Management / #DCS2016: How data helps firms deliver an experience for the digital age

#DCS2016: How data helps firms deliver an experience for the digital age

Data analysis plays a critical role within the modern customer experience and enables firms to make sense of consumers’ wants and needs, according to an expert.

Eric BernhardSpeaking to Business Reporter ahead of The Digital Content Summit 2016, Dixons Carphone ecommerce insights manager Eric Bernhard says data and analysis is crucial to delivering the customer experience expected in the digital age.

“A lot of people say that if you cannot measure something, you cannot manage it,” he says. “And I think that is ever important in today’s digital world.

“We have the ability to deliver things that customers could never get in-store or in the physical world. If you do not measure or understand what they want, you will never know.”

But to make the most of data in these circumstances, firms must “come at it with a hypothesis of some sort”, he explains, and use the available statistics to prove or disprove it.

For example, when a business’s website receives an unusually high number of visitors, careful data analysis can help to determine why and get the best results from it.

“When there are so many incoming sources of people and traffic, you really need to be able to tell which group of traffic is affecting success on the website,” Bernhard explains.

But while some figures – like total unique visitors or total sales – are fairly straightforward, others – like a customer’s loyalty or likelihood of making a purchase – require more thought.

“Certainly things like loyalty can be derived from other metrics,” Bernhard says. “That takes some time to understand from a qualitative perspective. Is that the number of purchases? Is it the number of times they come back to do research?”

Another tricky part of collecting useful data is matching up online and offline sales.

“Companies that are multi-channel need to tie the two together,” Bernhard says. “Generally, everything that happens in-store is pretty anonymous, which is very different to online.”

One potential way around this is to collect customers’ email addresses when they make in-store purchases. These can then be matched up with their online accounts.

But even in purely online transactions, analysis needs to be done to assess the effectiveness of digital content, whether that is a product page, blog post or directory page. The way this is done varies depending on what the purpose of a given page is.

“I think it really depends on the type of content,” Bernhard explains. “If you write a blog post, do you want people to read it, or do you want people to read it and take an action?”

Even with clear goals in mind, comparing results from different platforms can be a challenge.

“It is quite complicated,” Bernhard says. “Each of those different technologies and platforms has different constraints. You want to try to choose things that you can measure, but when you cannot you have to take a directional approach with your data.”

But once all the analysis is done, Bernhard says content marketers should not necessarily expect results that point towards a specific action, like moving a certain element up a page or promoting a certain item more. Often, the data will be ambiguous and more work will be needed with both customers and the digital team.

“It will not always be that clear,” he says.

See Eric Bernhard speak alongside other industry experts at The Digital Content Summit 2016, this January at Etc. Venues Monument in London.