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Integration and Analytics: The Online Shopper's Best Friends

By Shaun Ryan
Jan 15, 2010 5:00 AM PT

With the plethora of available technology tools promising to improve the customer experience, it's safe to assume that many of you have deployed more than one of them to increase your chances of success. The implementation of myriad technology applications can provide significant benefits if they are utilized properly. Data gleaned from multiple on-site technologies can, for example, be used to more successfully recruit customers and maintain loyalty within your current customer base.

Integration and Analytics: The Online Shopper's Best Friends

Critical to this success is the ability to integrate applications and utilize analytics across them for purposes such as measuring the effectiveness of campaigns, conducting keyword research and better understanding online audience behaviors. If you are not taking this approach, you could be missing important opportunities to further improve the user experience and impact your marketing efforts.

If you have employed a number of technology applications to enhance the online customer experience, following are a few tips to help ensure your on-site investments are hard at work for your business.

Integrate to Accelerate

Combining applications like site search with user reviews or online video can dramatically accelerate results as compared to when these applications are used in a siloed approach. In today's highly competitive selling environment, focusing on this integration can help you capture more sales and conversions, and have more meaningful engagements with customers.

For example, integrating user reviews with site search can provide you with another important navigation tool for your online shoppers: the ability to search for products by how they are rated, as well as how they are reviewed, in the form of product pros, cons and best uses. This combined effort lets shoppers search based on those characteristics or features that are important to them. This means fewer clicks to find just the right product -- which ultimately drives a higher rate of conversions.

Trust in Analytics

Many companies today don't trust the accuracy of their analytics. This may be a result of not taking care to implement and integrate applications properly, as well as inconsistent reporting, and challenges over time due to ongoing site changes. The lack of trust can lead to insecurities about the use and value of technology applications in general.

To help ensure your analytics are accurate and trustworthy, take the time to assess integration across all of your marketing applications. You may need to hire an expert to help you or train someone in-house to guide and manage the analytics process.

Using analytics to the right extent is not always easy -- but if managed with care, it can provide the means to significantly increase brand recognition and revenue.

Personalize Campaigns

Another benefit of on-site application integration and information-sharing is the ability to target customers with personalized messages that prompt them to take action. For example, if you allow shoppers to register their product preferences and receive periodic promotional email messages, you can leverage site search data to create more targeted marketing emails highlighting their preferred products.

One use case might be an online footwear retailer that -- based on customers' preferences, such as style of shoe and favorite brands -- pulls site search data showing the most popular products that correlate with those preferences. Using that information, the retailer can then generate individually targeted emails that specifically promote those products.

Personalized emails have proved highly appealing to shoppers, and they can result in increased open rates, click-throughs and conversions.

Share Information

Through the use of various marketing technologies, including site search, email marketing and analytics, you have access to a great deal of data that can be shared and leveraged across applications. This data can also be used to better target other activities, such as paid advertising, SEO and even promotional offers.

For example, when working to uncover and select the most appropriate keywords to use in an advertising or SEO campaign, the information made available to you from your other marketing applications -- i.e., the terms your customers use most often when using the search box on your site -- can save time and provide additional targeted keywords for consideration.

If you are one of the many online businesses faced with challenges related to improving the customer experience, you're not alone. Analyzing campaign effectiveness can be difficult when applied across multiple marketing programs and on-site variations. The key is ensuring applications are tightly integrated and sharing information, and analytics are run and evaluated across technologies to obtain accurate, actionable data.

Take the time to review the on-site technologies you currently have in your arsenal, and work to guarantee they are talking to each other and exchanging data. Doing so will help you maximize the value of each of your technology investments and ensure they are working for you to drive business success.

Shaun Ryan is CEO of SLI Systems.

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