How do you compete on user experience in 2023? This question is likely on your mind as you start to prepare your budgets and activities. With this post, I’m hoping to provide you with some clarity. And to distil top digital marketing advice into a series of tips and trends, I’ve watched all of the sessions from MeasureSummit 2022.
I’ve made notes, assessed connections and I’m ready to share the insights you can take into your 2023 planning related to digital marketing and website measurement.
The year 2022 has been a difficult one for many businesses to navigate. There’s a looming recession, unprecedented inflation, and post-Covid workplace shifts to name a few major shifts. But this landscape also creates new opportunities for businesses to understand their customers, stand out from the competition, and grow profits.
One way you can plan ahead is by attending events where experts from around the globe share their experiences and knowledge. For digital analytics, MeasureSummit provided a source of insights you can take into your 2023 planning.
And the latest MeasureSummit was particularly exciting for me as I not only attended speaker sessions, but also had the opportunity to be one of the speakers. I’ve been following MeasureSummit since it started and it was great to be a part of it and share my own insights and techniques. But don’t worry, this post will cover more than just my talk!
Let’s get to it.
In this post…
What are the most recent trends in digital analytics?
If you didn’t have the time to attend MeasureSummit 2022 but wanted a debrief of what was discussed – you’re in luck. I’ve created this post just for you. I’ve condensed all the talks down into five main trends that were discussed during the event. And I’ve also summarised how this should affect your measurement activities for 2023.
The trends I’ll be delving into in this post are:
- Companies are more strategic about privacy
- Google Analytics 4 is becoming more powerful and popular
- Companies are learning to track complex user journeys
- Data visualisation empowers teams to use data more
- Organisations embrace data democratisation
But first, just in case you aren’t familiar with MeasureSummit, let me give you a quick debrief.
What was MeasureSummit 2022?
MeasureSummit 2022 was held from October 5th to 7th. It’s a virtual conference that connects thousands of web analytics and digital marketing professionals from around the world.
The event was organised and hosted by Julian Juenemann and Chris “Mercer” Mercer, both active and well-respected members of the web analytics community.
Julian is the founder of MeasureSchool, a platform dedicated to teaching budding Google Analytics engineers how to track websites through Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.
Mercer is the mastermind behind MeasureMarketing.io, where he teaches marketers about measurement and sales funnel optimisation.
Speakers at MeasureSummit 2022 included website measurement legends like Simo Ahava, Julius Fedorovicius, and Krista Seiden (and there’s more about what great nuggets they had to share later).
Weekly Web Analytics Strategies for Product and Marketing Managers
The top 5 digital analytics trends for 2023
So, what was discussed? All of the talks covered how to optimise your website user experience using data. Let’s look at who exactly took part and what you can learn from them to implement in your business in 2023.
1. Companies are more strategic about privacy
Let’s be honest, privacy concerns aren’t going anywhere. In fact, a recent post by no other than Google shared insights from industry experts who claimed that privacy concerns will probably still be a focus in 2032.
At MeasureSummit 2022, privacy was also a prominent topic, but less so than last year. The conversation seems to have changed from unsure-what-to-do-mode to being more strategic about it. More companies are making up their mind on how they address the changing privacy landscape.
And customers are also paying greater attention to how their data is being used. The speakers agreed that this trend is only going to continue.
Jodie Daniels, CEO and Founder of Red Clover Advisors talked about how she recommends to her clients that to take privacy seriously, they need to include it in their measurement foundation. This is how you build trust with your customers. She shared a series of tips on how to ensure this, including reviewing what regulations you need to abide by according to user location, and how to protect customers’ privacy by requesting consent and having data management processes in place.
How else can you prepare your business for a changing privacy landscape? Jim Cain, Chief Innovation Officer and Founder of Napkyn Analytics explained that you need to start owning your data. This means using server-side tracking and collecting first-party data after users have given consent.
Jim advocates for making web analytics data more democratic. To achieve this, companies need to find a balance between those who want to protect data from risk (such as finance and compliance departments) and those who want to use it to improve ROI (sales and marketing).
On the topic of compliance, Zach Randall, Founder and CEO of Listen Layer, explained that there are still different opinions on the level of privacy to apply and companies need to review it with their legal departments to come up with their own solutions. But, Zach also noted how some compliance teams want to stop any type of tracking altogether. He urged people to challenge this notion if it’s brought up. In his opinion (and I’m sure many would agree), it’s taking things too far and making marketing measurement next to impossible.
The key takeaway is not to treat privacy as an afterthought and that there is no one-fit-all solution. Consider your location and discuss this topic internally to make the right decision for you. Then, make sure you build it into your measurement strategy.
2. Google Analytics 4 is becoming more powerful and popular
There’s no more sitting on the fence when it comes to switching to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google announced that it will discontinue Universal Analytics in 2023 (and Universal Analytics 360 in 2024). Krista Seiden, the founder of KS Digital, used her talk to encourage those who haven’t migrated to GA4 to start using and embracing it now. If you’ve not done so already, you should start using GA4 as your primary analysis tool.
I have to admit, a year ago I was also unsure about GA4. However, after spending the last months learning how to use it, it’s turning out to be a very powerful tool for finding opportunities to improve user experience and increase profits. Many experts predict GA4 to become even more powerful in the coming years.
Julius Fedorovicius, the founder of Analytics Mania, talked about how Google has been rolling out new components every month. These include features such as the Search Console integration, the landing page dimension, behavioural modelling, bounce rate, and much more. He went on to explain that Google will likely release more useful features in 2023, making the analytics tool even more powerful.
Julius had plenty of practical tips for making the most of Google Analytics 4. So did Charles Farina, head of innovation at Adswerve and Jeff Sauer, founder of Data Driven U. These talks showed how advanced the tool is getting and how much opportunity there is to discover more about your users and how you can help them. I’ll definitely be rewatching these talks and implementing the tips in client work!
One of the main differentiators of GA4 is its integration with the Google stack, as well as the availability to export data to BigQuery for free. This means that businesses will have the opportunity to analyse their GA data to a greater degree.
And if you really want control over your data, investing in server-side configuration may be for you. Simo Ahava, co-founder of Simmer, shared how this way of configuring your Google Analytics is becoming more popular and user-friendly. There are certainly plenty of benefits to it, including making your data more privacy compliant and your website loading speed faster.
3. Companies are learning to track complex user journeys
Today’s customer journey from the initial discovery phase to the purchase phase is getting more complex. At the same time, the expectation of delivering a great user experience is becoming higher.
Web analytics platforms like Google Analytics can help to piece the journey together. But you need meaningful data architecture and the ability to combine different sources of data to get the full benefit.
Fred Pike, Managing Director at Northwoods showed how combining data between different platforms results in deeper insights in the full user journey. In his talk, he demonstrated how he was able to connect which keywords customers used before purchasing a solution.
Naomi Smulders, a data scientist at Randstad, talked about using process mining to analyse the user journey beyond a simple funnel. Using this type of deeper analysis can help to understand what other steps your users take to find and use your products or services beyond the standard funnel visualisation.
And there was more about the opportunities for piecing together the full user journey. For example, Julie Brade, Account Manager & Lead Instructor at MeasurementMarketing.io showed how you can build micro funnels of your users’ journeys. These can supplement your top level user journey funnels.
Understanding your user journey online in itself is not a new trend. The talks over the course of the Summit demonstrated how advanced it could be and showed how increasing numbers of companies are embracing it. So if you want to have competitive advantage, deeper user journey analysis should be on the agenda for you.
Finally, whilst most talks focused on quantitative data, Peep Laja, the founder of Wynter, explained that messaging will be the true differentiator in 2023. And to do so it will need a combination of both qualitative and quantitative data to improve your conversions. It was a great reminder that among all the big data you can collect, sometimes it’s the very targeted research that can help to get the insights you need to grow.
4. Data visualisation empowers teams to use data more
Better, more action-focused communication was already a theme in last year’s MeasureSummit. And this year there were even more talks that discussed how to do it right. This is certainly recognised by Google as they are investing in data visualisation – as can be seen in the recent rebranding of Data Studio into Looker Studio.
And there are a lot of data visualisation opportunities in Looker Studio. JJ Reynolds, head of marketing and analytics at Mediauthentic and Ralph Spandl, head of data visualization at Supermetrics shared some fantastic tips on how to use advanced visualisation in dashboards to improve their functionality. These tips affect how data can be presented to encourage action.
What was clear from this year’s conference is that the days of sharing data as dry tables in powerpoint presentations are coming to an end. Instead, through visualisations, data will become more emotionally engaging. Lea Pica, a data storytelling trainer, explained how meetings will start to incorporate similar tactics as cinematic experiences.
Lea didn’t mean popcorn and surround sound, what she meant is that just visualising data will not be enough. Instead, people using data increasingly follow a similar pattern as films and books do in terms of storytelling which means providing a hook, a journey, a plan, and an actionable ending.
Another trend emerging from this year’s MeasureSummit is the user-first approach when it comes to building dashboards. Too often I’ve seen dashboards that looked nice when they were first built. But because no one had consulted the marketing team that’s supposed to use them, they just ended up collecting digital dust.
Instead, dashboards should be tailored to each stakeholder. Amy Hebdon, managing director of Paid Search Magic explained that to make dashboards more useful, it’s important to create different dashboards for different stakeholders. For example, senior leaders at a company don’t need all the info available. Instead, they need an overview report that’s curated for their role.
When building dashboards, people should think about answers to questions like:
- What information and functionality does this stakeholder need?
- How can I visualise it for them as effectively as possible?
- Does the design allow the stakeholder to customise it to their needs?
Being passionate about empowering regular marketers to find insights, I certainly subscribe to this way of thinking. If you want to encourage your team to be more data driven in 2023, make sure they have the right tools to use.
5. Organisations embrace data democratisation
Data democratisation is the process of enabling everyone in your organisation to get access to data and be equipped with the knowledge of how to use it to find insights.
2023 is forecasted to be a year of recession and therefore budget cuts. However, Branko Kral, the founder of Chosen Data explained that good data can protect marketing budgets in times of uncertainty. The key is that it needs to be visible and meaningful to different teams across an organisation.
Therefore, we can expect fewer data silos in 2023 as businesses move to remove any barriers in place to access data. In fact, Moe Kiss, data analyst at Canva showed how in her company web analytics is now treated as a product rather than as a service. This means that the function of the department is not to just fulfil requests by marketing and product teams. They are empowered by the business to create more strategic solutions that ultimately support teams better too.
Part of these strategic solutions is making data more accessible in various formats. For example, Ben Collins, chief educator at Collins Analytics LLC showed how you can use Google Sheets to query data from BigQuery. This removes the bottleneck of only analysts manipulating the data and instead allows anyone to use Google Sheets, a tool more widely accessible.
Ultimately, being data-driven isn’t achieved by tech, but by strategy. Mechie Nkengla, Chief Data Strategist at Data Products LLC explained how to become more data literate as an individual and as an organisation. It all comes down to auditing your existing skill set, learning to ask better questions and making your tools work for you.
And this last point is what my talk was about. I shared my approach to empowering regular marketers to find insights in Google Analytics faster. This is achieved through better documentation and governance. It not only helps to keep data more accurate, but also means that teams can find a reference for how to find answers to their questions quickly.
With Google Analytics governance you can ensure everyone, even the most junior employees, can use the data they have available to find actionable insights. If you’d like to explore this topic more, you can read what Google Analytics governance involves and how to make it work for your business here.
And here’s a picture of me having a chat with Mercer at MeasureSummit:
Final thoughts on digital analytics trends in 2023
As the overall economic forecast for 2023 shows plenty of challenges, companies will need to focus on using their resources as efficiently as possible. With better data and a more strategic approach to how it is collected and analysed in your team you can improve your user experience and make more profitable business decisions.
MeasureSummit’s focus for the coming year is on better data, better insights, and better communication – all to serve customers and users better.
I’m all on board. And I love conferences like this that inspire me to evolve how I help clients to make better use of web analytics data. If you’d like to explore any of the strategies and techniques in this post and see if I can help you implement them, book a consultation.
And if you want to explore the first steps you can take today to improve how your data is collected and documented, download the cheat sheet I prepared earlier by clicking the button below.