Reality: A small fraction of people who can benefit from data actually use it.
This is especially true for the world of web analytics.
I realize as we swim around our fish bowl this seems hard to believe. :)
But it is very true.
Sure one problem is that many Fortune xxx companies don't even have a web analytics solution or, worse, are paying z millions for it and using it to report page views.
Either little or quite sub optimal use. And that's a shame because you can get a lot lot lot more from the web analytics tool.
So why are we in this sad state?
In talking to many Marketers and Sales folks and Website Owners and "Management" it becomes clear that much of the hype about web analytics being like climbing to Mount Everest or being useless or messy or full of "dirty data" has sunk in quite deep. [Tears rolling here.]
Or "web analytics" auto translates into people's minds as "counting hits". [Uncontrollable sobbing by me at this point!]
People would rather pull off a finger nail than learn how to leverage their website data. [Large clumps of hair pulled out, to clean the aforementioned tears!!]
This is all soo sad because the reality is that. . . .
Web Analytics is like Angelina Jolie: It's sexy, it kicks butt, and is a goodwill ambassador!!
We believe it, but how do we get to a point where others in the organization do as well?
Step One for each and everyone of us (and you are unique and abnormal in that you read a web analytics blog!) is to accept and recognize the fact that Web Analytics might be having a lot less impact than it should. Once you accept then you can move on and do something about it.
Step Two is to realize it is a challenge to win a Olympic medal in swimming, but that should not scare you from trying to learn to swim and get pretty good at it. There is a shallow end of the pool where it is easy to get started and get better over time. Nothing wrong with wanting to compete at the Beijing Olympics of course, just make sure upfront that that is what you are shooting for with your effort: one massive payoff after a lifetime of investing.
Step Three is to try and get everyone in your organization just a bit more excited about using data, make it more appealing than pulling off finger nails. Maybe even attempt to convert them into Raving Data Lunatics (people who will do anything to get their hands on data before making their next decision!).
A reader's email started this whole train of thought:
I'm going to try to convince decision makers within my company that they should start incorporating web analytics in their everyday work. However, these people have more than enough on their table and adding another task on their todo list is easier said than done, to say the least.
My question is: Have you run in to this before and do you have any good tips on how to approach these people in order to make them all fired up for the task and adding it to their todo list without hesitation?
See yourself reflected in this reader's email? I am sure we all find ourselves in that situation from time to time.
Go do Step One and Step Two first, then here's how to do Step Three. . . .
# 1: Do Something Surprising: Don't Puke Data Out.
You are undeniably smart. When we get a new job or interact with a new team or get our first web analytics tool installed our first tendency is to impress the Marketers and Decision Makers with the quantity of data we have.
We proceed to puke data out.
Reports go out. The adventurous amongst you might even export into excel and proceed to send 16 tab spreadsheets with every conceivable number anyone could want, along with the directions to heaven.
Try to resist.
That is what they expect, by now, and they are wary of data pukes.
Give them a gift, a gift of an answer.
Go have a conversation with someone who wants to talk to you and listen. Ask these questions:
"Please tell me a little bit about your job?"
"What aspects of your life / job touch our website?"
"What's one question you wish you could get answered about our website, or what's one thing you could learn from our website Visitors?"
Now go back and answer that one solitary question. Don't send a report back. Call them and tell them the answer. They'll be hooked after you do this once or twice.
Now teach them to fish (metaphorically of course).
Remember you can't convince people by puking data out, you can't expect that "they'll figure it out", and repeating things sixteen times or moping about how "they don't get it " does not work.
Smile, go have a conversation and go back with a answer. How is it possible that that won't work? You are so pretty!
# 2: Start With Outcomes / Measuring Impact, Not Visits.
Just open any web analytics tool and you'll notice that Visits and Visitors and Time on Site and Repeat Visits and Pages and other such stuff stares at you.
Go ahead try it, I'll wait here. Check out any one you like: Google Analytics or Omniture or WebTrends or CoreMetrics or the one your brother-in-law just invented (the one that proactively sends a small electric shock to Visitors who abandon shopping carts on your website).
And like duty bound people that we are we rush that out of the door. We try to explain cookies and time on site and exits to our Decision Makers.
You might as well be taking Japanese (unless you in Japan, in that case you might as well be talking Hindi).
When you start make sure you start by showing how wonderful Web Analytics is at measuring Outcomes, the reason for your website's existence.
Show them how much money your website is making. Show them how many leads you got. Show them Macro and Micro Conversions. Show them how the site is solving for driving traffic to your retail stores, or movie theaters.
All those things they get! And they'll be hooked.
Then they'll ask:
Angie, where do these people come from?
Jennifer, how come that is only $14 million, what about all the great persuasive content we have?
Maya, is this right, only 15 people out of 20 million checked out our store locator, why do you think it is (because the link is invisible!)?
Michelle, so you are telling me our pathetic website is generating more leads than all our sales people combined?
See what I am saying?
They will ask you for "traditional web analytics " data, but if you start there they will have very little appreciation for why it is important to listen to you. What's your hook? Not the purple shirt and pretty jeans you are wearing today. Its Outcomes and Impact.
Go back to wearing kakhi's, and give them the addictive stuff.
Or to put it in Bill Clinton's famous phrase: It's the outcomes stupid .
# 3: Create Heroes & Role Models (and no, not yourself, put your red cape back).
It is really hard to convert the entire organization, and it does not matter if you have 50 people or 20,000. And here is the other troubling factor: why should they all, at the same time, listen to you? And do you even think you can excite everyone all at the same time with something generic? And. . . . I can go on about the reasons.
Find someone receptive to your advances (and I don't mean in that way). Find a willing partner, find someone with low hanging fruit or with a willingness to listen to you or someone who will atleast let you tag the site right or someone who is spending a lot of money or someone with a small site or. . . . you catch my drift.
Now put your heart and soul and all your skills as a Analysis Ninja in finding them actionable insights. Live and breath their business (ps: this is always a good idea). Make the Decision Maker a absolute hero from data driven decision making.
Here is the amazing piece of human psychology: Heroes rarely want to stay in their cubicle farm / corner office and be happy. They want to fly around (in your red cape no less!) and talk about their heroism. They want to share (/brag).
Let them tell your data story. Let them excite their peers. Let them show how they did it.
And here is the amazing thing: You still come out on top.
The other Decision Makers / Marketers will, again human psychology, get jealous and will want to themselves become heroes (or get a higher bonus as well). They will ask the original hero how she/he got so smart. Guess where all the roads will point: You my dear.
Go ahead sit down on your gray chair and smile a evil smile, and don't forget to stroke that white cat as you smile! :)
Ok so that is me just teasing you a bit, but you can never go wrong by creating evangelists for the impact data can have on a business. Create those evangelists, make them heroes, let them sell.
You just go find a gray chair and look for a white cat! Ok ok I'll stop now!!
# 4: Web Analytics 2.0 Baby! Use Your Customers & Competitors.
HiPPO's might not listen to you. Marketers will be full of themselves. Even your boss won't really pay attention to you.
Here is the dirty little secret: You have two powerful weapons – your Customers & Competitors!
I have consistently found that few HiPPO's or Marketers or Decision Makers will argue with your Customers, and hence customer insights. You can tell them all you want that dancing monkeys on the home page don't work. But give them that same feedback from 4Q (a free survey – checkout the improved invitation ) and bam the dancing monkeys are gone!
So use this power.
Figure out what your best customer listening channels might be (oh and clickstream is not a direct customer listening channel, I call it Behavior analysis, here I am recommending Experience analysis – more: Trinity Strategy ).
The other great strategy is to build excitement by using competitor metrics (say using something like compete.com or hitwise.com or other sources – say customer satisfaction survey indices).
No one wants to look bad in comparison to their competitors and everyone wants to beat them with ever more consistency! Leverage this!
Present analysis about share of search or media mix modeling or upstream and downstream traffic or task completion or other such things.
Don't you think Marketers at DHL will be so much more happier with the above graph ("oh what are we doing so well!") and ones at FedEx and UPS will want to know how to get better.
Problem of excitement solved!
# 5: If You Want Excitement, Make It Fun!
Ok ok so perhaps not everyone thinks Analytics is Angelina Jolie. (Boy that was hard to say!) But have you tried to make it Sexy and Fun?
(Oh I totally forgot to ask you: Have you drunk the Kool-Aid? Forget almost all of the above if you are not convinced that Analytics is Angelina Jolie. Nothing harder than trying to convince people of something you don't believe in.)
There are so many small and big things you can do to make Web Analytics fun.
Do #2 on this list first, it is always extremely sexy and in fashion to make money / improve conversions / measure multichannel impact. But try some of these other things as well. . . .
The first time we ran a multivariate test we wanted everyone excited (and learn some statistics) and so I had a contest. $1 to get in and the challenge was to guess by how much conversion rate would improve from that first test.
Oh boy everyone wanted a piece of it. We had 25 dollars I think before the test started. Guesses were all over the place, 5% and 20% and 9% and …. As soon as the test was live they were all checking the Offermatica results (and I had explain statistical significance!) and asking why B was not winning or D or whatever they were rooting for.
It was a hoot. And they learned about testing and a very valuable lesson: That to have huge impact on conversions you need to create versions that are very different. You see the conversion in that test only went up by 0.75%.
The winner had guessed .65% (and was laughed at before the test started because it was such a low number). I was the winner. And I put the $25 to buy cookies for the office. :)
Do such stuff. Have a quarterly contest to the person who figures out the most useless metric on your "golden blessed dashboard". Or the Marketer that figures out the most creative use of VOC. Or the department that logs the most actions taken. Or . . . . you are more creative than I'll ever be.
People love to play, and they love to win. Tap into that.
Hold Internal "Conferences".
Why is it that you need to go out to learn and share? Why not hold a half day "conference" in your own company every quarter where Marketers come and show off their key learnings to everyone else?
Find the biggest conference room you can find (or book a conference room at a nearby hotel), mike them up, have them do presentations, let them teach.
People will learn from each other, but it is also exciting (and a honor) to stand up and present and teach. Oh don't forget to invite their bosses.
If you want to go all out, print shirts (you can get them for as little as 15 bucks!) or, this works really well, hand out a plaque to the presenters (something they can proudly display on their desk, trust them they will – right Jeff? :).
Notice you also just made someone a hero.
Hold Office Hours.
We often live in our caves (with our Angelina Jolie posters!). All requests have to come in via the ticketing system, it will be "prioritized", Excel goes out.
Each week set aside half a day where anyone can come and ask you (/your team) any question they want. About a existing report or for some ad hoc analysis or for how to access / interpret report. This is not so much fun as much as you'll become more accessible and people will know that when they want to learn you are there.
Or have a scheduled hour where you invite Marketers / Decision Makers and have them shout out questions and you show them live with ClickTracks or IndexTools or AdCenter Analytics how you can answers their questions on the spot!
Fun is your friend.
End of the story. . . .
Web Analytics is exciting. It can be a amazing high when you figure out a new way to analyze the data, or answer a real business problem. Sometimes you answer a particularly tough Marketing problem and then Web Analytics can even be a orgasmic experience.
But you need to think different.
Try the above tips, and I wish you all the very best in exciting your organization (big or small).
Ok now your turn. Would you care to share some of your insights? Big or small? What has worked for you? Please share your own strategies and success stories. Thank you.
Couple other related posts you might find interesting:
- Six Rules For Creating A Data Driven Boss!
- Seven Steps to Creating a Data Driven Decision Making Culture
- Convert Data Skeptics: Document, Educate & Pick Your Poison
- Competitive Intelligence Analysis: Metrics, Tips & Best Practices
- Five Free “Advanced” Web Analytics Examples: Look Outside, Think Different
- Multiplicity: Succeed Awesomely At Web Analytics 2.0!