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Traditional Web Analytics is dying, what’s next?

The ground is shaking and the landscape around you is changing rapidly. If you are a traditional web analyst you should be worried. The proverbial ice caps are melting and it’s time to adapt. While you were setting up conversion goals in your web analytics solution, the complexity and scope of customer behavioural data has evolved so much that data teams are taking over.

Stuck in the world of descriptive analytics, analysing stale campaign data, you’re becoming more irrelevant every day. It’s not that you don’t have the answers anymore, you do, it’s that you’re late to the party. By the time you finished your reports or slides, the data engineers have already pushed those insights to all your marketing platforms which are executing scenarios in real time.

Real-time is not a gimmick anymore

I probably don’t have to explain you that the sheer amount of data that’s being collected is exponentially growing, not only in volume but also in velocity. Data is becoming faster, and traditional analytics is slow. Compare it to the evolution of today's 24-hour news cycle in traditional media. What happened yesterday has become irrelevant and is largely forgotten. The digital customer experience has become instantaneous, and if you can’t act upon the data at hand you run the risk of losing that customer. There’s no time anymore for you to retroactively analyse behavioural data and handcraft customer journey for segments of customers that might not even exist anymore in a couple of weeks. The future is real-time, and if you can’t accept this, you’re done.

Real-time analytics has been around for a while now, but until recently there was no way to make that data actionable. The arrival of DMP’s (Data Management Platforms) has changed that. Most of today's vendor DMP’s are still too slow to act completely real-time, but data teams are already building their own custom DMP’s that outperform any vendor DMP. This trend will continue and before you know it we’ll all be working with live data.

Cloud Economics are turning up the pressure on single vendor solutions

Traditional web analytics is page based. Historically, websites were nothing more than electronic leaflets for promo teams and marketing departments. Page views and clicks were the key metrics to measure efficiency. That all shifted radically when companies started tracking visitors instead of views. Understanding acquisition channels, tracking user behaviour over different platforms and performing conversion optimisation all meant that the user was now the central piece in web analytics. Along with all that came segmentation, A/B testing and user journey analysis.

The problem with this shift is that the data model suddenly becomes more complicated and difficult to integrate in traditional vendor solutions. The user model can vary widely, often needs to be enriched and the touch points that define a conversion aren’t limited anymore to a simple transaction. There’s just no way a traditional vendor can come up with a fits-all-solution.

The rise of cloud computing supported by companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft dramatically reduced cost for storage and computing power. Today, these costs are so low that even bootstrapping startups can track every customer interaction. You can now save raw clickstream data, and decide later what to do with it and how to analyse it. In a landscape of pivots and rapidly changing business models, this is a huge competitive advantage. More companies than ever understand this and are investing in architecture, and building their own customer data platforms that are outperforming traditional vendor solutions.

CDP’s are pushing out traditional web analytics

So why are we suddenly talking about Customer Data Platforms (CDP’s)? Well, what most companies are after these days is a unified customer view. The number of touch points a customer interacts with nowadays is scattered over a whole bunch of different technologies. Customers interact with your brand through apps, voice, AR, VR, IOT, offline and the traditional web. A web/digital analytics solution is just unable to consolidate, model and enrich all of this data. CDP’s are built to do just that, they create a unified customer view which allows to leverage that data and deeply understand your customers. It also opens the door to other emerging technologies like machine learning and AI.

CDP’s were previously only available to enterprise companies with a lot of cash to burn. But as I mentioned, cloud economics is changing all that, and soon even smaller companies are going to move away from traditional web analytics to Customer Data Platforms.

Having a full picture of the customer journey will help you create a consistent customer experience across all your digital channels. It will allow you to define key segments for targeting, run advanced attribution models and do next-level personalisation. The bottom line is a that the technology has arrived and cost has become irrelevant, so it’s time to jump on board.