(This post originally appeared in Digital Draw, a digital banking site sponsored by Intel)
With the proliferation of devices offering customers new online access, businesses are increasingly faced with even more measurement methodologies. Deciding which channels lead to actual customers at stores can be as much a sport as choosing a NCAA bracket.
The study of marketing attribution – the process of assigning sales contributions from one or more marketing channels – also provides what I think is an implied opportunity for small retailers managing multiple digital customer engagement. Let’s look at it from the perspective of a digital signage display – all the rage and increasingly a part of urban business marketing, small or large.
Digital display signage can bridge offline and online marketing exposure. The media served can guide customers who discover the offer online to valuable offers and online information sources prior to a purchase or sales discussion.
The most recent studies have revealed the value of offline influences on a digital marketing plan. For example, eMarketer noted in a recent article on multi-channel marketing that despite fragmentation of customer attention, “Offline channels such as TV, radio, and print media were the ways consumers frequently discovered new brands.” Media for a digital display signage can provide means to first catch the customers’ offline eye, showing online-purposed media that leads customers to view an online offer or information regarding services.
Furthermore, positioning digital signage among offline marketing sources can be a known variable in a confusing effort to attribute marketing channels, particularly when non-technical reasons are involved. In fact many respondents to a Google and eConsultancy marketing attribution white paper Marketing Attribution: Valuing The Customer Journey stated that conflict among departments during attribution analysis can be a significant obstacle.
But by planning digital signage media that address department objectives in a campaign, retail banks have an opportunity to align departments around the customer sales experience. The benefit is a effective application of knowledge that can better discern the customer path and choose the metrics that matters most. Google/eConsultancy survey respondents believed that understanding the sales cycle is a key factor to interpreting analytic data and to revealing the marketing channel most likely to influence customers.
Marketing attribution analysis is still in its infancy among practitioners. Digital display signage with online-purposed media campaigns can mature that effort in a great way for many banks seeking offline and online success in reaching customers.
With so many small businesses still struggling to establish a website, the choice of hosting has been numerous – and complicated. To make the choices a bit simplier and to help small businesses evaluate hosting option, take a look at this excel list of hosting options (with a few other packages thrown in). The comparison runs the gamut from Intuit (which also offers its web building services to Verizon) to dedicated hosting for Fatcow and, of course, Godaddy. Click here for a downloadable pdf of hosting solutions.
Keep a few aspects in mind:
- Some options can limit operational capability. I have seen one business rely on the now-defunct Microsoft Officelive but because there was no MySQL, PHP, or other backend applications required at the site, the business was limited in creating features for visitors, some of which were revenue generating.
- For frequent updates, Use a FTP Client to upload large number of files quickly into your website – Fetch Softworks offers an excellent client, as is Filezilla. Filezilla is free; Fetch is an Mac-only client but inexpensive $49.
- For those using WordPress, include the Add from Server plug in (author Dion Hulse) with your file server. The plugin is especially useful for large image files – once uploaded media files need to be placed in the correct directory to be accessible for post, so essentially the plugin is an additional required tool if confronted with a large number of media files with some larger than the wordpress filesize limit.
- Consider customer service and support as a factor – many hosting services are similar technological features and benefits across the board. Good customer service is essential for the hang ups that can occur with a website or blog.
This September 2011 webinar I created for Small Biz Technology shows how Google Analytics (and any web analytics, for that matter) should work in your business. You can make choices that help you manage the business effectively. Ramon Ray, editor of Small Biz Technology, made the introduction.
This video will show the importance of setting a goal, how to use paid search, and how referral traffic should be monitored. This can aid your business’ effort to make timely decisions based on the data presented.
Note: Due to processing, the audio was somewhat damaged.
Ah, the New York Times. A paper with global stature. No paper made more significant headlines of its own in the online world when the New York Times announced its digital subscription program (details here). The skinny is that visitors who are not subscribers can view up to 20 post in a month, while subscribers of one of three digital news packages have unlimited access. When non-subscribers click on their 21st article, they can purchase a subscription. The plan was implement in March 2011, and the jury is still out on how well the paywall plan is working. New York Times is noted to be the largest newspaper publisher who has implementing a paywall.
Many online blogs operate like a newspaper, and while many still are not at the scope of New York Times, a financial model for making a profit can be a challenge. So what would a small business do to emulate a paywall, or even figure how to better serve its audience? One analytics feature that would be helpful is developing a custom variable to distinguish subscribers online.
Google Analytics requires that index, name, and value are identified. They are determined as followed method accepts four parameters:
- index—This is a slot number, with a single value from 1 – 5, inclusive. This is meant as a key for one custom variable, so you can have index 1, and index 2, an index 3, and so on.
- name— This is a string that identifies the custom variable.
- value—This ia a value that is paired with a name. You can pair a number of values with a custom variable name, such as a custom variable name gender and supply male and female as two possible values.
- opt_scope—The scope for the custom variable, usually for an additiona description
When you decide to implement custom variables, you need to consider your site needs carefully against your budget, since most paid solutions offer more flexibility with variables. Piwik and Google Analytics, both free solutions, limit the number of custom variables, while paid solutions Yahoo Web Analytics and Omniture Site Catalyst permit more variables and offering even more customization.
But custom variables can help track visitors to distinguish traffic patterns between members and non-members. Such an arrangement would help your blog develop what effort would convert non-subscribers to subscribers, as well as may other ideas to maintain traffic onsite and provide unique, nuanced treatment for two separate sets of visitors.
There are plenty of other ways a custom variable can be used. Justin Cutroni offers a unique way of using custom variables for coupons – you can read about his process here.
What other ways can custom variables be useful?