Focusing on the Big Picture in Analytics

  |  December 16, 2008   |  Comments

How organizations get blindsided when measuring online performance.

People are becoming more concerned about measurement as the economy slows. This makes sense because it's in everyone's best interest to be able to show data behind their projects and support their work.

While this is commendable, I've encountered a concerning trend while talking with clients and others in the interactive industry over the past few months. Many focus in on just behavioral metrics and aren't able to quantify the overall business goals of the online channel and how a specific campaign or initiative fits into those goals.

Defining, Agreeing, Sharing Online Business Goals

Once you get down to the individual project level, people seem to lose focus of the overall Web channel goals and how the project on the table fits into the big picture. Everyone suddenly gets tactical, focusing on timeline, budget, and scope.

To be successful, all players in your Web organization must understand and be able to verbalize the Web channel goals.

When working on an individual project, participants must consider how the project fits into those overall goals. Project participants should be able to describe the key business goals for the particular initiative.

Too often, people jump right to specific measurement ideas -- saying they want to count the click-throughs to a partner site, for example. While this may end up being a key measurement, too often the big picture isn't understood. This will frequently lead to an overemphasis on a few things that may support one goal while completely ignoring the value of things that support other goals.

This may not seem like a big deal as you assume that people will naturally focus on the right things, but it isn't the case.

Avoiding the One-Trick Pony

In most organizations, different measurement methods (Web analytics, surveys, competitive, customer interviews) are employed by different departments or silos. In many cases, this will lead to just one method being used. When measuring a new project's performance, the attitudinal person will focus on surveys or the behavioral person will focus on Web analytics.

There are very few cases where you can get a full view of site performance by only using one of these measurement methods. People will often try to shoehorn performance measurement into just one of these, which can lead to a complete misunderstanding of what's happening online with your customer or prospects. Almost as bad is when people completely ignore something important because they don't know how to measure it.

Ensure that the right people throughout your organization focus on the business goals and then consider the best way to measure those goals using the appropriate measurement methods, rather than just trying to measure all your goals using one method.

Use this time of shrinking resources to increase attention on site performance. Help get your company focused on the big picture and the right way to truly understand it. When you're able to solve the two issues outlined above, you will your chance of moving through to site optimization and truly changing the performance of your Web channel will increase considerably.

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Jason Burby

As president of the Americas regions for the digital agency POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. Jason has 20-plus years experience in digital strategy. He is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports our clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works.

Jason speaks frequently about helping marketers take advantage of data to make smarter business decisions and improve the success of their organizations. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.

Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.

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