National Public Radio had a long running show called This I Believe.
In it a person shares their private philosophy. Each story is extremely inspiring and I am a huge fan of the show.
I wish I had something personal that was insightful enough to share. I don't.
But I had the program This I Believe on my mind when last year I was asked to write something for the Korean version of my book, Web Analytics: An Hour A Day.
Here's my little professional manifesto of a few things I believe….
I have to admit that I love the web. Love, love, love.
It's quite simple really, in our humble history there are few things that have transformed human beings in the way that web has. And to think that it is still just a baby.
I am amazed at how it has democratized access to information, it has allowed the little guys compete with the big guys, it has created opportunities for people and businesses where none existed.
The web also provides a unique and wonderful opportunity to understand our customers (visitors to our websites), to learn from their actual behavior and transform how we do business, to achieve the near impossible: improve satisfaction and revenues!
Here are five things I believe in when it comes to achieving success with web data:
1. I believe in the power of people (your employees), not tools.
I have a 10/90 rule . If your budget is $100 then spend $10 on tools and professional services to implement them, and spend $90 on hiring people to analyze data you collect on your website.
The web is quite complex, you are going to access multiple sources of data, you are going to have to do a lot of leg work. Blood, sweat and tears. You don't just need tools for that (remember 85% of the data you get from any tool, free or paid is essentially the same). You need people!
Hire the best people you can find, tools will never be a limitation for them.
Most "Analysts" and Marketers think that their job is to simply churn reports out and drop them over the fence and that's enough to create data driven cultures.
Reporting is the act of providing data. Analysis is the act of providing actionable information.
No company will succeed by having a army of report writers, they will succeed by having a small group of "Analysis Ninja's " who transform data into information.
If you get just data, reject it and reject the person who gave it to you.
3. I believe in not just understanding the What, but also understanding the Why.
I am a Mechanical Engineer who has a MBA. Put another way I am a quantitative person.
It was tough for me to realize that all the quantitative data that we have access to can only help us understand the "What" on our websites. What happened, what pages were seen, what products did people buy, what pages did they leave from, what campaigns they came on etc etc etc.
But no matter how hard we tried all that data is not very good at understanding the "Why". Why did people click in the order that they did, whey did they abandon the cart, why did they buy from our website when we don't give discounts, why did they all leave from this page and on and on and on.
The above lead me to creating the Web Analytics 2.0 strategy, at the center of which is the desire to be smarter than we have ever been before.
It demands a lot of you because you deserve a lot more than you have today.
4. I believe that God created the Internet so we could fail faster.
In the offline world it is very expensive to experiment and test, the cost of failure is very high. As a result we don't take risks. We keep doing what we think "works", until the day we go bankrupt.
The web changes that.
You can take dramatic risks, at very low costs and learn big. Your website is nothing but a machine built to make you smart by taking lots of risks.
Why should you tolerate ideas getting killed on conference room tables or by your HiPPO's?
Why accept opinions when you can convert them into hypothesis and get them validated for cheap and quickly?
Why not let your customers actively be a part of helping you create customer experiences that deliver value to them AND to you?
The cost of taking risk on the web is low. You can try a idea. As soon as it is live data starts following it. If the idea is a total loser then kill it fast, does not have to cost you a ton of money. What is more likely is that you will find winners that you had never imagined.
Give it a try. Fail faster.
5. I believe that Web Analytics is complex, but it is also very sexy and hugely rewarding.
Nothing in life is easy. Everything takes some time to learn, some effort from your end, some investment in time. The same is true about Web Analytics.
But you'll be astonished how much progress you can make in just a few hours if you put your mind to it. Don't be scared of data, don't buy into people who try to scare you by telling you how hard it all is.
Don't believe me? Read the primer on web Analytics, it can jump start the process of changing your life – in three and a half hours!!
It is such a high when you dive into unraveling the mystery of data, discover yummy insights and to fix customer problems – helping people you have never met, helping make their lives just a little bit easier.
Start fast. Start today. Don't stop.
Five simple things I believe in, things that I hope will help ignite your own love affair with web analytics. It will be an exciting relationship, just like the one you have with your spouse or partner or boy/girl friend – every evolving with never a boring moment.
Good luck and god speed.
So what do you believe in ? Please share one thing, or five.