Over the last five years products in the online marketing space, especially Web analytics products, have gotten a whole lot better and the users are becoming much more knowledgeable. Today marketing users are demanding whole solutions and ease of use. However, paradoxically, most organizations are using only a fraction of the impressive capabilities these products offer. True, the products collect ALL the data, and have all the answers. The users, it seems, just don’t have all the questions! I rarely speak with an organization that uses more than 10% of the product capability. I have spoken to thousands in the decade. Most of them seem content using a fraction of the potential. Yet, some vendors just keep heaping on capability.
While we are all making moderated headway, there is the siren song of more power now and a rush to the seduction of more graphics, dimensions and more data segmentable in real time. Some users fall prey. Pretty pictures rendered on expensive closed systems that offer dramatic “fly over” capabilities are very valuable for a few high end analysts, and are very well suited as BI (business intelligence) tools, but not for the majority of marketing people. Just as we crossed the chasm and made the marketing beachhead, it seems few vendors are selling to the marketing user any more. The vendors have coined new terms, and the old web analytics firms now ply the trade of customer intelligence, and business optimization, instead of plain marketing management. Many vendors seem to be losing sight of the buyer. One of the reasons I came to Unica is that we know our center, who we sell to, and why, and the mission hasn’t changed much since its founding over a decade ago. And that has impressed me.
Cool as it seems, most marketing people need action, not animated renderings of data with endless drill down reports. We need to run campaigns, online and off-line. We need to segment lists for direct mail and for email and then print and manage those lists. We need to correlate site visitor behavior with leads and optimize campaigns both for online and off-line conversations and back again. We need to test and repeat. We need to manage and plan our work, and it needs to integrated with other enterprise systems, and easy to use. We need drag and drop interfaces, a range of deployment solutions from On Demand to on premises, and corresponding professional services. But mostly we need action, and for that we need to get the data in and out of the systems so that those other applications can make it happen. And we need to do it without IT involvement whenever possible.
Indeed, the rate of change is staggering. How are either vendors or users able to keep pace? During this month-long blog I will attempt to put my decade of living in this changing environment into some perspective. I will explore topics like the evolving role of a “marketing person” (hint, there’s no such thing as a marketing person). I hope to provide color and comment on this “vendor morphing” that I mentioned above, and on some of the general challenges that we’re all facing including a discussion of topics like, what IS Customer Intelligence? Is “Cross Channel” the same as multi channel? And my personal favorite, the Real Time Myth. We will touch on the latest and greatest news, with a piece I’m calling, "Will the real Web 2.0 application please stand up?" Or, have you ever thought about "event-based tracking" and the question that I hear too often, "is the page view dead?"
Change is the only constant. Some thrive on solving these challenges and I consider myself one of them. Thus, we’ll also examine my main theme, analytics and action and I’ll offer some perspective on the future of our sector (note my new home for clues). Since I have a “day job” I’ll try to post at least once a week so check back. Between my postings my colleague, another experienced Web analytics vet, Steve O’Brien, will provide his color commentary. We’d like to have your feedback.