Update: This post is showing trends for 2022 and if you’re interested in reading about the digital analytics trends for 2023, check out the latest post.
MeasureSummit has quickly become the key event in the digital analytics calendar. But for busy business and marketing leaders it’s not always easy to keep up with events like this.
Worry not. I’ve watched all 30 expert sessions of MeasureSummit 2021 to bring you the key takeaways. I’ve distilled them to deliver the most relevant information for making not just marketing, but also company-wide decisions. You can go ahead and use these trends when shaping your sales growth and customer success digital strategy for 2022 and beyond.
If you didn’t have the time to attend the full event this year, this post should help you take notice of the latest strategies and tactics. It can also pinpoint the talks you may want to revisit should you still have access to the speaker sessions.
So what precious nuggets can you expect from this post?
The 2022 marketing landscape is heavily shaped by the gradual transition out of Covid lockdowns and the uncertainty that comes with it. With many more transactions and customer relationships happening online than in the past, there is more pressure on marketing to become revenue generating. There is more need for previously siloed and disjointed departments to start working together and drive tangible growth.
I’ve excitedly watched all the sessions, getting both inspiration and encouragement. At Business Ahead we follow our proven framework for helping companies to become data-driven. But we don’t stand still. We constantly refine our processes in line with the most recent industry developments. Learning from fellow web analytics and digital marketing specialists is a key element of making our work deliver amazing results for our clients.
I pinpointed five trends that are likely to make an impact on your decision-making in 2022. Then, I identified the specific actions you may want to include in your planning. The learnings from the latest MeasureSummit will hopefully inspire you too when choosing the activities to focus on in the coming year.
What was MeasureSummit 2021?
MeasureSummit 2021, held from 28th September to 1st October 2021, was a one-of-a-kind meet-up of experts in the fields of web analytics and digital marketing. All the talks were centered around using data for optimising experiences for web users.
The event was held virtually, which allowed thousands of analytics and marketing enthusiasts to join from all over the world.
The summit was in its second year of running and included insights from widely respected digital analytics experts like Simo Ahava, Julius Fedorovicius, Stéphane Hamel and more.
In my last year’s review I concluded that I’d attend the event in 2021. Event organisers Julian and Mercer did not disappoint in delivering another fantastic meetup. This year, the event was even bigger, with the introduction of the second stage and even more speakers.
MeasureSummit is organised and run by well-known web analytics advocates and trainers Julian Juenemann and Chris Mercer.
Julian is the founder of MeasureSchool, a platform teaching its members all about tracking websites with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. He’s popular for his easy-to-follow tracking tutorials on YouTube.
Chris Mercer is the founder of MeasureMarketing.io, an authority in training people in measurement and enhancing their sales funnels. Chris has been a regular keynote speaker at analytics and optimisation conferences.
The top 5 digital analytics trends for 2022
All the talks related to data measurement, tracking, data management and website optimisation. Below are the key trends I’ll be delving into in this post:
- The new privacy landscape demands more respectful tracking.
- Website optimisation becomes even more customer-centric and contextual.
- Google Analytics 4 is gaining recognition as a viable analysis tool.
- Integrating and organising various data sources is essential for customer lifecycle insights.
- Communicating insights is the secret sauce for driving action.
The new privacy landscape demands more respectful tracking
Internet users are becoming more aware of how intrusive tracking solutions can be. And authorities and companies are responding to the increasing need for tracking transparency (I’m of course relating to phenomena like GDPR, CCPA, iOS14.5).
MeasureSummit 2021 speakers were debating whether marketers should fight or embrace these trends towards greater privacy controls for the users. They also had some tips worth following.
Embrace ethical user tracking
The consensus is that having a cookie management system is absolutely vital, so if you’ve not invested in one already, now is the time.
Mikael Thunberg, CEO and Founder of Supermetrics agreed that companies should embrace the more stringent guidelines, rather than trying to find loopholes.
Encourage consent using clever UX design
To help more users consent to tracking, Derek Ooi, the Head of Digital Analytics at Flying Bisons suggested that clever UX design should become a priority. He said that designing a persuasive pre-permission prompt should increase opt-ins. Brian Clifton, the Founder and Director of Analytics Quality Assurance & Compliance at Verified Data elaborated on this further. His top tip was to make the consent option in the banner stand out more using design.
But even more importantly than fine-tuning the design of your cookie banner, companies should simply create experiences that delight customers. This conclusion came from Michael Loban, the Chief Growth Officer at InfoTrust. This is certainly what I like to advise clients when revising tracking implementation. When your customers feel like they’re getting value, you have a stronger position to convince users to accept to be tracked. Michael’s tips also included asking your website visitors questions once they consent to tracking and are sold on your brand. This will help make your data richer. And with this, you can use the information to create personalised experiences without relying on third-party data.
Think beyond your current user tracking sources
Over reliance on third-party data is another privacy-related theme. In the new privacy landscape, you may have fewer opportunities for collecting data.
Alex Langshur, Founder & Co-CEO of Cardinal Path suggested companies should invest in multi-stack advertising to supplement a single first party or third-party source of customer insight. But he also highlighted the extent of the issue at hand: with the iOS market share in the US (>50%) and globally (>27%) of all mobile devices, this represents an unprecedented ‘data dimming’ that fundamentally affects all reporting for all digital analysts.
Another view was that data governance and team communication can help to provide greater understanding of your users. This came from Jim Cain, the Founder and CEO of Napkyn Analytics who shared his thoughts and framework on the roles that different departments should play to use customer data effectively. He noted that “active communications across the organisation on data projects makes them go faster and more likely to be successful”.
Make data more reliable with server-side tracking
And finally, there were the technical considerations when it comes to privacy controls. Where users use cookie blockers by default, server-side tracking could offer an answer.
Server-side GTM is one of the more recent developments but it’s quickly gaining popularity among web analytics implementation specialists. It has the potential to make your data more reliable and complete. Simo Ahava, the Founder of Simmer and a well-known GTM authority, had a very helpful Q&A session where he shone light on the technical aspects of the tool’s implementation.
For those more interested in Facebook tracking, Stockton Fisher, the Founder of Greater Than Marketing agency, discussed CAPI – Facebook’s Conversion API technology. It is a type of server-side tracking that allows companies more control over what data can be pushed compared to the standard Facebook Pixel. CAPI improves the accuracy of your data, and Stockton outlined the different ways of implementing it, depending on the website platform and the functionality you wish to track.
Certainly, if missing data is a concern, server-side tracking should be an important consideration.
Final thoughts on privacy
In general, the new privacy landscape gives more control to users who are more aware of the value of their data. As the exchange of information is becoming more transparent, it’s even more important to develop websites that provide value for both companies and users.
Privacy certainly is getting more and more spotlight and we also strive to provide our clients with tracking solutions that deliver actionable data and are ethical. Hearing the latest opinions and tips from industry leaders was a valuable lesson for me. I’ll be sure to incorporate these perspectives in my work.
I know that for my clients it’s important that they understand which actions can be the most impactful. There is often a happy medium between implementing new solutions and increasing online profitability with optimisation. That’s where I’d always advise to evaluate your current digital maturity level and existing marketing stack to select the actions that can make the most positive difference.
If you’re not sure which steps to take towards becoming data-driven, have a look at the framework we use with our clients. You can download it by following the link below:
Weekly Web Analytics Strategies for Product and Marketing Managers
Website optimisation becomes even more customer-centric and contextual
Customer-centricity is not a new concept. Creating value for your users is necessary to generate substantial and long-lasting business value. MeasureSummit 2021 speakers explored exactly how to do it with some great examples and case studies. Now, you can try them out on your own audiences.
Get to the bottom of what your customers want
Using emotion in conversion rate optimisation was at the heart of the presentation by Talia Wolf, the Founder and Chief Optimizer at Getuplift. Top tip? While you can optimise with visual elements and layouts, you get the greatest gains by figuring out the true motivations and needs of your target market. Then, ensure your website helps users solve their problems competitively.
This is why research and measurement are so important – this is how you can really understand your users. And Talia stressed how important it is to not only research your users’ behaviour but also the emotions and triggers that drive decisions.
While Talia shared some great case studies proving her points, other speakers held similar opinions and provided even more evidence. Among them were Magda Baciu, a Data Analytics and Conversion Expert at Growth Savvy and Enrique Gonzales, Director of Digital Analytics at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Magda identified the biggest conversion killers as:
- Content that doesn’t speak the users’ language or answer their concerns
- Design that doesn’t help users navigate the content
- Usability that is only pretty but not functional and seems removed from reality
Enrique on the other hand showed how he uses the well-known “jobs to be done” framework to segment users based on their triggers. This helps him provide custom experiences according to their unique circumstances, not general attributes.
Accessibility should form part of optimisation
Apart from optimising your positioning, accessibility should also be something worth considering. Unfortunately it often is not a focal point when building new websites. Amrdeep Athwal, an optimisation consultant at Conversions Matter LTC shared some striking statistics on how poorly accessible online experiences could negatively affect large portions of the society, in ways you may not have thought about.
According to his sources, disability affects 15-20% of the world’s population. Even more people could be affected by lower standards of literacy. He had some practical recommendations about how you could make your content easier to digest and action:
- Including accessibility from project inception and continually optimizing for it,
- Integrating a chat function for users who cannot call you for support due to an auditory impairment,
- Using colour contrast appropriately,
- Giving fields and forms unique identifiers and labels to be compatible with screen readers,
- Using simpler language and being as concise as possible.
Measurement can help to become customer-centric
From content optimisation, other talks moved towards content measurement. Dana DiTomaso, President and Partner at Kick Point shared her clever ideas for measuring the impact of things like people using multiple tabs for browsing websites or investigating content popularity over time. This proved how once you’re clear on what goals you want to achieve, it’s easier to be creative in how you design your measurement solutions. I’ll definitely be incorporating some of her tips when developing measurement plans for my clients.
I always enjoy learning about more instances of how companies use customer-centricity for optimisation. I’m a great advocate for research and leading experimentation with value propositions. Talks like this help me stay grounded and provide new ideas for measurement plans that are even more focused on providing actionable insights. I hope this will inspire you too to do some more research into how you can support your customers better.
Google Analytics 4 is gaining recognition as a viable analysis tool
Unsurprisingly, much of the event centered about the latest incarnation of Google Analytics.The marketers and web analysts presenting at the MeasureSummit 2021 were keen to share how they’ve been using it and what key considerations they’ve noticed.
Google Analytics 4 differs from the older versions significantly, from the data collection and user infrastructure to data reporting and analysis. I have previously written a guide to the new platform, focusing on how its functionality can affect marketing departments and resource planning from the manager’s perspective. You can find this post here.
Configure Google Analytics 4, but don’t let go of Universal Analytics yet
All speakers agreed that while some of the aspects are very promising and advanced, it’s still not robust enough to let go of Universal Analytics – the version before, which still seems to be the tool of choice.
Gerry White, the SEO Director at Rise at Seven admitted that his company is increasingly, though gradually, using GA4 for their activities. Julius Fedorovicius, the Founder of Analytics Mania, estimated that he uses Google Analytics 4 in 50% of the analysis he does. He pointed out some of the great new features and shortcomings that could be deal breakers for analysis.
Krista Seiden, the Founder & Principal Consultant at KS Digital LLC gave a thorough introduction to Google Analytics 4. She focused on how to realign the new tool with Universal Analytics to get similar data – and she discussed the key differences to take note of. She stressed that Google Analytics 4 is only in the early stages of its journey and that there is much more that we can expect from the tool.
To sum up, here are a couple of key considerations…
The flexibility that the new platform offers is a big selling point. Now, marketers can build data visualisations and useful reports directly inside the platform. But there is a lack of standard reports that a more inexperienced team could fall back on. You need to customise almost everything to get similar insights as you could with Universal Analytics. This means investment in data strategy and configuration and a considerable learning curve for your team.
Google Analytics 4 puts the emphasis on capturing the raw data and pushing it to Google BigQuery where you can store your data indefinitely. They provide an integration with the data warehouse even with the free plan. But at the same time data retention inside Google Analytics is limited to the maximum of 14 months. This is great if you have access to people skilled in writing SQL queries but not everyone is looking for this amount of flexibility.
Finally, Enrico Pavan, the Founder & Data Manager at Analytics Boosters showed how using Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics alongside each other has worked in practice for one of his clients. He shared a case study where he used insights from both tools to drive performance improvements. This is further proof that we have reached a situation where not one tool is better than the other and you can gain unique perspectives from each one.
Overall, the key takeaway from the summit is that Google Analytics 4 is gaining in maturity. But before you transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 completely, you need to be aware of the implications for initial and ongoing data management as well as for the analysis itself.
Certainly, investing in Google Analytics 4 configuration can provide you with new insights that can drive performance growth. Put implementing the tool on the agenda if you haven’t done it yet.
Integrating and organising various data sources is essential for customer lifecycle insights
Capturing all the data is one thing, but collecting and ordering it can be an even greater task. Unfortunately, it’s sadly one thing that is often quick to be overlooked in my experience. Instead, there is often focus on implementing even more tools for collecting more and more data. Organising all this data can seem difficult and tedious – but it’s actually what will make the difference in how well you can actually use it for generating actionable insights.
I was glad to hear fellow advocates for data organisation and there were some interesting takeouts worth mentioning.
Connect multiple data sources within a data warehouse
Mikael Thuneberg, from Supermetrics pointed out the recent explosion of data. There are more tools to collect data these days, but the drawback is that the data is siloed, and as it grows, you need to arrange and connect data points to get the insights you need. He offered his tips on how to grow your data maturity. The first step in the process is growing your first-party data inside of a data warehouse.
Even established businesses are often low on the digital maturity spectrum. There are still plenty of opportunities to gain competitive advantage by organising data in a meaningful way.
Beware of making decisions based on “bad data”
Another point in the discussions centered around data accuracy. It is often assumed by business leaders that when data is being collected, it’s accurate. But this is certainly not my experience and other speakers agreed that they experienced similar situations when working with clients.
Magda Baciu from Growth Savvy said that “bad data is no better than no data”. She recalled situations when companies tried to derive and use insights from bad data – but this is often a fruitless exercise.
Regular audits and maintenance are the most reliable way to keep data accuracy in check. I could add that it helps to be selective of which and how many different martech platforms you use in your stack. Each adds a new level of complexity when it comes to analysis and your team may not be able to use all the tools effectively together.
Make a measurement plan to make your data useful
One other great tip came from Dana DiTomaso from Kick Point. She urged marketers to think of how they will report on data before implementing it. This is one of the foundations of creating robust measurement plans that will be useful and stand the test of time.
Communicating insights is the secret sauce for driving action
Having your data well organised is one step towards success. But presenting insight in a way that inspires your whole team to work on new initiatives is what really makes the difference.
Contrary to some opinions that say that analysts will be replaced by AI, analytics professionals still have the edge. Nothing beats a real person with deep knowledge of web analytics and a wider business context to translate charts and tables into real insight. And for that insight to be useful, it needs to be presented in a way that inspires action.
Work towards developing a data-driven culture in your business
Sadly, often measurement is just an afterthought, so the biggest change you could make is to actually incorporate measurement at the onset of campaigns and activities. Julie Brade, the Account Manager & Lead Instructor at MeasurementMarketing.io advised that measurement should not fall on just one person or just one team. Instead, the whole company should take part. It’s a process that involves all teams speaking together and establishing plans early to make sure that activities can be tracked correctly.
Get access to someone who can present data in a compelling way
Erin Cefaratti, Data Strategist at Futurety provided the ingredients for a quality data-driven set up: choosing the metrics that tie into your business strategy and then presenting them well and regularly. She advised to keep things compact and meaningful, and to provide context to help all the stakeholders to understand what the different data points mean.
Erin and I have some shared experiences. I, too, regularly spend my time convincing stakeholders to take a set of actions. Because there is usually a combination of characters and seniority levels in any one team, it can take time and skill to get everyone on the same page. This is achieved with the help of dashboards and presentations.
Another speaker had a lot of handy tips for making presentations engaging and actionable. Lea Pica, a Data Storytelling Advocate, shared how applying techniques from storytelling can help structure and design slide decks that move stakeholders closer to action.
The key takeaway is to make context visible and show less data for bigger impact. Good insights can get lost in numerous charts and endless rows of data in excel. Because of this, presenting performance is a skill that is needed in a company that wants to be truly data-driven.
Final thoughts on digital analytics trends in 2022
I’d summarise the digital analytics trends for 2022 by recognising that we now have more elaborate ways to learn more about our customers. All the technical stack is doing is it’s helping us get closer to our clients. Companies are striving to recreate the closeness that a shop owner can have with their regular customers in the digital world.
Both supply and demand have undoubtedly been impacted by Covid. The pace of innovation will propel some companies to success and leave some overwhelmed by the rapid changes.
But if you are struggling to get to grips with all the data and you’re not sure how to use it to gain a competitive edge, why not start with the basics and focus on taking steady steps in the right direction.
Peter O’Neill, Data Strategy Director at ZHS Orchards was another speaker at the event sharing insights from his work with retail clients. He noted that each step in the progression to become data-driven could take 6-12 months.
So, if you’re inspired by the trends to become data-driven, focus on implementing your web analytics tools well one at a time and make sure you and your team can use them correctly. Implementing new tools and techniques is best done in stages, amid the necessary learning and culture shifts and amid the other projects your team is involved in.
Gradually, combine the data from your various platforms to build a more and more complete picture of your customer and their key triggers for using your products and services.
Most importantly, take action based on the insights you discover. And last but not least, measure the impact of your actions and then rinse and repeat. You’ll soon start seeing improvements.
If you’re looking for a framework that will help your team become more digitally savvy, we’ve created just that. Why not download the three-stage roadmap towards becoming data-driven and start your journey there.