Managing Up: Six Steps Towards Success

When discussing Web analysis, I too often hear people say management simply doesn’t “get it.” They’d like to implement a comprehensive Web analysis strategy, but no one seems to be listening.

Web analysis is a low priority at many companies. I’ve sat in on many a client’s Web analytics meeting. Usually, the most senior person present is an e-business director. Rarely have I seen a CEO or other executive team member.

At the same time, it’s hard to think of a more vital component of corporate performance than the Web channel. A company’s Web site interacts with every part of its audience, from analysts and journalists to employees and customers. If you don’t know how well your Web channel’s doing, then how can you gauge the overall success of your company?

So how do you direct your executives’ attention to the problem? To my mind, the answer is “managing up,” or creating a strategy to inform them about the importance of Web analysis. To do this, I’d advise six simple steps.

  • Speak English. In Web analysis, we use a rich jargon, full of KPIs (key performance indicator), log files, and conversion rates. As much as we love it, it makes no sense to outsiders. For them, you need to take the time to explain things simply. As they become more aware of Web analysis, you can create a glossary of terms to get them up to speed.

  • Be willing to take risks. Set specific performance goals for yourself and your team based on Web analysis. At first glance, this may not seem prudent, particularly if your manager doesn’t require it. But managers come and go, and tracking and achieving these goals will help you weather the inevitable corporate storms.
  • Empower your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Provide him with data and analysis on the correlation between on- and offline advertising spending. Typically, a well-run advertising campaign will generate highly predictable and effective results in the Web channel. If your CMO has these figures in hand, he’ll be better able to understand the importance of Web analysis.
  • Speak holistically about your business. Remember that the Web channel is only one part of your company’s overall strategy. Your executives have other responsibilities and will understand your arguments better if they know where they fit into the bigger picture.
  • Demonstrate the benefits of multi-channel customer measurement and analysis. In other words, don’t restrict yourself to the Web. Show how the Web channel can help reduce costs and improve performance in other channels, too. A good example is creating a report on how your Web site has reduced customer reliance on high cost (and typically, low performing) IVR phone systems.
  • Write an email to your CEO suggesting Web performance become part of your company’s overall strategic goals. Oddly enough, this simple step can be quite effective. Most companies have a way for employees to make suggestions directly to the CEO. While the CEO may not be the first person to read your proposal, if it’s well-written and intelligently-reasoned, it may be the best way to get her attention.

By managing up, you’ll be able to guide your company’s decisions in the right direction and hopefully, to create a fulfilling job for yourself. Remember, your efforts may not bear fruit immediately. But companies often change their policies. When that time comes, your ideas will be on the table.

If you have comments, questions, or even a story about how you’ve managed up, please let me know.

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