Every businessperson knows that good data makes you smarter. Well, a truer statement might be that an accurate analysis of the right data can make a company smarter, but lack of any data can be fatal.
Today’s reliance on the web and social media requires real time tracking and analytics that are delivered in real time. This isn’t just a way to feed the obsession over traffic and other sometimes meaningless stats, this is a valuable way to view and react to business opportunities as swiftly as they arise.
Speed may indeed be the most important competitive business advantage.
With real time data tools you can:
React to mentions of you brand more fully – you’ll know the minute your business has been mentioned by a blogger or other online publication and the implication that mention may have in terms of traffic and potential reciprocal reactions. You may choose to go comment on every post that mentions your brand, but you may really make it a priority to comment on a post that is sending buckets of traffic your way.
Interact with site visitors live – you’ll get a view of who is visiting your site in a live mode and witness where they came from, what paths they take and where they exit. Some real time stats packages actually allow you to launch a browser chat session with a specific visitor that, say, clicks on several links like they are looking for something.
Watch your test in real time – You can track A/B split tests and see immediately not only what page is getting conversions, but what visitors are doing and not doing on each test page. I think this might allow you to make your testing adjustments much faster and more accurately.
Test your PPC campaigns in real time – Google AdWords data is often hours old and, in my experience, not terribly accurate. By monitoring a new ad campaign you real time you can know immediately which ad version or which landing page version is a winner in a matter of moments.
Understand the impact of your blog posts – I’m still puzzled sometimes by the reaction to my blog posts. I find it very hard to predict when something I’ve written is going to catch fire. With real time stats I know within minutes of publishing if I’ve happened to spark a reaction with readers and that gives me the cue to get proactive about promoting the post in bookmarking sites and social networks much more aggressively. I don’t like to promote everything I publish in this manner, so this gives me the filter to know when to amplify big right away.
There are by my guess dozens of packages available that can help you get web site data in real time. Some are free and some come with monthly fees.
For some, the idea of a monthly fee for the benefit of stats in real time may feel excessive, but in the increasingly competitive web world, the businesses that react the fastest win.