I'm often asked why so many companies fail to really get Web analytics engrained within their business processes and to leverage the data to improve site performance.
In many past columns, I've written about setting proper goals and getting team buy-in on those goals, as well as monetizing behavior and the like. If you do all those things right but the people involved in the day-to-day management, strategy, design, and development aren't being held accountable for the Web site, all your work may be for naught.
Time and again you see people get caught up in working on a big list of initiatives that have queued up, without ever really defining what success means for each initiative. Success is often measured by delivering something (anything!) on time and within budget.
As soon as one initiative launches, it's off to the next one, and so on. Often there isn't time to define success metrics, and surely no time to see how the new launch did. It was, of course, nearly on time and right around the discussed resource budget.
This is usually based on pressure to always be making changes to a site and a ton of ideas of things that could be done. There's also a shortage of resources to get that project done that "needs to be finished this quarter."
In most cases, the people running the Web channel, projects, strategic direction, design, and development aren't held accountable for the Web channel's true performance.
So when you try to provide them with information, such as analytics data, that can help them better understand opportunities as well as what's working and what's not, that information isn't taken seriously and isn't a high priority.
The good news is this is all starting to change. As Web budgets grow, executives are starting to require deeper performance metrics from the channel. This often starts as high-level questions:
The questions typically start going deeper. When first asked, they're often fairly easy to answer; however, things quickly get deeper and more specific.
Over time, a sophisticated Web channel leader will know he needs to find a way to move the metrics that matter most to the Web channel and executive team. Until this occurs, the individuals on the Web team aren't usually held accountable for anything other than delivery date and budget.
This is when a shift begins to occur. People on the Web team start to be asked by the group leader how they can move some of these metrics. When an initiative is launched, they may start looking at the impact of specific changes. Unfortunately, this often takes time; it can easily take 12 to 24 months from the time the person in charge of the channel starts getting the questions from the executive team to the point at which he has everyone on his team driving toward the optimization of specific metrics.
At the far end of the spectrum, some things you should expect to see include:
If you run a Web team, act now and get your team thinking in this direction. If you're a team member, start thinking about it now, before your boss has to act. If you're already getting hounded on this front and were caught off-guard, sincere apologies for not giving you a heads up sooner!
Jason is off this week. Today's column ran earlier on ClickZ.
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As the Chief Performance Marketing Officer for POSSIBLE, Jason supports the agency's global Marketing Sciences and Media Services programs.
His primary role is to help POSSIBLE teams and clients use data to craft digital strategies that attract, convert, and retain customers - maximizing ongoing ROI across paid, earned, and owned channels. He believes that brands can better serve their customers by understanding audience behavior, and that messaging should be targeted to individual customers through the use of testing, behavioral targeting, and CRM initiatives.
Jason has written extensively about digital analytics, optimization and digital strategy, including an ongoing column at ClickZ.com. He is the co-author of "Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions," which is one of the leading texts in the field of digital analytics. His client roster includes Microsoft, Nike, Nokia, Dell, Ford, Sony, PayPal/eBay, P&G, Alcoa, Expedia, Mazda, Intel, and Motorola, and more. Jason is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars around the world ranging from the Cannes Lions, Adobe Omniture Summits, eMetrics, SES, ad:tech, BazaarVoice, and many other WPP events.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT