Is Web Analytics hard? Well, I do not want to resurrect an old debate here but I must say that if Web Analytics may be not that hard, successful web analytics is.
We all know that Web Analytics is not just about having a tool (whether it is a free or a paid solution) and the right tags & key reports. You may have heard the famous Avinash Kaushik’s "90/10" rule: “For every 10$ you invest in your WA tool, you should invest 90$ in people". Or Eric Peterson’s "70/20/10" rule: “Web Analytics is 70% people, 20% processes & 10% tool”.
So people & process are essential for Web Analytics but is that all you need to be successful in your Web Analytics quest? No. I think you need some key “values” on top of these.
Key values you need to be successful
Recently, Jim Sterne - the Web Analytics Godfather - made a very good analogy when commenting the recent report "Online measurement and Strategy Report" from eConsultancy, comparing Web analytics to building a house:
"Web analytics reports are just lumber. It takes an architect, a designer, a builder and a lot of other skills to turn it into a house.”
On my side, I will use another analogy, comparing Web Analytics with a sport I like a lot – Formula One. Yes. Formula One! To win a race or even better to win the championship, a team (your company) needs more than having a very good car (the tool) and a very good driver (you). It needs other key ingredients to cross the finish line in first position.
The follow promo video from Toyota F1 summarizes well these key values.
- Determination: Formula One is a very demanding discipline. So is Web analytics. In both cases, it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to get to the top. It takes a lot of time & efforts to make progress, to get all things correctly implemented, to get quality data, to get valuable insights, to make people act upon data, to establish a data-driven culture! It means also doing (and accepting) errors here and there. It means sometimes frustration, lot of frustration. You will need to get over it. Commitment all along the way and at every level is essential. Rome wasn't build in a day!
- Continuous improvements (Kaizen): Every little detail matters in Formula 1. You need to constantly look for any small improvement that would translate in a slightly fastest lap time on the track – even if it is by 0.01 of a second. Because all improvements together make you faster and get you closer to success. Victory is not achieved overnight. Same for Web Analytics. Try to improve your processes, your work, your website step by step. Instead of looking for THE change that would rocket your results (and that you may never find), look for more modest, minor improvements that will be easier to achieve and that globally will lead you toward your goals. And if you do errors, impacts will be limited and you will learn from these. All in all, Kaizen approach is more likely to succeed than the big-leap approach.
- Challenge: Formula One is constant challenge. It is a fast changing world with new technologies, new rules... and tough competition. It makes teams push their limits and skills further. It is kind of the same in our industry where Internet technologies, usage and businesses are evolving very fast - meaning new tools and new ways to measure these. New challenges! For example, look at social media or mobile. That is what I like in Web Analytics - the fact that it is a continuous challenge. If you manage to solve a problem, you can be sure new ones will come. There is (almost) no routine. If you don't like that then move along.
- Teamwork: Victory in Formula 1 is the work of a whole team: designers, engineers, mechanicals, drivers, management team and more. A F1 driver alone can not make a team win. Same for Web Analytics – a Web analyst alone is not enough. It is a joint effort between business stakeholders (to define strategy and actions), IT team to host / support the tools (if hosted internally), developers (to implement tags), agencies (to advise & implement changes)… And you the Web Analytics expert as the key link between all these.
- Passion: this one is not in the promo video but I think that Web Analytics & Formula One share that one too: passion. I had the chance to meet many talented Web analytics experts and practioners – famous or not. All have one thing in common: passion for what they do. I think this is an important ingredient for success. Why? Because passion is contagious. Passion is a positive (winning?) attitude. So do not keep it for you – communicate your passion around. Get people on board! Get support!
So don’t think Web Analytics is one-man job – make sure your get the right people around you, working as a team and committed towards same final goal: success! Don’t be hasty and persevere. Be prepared! It is a long road to reach success. But once you get there, you will never forget the taste of victory.
- "KAIZEN: a successful approach applied to Web Analytics" (August 2008)
- "Web Analytics - The Kaizen Way" from Paul Holstein on Web Analytics Demystified blog
- "Web Analytics & Kaizen: Change for the Better" - my first ever (guest) post on WebAnalytists.info (June 2007)
- "Web analytics are just the lumber ... you need more than that to build a house." from Econsultancy blog (June 2009)