In 2016, those that haven’t already acknowledged the new reality of multiple devices and channels will need to re-examine their approach. Users are happily hopping from mobiles to tablets to desktops during the research and completion of a single purchase, but the old measurement models are ill-equipped to deal with this seamless movement.
However, the simple truth is that digital media has better data than any other channel. This has been the case for years, and every year the quality of the dataset gets stronger. Cross-device measurement in AdWords is based on information from millions of signed-in users across Google’s properties, and if you’re not already using it, start now. Signed-in user data is as robust a method as you can find in digital media today and will give you a huge advantage in understanding the complete customer journey. Likewise, if you have a presence on the highstreet you should be using AdWords Store Visits – this compares and correlates clicks on ads, to in-store traffic and completed sales, which then integrates your offline sales data into Google Analytics. Otherwise you’re missing out on powerful and actionable insights into the connection between your online advertising and offline sales.
One of the hardest things to get right about measurement is how you handle the data itself. Fortunately, this is one area where a constant flow of innovation has made things easier, and this year will be no different. When measuring, you need to establish a single source of truth. This means you’re always going to the same place when you want to look at your numbers, making your reporting more efficient and less prone to human error. Once you’ve established a suitable home for your data, you need to put it to work. Use cross-device and attribution data to adjust your bids, build remarketing lists from your on-site analytics and offline CRM data, expand your audience targeting to similar affinity groups – there are countless ways your data can give you an edge.
In the coming year, the businesses that succeed are going to be the ones who become obsessed with creating and continuously improving assets (created by data) that meet the needs of their customers. Good business has always been about good service, and digital is no different – understand your customer’s frustrations, desires and unmet needs, then build products and experiences that address them.
So what might this obsession look like in practice? Payment is an area where even the slickest of e-commerce experiences can grind to a halt, so I’m hoping to see more sites adopting safe, simple third-party payment systems. Users are familiar and comfortable with these payment options, and often already have accounts – integrating with them can reduce friction and enhance the customer experience through features such as one-click checkout. In a similar vein, development libraries and toolkits such as Google Polymer are making it easier and cheaper to build rich, app-like websites that increase engagement and conversion – if you’re not already exploring ways to supercharge the interactivity of your site, now is the time to start.
Mobile apps are already a key asset for many businesses, so I’ve saved my last word on this subject for these crucial pieces of real-estate. This year is going to be all about extending the reach of mobile, by looking at indexing and deep-linking to improve acquisition and retention. Then, for those of you who already feel you’re on top of your mobile fundamentals, I’m hoping to see some serious exploration of new mobile technologies and business models. There’s no shortage of disruptive start-ups out there who are as happy to annexe your customers as they are to develop new revenue streams, so constant innovation and reinvention is as much about defending your established base as it is about looking for new opportunities.