand how each of the channels have been involved within the path to conversion and the influence they held over a transaction taking place. In addition, data from retailers can provide additional information about the customers that are purchasing from them. It is possible to understand if they are new or returning customers, their purchase frequency, what they are buying and how much they are spending with the retailer over a period of time.   

With such a significant amount of data available, it can be difficult to identify the areas that are most relevant. Previously we have looked at how data can be used to understand the value of the performance channel. This can be extended to investigate how the use of additional business intelligence tools to help to analyse and present data in more meaningful ways.

What data is captured?

There is a significant volume of data that is collected by each of the parties involved within the channel. While this typically relates to the transactions generated and the publishers that have delivered them there is also a significant amount of additional information that is gathered. This can include geographic information such as where a publisher is from or the regions in which consumers are purchasing certain products.

Additionally the actual products that are being purchased as well as any discount code has been redeemed against the sale can be recorded. With the rise of m-commerce there has also been a significant shift in how consumers are accessing the internet and the subsequent impact on consumer behaviour. There is a vast amount of data around the devices that are being used and the products that are over-indexing across mobile devices. Further data such as click to sale times, impressions generated and average order values help to flesh out the story.

More sophisticated use of data analysis can enable retailers to truly understand their publisher base as well as the customers they are converting. Add in the devices they are using to transact and retailers are armed with the information required to execute a more sophisticated promotional strategy.

Empowering Account Managers to Become Analysts

Despite being sophisticated pieces of software, business intelligence tools provide a simple way to drill down into the relevant data. This enables account managers to gain a greater understanding into the retailers they are working with and their position within the sector.

Benchmarking tools can be utilised to compare data across a particular sector. This enables account managers to understand their retailers’ position within their sector as well as provide insight into where the growth opportunities lie.

Additionally, benchmarking the devices that are being used to transact provides account managers with additional information to support their retailers. This enables them to recruit publishers that are effective at driving mobile acquisitions for similar retailers for example.

With business intelligence tools allowing data to be compiled in a simpler form to analyse, account managers are being empowered to become analysts and provide greater insight for their retailers.

Data Visualisation

Visualisation of data is also simplified through business intelligence tools. These tools can help visualise data in a more meaningful way – allowing for the data to be presented more effectively. For example, size and colour can be utilised to bring visualisations to life, while maps can bring additional meaning, highlighting the locations where transactions are made for example. There are a wide range of options for presenting data, escaping the restrictions when trying to create visualisations within Excel. 

Reporting Flexibility

As well as having restrictions in terms of the visualisation of data, there is also a limit to the number of rows of data that can be added as well as the speed in which it operates. In using a sophisticated business intelligence tool, the speed and flexibility of reporting is further enhanced. Additionally these tools allow for data sources to be easily combined and parameters can be set to assist with analysis.

Data is a currency that online retailers are rich in. With an increasing amount of data being captured and a greater demand to base decisions on this data, the opportunities for reporting and benchmarking are endless. Sophisticated business intelligence tools allow retailers to access additional layers of insight across the performance channel, evolving the understanding of their campaigns as well as the key metrics that drive them.

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