It seems a no-brainer when you see the term Business Intelligence (BI) that it is critical to success in e-commerce, even if you haven't the slightest idea what it means. Of course, you could dissect the phrase easily enough, but it leaves you with a vague pair of parts. Simply put, business intelligence is information that is useful for making significant decisions in your company.
Most business intelligence centers around information regarding either your customers or your competition. However, business intelligence extends to all areas of business, as long as the information is significant enough to impact your decisions.
The Computer's Role in Business Intelligence for E-commerce
The advent of the PC, the Internet, and ultimately e-commerce, has brought a revolution in business intelligence. However, it has also proven to be a double-edged sword. The sheer volume of information we can gather now is overwhelming for any human team to keep up with, properly analyze, and utilize effectively. There is so much information that it becomes unmanageable.
A lot of information is available at low cost or, better yet, for free. I guess we all knew it was headed this way, but we probably didn't anticipate it would come so quickly. We now need computers to analyze our business intelligence for us.
Luckily, computers can go farther than mere rudimentary analysis. With the right business intelligence system, you can have the software decide when to reorder stock at the right time so you won't run out of exactly what you need, based on an analysis of seasonal marketing trends.
SEO Is Not Business Intelligence for E-Commerce
What assails businesses today is information overload. What is worse is that many involved in e-commerce are drunk with SEO. They exaggerate the significance of SEO and neglect the real meat of business intelligence. It is true that in your SEO campaign SEO business intelligence is important. But in the normal course of business, SEO plays a small part in the big e-commerce picture.
The only businesses that spend all their time thinking SEO and succeed are businesses that offer SEO services. You've got to get past mere SEO to get your business started.
What Questions Does Business Intelligence Answer?
To fully appreciate the importance and power of business intelligence, here is a list of questions that it helps you answer. Once you go through this list, you will realize that business intelligence is an absolute necessity for e-commerce.
Advertising-Effectiveness Related Questions
- What source of advertising is pulling in the maximum amount of traffic? Which advertising is generating the most sales? What ad creative is converting best?
Navigation-Effectiveness Related Questions
- What elements of navigation are people using the most? What are they using the least? What is causing visitors to go around in circles? Are they reaching their desired page upon using the search box?
- What customers buy repeatedly? Where did these customers come from? How do they reach their desired products? How many of them respond to mailers and other forms of marketing communication?
- How price sensitive are customers? What affiliates are sending in the best traffic?
SEO Related Questions
- What keyphrases are sending the best traffic? What strategies are leading to the greatest SEO success?
- Are social sites sending you traffic? What is working in your social media efforts, and what is not? Are you able to generate a return on investment from social media?
- What keywords are the best converting? Are your PPC optimization efforts bearing fruit?
As an e-commerce professional, would you not like to know the answers to the questions listed above? Your entire strategy would be created, validated, and altered based on business intelligence. As long as they are affordable, you should get the best business intelligence tools for your e-commerce business.