So I may have mentioned I am not a huge fan of real time analytics. I will say that there is a time and place, or maybe a few times and places, where it can be hugely useful to have real time data.
When you launch a new site, campaign, piece of functionality or even piece of content, there is no substitute for being able to see how people interact with it, as soon as they do.
Also, when someone is experiencing your site. it is great to know what they are doing in that moment to recommend what is popular either based on wisdom of the crowds, or even better, that person's history.
When you can base recommendations not only on what the crowd likes, but tailor it to a single person's history, that is more than a recommendation, that is personalization. The combination of both historic and real time data are the key to a great personalization experience.
'In The Moment' Decisions
In my last post, I mentioned the lack of context, history and accuracy as a problem with real-time analytics. I am not discounting those issues. But there are occassions when looking at a snap-shot of the data, of what is happening, when it happens, can be useful for making decisions. And when I say making decisions, I really mean testing hypothesis.
But what does that even mean?
Say it is a holiday where you expect a high volume of traffic and sales. And to get this traffic you are spending money on paid search. Real time reporting can give you immediate feedback of what ads are not working to convert instant, same session visitors - people who click on the ad, get to your site and immediately purchase. You can try to tweak the ads, change the copy, change the offer or call to action.
Also knowing what is selling, as it is being purchased can drive decisions about where you place your product. It may be good to move a popular product to your home page to see if it increases sales.
But the key here is not just making snap decisions on real time data. It is testing, watching and making course corrections as necessary. So real time reporting is more about providing the tools and insight for a real-time experimentation and testing process.