Analytics Intervention: Your Site Should Support Your Business Goals

Since day one, the Web’s greatest asset has been its ability to be precisely measured. In this, it’s superior to any other advertising medium — print, broadcast, direct marketing, public relations. Yet very few companies analyze their Web channel effectively.

They measure it, of course. They track page views, overall traffic, Web channel revenue, and, sometimes, unique visitors. They may even enter it all into a report and present it to company management. But for most executives, those are statistics, not business-critical information.

Over the last two years, I’ve been involved in over 200 Web engagements. I’ve found when proper analysis is lacking, people often place blame on an easy target: the IT department. “We bought Software X two years ago,” they say, “and still cannot get the reports or data we want. IT doesn’t understand our marketing goals and isn’t dedicated to analysis.”

But IT usually isn’t the problem. IT can recommend and purchase software, but software by itself doesn’t produce good analysis. Ask those same people about their Web channel’s key performance indicators (KPIs), and you might get blank stares. Do they have specific conversion goals? How about customer retention goals? For that matter, do they know what role their Web channel plays in their overall corporate strategy?

To effectively harness the Web, companies must define clear Web channel goals that are tied directly to overall company goals. Then, they need to track the KPIs that will help them measure progress toward those goals. Once that happens, analysis can make a Web site become a clear, supporting plank of an overall corporate strategy.

Here’s how to define those Web channel goals:

  • Define the site KPIs that are right for your business. Check out my colleague Jason Burby’s “Defining Key Performance Indicators” for specifics on how to do this.

  • Connect your Web channel goals to other business goals.
  • Include Web analysis in other executive reports. Executives have very full schedules, and most systematize their time to be more efficient. By leveraging existing reports to deliver your top five KPIs, you’ll make sure they’re seen in the proper context.
  • Manage up. Ask for a meeting with your managers to discuss the importance of Web analysis.
  • Make Web channel KPIs part of your group and employee goals.

If all else fails and management continues to isolate the Web channel from company strategy, you can always apply for your executive’s job. Sometimes that’s the best solution for everyone.

My next four columns will explore executive sponsorship, internal team alignment, hiring an internal analyst, and aligning external marketing agencies. Please share your thoughts on this column and suggest future column ideas.

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