Five Things Every CMO Must Know About Web Analytics, Part 5

Part one of this series outlined the five critical things every CMO must know about Web analytics. Today, I’ll explore how to breed a ROI (define) mindset within your marketing organization.

Don’t Just Wish for Accountability

Let’s face it, “accountability” and “marketing” have rarely occurred in the same sentence until recently. Now it’s a top priority. In fact, IDC reported that over 50 percent of CMOs were under a direct mandate to improve the measures and metrics of their marketing organizations. And with the Web accelerating data availability, this high-level focus on better analysis will continue to intensify.

As the leader of your organization, you must champion the change toward greater accountability. Four things to keep in mind to help you infuse ROI into your team’s DNA:

  • Show and tell. How often do you hold regular meetings to discuss performance metrics? You should discuss metrics as often as you brainstorm new strategies, campaigns, or creative. I recommend making it a weekly practice. Everyone should come prepared to discuss campaign ROI, along with the programs and initiatives they manage.

  • Pay for performance. Have you built key performance metrics into your employees’ reviews and compensation plans? It’s a common practice for a sales organization to have performance-based incentives, so why not marketing? This is the best way to raise the accountability bar. Don’t be afraid to change the model.
  • Don’t blame the tools. In Forrester Research’s recent “Web Analytics, Q1 2006,” almost half the organizations surveyed have owned three or more Web analytics products in the last five years. It takes people, process, and technology to make this work. Don’t forget the first two key ingredients.
  • Got skills? Do you have the analytical skills you need within your staff? It’s remarkable how many enterprise organizations are understaffed in the discipline of analyzing marketing metrics. At publication time, there were 38 open jobs for Web Analysts listed on the Web Analytics Association job board. A few years ago, this skill set was rare. Now, it’s in high demand. According to Forrester Research, 88 percent of organizations expect the number of Web analytics users in their organization to increase this year. Training, recruiting, and outsourcing are all budgetary priorities.

Don’t Allow Subjective to Overrule Objective

When you shift to incorporate data into your decision-making process, you can’t afford to let subjective opinions, even your own, rule the nest. I refer to it as The Big Dog Syndrome. It’s when the person in the room with the highest authority (bite) or loudest voice (bark) influences the team to override analytical findings and instead go with a decision their subjective opinion or gut tells them is right. Sound familiar?

I’m not suggesting you completely ignore intuition or past experience. What I’m saying is if you want to have a successful, scalable organization that makes smart decisions on a consistent basis, put objective ahead of subjective.

Accuracy Is Absolutely Critical

Nothing kills progress toward becoming a ROI-minded organization more than data inaccuracy. In our experience of conducting accuracy audits for several enterprise organizations, we’ve seen Web metrics misreported by as much as 400 percent over actual results.

How does this happen? How do you ensure your data’s accuracy?

Bear in mind there isn’t a 100 percent accurate Web analytics methodology. That’s an unrealistic expectation. There are, however, several best practices that can be applied to ensure the numbers you report are as accurate and consistent as possible. Ask these questions:

  • Do you exclude internal traffic?

  • Do you filter out traffic from spiders (define) and bots?
  • How do you use cookies for unique visitor tracking?

These questions and many others can have a dramatic effect on your metrics. Too often, organizations assume analytics tools are perfectly configured right out of the box and all methodologies are the same. Take the time to conduct an accuracy audit, and ensure the tools you use are configured properly based on your business objectives.

I can’t emphasize this point enough. Omit this step and everything downstream is compromised.


In Part 6, the final part of this series, I’ll showcase why progressive marketing executives are making optimization a budgetary priority this year and how to capitalize on the potential upside.

Questions, comments, a story to share? E-mail me to share your insights on Web analytics and measuring marketing performance.

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