Get the Ball Rolling With Analytics

You’ve invested in one of the top four analytics tools. You’ve done what’s necessary to get the tracking tool configured and running. Have you started to identify new opportunities, or do you still just look at high-level data? If it’s the latter, you really aren’t using your data to generate insights that can help optimize your site.

We see this repeatedly with our clients after they select a new analytics tool. Although tool providers often emphasize features or ease of configuration, there’s rarely much focus on actual post-sale data use. Sure, there are conceptual discussions. But the shifts that are required in the Web team culture are very seldom addressed.

When working with clients, we have a set methodology and process to avoid this all together or to overcome it if the software is already in the non-use phase. I’ve discussed that methodology and process in previous columns. Recently, though I’ve received a lot of email and people at conferences asking me, “How can I get my company to really looking at this data — and to use it?”

One way to get people excited about analytics is to get an internal win or an example of success you can share throughout the organization. You not only start to show some sort of ROI (define) on your analytics tool (you can’t make a case for Web analytics ROI on your tracking tool until you start using the data to improve site performance), but you also show the Web team and senior management the power behind the data. This can provide the support and momentum you need to get others to look at the analytics data and integrate it into your Web team’s evaluation and decision-making processes.

How do you get that first win? If you do it on your own, consider this: Identify the highest value behavior on your site. Identify your site goals, KPIs (define), and desired behaviors. Remember, the entire transaction needn’t occur online; the highest-valued behavior may (and commonly does) generate a lead someone follows up offline.

Once you identify the desired behavior, make sure you quantify its value. A lead’s value may be $250. Don’t try to make it exact, just start with a broad range. Work backwards from the final transaction, if possible. Talk with people throughout your organization to assess this.

Or get an estimate from the sales team for the percentage of Web leads they close, along with the sale’s value or new customer lifetime value. Say the sales team closes 10-20 percent of Web leads over three months, and those customers’ lifetime value is roughly $5,000. If you have 10,000 leads per month from the site, the sales team closes 1,000 to 2,000 of those leads. A lead’s average value is $500 to $1,000:

(Closed leads/total leads) x average value of sale or lifetime value

Dig in and understand everything you can about the desired behavior based on the Web analytics data you collect. Where do people come from? Where do they drop out of the desired behavior path? Do they get to the key page? Do they start the process, then leave? How do different visitor segments on your site behave?

Really focus on understanding everything you can about that desired behavior. Look to see where there’s room for improvement. Focus on the step that drops the most people or the one that provides greater exposure to the offer. At this point, you may decide to look at attitudinal or competitive data to help you understand the “why” behind behaviors you observe.

Next, act on the data. Ideally, you want to roll out some sort of A/B or multivariate test. Since this is the first optimization, a test may not be in the cards. At a minimum, split traffic between the new and old page (or process) to truly compare them during the same period. Make site changes and measure their effects.

Go back to your team and show the impact in leads (or whatever the desired behavior was) and the dollar value to the organization. Set up a time to walk through the exact steps you went through with the team, including how you identified opportunities and the changes you made. Offer to work with people to identify additional opportunities on their site sections.

Every company needs someone to champion the analytics cause. If you feel frustration because your organization doesn’t leverage the data and no one has taken the lead, you may be the one to do it! Web analytics tools only enable you to gain insight, they don’t provide insight or optimization on their own. Think of analytics tools the same way you think about Microsoft Word: it’s a tool to write with; it doesn’t make you a good writer.

Be the champion within your organization. Generate that first success story!

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