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June 28, 2013

Guest Blog: The Power of Digital Intelligence

Conrad Bennett, VP of Technical Services, EMEA at Webtrends, examines how brands can catch customers in the web.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Conrad Bennett

We are living in an age of endless information – a time when data is not just informative, it’s empowering. Data is created by almost everything we do online – clicks, queries, purchases, Tweets and Likes. According to a recent report from IDC, adults between the ages of 45 and 59 create 1.8 million gigabytes of data each year in addition to the 4.1 million gigabytes of ambient information that is already readily available in the digital universe.

When you consider how much data younger generations must create in comparison, it is no wonder that companies can become overwhelmed with big data to the point of paralysis. The data adds up but it’s only gold dust if you know how to make sense of it and act accordingly.

With recent advancements in the technology used to analyse customer data, brands now have more power than ever before to gain insight into consumers’ intent and online behaviour. For brands, the question mark regarding big data is how to develop these insights into actions that can ultimately generate sales. Without some way of discerning patterns in the data – it’s just numbers.

Traditionally, businesses have had a great deal of success applying data analysis to gain digital intelligence and improve customer insight. At its core, this data helps brands understand everything from customer demographic segments to consumer purchase preferences. By delving further into this data, key trends become apparent. As a result, brands can make better-informed, more strategic merchandising and digital marketing decisions that not only enhance the online customer experience, but ultimately increase the potential for conversion. However, brands have always been restricted by the time it takes for this data to become available and more importantly, useable.

As the e-commerce market continues to expand and big data technology continues to advance, the potential and pressure for brands to capitalise on the power of digital intelligence increases dramatically. The step-change now is that this data is becoming available to brands in real-time, allowing online retailers to become more agile and responsive. However, this power needs to be used carefully. Real-time customer insight opens up a world of opportunity but could also be damaging if not used appropriately.

Real-time data technology allows online businesses to gain digital intelligence by seeing how their customers interact with their websites, understanding how they got there, and even seeing the contents of their shopping carts, across all digital properties as it happens.

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Access to real-time digital intelligence empowers marketers to use this data across their optimisation, segmentation and targeting efforts to enhance the online customer experience and potential for conversion. Digital marketing campaigns can be adjusted in sync with the launch to optimise results. Online brands can use as-it-happens customer data to tailor featured products and website messaging quickly. This intelligence empowers brands to engage with their customers as they are browsing their websites and pass along the most relevant promotions and offers.

However, this comes back to my point about real-time insight being used carefully. The challenge in being able to see data instantly is knowing exactly what the customer is doing on the website and truly understanding their motives. A customer might seemingly have abandoned a purchase but the customer in question might have separate tabs open on their browser with plans to purchase and/or re-visit the site at a later time or even day. A brand might look to send the visitor an offer/voucher when a basket has been abandoned to encourage them to come back and make a purchase. In this instance, if the brand jumps the gun and sends an offer too quickly, whilst keeping the customer happy, it could potentially result in lost revenue. It’s therefore key for brands to get the balance right when using real-time insights to take immediate relevant action.

We recently announced Webtrends Streams, a new digital intelligence solution that provides brands with the ability to transform their online business in real time. Over the past few months, we’ve been testing Webtrends Steams with several early-adopter clients in Europe and the US., including global e-commerce, retail and media brands. Through engaging visualisations, these companies have informative insight for better understanding across the business.

Knowledge truly is power, and by fostering digital intelligence ‘as-it-happens’, the opportunities for brands to drive customer engagement and increase conversions are (almost) limitless. What is all of this digital intelligence for, if not to constantly create more engaging, more effective customer experiences online? Real-time digital intelligence fuels the content testing and targeting that is the backbone of effective and constant digital marketing optimisation, and gives digital marketers the capabilities to do all the things they’ve always wanted to but haven’t in the past had the technology to allow them to do so. This is only the beginning; the possibilities are endless.

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