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Ten Trends in Digital Analytics Today

Being on a college campus is also an energizing experience. There is a great desire to learn more, and interact with people who have been working in the field for some time. The bonus comes when you realize that there is a lack of negativity that is sometimes created by bad experiences with partners or co-workers. It is really an energizing environment to be a part of for someone who spends every day in the trenches.

Last week was one of those weeks for me. As part of the Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School on the campus of Syracuse University, several colleagues and I had an opportunity to speak with many different classes to share what we have learned during our respective tenures. To say the students soaked it up would be an understatement. The number of short-form videos, tweets, storify updates and blog posts following our sessions has been astounding. We clearly have a new generation of content creators who are about to join our midst. A copy of the presentation is below.

As part of the week’s activities, I had an opportunity to give a lecture on how big brands (like Red Bull and Intel) are using digital data to gain a competitive advantage. During the presentation I talked a little about how the communications landscape has changed, and then transitioned into the ten trends in digital analytics. Those ten trends are largely techniques and ideas analytics professionals are adopting in order to meet the new information needs of marketing and communications professionals. What were the ten trends at a high level?

  1. (Tool) Buyer Beware – The explosion of digital media and the subsequent explosion of available data has led to the development of too many tools. There are literally hundreds of available listening tools on the market, which is entirely too many. The other element to this is each tool provides a certain kind of data. That means it is incumbent upon communicators to build a tool box, and not rely on a single tool to do the job.
  2. Two Clear Listening Models Emerging – Listening is a complex exercise with applications extending beyond public relations and marketing. However, the vast majority of listening that is currently done is either to inform real-time content development or a program.
  3. HR, Sales, Product Development, Customer Service Join the Digital Data PartyIn 2009, Ken Burbary and I outlined a process for organizations to adopt to use digital data outside of the public relations and marketing functions. There are a number of quality social customer service examples (e.g. Samsung, Delta, Bank of America), and those brands are using digital data. Unfortunately, those brands are still in the minority.
  4. We Drop “Social” From Social CRM – When we were doing research for the book we uncovered almost 20 different definitions for social CRM, and therein lies the issue. We do not need a new term to describe this activity. What we need are traditional CRM systems to evolve in order to incorporate digital data.
  5. Internal Ownership Becomes Critical – Companies that have digital analytics programs are collecting a tremendous amount of data. That data currently lives in presentations and spreadsheets. As the digital data needs become more complex companies will begin developing new technologies to make that data more accessible to key internal and external stakeholders.
  6. Command Centers Are Valuable…Kind Of – Command Centers like those built by Gatorade and Dell have value, but less so as an analytics tool. The real value they hold is as an internal rallying cry for social media and the importance of listening to customers.
  7. Measurement Finally Becomes Integrated – Communicators have fought silos for years, and it is time to start building integrated measurement scorecards.
  8. Analytics Goes Hyper-Local – Utilizing tools like SnapTrends, marketers can gain tremendous insight on how customers are talking all of the way down to the street level.
  9. Forensic Analytics Becomes Critical – It is not enough to just count mentions these days. Marketers must think about developing advanced customer profiles based on their behaviors online.
  10. Influencer Analysis is not Synonymous with Klout – If you are simply trying to identify people who are talking a lot about a topic then Klout might be the tool for you. If you want to develop a highly relevant influencer list made up of people who have strong reach and syndication then developing your own approach will be required.

Realistically, I could have outlined 20 trends and it probably would not have captured everything that is happening in the industry. As digital media changes and evolves, so to does digital analytics. We’ll be watching to see what else develops in the coming weeks, months and years.

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