The office computer, family desktop, smartphone, tablet, ultrabook, living room tv, gym screen… As shoppers we’re surrounded by, and switching between, devices all day long and at an increasing rate. Earlier this year I wrote about the impact the explosion this multi-device behavior is having on traditional web metrics and as the number screens “gets worse” I’m circling back to the point to talk about the solutions, or at least the ones I’m aware of thus far.
Cutting to the cold hard reality, nearly everyone in your target group is using multiple devices. According to a 2012 survey of web users by Google, 90% use multiple devices at the same time to accomplish a goal, 98% use two devices in a day and the smartphone that you think stays in their pocket, it touches almost everything.
Simply put this means that what you know of your visitor from traditional analysis is entirely incomplete. The person coming to your site may have already been there a dozen times. The source you attribute their order to is probably not how they discovered you and their activity is just one of many paths they’ve taken.
1. Know how your customers stack up: what do they use, when, and how often.
Survey numbers are just one source’s average and while you and I probably fall into the numbers, Walmart’s business is still cash based, J.C. Penny’s serves an older clientele despite advertising the opposite… assumptions can be downright dangerous. Learn how your customers skip around, what devices they use, and how long they spend doing it… the longer the time or bigger the number, the further off your analytics will be.
2. Ask them where they come from, where they’ve been, and what influenced them along the way.
From the originating source to confirming if they’ve used the site where you invested your major ad money in, there’s a lot to be learned by asking. While people are notoriously bad at reporting these details, and the results need to be thought of with more than just a grain of salt, the insights are a place to start… one that’s generally far away from what you ever guessed.
Investigate their thoughts and you’ll find where you’re most notable, what’s making the right impression or validating that back-of-the-mind thought they had.
3. Build benchmarks beyond sales [or sign ups]
The good thing about this puzzle is that it impacts everything. As you map out the actual process customers go through to convert, use the learnings of one source against others to build a benchmark. Pulling in intermediate steps like email sign ups, social follows, add to carts helps go from one goal to many, meaningful visits from against presumably useless ones.
4. Consider the device before setting a goal
Just as you want to benchmark campaign to campaign it’s critical to consider how devices stack up. Someone on their desktop has all the tools possible to convert to an ecommerce store while someone on their phone may very well be price shopping, showrooming, killing time. The outcome of each is remarkably different and the goals you assign should follow not the trail you want but the logical path of the person using it.
5. Merge data to build a [more] complete picture.
Omniture and other enterprise analytics introduced 360-data importing options years ago but it’s still rare to see a company fully using them and that’s a real shame. Whether it’s social followers, P.O.S. sales, or phone records, combining sources together can paint a picture well beyond web-only data to understand the duration, touchpoints and flow of those who do end up buying.
4. Develop tools that let you track past the device
One of the easiest solves to get past a device hump is to get people to tell you that they’re returning. This of course means a login but simply having one in your cart is not enough. Explore meaningful ways to give value that would make people want to sign up – and sign back in. Consider the various applications and benefits to each: will logging in to that limited function mobile site really do anything? Can they just use Facebook or Twitter to save a step? And most importantly, what is in it for them…?
Finally, forget data reliance
As marketers and especially digital ones, we’ve trained ourselves to follow the data, to decide on results rather than the speculation the TV / Radio / Print guys said. We had evidence and while it wasn’t perfect, it was solid. Logical. Worth trusting in. But when nearly everyone is bypassing how we get it, it’s just not enough to bank on anymore.
In time technology (and people’s sense of privacy) will evolve enough to link everything we do making this post obsolete. Call it cookies 3.0 or that sci-fi movie barcode we all get but until then marketing has to shift: away from assuming we know it all and to understanding what we don’t… or every campaign decision done in the name of pursuing what works will unhinge what really does.