I’ve learnt a lot during my first two weeks at work, from how to use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to the best way to go about producing infographics (visual representations of data). One thing I have found particularly interesting is analytics, a form of data handling that facilitates the monitoring of online traffic as well as the creation of targeted marketing campaigns.
This year Linkedin introduced Sponsored Updates, a feature that allows you to target a specific audience by paying to transmit a campaign. After creating a post that includes a headline, an image and a landing page (a link to the webpage you’re promoting), you determine who the campaign will be sent to by selecting from a series of categories.
Among the things you can specify are geographical location, industry, job function and company size. The post will appear on the news feed of anyone (yes, anyone) on Linkedin whose details correspond to the selected criteria. So the more you specify, the narrower your audience will be and the more targeted a campaign you will create.
Linkedin allows you to choose between cost per click (paying when somebody clicks on the post) and cost per impression (paying when a certain amount of people have seen it). The latter is favourable when you think a large number of those who see the post will click on it. Otherwise, cost per click is advisable, as you only pay when someone actually engages with the campaign.
Once the post has been launched, you can track who sees it as well as how many people actually click on it. Marketers often run similar but slightly different campaigns simultaneously (the same post with a different image, for instance) in order to see what gets the most hits.
But while Linkedin Sponsored Updates are the latest thing on the marketing scene, they are not the only (nor indeed the dominant) option vis-à-vis online data. Google Analytics allows you to monitor the volume of online traffic, the number of pages each user views and for how long, the geographical location of visitors, the browser and/or device they use to access the Internet and the route they took in order to access your website (this list is not exhaustive).
In short, whichever website you are on- and regardless of how you got there- it is more than likely that your activity is being tracked. It’s no secret that ads are targeted these days; most people have experienced past Google searches coming back to haunt them on Facebook. But what I for one had never really considered is the fact that our every online move is clocked by someone, somewhere.
There’s nothing sinister about it. On the contrary, digital people watching- or analytics, as it is more commonly known- is fast becoming the norm. Not only does it allow companies to keep tabs on who visits their website, but in doing so it enables them to engage with those who do and adapt their digital marketing strategy accordingly.