The Results Are In: Top Digital Analytics Trends of 2017

It’s that time of year. Fall – and pumpkin spice – are in the air (but really, this is me every September). It’s also that time when we start to think about the year in review. While I’m not your go-to source for bizarre fashion or hipster happenings, my day-to-day at Pace does expose me to the biggest trends in the world of digital analytics. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve seen this year:

 

1. Increased emphasis on ROI

In 2017, analytics are no longer a bonus or an afterthought. Clients expect data to play a major role in everything from social strategy to SEO to UX. More than ever, you need to be able to take such data and use it to answer questions about the return on your content, your strategy or whatever it is your clients love about your work.

At Pace, we look relentlessly for the most advanced insights in order to provide concrete findings on the ROI of our content. While a term like ROI certainly can seem daunting, finding customizable solutions for your clients’ needs is more attainable than you may think. Pace even has a comprehensive white paper on the topic. Whether your clients value hard sales, lead generation, brand recognition or all of the above, be prepared to explain the value of your output in those terms. To get you started, here are 10 examples of companies using analytics insights to drive various ROI conversations.

 

2. From predictive to prescriptive analytics

It’s old news by now to mention the need for predictive over descriptive analytics. Predictive analytics, or using past and current data to inform future trends, is now more the standard than ever before — especially with automation and dashboarding doing a lot of the heavy lifting for descriptive analytics, like regular trend reports. But where do we go from here?

The key is in prescriptive analytics – not just anticipating what’s to come, but providing a clear recommendation on what to do about it. In the same way you can conduct A/B tests to optimize a webpage, you can optimize a client’s marketing plan by getting on a smart path ahead of time.

For example, if seasonal data tells you that site traffic picks up in the fall, get the jump on implementing some UX improvements to foster higher engagement when users get there. Digital Defyned did a great job of laying this out at the beginning of the year as their No. 1 upcoming trend to focus on, specifically highlighting Amazon’s prescriptive analysis of purchase behavior data to create product recommendations. You should check out their entire list if you have time.

 

3. Data visualization

This one has definitely been trending for a while, but it’s safe to say that visualization is still top-of-mind for smart digital marketers. In this post from Marketing Land in January, Daniel Waisberg from Google predicted this year would see the amplification of data through visualization. Indeed, a quick Twitter search of #dataviz yields examples from current to comical. Regardless of its function, good data viz still needs to be simple, be engaging and tell an effective story.

Here’s a great recent example of simple, yet effective, data visualization by Antti Lipponen, posted by The Blue Reporters Facebook page, a marine environmental science news page. It combines a chart of temperature anomalies for each year from 1901 to 2016 to show changes over time. Warmer-colored bars represent higher than average temperatures for a given country, while cooler colors capture those below average. Here are the first and last charts side by side, and you can watch the whole video here:

data visualization analytics trends  data visualization analytics trends

This is a great visualization example because it takes a hot topic like climate change and distills the information down to the basics to tell an effective story. One doesn’t need to know the gritty details of climate science to see how temperature extremes have shifted over time through smart use of color and shape in this graphic. Now more than ever, it’s key to be able to tell a quick, effective and compelling story, and good visualizations will continue to do just that.

Just like with creative or social, it’s important to stay on top of what’s big and what’s coming in the world of digital analytics. As your clients continue to invest more and more into data analysis, you will benefit greatly by staying ahead of the curve. So always keep watch for the best ways to keep your findings fresh, relevant and interesting.

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