Analytics Move From What to How

  |  October 28, 2008   |  Comments

At eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, Web analytics and optimization gurus share tips for promoting performance-driven organizations.

As I write this, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington, D.C., is drawing to a close and I'm trying to process all the inputs and turn them into some outputs of the core themes and takeaways. Tough job, there's been a lot of stuff to process.

A key message at several sessions was that people had moved on from talking about the "what" to the "how." The talks focused less on defining Web analytics, optimization, and multivariate testing, and more on how to embed Web analytics into an organization, create a testing culture, and move toward a performance-driven organization.

We know the tools in the toolbox. Now we need to figure out how to use them better and to get other people in the organization on board. There were still some presentations that covered the "what" type questions, but they seemed to mostly revolve around newer technologies and the emerging measurement practices, such as social media and mobile analytics.

A parallel theme that came through was the sense that some organizations or people within these organizations are hitting a glass ceiling. They deployed the tools, generated data, and created reports, but are struggling to take it to the next level. They saw the opportunity but couldn't make the breakthrough.

Bill Gassman, a Gartner analyst, outlined requirements to move an organization's analytics capability forward. First, he advises to have senior "C" level sponsorship.

I've just finished reading Tom Davenport's book, "Competing on Analytics" and time and time again he points out that companies that successfully deploy an enterprise-wide approach to analytics usually have someone at the top making it happen. The question then becomes: How you go about getting that support?

Gassman seems to agree with one approach I described in "Getting Analytics into the Organization." He recommends starting small and building momentum. It's interesting that some issues we encounter in Europe aren't all that different than some of the issues being raised here in the U.S.

A conference highlight was listening to Google's analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik unveil the latest enhancements to Google Analytics. You sensed it was what the crowd had been waiting for. It's not often you see a vendor being applauded for announcing feature releases.

Of the various developments, two caught my attention. First is the new advanced segmentation feature. I'm a big fan of the ability to filter and segment data, so any developments in this area are welcome. Providing a segmentation capability in a tool like Google Analytics will encourage property owners to look beyond the topline numbers and start thinking about their site in terms of different groups of visitors behaving in different ways. Hopefully people start to drill down into their data.

The other feature that caught my eye was the announcement of a Google Analytics API (define) to allow access to underlying analytics data. Details weren't available at the moment, but data integration is a key feature for an enterprise-level tool. There are many hacks out there for getting data out of Google Analytics. Hopefully the API will make this easier. Google seems to recognize that Web analytics data can't operate in a silo.

Finally, Jason Carmel, a senior optimization manager at ZAAZ, inspired me with his presentation, Effectively Using Kittens for Optimization and Usability. (Go figure!) He looked at how site optimization tools such as Optimost and Google Website Optimizer are complementary to user-centric design processes and usability-based optimization.

He outlined the process by which the two can work together in site optimization projects; site optimization tools basically tell you what's working and the usability analysis shows you why it's working and how to use usability experts to improve the quality of the site optimization tests. It reinforced to me that you will always need more than one tool in the toolbox to get the job done properly.

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Neil Mason

Neil Mason is SVP, Customer Engagement at iJento. He is responsible for providing iJento clients with the most valuable customer insights and business benefits from iJento's digital and multichannel customer intelligence solutions.

Neil has been at the forefront of marketing analytics for over 25 years. Prior to joining iJento, Neil was Consultancy Director at Foviance, the UK's leading user experience and analytics consultancy, heading up the user experience design, research, and digital analytics practices. For the last 12 years Neil has worked predominantly in digital channels both as a marketer and as a consultant, combining a strong blend of commercial and technical understanding in the application of consumer insight to help major brands improve digital marketing performance. During this time he also served as a Director of the Web Analytics Association (DAA) for two years and currently serves as a Director Emeritus of the DAA. Neil is also a frequent speaker at conferences and events.

Neil's expertise ranges from advanced analytical techniques such as segmentation, predictive analytics, and modelling through to quantitative and qualitative customer research. Neil has a BA in Engineering from Cambridge University and an MBA and a postgraduate diploma in business and economic forecasting.

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