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How Waze Can Help Drive More Actionable Reporting

  |  March 31, 2014   |  Comments

A look at how many of the traffic and navigation app's features can translate to digital analytics reporting, and how they can help in the marketing ecosystem.

There have been a few changes in my life since my last article, namely a new house in the suburbs, and spending more of my work time on site with a client. And while there are plenty of items on my "honey-do" list, the biggest chore has been to find the best route to and from different work locations. If you're from or have spent much time in Atlanta, you know there are a number of different options you can take to get places. The only problem during rush hour is finding the way that sucks the least.

To combat this problem, I started using Waze. During my first commute I found myself listening to Waze and thinking, "Psshhhh, I'm not taking that way, I grew up here, I know better." Forty-five minutes later I had travelled about 5 miles. I immediately felt like an idiot. I was the business owner that so many analysts get frustrated with. I had more data than I could collect and process on my own at my fingertips, telling me the most efficient route, and I ignored it because of my gut instinct and my experience in Atlanta.

Since this situation, I've been a pretty strict Waze follower (95 percent of the time) and have paid attention to what it has to offer me a little more. And after using the app more and more, I truly believe if we all adopted a similar reporting methodology to Waze's interface, we'd be in a much better place.

Here is a quick breakdown of my favorite aspects of the interface, and how they translate to digital analytics reporting:

1. The Population Size

Waze Element: The first notification you see when you open Waze, other than the map, is how many users there are nearby. The higher the number, the more confident you can be you are getting an accurate representation of the current traffic issues.

Digital Analytics Element: When creating your reports and making recommendations, make sure to include the number of users, visits, etc. you are making your recommendation off of, especially if you are looking at any specific user segments within your data. This provides priority to your recommendation and helps the business owner understand what the impact could be.

2. The Routes Option

Waze Element: If Waze gives you a route you are skeptical of, the Routes option gives you a number of different routes to take, and their anticipated travel times.

Digital Analytics Element: When presenting conversion rate optimization recommendations, keep the different paths/scenarios you researched in your back pocket, maybe in an appendix section of the report. If you get questions about your recommendation vs. others' gut feelings from experience, you'll have this information and be able to answer these on the spot.

3. Timely Alerts and Annotations

Waze Element: As you navigate your route, alerts for things like police, traffic, and potholes are presented so you can adjust your driving accordingly. And while all of these don't hold the same level of significance, these alerts can be helpful. Waze also gives you the ability to add annotations or alerts for other users on the same path, adding to their ability to adjust their driving as necessary.

Digital Analytics Element: Setting up custom alerts within your analytics tool will help you stay on top of your site, 24/7. It alleviates the need to constantly check the same reports over and over again to make sure traffic hasn't dropped off somewhere, leaving you to pay attention to more important things, like "driving" more conversions (please forgive the pun, I had to do it). Adding annotations within your tool and reports also helps others to understand significant changes that may have happened.

4. The Forecasted ETA

Waze Element: Once you start on your route, Waze gives you an overview of how far and how long until your destination, and what time you should arrive. These metrics are constantly updating, based on your driving and the data collected from other drivers in your area.

Digital Analytics Element: When presenting recommendations (your proposed route), also provide a forecast with what the business can expect. Update it as frequently as makes sense, and make sure that the elements of the forecast are realistic. For example, if your average order value is $100, and your forecasting a revenue growth of $100,000, it's not going to make much sense if you can't get at least 1,000 new customers, or can increase your average order value accordingly.

5. The Send Feature

Waze Element: Waze allows you to send your trip information to whoever needs an estimate on when you will arrive.

Digital Analytics Element: Automated dashboards and custom reports should be scheduled and sent out for quick status updates on marketing/site efforts. This will help business owners to understand where things are headed, and which efforts may not hit their expectations, sooner rather than later.

Closing Thoughts

At the beginning of using Waze, I was skeptical. I was unfamiliar with the platform, didn't know all of its features, and therefore didn't trust it over my life of experience living in/around Atlanta. However, after becoming familiar with it, it's been a savior to my commute.

Skepticism around data-driven recommendations that may challenge the usual way of doing things is still far too common in many organizations, often leading decisions to be based on experiences and past efforts. And while I don't want to discount these entirely, when the data that is available to organizations is collected, analyzed, and presented to organizations effectively, smarter, more informed decisions will be made, and glory will ensue. Work on taking your reports, dashboards, etc. and look at them as if you're driving down the road at 80 mph. What are the most important facts to know? When do I need to know these things? How do they affect my expected outcome? Answering these and similar questions will help develop a report structure that is easy to consume, heightens attention when it's needed most, and keeps everyone informed of what should happen.

Image via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a Senior Analyst at Search Discovery. He is actively involved in industry organizations, such as the Analysis Exchange and the Digital Analytics Association.

With the Analysis Exchange, he helps non-profits capitalize on their website data, and educates aspiring digital analysts about the foundation of digital analytics, from the implementation of a digital analytics tool to performing analysis and making data-driven recommendations for organizations.

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