In a recent Google Analytics Blog post, A Look Ahead at Measurement in 2012, Google predicts five major trends related to what is on the horizon for the analytics industry in the new year. While these trends are predicted for businesses in a general sense, the predictions serve as a barometer for college and university marketing teams to gauge their level of analytics knowledge, skills, and practices.
- Mobile will be a major player. According to Google, “marketers should expect improved tools to measure engagement on mobile-optimized sites and effectiveness of mobile ads that will help them determine what platforms and formats help them catch consumers on the go.”
- It will become possible to measure the ROI of social media. Despite the fact that the vast majority of CMOs feel that social media produces no measurable return on investment, Google feels that 2012 will be the year when “better measurement tools will help marketers make smarter decisions about their investments in social. Vanity counters, such as friend counts and reshares, will be augmented with bottom line metrics like conversions and purchases, allowing marketers to measure true social ROI of each campaign and compare the effectiveness with other channels.”
- Marketers will gain a more cohesive view of customers that goes beyond a focus on conversions. Google maintains that 2012 will be the time when “the analytics industry will move towards bringing the disparate pieces of customer insight together into one cohesive view of the customer.”
- Analytics will be applied in real time via behavioral targeting. Google believes that “With real time data feeding into remarketing, ad content optimization, and real time bidding systems, advertisers are closer than ever to finding the right customer with the right ad at the right time. As these real time systems converge, there’s huge potential to integrate analytics to pull in deeper and richer information about user intent.”
- Data will become more actionable. Moving away from a narrow focus on reporting, 2012 will be the year of action. Google asserts that “we’ve only scratched the surface in helping marketers better measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, and as marketing continues to evolve, so will our efforts to make it more measurable and actionable.”
So, college and university marketers, a few questions:
- Is your site optimized for the mobile experience? Can site visitors complete desired actions when viewing your site on iphones, droids, and blackberries?
- Have you been wondering whether your institution’s Facebook and Twitter efforts have been paying off? Do you know the measurement procedures that can help evaluate the effectiveness of your social media campaigns?
- Do you have a strong sense of who visits your web site? What separates a casual visitor from a hot prospect?
- Does your web site serve up content that is customized to specific site visitors? Does your web site generate content dynamically?
- If you are using analytics now, are you solely reporting on it? Or, are you acting on it?
2012 is the year to begin to use data to drive your marketing decisions and strategies. The tools are making it increasingly possible to use data more effectively. The key is having the right people to help you implement the tools to their potential. Enter Joshua Dodson, a web analytics expert and Google Analytics certified professional who can help you discover and analyze your data so that you ultimately uncover the mysteries of what has been hiding in plain sight.