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 Nowadays it has become standard practice to gather and measure information about how people are interacting with your company's products.

This helps with anything from testing creative concepts to demonstrating the ROI of marketing. But there is another type of data that you may not be as familiar with, that provides an additional layer of insight to understanding customers. It is called event analytics, and it is one of the most powerful ways to gather and measure information.

Event analytics is a term that refers to the various events that are triggered by interacting with software, and the interesting things that those events can tell us.

For example, every time someone loads a web page, swipes on a mobile app, takes a digital photo, sends a text message, or fills out a form, there is a software event that is triggered to make that happen. In a person’s everyday interaction with mobile phones, tablets, and computers, they can create hundreds -- or even thousands -- of these events. Event analytics is about capturing those events, as well as the unique properties related to how and why they were created, and then using them to measure and learn things. 

Event analytics can be very important to online marketers because it shows the ROI for the money you spend to promote products and build brand awareness. In traditional online marketing, you can track clicks and page views when users arrive on your website. If they end up signing up or purchasing something, you can associate that action with the initial ad click very easily.

This information on individual users is interesting and useful. But the really powerful insight comes from analyzing the aggregate actions of everyone who sees your ad. For example, let’s say you showed the ad to 1,000 people, and 100 of them interacted in some way, whether by scrolling, hovering, or watching a video. And of these 100 people, let’s say 20 become paying customers. This means you had a 2% conversion rate, which gives you a good idea a) of where you currently stand and b) what goals to realistically shoot for in the future. Without these types of metrics, it would be difficult to justify ad spend to your finance department.

Event analytics can also help you understand a lot more than ROI though. The best part about event data is that you can actually add specifics to that data – location, duration, date, time, etc – and these specifics can help guide your actions moving forward.

You can use the info to test your marketing messaging, design, or product features, by measuring who specifically is viewing this content, for instance, and for how long. Then based on this data, you can make assertions about why one message worked better than another, or what features you need to focus on more.

You can also track open and click through rates to measure the effectiveness of email campaigns, track click through and conversation rates of all ad spend, and when the numbers show that customers aren’t using a product feature, you can decide whether to take it out.

As more things become connected to the internet, there are more opportunities to get new information to help better understand your customers. Right now there are people wearing devices on their body to monitor their health, home thermostats that send information about how people live, and cars that send aggregate information about trips and habits. We can use all of this data.

The more we understand who we are marketing to, the better we can market to them, with more relevant messages targeted at the right audiences. This makes marketing a better experience for the consumer and more effective for the marketer.

And it all starts with data that is already sitting out there right now, just waiting to be gathered and analyzed.

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Justin Johnson leads Developer Evangelism at Keen IO. Follow him on Twitter.

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