Getting Analytics into the Organization

The conference season is in full swing. Last month, I was in Stockholm at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization conference, and next week I’ll be heading to their conference in Washington, D.C.

The analytics events in Europe are somewhat different than the ones in the United States. Specifically, there’s obviously a scale difference, making conferences smaller, yet more intimate.

The Stockholm conference focused on the challenges of getting organizations to adopt Web analytics and marketing optimization practices as part of the way of doing business.

Good news came out of interesting case studies that examined how analytics are being embedded into the business culture and changes are being made. In each case, there was someone in the organization who led the charge, prevailing against the odds to demonstrate that the value from investments in data and technologies are only realized when an organization changes the way it does things. It builds analytics into its business processes.

At one workshop, someone asked me for advice on how to “get people to get it.” It’s a question that often comes up when an analyst wonders how to make an impact in the organization.

Usually my response is, “Find a friend.” It’s very difficult to convince potential stakeholders about the merits of using a more analytical and insight-driven approach to decision making. It’s easier to push at an open door.

I describe my own experience of arriving to work as a lone analyst a few years ago at an online business. The organization at that time paid little attention to the data that it had, preferring to rely on “judgment” and “experience” to make decisions.

People were interested in what I had to say, but they weren’t engaged. However, I found that a divisional director was more engaged than the rest, so I started working more closely with him, doing some analysis on the data and showing how he could use the results to improve his acquisition strategy.

After a period of time, he started to show the analysis results to his colleagues in meetings and then they began to see how they could also use that type of information in their business. As a result, people started asking for analysis and insight rather than me trying to push it at them. It’s much easier to feed the hungry!

Every organization is different, so the tactics required for analysts to create momentum and critical mass to getting Web analytics adopted within the business will be different. And this problem isn’t confined to European markets.

At next week’s eMetrics Marketing Optimization summit, there’s a whole track of presentations called The Data Driven Organization, with sessions like Competing on Web Analytics, Creating a Performance Driven Marketing Organization, and 10 Ways to Create a Testing Culture. This shows that while we’ve come a long way from the “log files versus page tags” type of debate, there’s still a lot of work to do to get digital marketing and customer analytics higher up the food chain within businesses. I’m looking forward to hearing some of the techniques and frameworks that others have used to create a performance management culture within organizations and I’ll be reporting back next time.

Until then…

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