Growing a head for statistics

This blog was posted by Bonnie Smith on June 15, 2015 as part of the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

My main reason for applying for a place on the Digital Marketing Academy was because I constantly feel like my head is swimming around in a sea of confusing stats and an overwhelming number of digital opportunities – I often struggle to see the wood for the trees with it all, so I am hoping that being part of the academy will help focus my thoughts and directions a little (or at least make me feel like I’m not the only one who feels like this!).

A bit of history – over the last couple of years, the Unicorn has been through a lot of changes. We re-branded in 2013 and I project managed the development and launch of a new website in Sep 2013, we’ve developed our e-comms and integrated it with our box office system (we use Spektrix and Dotmailer), have increased our online advertising including Facebook ads, YouTube optimisation and more general site advertising and we’ve massively increased our output of digital content, particularly films. We were also awarded a Google AdGrant but after around 9 months of me not having the time to use it properly, the account was deactivated. Thankfully Google were kind enough to reactivate it (I spoke to an actual person at Google, I didn’t realise that was possible!) and the account has now been handed over to AKA who manage our media buying – they are running it for a few months before passing it back over to us to manage. AKA have also been setting up Google Tags on our site so we can start doing the digital ‘tap on the shoulder’ to web users as they travel around the internet.

I reckon that’s a fairly decent amount of digital output for an organisation of our size and staffing capacity and I feel fairly confident in all of these areas individually, but it’s the analysis and the connecting of the dots that throws me off course. We’ve done a few phased changes of the website based on some user testing and general customer feedback and I’ve previously done the basic Google Analytics to get a vague idea of how people are getting to the site and what they’re looking at, but I want to find out more. Budgets are getting smaller and I want to ensure that our online investments are optimised and data driven.

So, the first experiment (although not sure that is the right word) is to really look at, understand and drill down in Google Analytics – to identify audience groups and find out how they get to the site and what they do when they get there. During my first chat with my Mentor Devon, she introduced me to the segment builder so I can identify specific web users, run reports and compare between segments. I, rather shamefully, didn’t realise this was possible – but I have since been getting rather carried away by it. I’ve been using the domain/network tool to identify educational establishments (for example .AC means university or higher education and .SCH means school), I’ve also built segments based on referrals so I can monitor the activity of users who come in via Time Out for example, especially useful when we are choosing between sites for online ads.

Right now I still feel stuck in a world of stats, but I do feel that having the segments is helping me sieve through the data a little. However, I think I need to narrow it down to an actual experiment – there is no one question in what I’m currently doing, it’s just an ongoing data analysis that, set up properly now, should always be useful in terms of monitoring the effectiveness of our online brand and activity. So, that’s all great but I’d really like to set myself a clear experiment – perhaps some A/B testing with our email content or online – I have my second mentoring session with Devon later today, so hopefully she can help me set something up!

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