One of the nice things about attending conferences is it gives you an opportunity to listen to peers in your industry and gauge how their experiences and opinions stack against your own. So it was heartening for me yesterday at the UK Search Conference to find that some of my own musings about where digital is going were broadly in line with what others were thinking.
One of the key themes that emerged from a lot of the presentations was customer centricity. We all know the marketing mantra that the customer comes first and should drive everything we do, but it’s all too easy to get bogged down in maximising channels rather than starting with the customer.
From my own perspective, I tend to spend a lot of time looking at search trends and how this impacts online visits. Search is a hugely important channel, and one that continues to show phenomenal growth. The latest Hitwise data shows that search grew by 17% comparing December 2012 with 2011 figures. However, despite its growing importance and impact on our daily lives, search remains just one channel, and should not be prized to the exclusion of all others.
This was brought into sharp focus for me this Christmas when I was looking at some of the channel trends for online shopping. As the biggest source of traffic to the retail sector, search tends to correlate well with online retail visits – so when searches for gifts increase, visits to retail websites also increase. However, when I looked at retail visits against email transaction rates, there was a stark difference in the trends.
The biggest day of December for email transaction rates was Saturday 22 December, which was also the worst performing day for online retail visits as a whole. Whilst previously it would have been tempting to say that 22 December was a poor shopping day online, by broadening the perspective to include another channel a more complete and comprehensive picture of consumer behaviour starts to form. In this case consumers were responding to email offers for last minute Christmas gifts and had a high propensity to buy, even though there were fewer visits to the retail industry overall.
By bringing together different data sets we can start to increase our understanding of the customer, which ultimately is going to allow us as marketers to be smarter about the way we do our business. However, data alone is worth nothing, being able to process that data into something intelligible and actionable is where it really becomes valuable.
Until next month…