Guest post by Rand Schulman
I’ve been thinking a lot about SES this year. I’ve been thinking that the name is so last decade, “Search Engine Strategies,” and, in fact, the conference sponsor Incisive Media seems to agree. When I asked Mike Gerhan , the show’s producer about the name, he said it doesn’t really mean anything anymore. So why not?
One of the major themes to come from the event this year is the great example of “convergence.” Not only are applications converging, but people and processes are also converging. Over the years, SES has been growing to cover such topics as analytics, conversions, mobile, and predictive models, as well as the newer topics of local SEO, social media marketing and, of course, enterprise search – both paid and organic.
Perhaps the most salient factor in convergence today is the speed at which companies from every sector are converging on it and the similarity of the problems they seek to solve. In a phrase, it seems that everybody is measuring everything…and telling the world.
As new powerful channels have emerged, like social and mobile, new BI (business intelligence) tools and attribution models are taking the stage. Plus, it seems “big data” is driving it all. For this reason, ClickZ and Evectyv launched the first report on Convergence Analytics on stage at SES New York last month with Google, which just launched Universal Analytics at the show. Convergence analytics: that’s a name for the confluence of digital marketing, big data, cloud computing, data connectors and sophisticated presentation-layer capabilities.
The rush is on among marketers for nearly every company that ever measured anything (and many that never have) to claim they’ve got what it takes to provide the best single-view into all marketing data. We expect Google’s Universal Analytics, along with Google Tags and Attribution, to combine for even more influence than Google Analytics, as there are few entrenched mid-level players in the convergence space today as compared with the web analytics space when Google Analytics was launched.
Think of convergence analytics as the marketing equivalent of “one ring to rule them all.” Many application vendors are claiming that within a single application they can, by connecting data from multiple sources, provide marketer with a 360-degree view of their customers’ behavior, as well as supporting data from resource planning, pricing, demographic sources, and more.
This has long been a request from the market, and now application vendors are able to combine technologies in an attempt to meet that request. Rio SEO is a good example of a company that represents a convergence analytics vendor with its integration of social marketing and local search with analytics and its SEO automation technology. In addition at SES New York, Rio SEO announced the integration of Facebook Open Graph with its local SEO software tool, unveiling a first-of-its-kind software upgrade that enables the integration of Open Graph Markup into hyper-local website landing pages for multi-location businesses. If you’re a big retail outlet with lots of stores this is critical.
Convergence analytics is still in its infancy as a discipline. But according to our survey results (referenced above), there are a multitude of players in the market already, and many of them are pulling together data sources from Web usage, call centers, client relationship management (CRM), campaign data, demographics, competitive data, and anything that gets captured off a click, keyword, mobile tap, or any number of other customer touch points. Clever marketers also using advanced data gathering and data normalization strategies to create a dashboard-like experience.
Yet, challenges driven by this convergence will drive new thinking and will provide marketers with a more well-rounded view of the factors affecting actual ROI. This has proved to blur the lines between roles in the organization – and in an environment where every tool measures everything, whose role expands? Does the website manager take over more of the mobile aspect? Does SEO move into content management? Does email marketing move more into social media responsibility? Does the sales department take more responsibility in the marketing cloud? Or perhaps content managers take control of all of it. For sure, software analytic and automation tools can help them, all but are they ready to take advantage?
The Gartner research firm goes so far to predict that, “The chief digital officer will prove to be the most exciting strategic role in the decade ahead. The chief digital officer plays in the place where the enterprise meets the customer, where the revenue is generated, and the mission accomplished. They’re in charge of digital business strategy.”
This role will surely use convergence analytic tools.
About the Author
Rand Schulman is a pioneer in digital marketing and new media. He was founder and chief executive of one of the first SaaS-based Web analytics companies, Keylime Software, which was acquired by Yahoo!. Schulman lead products and strategy at Webtrends, and was chief marketing officer of WebSideStory through its IPO, which was later acquired by Omniture/Adobe. He was also the general manager of Unica’s internet division, which was acquired by IBM.
Schulman was a co-founder, board member and is an emeritus board director of the DAA. He’s been a trustee of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation and is an executive-in-residence at the University of the Pacific for New Media and Marketing. He was named one of the top 100 business-to-business marketers by BtoB magazine, and is widely quoted and has numerous published articles on digital marketing. He is currently a board member and advises numerous mobile and social media companies. Schulman is a managing partner with Efectyv.