Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Web Analytics in practice: your online analytics strategy – how to get started?

[This post is the third post of the Web analytics in practice series - practical posts on various topics based on my own daily experience – as a practitioner. It aims at providing tips, advices and examples that – I hope – may inspire and help you – whether you are a beginner or more experienced Web analyst]

In my view, the role of a Web analytics expert goes beyond than just implementing tags, reporting and analysing data. It is also his/her responsibility to develop the online analytics culture. In order to succeed in this perilous quest, he/she needs to have a strategy!

Ok it’s easier said than done. Everybody would agree that “all we need is a strategy” but practically, how do I define such strategy? Well, I don’t have the pretention to teach in a post how to create your strategy but at least, I would like to share with you some hints on how you can get started. Ready? So, let’s start first with the key aspects you should consider.

The critical factors for success
In Web analytics, the focus is too often on the technology, the tools and the data. “What?! There is something else?” you might think.  Of course there is! If you want to make Web analytics a successful practices (you know delivering insights, driving actions, adding business value and all), you must address the following factors:
  • Management & governance: Who does really care about Web analytics? Who’s managing it?  Just the analyst? A project manager? Top management level? Does anyone know where it is going? Governance is essential as it will unlock access to budget and resources, it will make changes in the organization (i.e. breaking silos) possible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Web Analytics in practice: Using segmentation to drive insights and actions!

[This post is the second post of the Web analytics in practice series - practical posts on various topics based on my own daily experience – as a practitioner. It aims at providing tips, advices and examples that – I hope – may inspire and help you – whether you are a beginner or more experienced Web analyst]

If you really want to do true analytics then segmentation is essential. I like to think that if you are just looking at aggregated data, you are only doing reporting. If you want to do analysis, segmentation is the way to do as it leads to valuable insights that, in turn, will drive business actions.

While there are several “common” ways in segmenting online data – true segmentation requires putting in the effort to have a good understanding of your business (what does matter, key goals...) and to find your own meaningful segments. Such exercise will help you sharpen your business expertise - always a good thing.

In this post, I propose a step-by-step simple example (based on my own experience) to illustrate how to apply “standard” and context-related segments, to drive insights and the resulting actions.

The case: analysing the performance of a key landing page
(Disclaimer: for confidentiality purpose, actual figures and results have been modified but I have kept the general order of magnitude and the resulting learnings are true ones)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Web Analytics in practice: Campaign tracking & offline advertising

[This post is the first post of a new series about Web analytics in practice. The idea is to write very practical posts on various topics based on my own daily experience – as a practitioner. It aims at providing simple tips, advices and examples that – I hope – may inspire and help you – whether you are a beginner or more experienced Web analyst]

We all know how to track online campaigns (banner, SEA, affiliates, social media...) – it has become quite a common practice (if not, you should better get started now!). It is really basic stuff.

However campaign tracking should not be limited to the online world. What about the offline activities that may drive traffic to the online channels? In this post I would like to cover two common offline sources that typically (should) bring traffic to your online properties: friendly  URL’s and Quick Response (QR) codes commonly used in offline ads.

Print ad's & short URL’s
It is very common to use short or dedicated URL’s in print ads (magazine, billboard, brochures...) that are (supposed to be) easy to type such as www.toyota.de/yaris or www.deutschebank.be/effecten (the latest was used in print ads in newspapers and displays). These short URL’s redirect you to specific online content (that often has a much “longer” not-so-friendly URLs).

But how effective are these URL’s?  Are they worth the space they use on the advertising space? Are people really typing these?  Everyone can start arguing – giving his own opinion but the only way to answer the question is of course to MEASURE IT.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Web Analytics & PDCA case: improving marketing websites in a pan-EU context

In the last post, I presented the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) approach and how it can be applied to Web Analytics in order to create a Web analytics culture – not just a Web measurement culture. In this post I would like to illustrate this approach with a practical example from my personal experience.

As I learned PDCA when I was working at Toyota Motor Europe (“hi ex-colleagues! “ – in case your social media monitoring picked this post :-)), I will start with a example from my previous job, where PDCA was applied in rather large web analytics-related project, involving many stakeholders and long iteration cycle.

Improving overall online marketing performances in a pan-EU context
First, a bit of background and context.  As many global organizations, Toyota European’s sites are run a on central platform, using common tools and content architecture provided by the European headquarters but the sites and marketing activities are managed on a local level, by the respective national companies & the local Internet marketing managers. Regarding Web analytics, the headquarter offers not only the tool and measurements but also global reporting, analysis and support. That was part of my previous job.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Web Analytics – plan, do, check and... ACT!

One of the critical success factors for building a successful online analytics culture is having processes in place. But why is it so critical? Are all processes made equal? In this post I would to share some of my experience on processes and to talk about the approach I use. Maybe it will inspire some of you.

Building an online measurement culture is easy...
It usually starts with nothing in place until someone on the business side starts requesting data. This usually happens after the project has be launched (otherwise where would be the "fun"). Unfortunately, it is likely that nothing or very little is implemented.

At this point, a sound reaction should be to put in place some process to make sure measurements are correctly implemented. Because implementation is more a technical aspect, you may be lucky to have someone in IT helping you define such process. After all IT is very familiar with processes - they love processes (note: I started doing Web Analytics in IT :-)).

The process should ensure that whenever there is a new project, someone gets in charge of defining business objectives, translating these into measurement requirements and coordinating the implementation.The process would make sure that measurements are tested, rolled out and reports are set-up before being delivered to the business. No more projects are rolled out with proper measurements in place. Mission accomplished! Hurray!

Getting there may take you from few weeks to a year. I guess that most of us can live with that. So what’s the big deal about it?

...but building an analytics culture is another story.
The problem is that at this stage, you just have an online measurement process in place. What about the analysis and – most important – the action part? Aren’t these the steps for which we, web analysts, strive for?

The challenge is to make analysis and decision-making systematic – not something you do just once here and there (as it is too often the case). You need a process that includes these activities as well. Before you start inventing your own process from scratch, it worth having a look at some existing successful approaches used in other areas.

Some Web analytics experts refer to process excellence and Six Sigma for creating a data-driven culture. In my case, I looked into another approach that is part of the culture of my previous employer: the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) management process.

Originally created by DR. W. Edwards Demming, PDCA is “a framework that provides a methodical approach to problem solving and continuous improvement. It is an iterative cycle composed of four main phases:

1.PLAN: It is the preparation phase where you:
  • Grasp the situation i.e. identify your objectives (your ideal situation) & stakeholders, understand your current environment and conditions
  • Set your targets based on your objectives – ideally in a SMART ones
  • Define your “implementation” plan (tasks, timing, costs, roles...)
  • Communicate and share your plan with all involved parties and stakeholders

 2. DO: It is the implementation phase where you
  • Implement the plan
  • Monitor progress and adjust the plan if needed (environment or requirement change, issues...)
  • Communicate status and adjustments  with all involved stakeholders

    3. CHECK: It is the review phase where you
    • Evaluate the results against the initial objectives
    • Evaluate the process i.e. identify what went well and what needs to be improved
    • Communicate the results and share success but also failure factors to avoid making same mistakes
    • Get agreement on the next steps to be taken in the Act phase

    4. ACT: It is the action phase where you
    • Address identified issues by determining their causes and by applying countermeasures. This will be the start of a plan phase of a new cycle.
    • Standardize what is working well and that can be repeated
    • Look if you can improve existing process and standards
    • Communicate decisions, new standards and improvements to be made
    PDCA is shared by many manufacturing companies and especially by Toyota where it is one of the pillars of the “Toyota Way”. PDCA is how Toyota applies Kaizen principle within its organization in all areas – from manufacturing plants to dealerships.

    This process can be applied to any type of initiative – from small to large - and by any type of business function. So why not Web analytics?

    PDCA and Web Analytics
    Web analytics is supposed to be a continuous activity aiming at constantly bringing improvements to your online initiatives and business. Improvements do not have to be “big” ones that occur once in a Web analyst lifetime. Instead it is better to look for small enhancements that - put together - will increase the global results on the long run. That's the principle behind Kaizen applied to Web Analytics.

    The challenge is to implement such principle in practice, to make it something systematic and that can be repeated. I try to achieve this by adapting and applying PDCA in a Web analytics context. This approach has been mentioned in John Lowett’s recent white paper “Building a culture of measurements” (John has very good sources ;-)) but let me give you a bit more information on the approach I am personally using:

    PLAN:  too often we tend to measure too many metrics (the more the better) but not the right ones - mainly because of a lack of preparation. Therefore the plan phase is crucial and it involves the following activities:
    • Understand the business objectives of the online initiative and from there, define the corresponding KPI’s and metrics. For such work, you can use a methodology like the Nokia methodology or Avinash’s Web measurement framework (works very well!)
    • Identify the required data sources & tools (“multiplicity" rules) and ideally set/review targets for each KPI’s
    • Plan not only the measurement implementation but also the checkpoints – already set dates where results will be reviewed and analysed (very important!). Once you get consensus with all stakeholders, communicate your plan, KPI's and plan!

    DO:  In this phase, measurement requirements are analysed and implemented, data is collected, reports are set-up and delivered to the stakeholders. Other key activities in this phase are:
    • Supervise the progress according to the plan, coordinate the different activities between involved parties (business, IT, agencies, vendors...) and adjust plan if needed
    • Keep stakeholders updated on a regular basis.

    CHECK: It’s here that all your efforts will make you move from doing “reporting” to doing “analysis”. You will transform your fancy Excel dashboards (built in the DO phase) into business insights and you will also look at the project execution. So, you will
    • Analyse the results against the objectives & targets and then identify area of improvements and successes.
    • Evaluate the process – identify process issues and recommendations for improvements (i.e. if you have to do it again, what will you change?)
    • Communicate the results  - all the results, good and bad ones!

    ACT: All the previous work makes no sense if it does not lead to actions. You know what needs to be improved so let’s do it.
    • Identify potential root causes and countermeasures (i.e. the actions!!!!)
    • Define an action plan – agree on the issues you will address in the next cycle. You may not address all in one go so focus on issues with biggest impacts and on quick wins...
    • Improve your process where it can be improved, document success stories, lessons learned and share them within the organization
    • Communicate your action plan to the involved parties.
    Go! Take action!

    At the end of the act phase, you have all the input to start a new cycle - i.e. plan you actions, implement them, check them and again, take action...

    The Power of PDCA
    In my opinion the PDCA approach have several key strengths and there is no reason why Web Analytics could not benefit from them.
    1. It is very simple - It is very basic in its principle and it can be adapted to any kind of business and organization, whatever their size.Here's an example in the context of Paid Search.
    2. It is a very powerful approach that has made its proofs – just look at what Toyota achieved.
    3. It is continuous – it doesn’t stop at the end of the last phase but it is an on-going process
    4. It is iterative – you can start with a very basic process, with a simple scope and enrich it at your own pace, according to your maturity, resources... By beginning simply, it will make it more likely to be adopted – less reluctance to change.
    5. It is flexible - it can be applied to small, short projects or big complex ones. A cycle can last a week or be spread over a year. Depending on the complexity, a full cycle may be split in smaller cycles.

    Be on your guard!
    So that's the approach I am using to instill an online analytics culture - maybe it can work for you. Anyway, a good way to get started with your Web analytics process is to see if there is already a well-accepted process in place in your company. If yes, try to adapt it for Web analytics. Reusing an existing process will give you more chances to have it adopted as people will be familiar with the main concepts behind it.

    If there is nothing you can possibly reuse then look for inspiration in proven process, be it PDCA, Six-Sigma or others. But whatever you decide, don't forget that having a process is not a nice-to-have, it's a must.

    Finally, it takes time to have a new process adopted, to change people habits but it can go away very quickly. Bad habits are hard to kill. You will have to be the process guardian, pushing it until it becomes not a process anymore but a way of thinking. If you reach that point then you will have made a huge step towards creating a data-driven decision making culture.

    Sounds very theoretical? Well, in a next post I will illustrate the PDCA approach with some practical examples. In the meantime, I would be really curious to have your feedback on this approach or share your own. What do you think? What process / approach do you use? What are according to you the biggest hurdles in implementing an analytical process? Feel free to leave your comments.

    Related posts & resources

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    WebTrekk Q3 – Web Analytics made in Germany

    Beginning of this year, I decided to change job and to take on new challenges, switching from automotive industry to banking industry, quite a radical change if you asked me. For years, I have been working with WebTrends Analytics. If you have been a regular reader, you know that I was globally quite enthusiastic about that tool – especially since the launch of Web Analytics 9.

    But the new job meant for me discovering and learning to use a new Web analytics tools, a German one that I hardly heard about before, called WebTrekk Q3.

    After few weeks working with the tool and after attending a dedicated training at WebTrekk offices in Berlin (hosted by very nice people), I would like to take the opportunity to share with you my quick "review" about a tool that certainly deserves to be known.

    A Web Analytics tool like all the others?
    At first sight, WebTrekk Q3 looks like most other Web analytics tools that are available on the market.

    Data collection is based on a Javascript-based tag that is very similar to most common solutions. The tag can be customized based on your needs and it is possible to create your own custom parameters – nothing new there.

    On the reporting side, WebTrekk Q3 provides most usual features that any Web analyst expects to find nowadays in a Web analytics tools. These including the usual reports (visitors, visits, pages, sources....), content groups, campaigns, path analysis, workflows, e-commerce, browsers & mobile devices, scorecards & KPI’s, overlays and many others. And because we all have our own specific needs, it is possible to create your own custom metrics, reports and dashboards.

    WebTrekk customer base is mostly composed of German companies in different industries, such as e-commerce (Esprit, Hugo Boss), finance, media and others (GroheBundesliga...).

    WebTrekk offers the possibility between SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) or in-house solutions and it exists in two versions (light and full) – the light one already offering the most important features.

    So what does differentiate WebTrekk from the other players on the market?

    Unleashing the power of segmentation!
    The main differentiator is that WebTrekk Q3 works with “raw” data that is neither sampled, aggregated nor pre-processed. Whenever you access what is called an “analysis” (usually called a report in other tools), the corresponding query is run against the raw data and the corresponding results are calculated on the fly.

    But what makes WebTrekk Q3 really powerful and flexible is its “filter engine” - probably the most important feature of the tool. The filter engine is basically a real-time segmentation engine. It allows you to filter (i.e. segment) any analysis on almost any criteria available in the tool – be it a dimension (e.g. all visits coming from search engines) or a metric value (e.g. all visits with more than 10 page views). The filter is directly applied on all your data set. Data segmentation is retroactive so there is no need of reprocessing your data.

    You can combine multiple criteria in order to build advanced and complex queries. And depending on the objects used in the filter, you can choose different scope (called “context"). For example, if you use a filter on page name, you can filter at page level (e.g. retrieve all pages with name that contains “product”), at visit level (retrieve all pages viewed during visits where product pages were viewed) or visitor levels (all pages viewed by visitors that viewed at least once a product page during any of their visits).

    The filtering engine is not only used for segmenting analysis but also for creating custom metrics and formulas – providing a lot of freedom to create your own advanced metrics. Custom metrics and formulas can be added to any report at any time – here again, no need of reprocessing.

    As said, I have loved working with WebTrends Analytics product but on-the-fly segmentation was the feature I lacked the most in that tool. It is very difficult to do effective segmentation when you have to define in advance the appropriate custom metrics/reports/filter and to reprocess past data to have your segment applied to your historical data. Segmentation is a "dynamic" process and it requires flexibility.

    Now I feel very different and being able to segment in whatever way I want, is really great! Not just for the sake of doing segmentation but for the insights you can get out of it. Yes, the true power of segmentation, finally! :-)

    What else, Georges?
    While it is not possible (yet) to query directly the WebTrekk Q3 datawarehouse using external query client, it is possible to export raw data tables of your choice so you can possibly import these in your own database or system (BI integration anyone?).

    Aside that, there were a few other features that got my attention and that I think worth to be mentioned:
    • Advanced campaign configuration with the ability to configure the attribution model (first, last, both, weighted...) and the possibility to see what are the preceding / following campaigns (for a specific campaign). It is possible to manage look up files or rules so you can “translate” not-so-friendly campaign ID’s into a meaningful hierarchy. And you have all freedom to create all the campaign attributes you need, the way you want.

    • Depth of engagement report is a kind of high-level funnel report where you can define different levels of engagement and see how your site is driving visitors across the different groups. For example, from Homepage to Product View to Add to Cart to Purchase complete. And best is that you can segment such report the way you want to see how different segments performs.
    • Others interesting features include cross tables (allows the combination of two dimensions into a single data table - displayed in a visual way), built in heatmap report (similar as the overlay report but shows click density on top of the webpage), SEA and SEO data integration (Google Adwords API to integrate data from your Adwords account (at additional costs), reports with SEO data such as page rank, search volumes, backlinks for a defined set of pages).
     For a more comprehensive list of WebTrekk Q3 product features, please have a look at their official website.

    On the "down" side...
    All tools on the market have weaknesses, WebTrekk Q3 is not an exception. On the negative side, let’s mention:
    • The user interface: It is not very “sexy” to say the less – especially when you see what competitors are doing. It looks a bit oldish in my opinion. It is not the most user-friendly interface nor always that intuitive. Some basic functions are not always that straightforward or require more clicks than necessary. But it does what it needs to do.

    • The learning curve: WebTrekk Q3 is certainly not “easy” to use for non-expert users. It requires some practices and training to use correctly and to know how to leverage its “power”. This is partly due to the interface but also because it is more complex to "configure" an analysis. But once you get it, it proves to be very powerful and flexibe.

    • Performances: Because it works on raw data and calculates results on the fly, it is slower than what I used to see (in WebTrends or Google Analytics for example) and for complex queries, you will have to wait. This can become tedious when you are creating and testing reports but, it is the price to pay I guess.

    • Mobile apps tracking: It is possible to track mobile websites but when it comes to mobile apps, it is a bit limited at the moment. A SDK is available for iPhone only but WebTrekk is working on SDK’s for other platforms such as Android.

    A tool is just... a tool
    To be honest, I was not so impressed after my “first encounter” with WebTrekk Q3 – especially from a visual point of view. But as I started discovering the tool, I got quite pleased with the possibilities it offers and its flexibility. Considering that WebTrekk is a rather small company compared to the big ones such as Adobe, WebTrends or Google Analytics, they have done more than a pretty decent job there!

    But let’s not forget that a tool is just...a tool. What is important is not the number of features and gadgets that it offers, it is what you are able to do according to your own needs i.e. can it help you answer questions and solve business problems you have? In my case, WebTrekk Q3 seems to be more than enough so far and it complies with some important company requisites that others such as Google Analytics or WebTrends don’t.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that WebTrekk is the super wunderbar Web analytics tool. My point here is to present an interesting tool that I am pleased to work with. It is always good to know what exists on the market. So if you are an European company and if you are looking for a Web analytics tool, have a look at WebTrekk Q3. It may be an interesting alternatives to the traditional players and may fit your needs.

    I hope you found this post interesting. If any of you has some good or bad experience with WebTrekk, I'd like to hear your thoughts and impressions. Or if you have experience with other “less famous” Web analytics tools that deserve to be known, do not hesitate to share your review.

    Related posts & resources:

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Web analyst – the poor lonesome cowboy?

    Last month, the 2nd Web Analytics Camp was held in Lille, France. The principle behind the WA camp is to have informal conferences (or "non-conferences" as the organizers define it) around different topics. By limiting the presentation time, the audience get a chance to participate, to give feedback and to ask questions. This year event was built around two different themes: "innovation in Web analytics" and "the profession of web analyst".

    The idea behind the second track was to have a number of practitioners coming to share their views about their job, their role in the organization, their experience or the challenges they are facing. I had the pleasure to be one of the practitioners together with 4 other web analysts from various sectors and experience (from few months to several years):
    • Marie Cappelaere from Monabanq (Internet banking), "10 good reflexes to have as a Web analyst"
    • Sophie Néron from Boulanger (retail, e-commerce), "10 winning tactics to develop a Web analytics culture in your organization"
    • Olivier Guillaume from Becquet (retail, e-commerce), « My first 5 impressions as a Web analyst"
    • Carole Da Silva - Guillot from Reed Expositions (events organization), "5 successful processes for managing Web analytics in a multiple-sites context”
    On my side, my presentation aimed at giving a quick view of the Web analyst main traits, inspired from the "Web analytics, a new profession?" post I wrote last year in the context of the “A journey into Web analytics”. The idea was to show that working in Web analytics isn’t just about tagging a website, mastering a tool and extracting numbers into an Excel sheet.

    Despite the fact that each presentation and experience were different, several aspects kept coming back creating a feeling of “déjà-vu” for the 5 of us.

    When marketing meets technology
    The first one that made a consensus was that Web analytics requires a strong mix of “technical” and “marketing/business” knowledge. While a Web analyst doesn’t have necessarily to be a Web programmer, it is important to have a good technical knowledge about most common Web technologies and data collection mechanisms. It is crucial to be able to translate business requirements into practical implementation, to know what are the possibilities and limitations. One can’t interpret the data nor guarantee its quality without a good understanding of the Web and data collection methods.

    But you don’t do Web analytics for the sake of technology. Web analytics first serves a business purpose. Therefore, technical skills have to be complemented by a strong knowledge and understanding of the business environment. Context is key - You can’t put in place de right KPI’s and metrics, you can’t put the right meaning without being business-minded. You need to work closely with the business or better, be part of it :-).

    Educate your organization you will
    It is probably a bit cliché but most people imagine that the biggest part of the Web analyst job is to look at figures and create fancy Excel dashboards full of tables, charts and pies. What an exciting job it would be! Because today there is clear lack of understanding about the role of Web analytics and what added value it can bring to organizations, we have to spend a significant part of our time educating people, helping give a business meaning to online data.

    Most people are not familiar with concepts that we use on a daily basis and that may look like a no-brainer for us. Remember the time it took you to get where you are? :-) It is key to invest enough time in explaining things – because if you want business stakeholders to act on your data – they have to trust it. And there can’t be any trust if they don’t understand it.

    Web analytics is not just about...Web
    Many people wrongly think that Web Analytics is limited to the Web area. Web analytics is actually a cross-functional discipline that can benefit other departments – if not the whole organization sometimes. Simply those other business functions ignore it.

    Therefore pro-activity is essential. It is part of our duty as Web analysts to look for opportunities to show the value of online insights. Don’t stay idle waiting for people to come to you. Go evangelize them! And seize opportunities when they arise.

    Sophie Néron from Boulanger gave a very interesting example. In a previous job – working for a French retail company, someone from the Product team wanted to add new licensed products (such as Disney "Cars” or “Hello Kitty” bed sheets for example) to their offer but wanted to know if there was real demand for it. Sophie went to have a look at internal search results to see what kind of licensed products were searched by customers but not present in the current offering. Using this knowledge, her company was able to identify real business opportunities that were successfully added to its product catalogue.

    "Boo hoo hoo, I am all alone!"
    There was one point that I didn’t think about but that instantly made me react when it was first mentioned by Marie from Monabanq: the “loneliness” of the Web analyst.

    The awareness about Web analytics has quite increased here in Belgium and in France – companies are starting to hire Web analysts. But you won’t see that many that have more than one analyst in their staff. So, as a Web analyst, you are often on your own, having to handle a lot of different activities, to face a constantly increasing demand (as you educate people around and as they come to you, asking for help), to find solution to complex problems without anyone to turn to for help. A very, very familiar feeling I must say.

    The danger here  is to get overwhelmed by all the requests – especially “reporting” requests (or data pukes” as Avinash Kaushik calls these) that are not only time-consuming but also lacking added-value. You should concentrate on putting your expertise to good use, where it adds value i.e. “analysis” (if you don't know what qualifies as an "analysis" then check out Avinash's recent post).

    To avoid that, there are two things you should do:
    • Automated what can be automated: Analysis can't be automated but reporting should be. This will free up a LOT of time.
    • Train people on how to get the data they need – make them responsible and self-reliant for such kind of tasks. Note that training and education are two different things.
    Both require an investment in time but it definitely worth it on the long term otherwise you will find yourself entangled in the mass of data requests. Once you get stuck in there, it is damned hard to get out of it.

    No, you are not alone
    But are we, web analysts, that alone? Are we coming home under the sunset like Lucky Luke, the cowboy, singing “I am a poor lonesome analyst...”? :-) No, we are not.

    One great thing in our discipline – that I mentioned in a past post – is our incredible community. There are so many ways to get help today – via Twitter, the Yahoo WA forum, blogs and others. Of course, you can’t ask others to do your data pukes for you but the community is readily available whenever you need advices to tackle problems or to get feedback on analysis questions.

    Informal events like the WA camp or the Web Analytics Wednesdays are also a great antidote against that "loneliness" feeling (it does work!). These are also great opportunities to learn from others, to meet peers who may be helpful later on. Don’t go there just for the free drinks...

    In the end, I am confident that we, all the speakers, uccessfully demonstrated that working in analytics is far from being a dull job – where you just stick your head all day long in figures & excel dashboards, all alone in a dark cave. The questions and feedback we got from the audience supported that impression.

    And you how do you see the profession of Web analyst? Do you feel like a poor lonesome cowboy sometimes? What’s your secret antidote against loneliness?

    I would like to thank you to Nicolas Malo and to the WA Camp organizers for such great event – I look forward for next year edition! Now, I need to go. The sun is setting down and Jolly Jumper, my horse is waiting for me. Cheers!

    (Check here for the Lucky Lucke "Poor lonesome cowboy" theme :-))

    Related posts & resources:

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Time for a change!

    6 years & half ago, I joined Toyota Motor Europe headquaters to work as a IT Business analyst for Web related projects. At that time, I had never heard about a strange discipline called Web Analytics. Less than two months later, I was assigned to be responsible of the Webtrends platform that the company was insourcing and I took my first Webtrends training. That was a start of a new and unexepected career path.

    I discovered what would become not just a job but a real passion. Over those years, I had the opportunity to work on extraordinary projects, in many different areas (e.g. web analytics, mobile, social media monitoring…) with fantastic people. I did my best to make my company more data driven (for the online area), day after day. I shared my passion whenever I could – teaching the value of online analytics to people across the organization (but also at agencies) and helping them to do a better job. Developing Web analytics practices was quite challenging – often a constant fight – but all together we brought some positive changes (that’s what I like to believe).

    But time has come for a change…

    Keeping the flame alive
    Passion in my work is for me a crucial factor. It is important to wake up every morning with the feeling that what you do can make a difference – even if a small one, even if it takes time. If this feeling disappears then it is time to go looking for something new. We only live once - no time to waste.

    For years, I felt like David fighting Goliath – no matter how small you feel, what you do is changing the world around you. But for different reasons, things changed and I started feeling like Don Quichotte – fighting windmills, feeling that whatever I do, no matter how hard I try, there are things I can’t change , that I can’t control.

    Passion to Perform!
    Fantastic opportunities arose and I decided to seize a new challenge. I will continue working on the practitioner side – with the opportunity to act at a more strategic level. A challenge where I believe I can leverage my expertise and - more important -  keep developing it, discovering new areas.

    I will move to the business side  - joining the e-marketing department – so no more IT for me ;). I will work more on a national scope but on a multi-channel context with the ability to go deeper, to work closer to the ‘action’.

    It will mean no more Webtrends for me (sorry guys) so new tools to discover including customer intelligence tools! Woohoo! :) It will be in a different industry – still I will continue keeping an eye on the automotive industry.

    It was not an easy decision as I liked very much work in the automotive, with such great people and projects but I  know I took the right decision - based not only on "facts" but also my "gut" feelings (both are important).

    Anyway, I will certainly tell you more about my new role and challenges in coming weeks (by the way, there is a small hint in this post regarding where I will work).

    In the meantime, I invite you to read my last interview (as working in automotive industry) on Emer Kirrane’s blog in the context of her great Silly series. Worth reading (the full series - not just my profile)! Or you can come and meet me at the 2nd Web Analytics Camp in Lille, France (site is in French) on the 18th of March 2011.

    I would like to finish this post by thanking everyone I worked with, from Toyota Motor Europe headquarters but also from Toyota national companies, agencies, partners & vendors. I am really grateful to all of you - it was pleasure working with you and you gave me the fantastic opportunities to learn and evolve. Thank you!


    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    My Web Analytics Top 5 – 2010

    First of all, let me wish you all an Happy New Year 2011 (better late than never). As it is the tradition when a new year starts, I want to do like previous years and to share with you some personal thoughts about the top 5 things related to Web Analytics that played an important role in my work or that I would remember from 2010.

    So, here we go…

    1. The challenges of Social Media Monitoring
    Dell Social media monitoring center - so cool!
    In 2009, I made my first steps in the world of social media monitoring, getting my hands on some tools.

    In 2010, I pushed further in this area. I had the chance to see and even test some of the best tools on the markets including Radian 6 (again), Synthesio, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, Vocus, Dow Jones Insight, Attentio and others.  Selecting the right tools is far from being easy especially when you need to meet the requirements of large set of different stakeholders. The perfect tool doesn’t exist yet - one needs to find the one that match most closely the organization needs.

    Based on my first experience, I would say the some of the key challenges are:
    • Defining clear requirements & goals while remaining down-to-earth. I think many organizations have far too high (and unrealistic) expectations.
    • Resources, expertise & organisation: tools are just… tools. They just collect data – still you need to have the resources (i.e. people), the expertise and the right organisation (including processes) to turn all this data into insights. This aspect is often underestimated (like in Web Analytics). Without these keys elements, your project will deliver nothing valuable and it will be just a waste of money and time.
    • Data quality – most vendors like to tell you how many zillions of blogs, tweets and posts they track. But most organizations are only interested a tiny portion. This usually leads to lot of “noise” getting collected - making it difficult to find the important information. If setting-up of social media monitoring tool is easy, getting quality data is not. And that’s where you see big differences between tools

    Social monitoring is a very interesting area but quite difficult and challenging. I will certainly continue working in this area in 2011, developing further my expertise and knowledge.

    2. My first experience in Mobile Web Analytics
    If you have attended a online marketing or web analytics conference over the past year, it is very likely that you have heard the word “social media” and “mobile” a lot :-). For sure, mobile is the other “hype” thing around. I didn’t escape it as the company where I work launched its first mobile sites in 2010 and I was really happy to do my first steps in mobile analytics – another exciting and promising area to be honest.

    Mobile analytics pose its own specific challenges as I detailed in my first post on that topic. In spite of these challenges and limitations, mobile analytics can be highly valuable if put to good use as I demonstrated in my last post of 2010.

    I must admit I only did the “basics” in that area - I can’t wait to get my first experience on mobile apps tracking but I am pretty sure that wish will be fulfilled soon.

    3.  My first steps using VOC surveys
    "Voice Of Customer" (VOC) tools like online surveys are key tools but still under-used. They allow you collecting extremely valuable insights: the customer perspective and opinion about your online services. By listening to your customer using such tools, you can collect qualitative information that common “clickstream” web analytics tools can not. Why trying to guess why people came to visit your site and how they feel about it based on clickstream data? Simply ask (some of) them?

    In 2009, my blog served me as an experiment field to test some VOC survey tools like 4Q-survey and to learn how these can be used to bring value to the organization where I work. Next step was to convince stakeholders but finally, I got there. In 2010  we ran some first real-life convincing tests before implementing our own framework that integrates both qualitative and quantitative data - the ultimate combo!

    Now it is time to leverage this incredible source of customer insights. I can't wait to see it happening!

    4. Webtrends (continued) renaissance
    If you have read this blog last year, you may remember how enthusiastic I was when Webtrends finally released the software version of Analytics v9 and how I enjoyed attending my first Webtrends Engage conference in London.

    I listed Webtrends not just for its Analytics product. Actually, I have been really impressed by its global strategy and product evolution. I remember that two years ago many in the Web analytics community were predicting the end of Webtrends. Look at what they did since then! Webtrends took a new marketing approach, it improved its existing offering ant it expanded it with new services and products such as mobile analytics, Facebook analytics, Optimize and Apps. And there is more to come in 2011.

    Webtrends has an interesting and ambitious vision – aiming at offering the ultimate Web “Wide” analytics platform. Aside that, Webtrends continued to put a lot of efforts in developing a strong community among its fans and customers base. The success of events like the Engage conference or the brand new forum launched in 2010 are good examples. Keep it up with the good work!

    I hoped to get my hands on Webtrends Analytics 9 before end of 2010 - unfortunately it didn't happen but my analyst wish is about to come true. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Side note: According to many experts in the Web Analytics industry, Webtrends will be bought out in 2011. The question seems not to be when but by what company. Time to bet!

    5.  IBM acquiring Unica and Coremetrics

    Aside Webtrends, the other company that got my interest in 2010 is IBM. In a few months, IBM acquired two key players of the Web Analytics landscape: Unica and Coremetrics. If you were having doubts about the “seriousness” and future of Web analytics in the enterprise world then IBM move is the evidence that should make you change your mind.

    I am convinced that Web analytics "destiny" is to become a "sub-area" of business intelligence. IBM acquisitions may take our industry to next level and it will worth keeping an eye on IBM. Future will tell…

    That’s it – my Web analytics top 5 for 2010.

    Me, my blog & I
    I would like to close this year review with some quick words about my blog. I has been another great year for me, I had lot of pleasure in writing posts, getting interesting comments and seeing my blog audience growing up (more than +25% vs. last year). From the deepest of my heart, I thank all of you who took the time reading my thoughts and articles on Web analytics.

    In case you wonder, the top 5 posts (in term of visits) from 2010 are:
    1. Build your free competitor monitoring dashboard with iGoogle
    2. Measuring the impact of offline events with Google Insights for Search
    3. Mobile Analytics: vertical-specific vs. traditional Web Analytics solutions
    4. A SEO KPI: Organic Clickthrough Rate
    5. A journey into Web Analytics (Part I): The Value of Web Analytics
    Personally, I had also a lot of fun in writing the “A journey into Web Analytics” series. I sincerely appreciated the feedback I received and I was honored to see part of the series being translated in Polish (on Conversion Blog) and Spanish (on Guseimetrix blog).

    The disappointment I had regarding 2010 is that I could not spend the time I wanted on this blog. While the audience has being growing, I have not been able to post as much as I want - as reflected in the decreasing number of posts (a poor 1.5 post/month!!!! Oh, that's bad).  I would like to say it will change in 2011 but I am afraid it will not happen soon as this year promises to be even busier with new exciting projects and challenges ahead. But I will do my best to keep this blog running and to continue offering you quality content.

    Again, Thanks to all of you for reading my blog and I wish you all the best for 2011!

    And you what were your prefered blog posts from Kaizen Analytics? What’s your Web Analytics top 5 for 2010? What would you remember from last year? Please tell me, I am really curious to hear.
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