May 2, 2014, 12:39 PM

Insider's Guide to IRCE: Data-driven decisions

Gut instinct be warned. E-retailers today have mountains of data they can mine to help them make informed, insightful decisions about digital developments, and a number of these miners will share their stories from the podium at IRCE.

E-retailers can extract informative data from just about every system or software associated with their online businesses, spanning from on-site analytics programs like Google Inc.'s Google Analytics, Adobe Systems Inc.'s Omniture or IBM Corp.'s analytics suite to their e-commerce platforms and vendor-supplied digital marketing services, including e-mail and social plug-ins. It's important to incorporate the data such systems can provide from day one and make checking it—and applying what it can teach—routine, says Ryan Bonifacino, vice president of digital strategy at jewelry manufacturer Alex and Ani LLC.

Alex and Ani is on a steep growth trajectory—its online sales grew more than 200% in 2013 and are on track to double this year—and that's landed it on my short list of e-retailers to watch. That's why Bonifacino's presentation, entitled "Building on Strengths: Why Data Should Change Your Marketing Plan Every Quarter" is one I won't miss at this year's IRCE.

"If you want to be able to see [the shopping path] from first touch to first purchase you have to rely on the data you are feeding into your systems, so you have to build it in," he says. Alex and Ani, for example, feeds social analytics data tracked by Curalate into its Google Analytics. It also mixes insights from marketing analytics providers Adometry and Visual IQ to track its digital marketing efforts. Alex and Ani clearly brings a comprehensive and analytical view to its digital campaigns and I expect the presentation will provide a road map for attendees on how they can do the same.

Another presentation I'm looking forward to is "Serve Yourself: Improving Site Content to Help Customers Help Themselves," which has Great Northern Corp.'s marketing manager Matt Ruggle and InSite Software's Linda Taddonio presenting. A redesign last year of Great Northern's CustomBoxesNow.com e-commerce site prompted a 30% increase in conversions, and it was data from the previous site's successful pages that helped Ruggle map the top priorities and goals of the redesign.

"With the old site, we were surprised by the stickiness of our box examples page," he says. "Analytics showed it to not only be one of the most popular pages, but also that it had a very low bounce rate, a high on-page time, and a strong conversion rate. With this information, we decided to build out a much more comprehensive section with examples of our work on the new site."

E-retailers I talk with who've attended IRCE events say that they've put to use tips they've collected at the show. I expect attendees at these sessions will say the same in the months ahead—and have the data to prove it.

Allison Enright is editor of Internet Retailer magazine and has covered digital marketing and analytics for nearly 10 years. This is her fourth year at IRCE.

Highlighted Sessions
Building on Strengths: Why Data Should Change Your Marketing Plan Every Quarter Wednesday, June 11, 3:30-4 p.m.
Serve Yourself: Improving Site Content to Help Customers Help Themselves Thursday, June 12, 2:30-3:15 p.m.

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