Last week I had the distinct pleasure of doing a interview with Alan Rimm-Kaufman of the Rimm-Kaufman Group. It was a wide ranging interview that covered insights analytics can provide with a focus on retailers, the 10/90 rule, multivariate testing, my lessons from blogging and more.
Life has been a bit rushed for me recently and with all that I forgot to answer one very interesting question that Alan had asked. Since I have a few minutes now I thought that I'll answer the question now.
Alan asked for my thoughts on how a full-time web analytics person should spend their working week in order to maximize their opportunities for massive success both for themselves and their company.
My answer is below, preceding that is some context about the 80/20 rule for reporting (that I had first mentioned at the emetrics summit a couple years back). The 80/20 rule for Analysts is a perfect lead into to the next question, as you’ll see…….
ALAN: You've also suggested a 80/20 rule for reporting: analysts should spend 80% of their time doing analysis and only 20% reporting. How much data should a good web analytics dashboard be? How many key metrics should an online retailer track to understand their site? And which ones?
The stress on analysis is because with reporting all you are doing is throwing data out there, usually highly aggregated or deeply detailed, both good exercises to flex data flow muscles but rarely would they make you the lean mean fighting machine that you want to be. Analysis is the art of probing data, of discovering trends, digging beneath the surface, marrying the improbables and in the end finding insights. That’s how you make money.
Take any organization with remote success with analytics, none of them got there by having robust reporting programs. They got there by the sheer courage, hard work of solid analysts who took time to dig and probe and recommend.
I think I am on the record on the blog saying that you should only have eight to ten metrics on a dashboard, that you should be able to print it on one page, in eleven size font or greater. For more please see the post: Six rules for actionable dashboards.
There is no pat answer how many metrics each retailer should track. It depends. That’s not a cop out, rather it is a reflection at how there is little in common in any business.
Two retailers, say Best Buy and Circuit City, can have radically different strategies to leverage the web and their analytics strategy will have to fit around their unique web strategy. For example Circuit City will give you a $24 gift card if your online order is not ready for you to pick up in the store in 24 minutes. Best Buy will do no such thing. Tiny example of how your web analytics will be different in each case.
Ok there are some metrics I love and adore that everyone should measure. On the web we all do a very poor job of understanding the customer needs and wants and thus their experience on our sites.
ClickStream data is pretty sub optimal at representing customer experience, so using qualitative methodologies I am a fan of measuring Customer Satisfaction (“were you satisfied with your experience on our site today”), Primary Purpose (“why are you here today”) and Task Completion Rate (“were you able to complete the task today”).
Measure those three using Surveys on your site, you can do Site visits with your customers, you can do remote usability studies. You will find them to be a great complement to your web analytics clickstream data.
ALAN: Let's imagine a hypothetical full-time web analytics person working for a major online retailer. Best case scenario, in a typical work week, what activities would he or she be doing, and roughly how much time would he or she be spending on each?
If it is a major online retailer the first thing I would recommend is that they also hire a young person, perhaps a intern, to take over the reporting responsibilities (or pay someone at your Vendor / Consultant to do it). It is important to realize that this is the first step.
In any large organization you can’t get away from reporting demands from lots of folks (as in “our department needs these three reports every two days” or “we have to publish these standard metrics company wide” and so on). Your chances of massive success are low with just reporting and so please don’t expect your Analyst to do reporting and for that to in turn to bottom-line impacting results.
A fresh person out of school should cost you a lot less than your Analyst, and they, Mr. or Ms. Fresh, will work enthusiastically on reporting (and all the while get great training on becoming a true Analyst).
So if you are a Analyst then here is what I recommend you start with (customize for your organization as you see fit):
• 20% Reporting – Sorry you can’t escape this, you are still going to do reporting. But on the bright side it is a great way to keep in touch with reality.
• 20% Analyze Acquisition Strategies – What is your company doing to attract traffic to your website? SEM? Affiliate Marketing? Banners? Email Marketing? What else?
There is no faster way to win the hearts and souls of your company stake holders than helping them understand how their efforts are performing.
Focus your analysis on Outcomes (revenue?) that your company desires and you’ll do fine.
• 20% Understanding On-site Customer Experience – Using a mix of ClickStream and qualitative methodologies analyze what the customer experience is on your website. Really. Not what you think it is, not what your company wants it to be. But what it is in reality.
There is no better way to make money then this (and you’ll get happy customers as a bonus).
• 20% Staying Plugged into the Context – Most Analysts suffer because of a lack of context. They are put away in a corner with Omniture or WebTrends or HBX or Google Analytics and expected to produce earth shattering insights.
We need to have our Analyst use 20% of their time simply to stay plugged into what else is going on, in the marketing organization, on the websites in terms of operational changes, with senior management (anyone higher then their boss) to know what their strategic pain points are (then imagine how web data can solve them), with the phone or retail (big box) channels, etc.
Web analysis is not a silo and the analysts needs to be plugged into the context so that they can look at the right data, better and provide relevant insights (that they can’t possibly provide when locked in their ivory tower (!!).
• 10% Explore New Strategic Options – I don’t know where your company is but you always want to move the ball forward, this chunk of time should be spent in experimenting with new and different ways to move your program forward.
Think testing, competitive intelligence analysis, multi channel integration, usability etc. If you really are a one man band this is really hard to do (especially with 10% of your time) but think of tiny ways in which you can show that web analytics is not just about ClickStream, it is about creating better customer experiences and it is about creating a strategic advantage using data.
• 10% Bathroom breaks , oh and lunch! I am generous aren’t I. : )
I realize that each company is unique and each Analyst is unique, but I hope that the above picture provides a semblance of universal guidance for anyone how has the word Analyst in their title. Do a quick back of the envelope of how you spend your day/week and compare it to the picture above. What do you find?
Bonus reading material: Top Ten: Signs You Are A Great Analyst.
What do you all think? Am I being reasonable with how Web Analysts should spend their time? Is 20% too much time for staying plugged into gleaning the context? Not enough? What about the 80/20 rule for reporting success? Please share your thoughts and critique via comments.
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