Many of my previous columns have focused on identifying desired behaviors, setting site goals, then determining and acting on opportunities to improve performance. Goals must be set and action taken, but be sure the site is configured to provide accurate data based on those goals.
It often isn’t enough to place a basic standard tag on every site page and assume it will provide the required data.
With all the pressure on budgets and resources, it’s unacceptable to roll out a new site or site changes that can’t be tracked effectively. And you don’t want to be the one to tell higher-ups you don’t know how the new site or site changes are doing since the tags weren’t placed correctly.
A number of people must work together on any site initiative:
- Business/strategy leads. These folks must discover what behaviors the organization is trying to drive or change with the new launch. Why are the resources being allocated to this project, and what does success look like? The answers to these questions are key to evaluating success. You must define what success looks like.
- Web analytics tool specialist and Web analysts. The tools expert must work with the people who will ultimately analyze visitor behaviors on the site to determine what needs to be tracked and how to determine success based on overall site goals. They need to determine specifically what they want to look at and understand so they can fully analyze the most important areas of the site and identify opportunities to improve the site.
The tool specialist and analyst together should document exactly how the tags will be added to the page and ensure they’re in a clear format for the development team.
- Developers/engineers. The developers/engineers are responsible for implementing the specification the tool specialist and analyst have put together to gather the needed data. This is not an optional step in the process and should be treated on the same level as the other development tasks. Just as you wouldn’t launch a site without images or copy, you shouldn’t launch a site without the proper analytics tagging if you want long-term success.
Once the tags have been placed, developers work with the tool specialist and analyst to make sure the data is coming through to the analytics tool as desired and expected. The testing process is crucial.
Often this process starts as a one-off but over time becomes easier to formalize. Make it part of the way all site changes are made. This will help greatly reduce instances of site changes falling through the cracks, and you wont have to be the one to say, “We don’t know,” when the GM asks how the new site is performing and if it was worth the seven figures spent on it.
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