Lava Lamp: A Web Analytics Silver Bullet?

Getting Web people excited about Web analytics is often a real challenge. Web analytics is generally viewed as a nice-to-have element of any given Web project but by no means a requirement. Too many people use analytics to see how a portion of the site has done in the past but not to identify future opportunities.

We see a lot of unique ways to get people excited about leveraging analytics insights among our clients. We ran across a particularly interesting (and effective) idea recently.

Not long ago, we started working with Kristen Findley, Web site analytics manager at Ameriprise Financial. She created the Traveling Metrics Award to get people in the interactive marketing group excited about analytics. It’s bestowed to someone within the group who “preaches the metrics gospel” of measure and analyze.

Findley wanted to make the award fun, with a geeky/cheesy twist. So she searched the Web and found a USB-powered lava lamp she thought would be fun and sought-after. She delivers the lamp with a certificate she makes up for the award recipient. Findley also uses the monthly team meeting to share analytics successes, delivers a short training session on what needs to be done, and acknowledges the projects and people who have successfully leveraged analytics.

I asked Findley what inspired her to create the award. She told me it started last fall at Emetrics in Washington, DC. She remembered hearing Xerox’s Duane Schulz speak about shifting project focus from a build-and-measure model to a measure-and-improve one. He also spoke about “driving in the fog,” working off a list of projects with no real goals or objectives defined around those projects.

I wish my whole team could have been in the room to hear that.

Findley knew she wouldn’t be able to make an instantaneous transition at her company. They had to take small steps to get to measure and improve. She felt the place to start was to ensure everyone thought about metrics at the beginning of a project. Her goal was to get analytics involved upfront, so they could plan the measure-and-improve aspect. And since things are a lot more effective when there’s fun and competition involved, she decided an award of some sort might be a good place to start.

It sounds like she’s done pretty well at creating excitement with a fun, unique gadget. The contest plays on people’s competitive nature while training them to leverage Web analytics insight. The award has also increased awareness of our external group, serving as a reminder to include us in conversations.

There are a number of ways to get analytics moving within your organization. Ultimately, a few great wins in terms of improving site performance based on overall goals and acknowledgement from senior management get people excited. Once people know specific performance of all significant site changes will come from a few levels up the org chart, they tend to pay more attention. But, as Findley knew, that doesn’t happen overnight.

Shoot me an e-mail and let me know how you help people in your organization get excited about measurement and optimization.

Oh yeah, here’s a link to that USB-powered lava lamp. I had no idea they existed, either!

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