Thoroughly analysing data allows businesses to come up with better strategic decisions for clients and themselves alike. As a social media executive, I had the opportunity to carry out a great workshop for the content team here at Active Internet Marketing (UK). The workshop focused on understanding how certain factors and influences can affect the way we look at and interpret data from Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free, premium service that helps to track and monitor the behaviour of visitors to your website by using a range of analytical tools.
As a digital marketing agency, we are constantly looking to find ways to better understand our clients. By analysing data in Google Analytics, it encourages employees to come up with more innovative and creative ideas to increase our clients online authority.
What Does Innovative Decision Making Mean?
Businesses are faced with making decisions everyday, and one decision can affect the entire business’s performance. Therefore it is important to find new ways to look at and evaluate data in Google Analytics to ensure that every decision leads to success. Innovative decision making is an “individualized, self-assessment approach which measures level of creativity and affectivity in decision making progress”. As shown below, the Innovative Decision Making (IDM) Profile is a great framework to follow, as it allows us to expand our creative capacity when faced with problem solving tasks and ambiguous data. As decision makers, our level of creativity is influenced by four key factors; ‘Uncertainty Coping’, ‘Risk Acceptance’, ‘Information Openness’, and ‘Brain Holism’.
Let’s take a look at each of these four factors in depth, firstly by defining them. ‘Uncertainty Coping’ is our ability to handle a situation filled with uncertainty. The need for direction and certainty can lead to more time consuming delays in decision making. Creating coping strategies will help to increase our proficiency in an uncertain situation, focusing on innovation.
‘Risk Acceptance’ is the desire to take action by expecting that a high cost could also be involved. Familiar and safe decisions are sometimes more appealing to businesses, because the outcomes are predictable and there is less fear of failing.
‘Information Openness’ is our mental and psychological responsiveness to data. Data that could be used to improve situations can be blocked by the biases and habits of people. By being more open and accepting of information, it can help develop better solutions.
‘Brain Holism’ is the degree to which a person finds balance between creativity and logic when making decisions. The left hemisphere of the brain is in charge of logical and mathematical solutions, where it is structured, methodical, and fact based. It thinks more analytically, by matching pieces of data together and then coming up with solutions that are practical. Whereas, the right hemisphere focuses more on the visual, and processes data in a more intuitive manner. It thinks in a more creative and imaginative way, by focusing on the bigger picture before looking at the details to form a decision. The way employees think can have an impact in the way we make decisions. It is important to find the right balance between creativity and logic when considering options for your business.
Examples of Businesses That Use Google Analytics
There are many well-established companies that successfully use Google Analytics data to carry out effective strategies and decisions. General Electric uses Google Analytics to track the country of origin for their site users. They can see where market demand increases, which then allows them to tailor their site pages accordingly to fit different languages and cultures. The Four Seasons uses Google Analytics to see where interest is peaking, and looks at the travel patterns and habits of guests and potential guests. This helps them reach out to their target audience by forming better strategies, and also allows them to decide which other sites to partner with for advertising. Samsung uses Google Analytics to track which of their products generate the most excitement, which helps them change their page displays accordingly on their website.
A Matrix For Better Decision Making
Businesses can use a matrix known as the TITE (time, interactions, trends, and events) framework. This framework was introduced by a well-known Google Analytics advocate called Daniel Waisberg, who believes that “Context is critical when analyzing data. It helps marketers make better decisions by drawing conclusions that are more meaningful and accurate”. It will transform your data and allow innovative decisions to have more clarity, structure, and purpose behind them. As shown below, the matrix is separated into two key categories; source (data can be found through an internal or external influence) and technique (how data is compared). This can be cut into four characteristics; time, interactions, trends, and events).
Time allows businesses to compare data month on month or year on year. It allows them to see where improvements can be made by seeing where their sudden increases and decreases are over a time period. Interactions allow businesses to see how their potential customers are engaging with their site, both offline and online. Trends allow businesses to compare their data by looking at its competitors and industry trends. It allows them to see whether or not there are fluctuations in the data. Events allow businesses to see how customer’s attitudes towards their company are being affected by external events. These external events can be searched on Google Trends and social media.
Let’s take a look at an example of how businesses can use the TITE matrix to make better innovate decisions. Robert owns a turfing company, selling high quality turf for customers in Birmingham and its surrounding areas. He wants to focus on his sales revenue and uses the four characteristics to analysis his sales figures.
Robert can first look at his internal data to see how well his business is performing. From his data, he sees that his business has made £200,000 this year. However looking at the internal data alone is not enough to see whether his business has been improving. It is important to compare the data to last year to see whether there has been an increase or decrease in figures. Robert made £100,000 last year, which means the business’s performance has increased by £100,000 in sales. It’s significant to consider the possible seasonality patterns when comparing data. However, looking at this increased figure is still not enough to say that his business is doing well, since other factors also play a role, such as trends and events.
Robert looks at where his turf deals are being reached from other channels, both online and offline. Loyalty cards are being used amongst customers to receive these turf deals. If customers made a purchase online, in-store, or on an app, their behaviour can still be processed through a database.
Robert now begins to look at how his internal sales figures compare to his competitors and the industry. His competitors have made £200,000 this year in comparison to last year, so Robert may realise that his business is not performing as well as he had hoped. The turfing industry could also be growing at a very slow pace, which will affect how much demand there is for turf.
Robert carried out research by using Google Trends, Google Alerts, and searched popular trends on social media, since he noticed that his sales figure dropped in January this year. He found that one of his competitors had a special events day, offering special deals and packages to customers in January.
By looking at this example, businesses can see how important it is to look at all four factors to gain a better insight into the data. This is a successful matrix that can help a business come up with better innovative decisions. Better innovative decisions can create more successful results for a business, where it provides better structure to form strategies. Please don’t forget to watch out for our next Wednesday Workshop on how to effectively outreach to bloggers, and how to use link reclamation.