10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace 'Em & Win Big

aclusterThere are more mistruths and F U D about Web analytics out there than I think is reasonable.

Part of it fueled by Vendors. What a competitive bunch!

Part of it fueled by some Consultants. I suppose the rational is: self preservation before all else.

Part of it is fueled by a vocal minority genuinely upset that 10 years on we are still not a statistically powered bunch doing complicated analysis that is shifting paradigms. They generally feel it is beneath them to use a standard tool, they push a utopian world that is hard for anyone to accomplish, including themselves, even after spending a minor fortune.

This is sad. Even a little frustrating.

My problem with these mistruths and FUD is that they result in a ton of practitioners and companies making profoundly sub optimal choices, which in turn results in not just much longer slogs but also spectacular career implosions and the entire web analytics industry suffering.

Let's try to change that. If you agree to help I am confident we can accomplish a lot.

Web Analytics, this beautiful child, was born just the other day in the midst of tumultuous times, quite literally, when everything changes every day. This constant evolution means that every time it learns how to do something the world changes around her and then it is on to learning the new things to stay relevant.

It has simply not had a break to catch a breath and mature.

And I doubt it is going to happen soon. The web is changing too fast. Too many new things are happening too fast and those of us charged with measuring it have to change the wheels while the bicycle is moving at 30 miles per hour (and this bicycle will become a car before we know it – all while it keeps moving, ever faster).

Yet. Yet. Yet, yet, yet, yet…. there is so much we can do.

Now.

This instant.

We can make use of what we have. Javascript tag driven click data processed in the cloud provided through a web based front end that allows you to segment and create meaningful views of the data unique to you.

ninja 1Even with the tools we have, in the state we have them, we can be smart. In fact smarter than you would be through any other channel on the planet!

Don't fall for the FUD. See through the mistruths. Don't go down rabbit holes.

The opportunity is too big for you to be distracted.

In this blog post let me share with you some ground truths from my own humble experience. It's a bit of black and white in a world that admitted has lots of gray.

My hope is that it inspires you. That it helps you focus your precious time and resources. That it results in you making fewer mistakes.

Finally, that it helps you go kick some bottay!

Here are ten web analytics ground truths….

1. If you have more than one clickstream tool, you are going to fail.

Strong words!

It is perfectly ok to date as many people as you want. It is ok to put them in tough situations (just introduce her/him to your parents!). It is ok to go all the way and see if things click.

Once you make up your mind and get married, practice monogamy. Bigamy is vastly overrated.

Here are some reasons:

    ~ It is really really hard to make sure you have implemented one tool correctly. Not just javascript tags but the ecommerce customizations, the custom variables / sprops / evars, the unique campaign tags required by each tool (for search and affiliate and email marketing etc), the internal site search configuration, the insane javascript tag updates just to make the darn segmentation work (except in some like Google and Yahoo Analytics), the… I could keep going.

    You'll be hard pressed to do one right, doing two is like asking for King Kong to slap you. Repeatedly.

    ~ It is really hard to get a organization to use one set of numbers (and remember they are not going to be clean or complete, no matter what you do). Why do you think introducing a completely different set of numbers is going to make your life easier?

    Having two tools guarantees you are going to be data collection, data processing and data reconciliation organization. Why? Because every tool uses its own sweet metrics definitions, cookie rules, session start and end rules and so much more.

    You'll have no time for data analysis, certainly not for data actioning.

    ~ It is a bit silly to believe you can use one tool for purpose x (say search analysis) and another for purpose y (say everything else).

    When it comes to proving which campaigns are better and which numbers to report to the management what will you do? How will you make sure you are in every meeting where people bitch and fight about getting credit?

There is nothing magical about they way clickstream data gets collected by any tool. They are all 95% the same.

Date around, find the one you love, marry it, stick with it.

If nothing else convinces you, remember that clickstream data is a small part of the data you'll use to make smart Web Analytics 2.0 decisions. For big success you'll need to have a Multiplicity strategy:

multiplicity updated sm

So when you step back and realize at the minimum you'll also have to use one Voice of Customer tool (for qualitative analysis), one Experimentation tool and (if you want to be great) one Competitive Intelligence tool…. do you still want to have two clickstream tools?

Likely not.

2. Omniture cannot save you. Only you can save yourself.

There is a absurd belief that if you buy a paid web analytics tool that you'll bathe in milk and honey and magically insights will be delivered.

Paid web analytics tool come with clickstream analysis tools that are hobbled on two counts:

    1. They come with legacy problems in their code and architecture that make it nearly impossible for you to do anything fast, or even do simple things like on the fly advanced segmentation – you constantly need to change the code and know everything you want to analyze up front.

    2. They will never be as powerful as Yahoo! Web Analytics or Google Analytics because otherwise Paid Vendors could not upsell you to, in case of Omniture toDiscover2 and Insight. In case of WebTrends replace those terms with Marketing Intelligence / Visitor Data Mart etc. In case of Coremetrics….. well you know.

This means when you buy a paid web analytics tool you'll be hobbled until you buy the versions of the product that actually do the job you want (and more).

Now if you decide that you don't want hobbled clickstream tools but would rather buy the complete suite on day one this is what you buy:

A 18 month implementation schedule and a 12 month process of redoing things (life changed in 18 months) and no money for Analysts (you sent have $3 mil to your analytics vendor by now) and you the lone ranger have in two and half years barely managed to deliver improvements to reduce bounce rates for top email campaigns.

Was that what you set out to buy?

all the data you ever wanted just no insights

Know what you are buying. Not insights, as alluring as they sound. You are buying implementation with a possible future promise of some actionable data three years down the road.

Ready to use Google or Yahoo! Analytics today to make 85% of the decisions you need to make after 3 weeks of implementation?

If you are just starting your analytics journey does it not sound reasonable?

Let's flip the coin.

You already have the paid analytics software combos mentioned above.

It is just as absurd to believe that Google Analytics is better than your Omniture Site Catalyst + Genesis + Discover with a dash of Insight. I have to bang my head on the wall when I hear that someone just replaced Omniture Site Catalyst + Discover with Google Analytics.

Why?

You just spent two years implementing them! And you paid three million dollars!!

There is nothing you get with Google Analytics that you did not already have. In fact with Discover you probably have 12 things Google Analytics can't do (that's whey you are paying an additional million dollars plus on top of what you are paying for Site Catalyst!).

Google Analytics can't save you if you already have the set up above or CoreMetrics Analytics + Explore or Unica's NetInsight OnDemand + Customer Insight + PredictivInsight!

If you are still failing then the problem is not the tools.

The problem is you. Your organization. Your skills. Your budget allocation priorities. Your silos. Your HiPPO.

Switching to Google Analytics, in the set up above, is not going to help you.

Fix what's actually broken, it's your WebTrends combo of Analytics9 + Visitor Data Mart or your CoreMetrics combo of Analytics + Explore + Benchmark + whateverelseweboughtbecuaseitsoundedgoodinthesalespitch.

Org. Skills. Structure. Process. Courage.

The only reason to switch to Google Analytics when you have the above is that you can't fix what's broken (org structure, skills, hippo). You might as well save the $3 million you are sending to your web analytics vendor.

3. It is faster to fail and learn then wait for an "industry case study" or find relevancy in a "industry leader white paper".

I met a small group of top companies in London recently. Post my keynote the feedback I got was: "Your presentation was powerful, you made a compelling case for how we can do the things you have outlined to take advantage of the opportunity. Do you have some relevant case studies you could share with us?"

I let out a quiet scream.

In this day and age I completely fail to grasp the need for "case studies" and "white papers".

grab this opportunity

In my offline life I looked for case studies because it was very expensive to try something new, you wanted someone to have failed already. I wanted a white paper so I could convince my HiPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) that some magnificent Thought Leader pontificated something so we should do it.

Most case studies were at best from tangential businesses. 100% of the time the companies did not have the priorities that our business was currently executing, neither were they driving towards the same outcome.

Yet case studies in some sense reduced risk, even if they were simply over blown marketing fluff written by the vendor.

I don't need case studies now, not on the web.

Why?

If someone tell's me that vanity url's are a great way to start measuring multi channel impact then I can just try it for 500 times less effort than it would take me to find a case study.

If I go to a conference and hear that doing test and control experiments is a great way to measure cannibalization by paid search links on well ranked organic keywords, then I can just run a small test myself and see if it works for me.

If you blog that a short on-exit survey or a feedback button is a great way to collect voice of customer, I don't have to be lazy or hyper paranoid and wait for a convincing case study. Both of those are available for free, I'll just implement and be my own case study.

Email campaign ideas, content improvement, behavior targeting, testing product prices, hiring a supposedly awesome consultant, using offline calls to action, measuring impact of television on the web, opening a twitter account of a B2B business, doing….

Anything you can think of I can do it. Usually for free. Usually with a modest effort. Usually at least a test.

I can fail or succeed all by myself in my unique circumstances delivering for my unique business goals in my own organization.

Why do I need a case study?

Neither do you.

There is such little risk to actually trying. You don't need no stinking false comfort that something worked for someone else.

Fail faster.

[I realize for some HiPPO's old habits die hard, they won't even let you run a report without seeing a case study. Update your resume and start looking for another job - because the org you are with will never be as successful as it should be. Meanwhile see if you can convince your HiPPO to run a small test while you look for a case study (and a job).]

4. You are never smart enough not to have a Practitioner Consultant on your side (constantly help you kick it up a notch).

The field of web analytics (especially 2.0) changes far too much in far too short a time.

That's because the web changes too fast (and vendors that don't update their software to take advantage of these opportunities every quarter will die).

Yet companies, falsely, believe that they can keep pace and do it all with no external help.

That almost never works. Because…

    1. You are far too busy actually reporting and analyzing to keep pace with all the wonderful evolution

    2. It is cheaper to get someone to answer your question at $60 or $80 or $100 or $150 an hour than spend a week "trying to figure it out".

Hire a Practitioner Consultant (someone who just does not speak at conferences but actually rolls up her sleeves and does the dirty work) on some kind of a retainer, or buy a bank of hours you can cash out say during the next six months (or whatever) and get solutions delivered to you. You focus on taking action.

I recommend this blog post: Web Analysis: In-house or Out-sourced or Something Else?

consultant 2dclient 2dstages1

In it I describe four stages into which each company fits (in terms of its current analytics evolution) and what you should expect from a consultant in each stage.

This will help you figure out exactly what you might need and hold your consultant accountable.

Here are three additional tips about hiring consultants, from my humble experience:

    1. Compute how long the person has been consulting, call this X. Compute how long the person had actually worked as a practitioner in a real company (hopefully in your industry), call this Y.

    If X > Y, it is possible the consultant might be disconnected from the reality of what it really takes to get businesses to use data (and not it is not just tool expertise). [This means I have 3.5 yrs left to be a hands on practitioner consultant!]

    If X >> Y (substantially greater :), avoid.

    2. If you can try to hire an independent external consultant.

    It is not that the consultants at Omniture or CoreMetrics or WebTrends are sub-standard, they are Absolutely Not. But they do face dual pressures of selling you more consulting and up-sell products. If you have a independent consultant they only try to sell you more consulting! :)

    That is the reason I am partial to hiring authorized consultants for Google Analytics (GAAC's) and Yahoo! Analytics (YWAAC's) or for Omniture / CoreMetrics / WebTrends going with someone such as Stratigent or Zaaz.

    Oh and don't forget rule #1 above.

    3. Do a Google search for the Consultant. Read what people say about them. Read what they say about themselves and others. Read how they contribute to the blogosphere, to forums. Form an opinion, then hire.

    If possible hire a nice person. Life is too short to work with jerks, no matter how skilled or knowledgeable they are.

    Good consultants will help you stay current, solve problems faster, deliver solutions and not just reports, allow you to focus on analyzing data and finding insights.

    5. Your job is to create happy customers and a healthier bottom-line.

    If you think your job is to analyze the "numbers" your career will be limited.

    People (you? :) whose job it is to do "the data thing" spend day after day after day in analytics tools producing numbers (if they have time left over from tagging, begging IT, changing tags, turning down vendor up-sells, begging vendor for more svars and eprops and asi slots…).

    Numbers with data and tables and graphs and pivots and font sizes and automated pdf's and…. a lifetime spent producing numbers.

    work gloves

    Here's a major reason why all that effort, the numbers deluge, changes nothing for a company:

      You / me / they never ever bother to actually go to the website.

      Never bother to search for their company and look at the paid and organic results (to find broken things).

      Never bother to sign up for their own email campaigns (to see how much they stink).

      Never bother to buy something on their site see live the torture.

      Never bother to try and return the product/service purchased via the site (and see how much that stinks).

      Never bother to visit competitor sites and find nice or terrible things (to take advantage of).

      Never bother to do a online usability study (it just costs $20 a pop!!).

      Never bother to….

    Look, if you are not going to go out there and feel the heat how do you expect to get the insights you need about where to focus and what to do?

    Your web analytics tools only provide you with numbers. Then its up to you. And you can only begin to focus, prioritize, find stories and fixes and opportunities if you actually immerse yourself in understanding what you are supposed to analyze.

    Walk in the customer's shoes so you'll understand how much your site stinks (then find the numbers that help prove that, or not). Email people who have placed orders, asked them for their frustrations. Answer tech support emails for a day.

    Every single day ask yourself this question: What amongst the data I have provided today will create happier customers tomorrow?

    If you don't have a direct line of site from your work to happy customers, you are doomed.

    Ditto, perhaps even more so, if you are not incessantly focused, every single day, to providing data stories (or "info snacks") that help improve your company's bottom-line. Every day. Wait. I said that already. : )

    If you, the "Web Analyst" don't believe that you hold in your hands the power to change your company's existence then you are either at the wrong company or, more likely, in the wrong job.

    6. If you don't kill 25% of your metrics each year, you are doing something wrong.

    In ancient times we would hire Accenture or some such august consulting group to come in, spend six months systematically going through the business and recommend Measurable Success Factors (shorthand: metrics) and those then would be carved into stones, handed to the Good Lord's messenger and the rest of us would for ever follow the commandments unquestionably no matter what happened.

    While I am exaggerating a bit for effect, most web businesses, if they identify key metrics, and then never go back and revisit and revalidate.

    It should not come as a surprise that after just a few months you find that no one looks at your dashboards, no one can seem to find insights from the data and the company has reverted to "faith based initiatives" rather than "data driven initiatives".

    The web changes too fast for us to believe that we can be stationary with 1. our measurement strategies 2. what to focus on priorities 3. success measures.

    evolution progress change

    We need to change our measurement strategies as changes occur in:

      1. Marketing strategies (from forums to display to search to social to mobile to…)

      2. Business priorities (no we are not doing ecommerce, we want leads!)

      3. Structure, purpose, audience (oh my!)

      4. Available measurement technologies (ohh…. sentiment analysis!)

      5. Skill set available (wow we finally got someone who know what r squared is?)

      6. HiPPO's bonus measurement metric (you will never succeed unless you are trying to get the person on top promoted or a higher bonus, keep very closely informed as to how they get paid, find insights that solve for that, you will have eternal love and a data driven org)

    All of the above happens all the time to every website. So why should your reports, dashboard, measurement priorities and "Measurable Success Factors" stay stagnant?

    By forcing yourself to have a target for killing metrics you are ensuring that you'll focus on an important activity once a quarter. You'll re-visit your assumptions and what's important to the business. You'll be forced to talk to HiPPO's, Marketers and pretty much anyone who currently consumes the output from you/your team.

    And that, as Martha would say it, is a good thing.

    [Allow me to point out that only 50% of the metrics I love exist in clickstream tools - like webtrends or xiti or unica. The other 50%, the ones that help drive key changes to the business exist in other places. Metrics like: Multi channel value index. Impression Share. Task Completion Rate. Keep that in mind when you choose metrics to ensure you are not over-leveraged in metrics that don't matter.]

    [Bonus Reading: Five Rules for High Impact Web Analytics Dashboards.]

    7. A majority of web analytics data warehousing efforts fail. Miserably.

    There are few investments as overrated as building a catch all massive data warehouse to give you the "global cross functional multi channel single view of the customer experience and lifetime value on demand through a business intelligence report powered by an econometric model that takes into account page view probabilities using the Clopper-Pearson binomal confidence interval".

    Yet that is exactly how internal data warehousing projects are championed or external cloud based data warehousing solutions are sold by vendors.

    As of 2010 I still have a lot more years that I spend in the traditional data warehousing / business intelligence world than in web analytics. I have personally executed data warehousing projects for web data (in the broadest sense), and they have mostly been miserable failures. [Warning: There is a distinct possibility perhaps I am the problem here!]

    very large warehouse

    Here are some problems you face with web data (when it comes to warehousing):

      1. There is too much granular data! Yes yes I have purchased the Netezza appliance, yes other promise "massively parallel processing data warehousing appliances". The problem is not the hardware or the hardware company, the problem is the amount and type of data (most of it is actually worthless, even if you can get much of it into the warehouse). Things of course get worse when you think of warehousing in traditional software only solutions.

      2. The data is rarely deep (say about a person), is mostly anonymous (about a person) and full of holes (cookies, scripts off, plugins). This goes counter to the strengths of what data warehousing is able to pull off so well with offline data (years and years of data too).

      3. Warehouses expect logical structures and relationships, you'll be astonished at how little of this exists in your web analtyics data (see reason above).

      4. It is worse than extracting all your teeth with a toothpick to try and get your offline data merged with your online data (even if, and it is a BIG IF, you can get the requisite primary keys).

      5. BI tools stink at answering questions web analytics tools answer with ease (how many people clicked on a link on our home page, how many sessions from keyword "avinash" came from Google and abandoned products in their cart,….). This means trying to replace a WA tool with a Warehouse only results in an organization slowing down further.

      6. Campaigns, tags, links, meta data (if any that might exist), data relationships, metrics, website url structures etc cause there to be a constant demand to make changes to the underlying structure of your data warehouse every single day. Yet no dw team is organized to execute on a daily schedule, you'll be lucky to get monthly. All of the aforementioned is not a problem for your web analtyics tools.

    I could keep going on. Please please please make sure you don't make a decision to invest millions of dollars (that's what it will take by the way for a fortune 5000 company) based on the promise of data warehousing, look at the reality and apply that filter. It will be humbling.

    Oh and before you tell me that you want to build a data warehouse to store history let me point you to this blog post: History Is Overrated. (Atleast For Us, Atleast For Now.) Please give it a quick read and make sure the traps outlined there don't exist in your case.

    History, and historical comparisons, beyond the last 13 months are vastly overrated, and almost never worth the cost that data hangs around your neck.

    There is always one exception to the rule. :) It can be of some value to take aggregated data about your visitors (especially those that converted) and put it into your corporate data warehouse where all other data of your company sits. This allows you to do strategic analysis of you web acquisitions in context of retail, call center, etc.

    Not page level analysis type (that's tactical!) rather the cross channel purchases and returns etc (the real strategic kind).

    Think really really hard before you buy the hype of web analytics data warehousing. They tend to be expensive multi year commitments that rarely deliver even nominal value not matter how much vendors and consultants hype them.

    It is possible that you'll be the exception and build the first clickstream data warehouse where you'll deliver positive ROI (against the Total Cost of Ownership). But even if 110% of the signs point to that first make sure you have aggregated all the marginal gains.

    It would be silly to not pick up the high ROI low cost stuff first right?

    [Update: David asked me to update my thoughts on this recommendation, three years on (!). Please read my reply on the good and bad of web analytics data warehousing projects. It is a little depressing, and a lot to be thrilled about.]

    8. There is no magic bullet for multi-channel analytics.

    The reason you have had a hard time finding a multi channel (online plus offline) analytics solution is….. it does not exist!

    And here's the thing, it won't for quite some time. The problem is the missing primary keys, and we won't solve it in the near future.

    Yet there are Vendors that blatantly say they provide a "comprehensive integrated multi channel solution" and imply that they can track every interaction across any channel and help you compute "true ROI".

    It is a bunch of @#%^*

    The best thing such solutions do is they sell you a campaign management solution for your offline marketing activities with some possibility of running those campaigns (think email) online as well. In the most optimistic scenario what you'll get is response rate from a mailer (postal) and a email campaign because the email campaigns were auto tagged.

    That's it.

    They won't help you understand impact of search on store sales, they won't help you understand impact of tv on your website (not without massive pain even after you buy the "comprehensive integrated multichannel solution"), they won't help you…. well a lot of things.

    Be wary. Be very very way of these people/solutions.

    Now make no mistake… measuring multi-channel impact (non-line marketing baby!) is critically important. You *should* do it.

    But it is a long hard slog. It requires people, it demands begging many people in your company and agency to cooperate with you, it mandates building custom solutions, it needs lots of creative thinking. There is also a big payoff in the end, just no easy answers.

    You'll need a portfolio strategy (from my book Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, Page 235):

    multichannel marketing value analysis framework1

    Here are two blog posts that comprehensively outline why multi channel analytics is important, what the problems are and a portfolio of 11 solutions you can deploy:

    Updated versions of the strategies outlined in above posts are in Web Analytics 2.0 (starting Page 368, in case you have the book).

    9. Experiment, or die.

    Let me beat this dead horse one more time. Sorry.

    If you don't have a robust experimentation program in your company you are going to die.

    It is just a matter of time.

    [I know, I know, it seems like we have been through this so many times, and I also know that secretly you know how critical this is, sadly others stand in your way.]

    In today's world there are so many questions that we can't answer with any degree of certainty (even with petabytes of data!). Here are some such questions…

      1. How much cannibalization happens between paid and organic search for my brand keywords?

      2. What is the online impact of my promotional flyers sent in postal mail?

      3. What is the optimal price I should charge for my product to maximize profits?

      4. Should I go for overwhelming, pungent, or just plain pukey for my home page design?

      5. Should I show an Add To Cart link to our own ecommerce store or also to other places on the web people can buy the exact same product (often cheaper, so people buy a lot more of what they might not have bought at all)?

      6. What is the impact of having a live twitter feed of all mentions on each product page of our website?

      7. Will people from Ireland buy that?

    Your imagination is the limitation in terms of hypotheses and "I wonder…" ideas that you come up with every day.

    Yet Site Catalyst and Unica and Google Analytics and Indextoos stink at answering all of the above questions.

    petri dishes experimentation

    But if only you could answer any one or two of the above, it would dramatically alter how you do business online.

    Oh and when I say Experimentation I don't mean testing button sizes (BOO!). I mean doing big important things that matter (every one in the list above, and more).

    Start with something simple, try three different layouts of your home page, the product line page and the highest trafficked landing page. You are on your way to A/B testing. Progress points? 20.

    Next move to changing two things at one time on your product description pages. That's multi-variate testing. Progress points 25.

    Now you are ready for the kind of testing that is life changing: running controlled experiments! [Web Analytics 2.0: Pages 205 - 208.]

    That's most of the tests above. They will help answer the almost unanswerable questions from cannibalization to multi channel impact to brand impact and more. Aim for this.

    Hire at least one or two people dedicated to experimentation (not just a/b testing, or Google Website Optimizer / Test & Target) in your team if you are a Large company, and part of a person if you are medium sized.

    If you want to truly being data driven, if you want to crush your competition, if you want to really win on the web, then all roads lead through robust experimentation.

    10. The single most effective strategy to win over "stubborn single-minded" HiPPO's is to embarrass them.

    Finally perhaps the bane of our existence, the magnificent HiPPO (the Highest Paid Person's Opinion).

    Our beloved HiPPO's bring their entrenched mindsets and loud voices (in terms of power) and performance review writing authority to bless our projects, or more likely stand in the way of progress.

    Often HiPPO's don't impede progress / change or crush valid opinions / suggestions because of malice. Sometimes they don't know this interweb thing as well as they should, sometimes they know things have worked a certain way forever and they are reluctant to try new things, and other times they are convinced that they are right (even when they are magnificently wrong).

    Net net things are rarely as cute as this…

    cute hippo

    Here is what does not work when it comes to convincing HiPPO's:

      1. Your opinion. Really, no one cares what you or I think (not that high in the organization).

      2. Repeating yourself time and again.

      3. Data puking (though we tend to thing as data persuasion).

    Here is what does work with heavenly precision: embarrassment.

    Their embarrassment.

    You just have to be nuanced (to ensure you don't make the above three mistakes).

    You two BFF's in the HiPPO's nuanced embarrassment:

      1. Data about your competitors (and your performance against that data set)

      2. The voice of your customers (and your awesomeness or suckiness that shines through that)

    I only know a handful of HiPPO's that can resist having competitors crush them (especially results of their opinions that were actioned!). I know only a couple of HiPPO's who once made aware of will ignore the pain of customers.

    Here are six specific strategies you can use to move even the heaviest of HiPPO's:

      # 1: Implement a Experimentation & Testing Program.

      # 2: Capture Voice of Customer. Surveys, Remote Usability, Etc.

      # 3: Deploy the Benchmarks I Say, Deploy 'em Now!

      # 4: Competitive Intelligence is Your New Best Friend.

      # 5: Hijack a Friendly Website (/ Earn Your Right to be Heard).

      # 6: If All Else Fails. . . . .

    Please check out this blog post for additional details and examples for each recommendation: Lack Management Support or Buy-in? Embarrass Them!

    Next time you see me don't complain about how your hands are tied and your boss is a pain or how you feel like the loneliest person in the world and no one understands you. Your destiny is in your hands, use the strategies above, go after your HiPPO (respectfully), and make change happen!

    EOM. Phew!

    If I could summarize the philosophy I have formed from a lifetime of bruised it would be this…

    The only way to succeed in Web Analytics is to: Be agile. Be flexible. Move fast.

    Decisions you make today based on data you have right now will have greater impact on your business, than decisions you can make in the future based on solutions you will implement over the next eighteen months with data that will be so perfect it is as if God is speaking to you.

    Ok now it's your turn.

    What do you think of the ten fundamental truths? Agree with 'em? Vehemently disagree? Got a #11 you would add? Perhaps not just #11 but #11 through 16? :) Please share your thoughts / feedback / criticism / love via comments.

    It would be fabulous to hear from you.

    [A Small Contest:]

    My online learning startup Market Motive is holding a small contest to award scholarship for a Master Certification course ($3,500) in Web Analytics. The course starts on April 15th. Our goal is to give someone deserving an opportunity to become a Ninja.

    If you think you could gain value from a three month structured course (with exams and quizzes!) then please contact me. Here are the rules… please e m a i l me the following…

    1. A short (really short) paragraph on why you want the scholarship.
    2. Pick a site you love and tell me three things you would change about it, and why.

    That's it.

    Please fit the whole thing in one page (6 sized font automatically disqualified! :)).

    Contest close date: March 31st.

    Thanks.
    [/A Small Contest:]

Comments

  1. 1
    Joe Teixeira says:

    Great post Avinash!

    My takes:

    #1. Agree 100%

    #2. THANK YOU for saying this.

    #3. I think I understand why orgs need case studies. They need third-party verification. Just like you said, old habits die hard, they need to make sure "their guy" or "their research firm" that they've believed in all these years agrees with your presentation content, or your latest blog post or tweet. I usually find that there is a lack of trust on the other side when someone plays the case-study card. I could be wrong about that – it's just what I feel.

    #4. This is tough for me, because I am a GAAC :). But I enjoy working with other consultants and speaking to them at conferences and over forums. I try my best and I'm a nice person – nice guys don't finish last.

    #5. Agreed 100%

    #6. I'm always revisiting metrics and dashboards, so yay me.

    #7. I don't do data warehousing.

    #8. Amen!

    #9. I agree. How do you (business owner) know what your customers want? Almost always, you don't, so you have to experiment.

    #10. You really have to make your own moves in this world. I used to be in the "no one listens to me" camp. So I used non-verbal communication to get my point across. Only you know your HiPPO's, and like #9 on Avinash's list, you must experiment or die :)

    I have a #11 that I'd like to share:

    #11. Turn your company into a university and become its lead professor.

    You have colleagues in different divisions of your company, all with different backgrounds, skill sets, and career goals. Most likely, you are 1 of 2 people (or the only person) that gets Web Analytics and likes it. Educate the people around you about web analytics (how it works, what it does, what it doesn't do) so that you can debunk myths, spread the good word, and have colleague buy-in. You never know when you'll need a designer / programmer / email marketer, and you never know who will get promoted and someday be your boss, so the time you take cultivate and harvest the seeds you plant will pay off big time in the future. And, you'll have more educated, smarter colleagues who will be able to connect with your crazy WA brain at a deeper level :)

  2. 2

    Wow!

    Great post Avinash! This should be required reading for the #measure community.

    -Rudi
    @rrs_atl

  3. 3

    Wow! Congratulations Avinash, you've done it again! Another insightful, chock-full-of-useful-information blog post!

    I love the fact that you embrace the limits of clickstream data and turn it into a launch-point for adding on additional tools (competitive intelligence, etc.) to uncover data-driven insights.

    I'm currently with a digital marketing agency and am fighting the fight to move away from anecdotal solutions based on client successes to data-driven recommendations so I appreciate your constant support.

    Rule Responses:

    1. At one time I thought it wasn't a bad idea to implement a free tool on top of a paid tool to validate trends, etc., but I've come to understand that there is so much to tackle with a single web analytics solution, when done correctly, that working with more than one tool is simply wasting time you can devote to maximizing the impact of a single tool.

    2. The old adage that it's a poor musician who blames his instrument still holds true.

    3. Love the "faster to fail" argument. Can't wait to pull this one out of my web analytics holster.

    4. I'm personally looking forward to the day when I am the Web Analytics Consultant companies hire to help them find their way.

    6. Killing off 25% of my metrics each year helps focus on the greater goal of narrowing things down to the "critical few", as I've heard you say before.

    7. I've heard this idea of integrating web analytics data with a data warehousing tool and having come from a CRM background previously I was skeptical and now I'm convinced it simply doesn't work.

    8. Multichannel Analytics is a buzz phrase I've heard quite a bit but I believe you have to optimize the measurements for each channel and leverage the insights you gain first before looking for graduated insights from multiple tools.

    9. I'm just getting started with experimentation and I plan to throw it at my clients like a fireman turning a water-hose on a five-alarm fire. I agree it's one of the best tools for gaining real-life feedback from Users.

    10. Embarrassing your HiPPO makes sense. Why would you let your talents waste away with a leader and an organization that can't understand the potential value web analytics can bring?

    Great post!

  4. 4
    Josh Braaten says:

    Avinash,
    I think you're very accurate when you say that #11 is effective. But is it the right long-term move? Public embarrassment of a HIPPO could be a career-limiting move if you intend to stay at your current company. I have an alternative that some of your readers may want to try:

    A VP recently told me that the best way to get a group of HIPPOs to agree about something is to meet individually with all of them beforehand(with the competitor and voice of customer info that you suggest). Then all the HIPPOs can nod their heads in unison about what needs to happen when they DO meet, sans embarrassment. Do this in a way that hints at how your HIPPO can get their bonus and you're golden.

    I often dream about being as bold and matter-of-fact as you, Avinash (although having data DOES allow you to be a lot more brazen). I'm just not quite sure that I can fall back on my public speaking career just quite yet. Getting there :) Hope you're well.

  5. 5
    Jim Novo says:

    Josh, your VP is right about meetings behind the scenes before the gathering. Don't think that contradicts what Avinash was saying though – there are private and public ways to embarrass.

    I've never really understood why folks would want to load WA data into a warehouse, it's such a waste of resources. However, passing the most critical web data through into operational databases isn't terribly difficult, right?

    And please don't let "attribution" hang you up; first or last campaign works just fine as long as you are consistent; you're looking for the most actionable answer, not the most accurate answer.

    A simple analysis of new customer net profitability by source at 3 months and 6 months will absolutely change how you view new customer marketing, and contribute a great deal to either embarrassing and / or making a hero of your HIPPO!

  6. 6
    Josh Braaten says:

    Great point, Jim!

  7. 7

    #2: Are you looking for a fight? I actually agree with you. There is great value to be gleaned from the Omniture Suite of products but many, MANY, companies simply selected Omniture because their board told them they needed to and they had the assumption that all they needed to do was "install omniture" and they would bask in the richness of eternal insights and wisdom.

    #4: You know you make me smile :)

  8. 8
    goodnewscowboy says:

    Don't know how you do it Avinash. You entertain me as I read and learn, and you make the seemingly complex easily understood.

    I have a question for you re: the online $20 usability studies. Could you provide a URL?

  9. 9

    Just by reading this, it makes me wonder why people use web analytics solutions at all, at least the non-real time web analytics solutions. There are also many strategies for working with multichannel solutions. I think that the fact is that there isn't any "perfect solution". Most of the average non-enterprise solutions are more a gimmick then a really valuable tool, and the enterprise solutions are far way expensive to reach the mass market segment. Google Analyitcs is one solution that many people use and hope that it will help them identify weak-points in their site, but it isn't a real-time solutions, so we loss the momentum.

    I guess that by just doing a simple math here, today's most important and most valuable tools are out of reach for many of us. But again, web analytics products are not the holly grail, and there are many aspects related to user experience design that should take into consideration, before even thinking of implementing any solution. Reading and educating yourself or hiring a professional, can help any kind of business to understand many flaw related to its online business.

    I try to read on as many aspects of user experience design articles, in order to try understanding my blog flaws from the basic concepts of web design, and then look at the numbers and try to understand how it really reflects what is happening on my blog. Of course, as you said Avanish, Testing, Testing and Tesing.

  10. 10

    On #1 – It is great that you have a polemic stance on the use of multiple analytics packages, but your view is grossly unrealistic.

    You spend a lot of time on this blog advocating working against Hippo mentality. If people follow your advice for #1 they are hobbling their ability to bridge the gap in communication.

    Implementing both a data rich and a more intuitive package is important for companies that need to communicate with both tech and non-tech staff. Following your advice would leave analyst called upon to analyze data and provide multiple spins on data. Especially by implementing a low-end suite like GA on top of the more data robust suites you can save yourself valuable time by creating non-tech views and graphs with in the less complicated user interface.

    If you aren't presenting digestible clickstream data you WILL fail.

    Your assertion that clickstream tools should never be layered is counter-productive for the majority analysts who have small departments. It is silly to rule out an option (2nd Tool) that potentially saves you days every month by automating an alternative data view.

  11. 11
    Alice Cooper's Stalker says:

    Avinash,

    I agree with all of your Truths. A couple of comments though..

    1. Additionally, multiple tools increase the technical complexity of your environment.

    2. Very true. Eddie Van Halen could blow you away with a plastic dime store guitar. Tiger Woods could probably do something admirable with a plastic set of golf clubs from Toys R Us. It's not the tool, it's how you use it. It’s a real frustration point for me when Paid Tool Vendors talk about the latest version. There are very few upgrades. The architecture underneath has the same flaws as the previous version. They only used a different colored paint on the exterior and installed a new horn. Not going to make you go faster.

    3. I agree with Joe's comments about why 'they' want white papers and case studies.

    4. Agree. Not always easy to get the funding. Perhaps I need to be more persuasive.

    5. yep…step into the customer's shoes. Great way to learn.

    6. Haven't actively tried to kills metrics yet. Cleaning house and decluttering is always a good idea from time to time. Why not schedule this to occur in the Spring (now!) for Spring cleaning at the same time you clean out the garage each year?

    7. We have a data warehouse. Not passing all of the data at all of the granularities that you discussed. But just passing them at the daily, weekly, and monthly level is another process to support and maintain. When things go bad…they really go bad. It ends up becoming a major distraction point and pulls me away from what I believe are higher value adding activities….like analysis.

    8. Haven't been there yet. thinking about this topic though.

    9. Experimentation is key.

    10. I tend to agree with Josh that embarrassing a HIPPO in public can be a career limiting move. However, will your HIPPO be embarrassed if you were just to present the same data to them during a one-on-one and want to take action before the masses discover it?

    I like Joe's # 11. If the web analytics person in a company isn't going to be an evangelist for web analytics, who do you expect will?

    Good stuff, Avinash. I can tell you worked extra hard on this one. A lot of quantity and a lot of quality!

  12. 12
    Guy Hill says:

    Mr A:

    Sir… question about "multiple systems." What would you say to folks that like more than one system for "triangulation" purposes in troubleshooting?

    For Adwords, I like Adword's own conv tools – I using Adwords own scripts get you more value out of Google. However, my clients also typically have Google Analytics (or Omniture) running in the background. When something seems to "break," I can then compare Adwords stats and G.Anayltics data in the troubleshooting process. When both systems concur about a problem, I can usually "embarrass" engineering into looking into recent changes. That's not the same as running two "clickstream" products, but it's a similar argument.

    As a "customer acquisition" pro, I'm often the first to spot problems w/ the product or tracking (tech issues). It's often "double systems" (belt/suspenders) that helps me figure this out.

    Thoughts?

    Great post, Sir. Cheers to you!
    [Guy
    DroidINDUSTRIES.com

  13. 13
    Ned Kumar says:

    Avinash,
    Really enjoyed going through this one. While you call it 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths – I would say (at least from my experience) that many of the underlying concepts you talk about are good points to keep in mind for any Analytics organization in general.

    Now to the truths themselves :-).

    #1. Agree – Why make life complicated that it is already?

    #2. Agree – Tools are, well, just tools. Culture-Skills-HiPPOs dictate its usage. What/How it is implemented dictates what you collect and quality.

    #3. Agree – Case Studies are like benchmarks – it tells you what others did well. It is never going to tell you how to do your job better – for the simple reason that they don't have your CONTEXT (Refer #2 – Culture, Skills, HiPPO etc.). "Fail Fast, Fail Smart" is the way to go.

    #4. Agree – Unless you have an extra few hours in your clock to keep track of all the blogs, press releases, etc. etc. and even then might come up short.

    #5. Agree – totally. The question, "Why am I doing this ('this' being a report, an analysis or something else one is doing)?" and "What actionable insights (that will help my customers) am I getting out of it?" is not asked enough.

    #6. Agree – or at least modifying your metrics. We live in a changing world (marketplace, competition, products, technologies…) and so why leave the metrics behind?

    #7. Agree for most part. I agree that one should not start spending millions just because of some case study or because they read it is a good thing to do in some Forrester or Gartner report. I also agree that it is not worth the $spend to create a web analytics data warehouse (because of the fallacy that it will produce better results). And finally, I agree that in most cases, a massive data warehouse is not needed to perform cutting edge actionable web analytics and even to a certain extent some multi-channel analytics. Also, one really has to understand when, where, and how to use a BI tool and how to complement (not replace) the information from the WA tool with analysis using the BI tool.

    However, there are situations where firms have certain operational needs (other than just a 360 view of the customer) where a centralized data warehouse is a good investment decision. Note – I am not saying a web analytics datawarehouse but a data warehouse to house data from all other sources (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service etc.). In those cases,(assuming there are no key issues) it might make sense to import certain elements of the web analytics data (not a data dump) into the data warehouse. With the right [skilled] people on board, this combination can yield some cool insights. Bottom line, don't just go an build a data warehouse for the web, but if you already have one you might want to leverage the data from both sources for additional insights.
    #8. Agree – nice buzzword but difficult to implement. How much multi-channel stuff one can do would depend on where they in their analytics and data maturity, their current infrastructure, and the prevailing support and culture in the organization. I would say that folks starting on this path should start with the web and then add one channel at a time.

    #9. Agree – Empirical evidence is always better than 'Hippo said so' evidence.

    #10. Agree with the concept :-). I would say, sometimes it is good to show them the error of their ways in private 1-1 (as @Alice said) and then give them credit for THEIR brilliant idea in public. A little Freudian psychology never hurts if you can get what you want :-)

    The only other thing I would add is to think twice before buying any tool — better to buy a tool that will do multiple things than one that only addresses a niche issue (and as you build you portfolio, always ensure compatibility is one of the factors you look at). Else you will end up with 15 different tools and the headache of reconciling and combining data from all those (i,e an Email tool, a web analytic tool, one for testing, one for targeting etc. etc.).

    And agree with Joe's #11 too – WA evangelism is critical to build converts.

  14. 14

    [Replies: Part 1/2]

    Joe: I LOVE your addition of #11. It is such a low hanging fruit really to share your love/passion with the org and evangelize not by puking data at people but getting them into a room and teaching something / engaging in a dialog. Give them something of value and they will reciprocate. Your idea works!

    Anthony: I wish I could say something intelligent about your comment.It is it wonderful and I am so happy to have your real world perspective added to this thread. Thank you. Can I send you a copy of my new book as a thank you for taking the time to add this thoughtful feedback? : )

    Josh: Jim's already added a wonderful perspective on the embarrassment issue. My intent was to stress how you can find the data and use various nuanced way by which you can "embarrass" (appeal to their inner ego) rather than Embarrass. Please do see my specific tips on the post I had linked to, perhaps they'll spark your creativity.

    Meeting with individual VP's up front does work sometimes and for some issues. But often there are so many individual agendas that you'll end up compromising on that it will neuter the value of what gets done. Kinda like the recently passed health care bill! :)

    For some of the most contentious issues though adding "pre selling" (you feedback) with "embarrassing" data can most certainly help.

    Jason: Here is one great thing from this sad reality. As a independent consultant every Omniture sale creates an opportunity for you to go in and get a company to actually make use of the data by moving them beyond "We have Omniture! Yea!".

    Of course this is exactly the same case for CoreMetrics and WebTrends and Unica and… all tools. Wait. This means you have lifetime employment. Are you selling stock in your company? I want in! :)

    -Avinash.

  15. 15

    [Replies: Part 2/2]

    Idan: I'll be very very honest, I believe that there are only rare corner cases where "live" / "real time" data is of any value. See:

    Is Real-Time Really Relevant?

    My rule is simple: If you can take real time action then you should access real time data, if not you are simply buying a distraction.

    I am not including in this tools that react automatically to real time data, tools that use AI or Rules Based Algorithms and not humans. Those work when you are content rich.

    Carlos: I appreciate your point of view on multiple clickstream tools. I am afraid in my experience it has never worked, perhaps it is a limitation of the companies I have worked with. Thanks for adding your feedback.

    Alice Cooper's Stalker: My favorite line: "They only used a different colored paint on the exterior and installed a new horn. Not going to make you go faster."

    Brilliant!

    Guy: My recommendation was not to use multiple clickstream tools, as in Google Analytics and Omniture. WebTrends and CoreMetrics. Yahoo! Web Analytics and Unica.

    I would put Adwords Conversion Tracker in a different bucket, all it gives is performance of your paid search campaigns. In may way the reports you get there complement what you would get from Google Analytics or Site Catalyst. Yet there is data you have in AdWords you will never get in a clickstream tool, and vice a versa.

    Though having both tools just to do site audits or embarrass IT might be over kill. There are dedicated tools, like WASP or ObservePoint, you can use for that.

    Remember you won't ever be able to recon data between GA/SC/WebTrends and AdWords. For example the former measures Visits and the latter Clicks. The former computes, usually last click conversion, the latter will use first click model to claim all conversions in following 30 days. You are literally comparing apples and Paris Hilton. :)

    Ned: You and I are in agreement that there are certain selective cases were an aggregated visitor level data (acquisition and purchase) can add value to the company – but not as "web analytics data" but rather as "business analytics data".

    Thinking twice (or maybe even ten times!) before paying for a tool is very very prudent advice. Thank you!

    Avinash.

  16. 16
    Kacey says:

    Regarding #2. What are your thoughts on changing from Omniture to Google not because you think it will save you, but because you don't think Omniture is worth the money? Budgets are tight these days and to continue using Omniture we will have to spend more and more money. Do you feel that is a valid reason for switching?

  17. 17
    Alex says:

    Avinash, that was a great post (although somewhat filled with frustration). Perhaps you would like the students to become the teachers faster ;) In any case..

    On #1:
    I actually use 2 click-stream tools (1 for the main website and 1 for the stand alone microsites). When I came to the org they were using an obsolete tool from 2002. They were reluctant to switch so I implemented GA for the external sites and left main one untouched. There is no conflict between the 2 because they are "owned" by different departments. I guess what you want to say is that "Never use more than 1 clickstream tool on the SAME site".

    On #5
    I would also add that analyst's job is also to educate people in your org (especially site owners) about Web Analytics and what it's about. Those people will help you cut through the red tape and bottlenecks. Why? Because they begin to realize what they should be doing.

    On #10
    You said: "Your opinion. Really, no one cares what you or I think (not that high in the organization)."
    While I agree with that statement one way to approach this is to embarrass the HiPPO by showing them the voice of your customer that repeats what your opinion was in the first place! That's how you can make HiPPO to start listening to your opinion. The hardest part of course is finding relevant feedback.
    On a side note I actually had a case when a BIG HiPPO left negative online feedback about the site which I then showed to a smaller HiPPO (very exciting).

    I agree with all other truths that you listed. Sorry if I repeated somebody else's comment.

  18. 18
    Pramod says:

    Yet another wonderful post Avinash. Very insightful, though very aggressive in some way.. but inspires me :). thanks

  19. 19

    Avinash,

    I was in a bit of a rush the other day when I first read this, but I wanted to leave a bit more feedback on your points.

    #1 I think there is at least one valid use case for using more than one clickstream tool, as long as you do not try and EVER get the numbers to match up. I think it is helpful just to use a 2nd tool as a sanity check for when you see big changes in trends. Being able to verify large dips or peaks in a second system can help validate the data or troubleshoot the failure of the tool itself.

    #2 My thought on this one is without the paid solutions out there with their very cool, high end features… would there be the level of innovation that we have seen recently with the free tools? But I 100% agree with this quote "If you are still failing then the problem is not the tools."

    #3 Love the premise of "Fail Faster".. 'nuff said.

    #4 Dead on! Preachin to the choir on this one.

    #5 "Your job is to create happy customers and a healthier bottom-line." This is true in almost any job, not just analytics.

    #6 I think this fits in nicely with #3 & #4

    #7 I think the reason that most data warehousing efforts fail is the quality of data captured. Just with most measure projects, it's easy to capture way too much data, or even useless data.

    #8 see #4

    #9 See #6, #4, & #3

    #10 hmmm…. embarrassing the HiPPO might be a CLM. Career Limiting Move.

    Overall, I love the post. So many points to be found here that I know I will be coming back to re-read this over and over.

    -Rudi
    @rrs_atl

  20. 20
    Brett Crosby says:

    Avinash, you crushed it out of the park with this post. Several of these are smack in the face of what popular opinion is right now in the WA world. Way to be bold my friend. Of course, we've come to expect that from you by now. But still, you seem to have a way of watching us zig zag, then setting us all straight and laughing as we veer off course once again. Keep up the good work.

  21. 21
    skill-guru says:

    Avainash

    Once again an excellent post. Very true about usage of too many tools and really the user should be focusing on the action points than data analysis.

    I also like this concept of market motive and is definitely a smart move.

    I know you guys do not need publicity but if can we have some questions to create a small quiz out of your Market motive course on skill-guru.com for our users ?

    Not only will it help in reaching out the course to a wider audience but it will also make them aware of their shortcomings and why should they enroll in market motive course.

  22. 22

    Regarding point #10…my take away from this isn't that I would want to embarrass a higer paid person in a socially awkward manner, but rather to present them with simple facts that they understand and care deeply about…such as the way Avinash pointed out by showing how they compare to their competitors etc. Only a phenomenally incompetent manager would choose to ignore these basic tenets on which their performance is surely being judged.

  23. 23
    Paul Benjou says:

    A brilliant post! Thanx

    Plus .. your keynote presentation at SES today was nothing short of genius. BRAVO!

  24. 24

    Hi Avinash,

    Always a great read!

    Regarding your comment on:

    "Part of it is fueled by a vocal minority genuinely upset that 10 years on we are still not a statistically powered bunch doing complicated analysis that is shifting paradigms. They generally feel it is beneath them to use a standard tool, they push a utopian world that is hard for anyone to accomplish, including themselves, even after spending a minor fortune."

    I must say that I might have misunderstood your words… I believe such a mindset has fueled developments such a GA Intelligence or testing tools like GWO or other similar. So it's great that there are professionals out there willing to do statistical analysis, predictive analysis, factorial analysis, clustering analysis… they are smart guys and they will take GA's API all the way and further and for those things that aren't covered they will call on Urchin, alternative tools or pure old log analysis. Hope they keep surprising us!

    Regarding the 10 truths, your post and readers comments, insightful as always…

    Can't help think truth 1 is a little different from your usual discourse, but I agree that is the best to have one tool as the "truth" and having more can be too much of a cost. An exception could be your main WA tool + CrazyEgg, Clicktale or similar to get a greater insight on interaction.

    Thanks on truth 4!

    Regarding truth 10 I'm not sure if this applies correctly to all country idiosyncrasies.

    Take care,

    Andres

  25. 25

    You could refer people to Google's Case Studies ;-)
    http://www.google.com/intl/en/analytics/customers.html

  26. 26

    Another monster post. Great. But it takes forever to read them. Anyway, it is interesting the stuff you say about the data warehouse. We just implemented one (i write about my experience in my blog)and it is a big investment. When we first showed off the data warehouse most people were confused to say the least. So much data and no one to explain it. Today we try to make the data as easy as possible, an infant should be able to understand it, which is not easy to do I must say. We see how it goes.

    The second thing is that we got a new HIPPO, and we have become less data driven. It is interesting to hear your recommendation how to fight this. I have already tried a few of your tricks and the data thing works so far. It is still to early to say, presented it last week, but I will keep my fingers crossed.

  27. 27
    Evan says:

    Love this.

    I have to fight back a little on the idea of switching from OMTR to GA. I think this is a great idea for SO many companies. Yes, they have sunk resources in, but looking in front of the ship, there are a hell of a lot of resources still to sink in the future. And, truth be told, the implementation still sucks today, even after that investment.

    With OMTR, you have to handle page names, site section names, server names, eVars, props, custom metrics, page events (s.t()), micro events (s.tl();), blah blah blah. Tool-side you can customize the daylights out of it, which only means one thing: you turn OMTR into a super crazy reporting tool, completely paralyzing its flexibility and pooing all over its analytics value. Every "customized" and "properly implemented" OMTR installation I've ever seen just looks like an outrageous report puker, so the 85% of questions GA can answer are nearly impossible in WT and OMTR because it's TOO complex and TOO discrete in its slices.

    With GA, I can put the code in a universal header and footer, never name a thing, and get to work on that 85% (which most OMTR people completely ignore anyhow – they completely miss the fundamentals to focus on the complicated; companies like American Airlines bask in the glory of tealeaf while their customers can't figure out how to do anything other than rent a car or book a hotel room on their home page!). I can track events with ease, and it's BETTER than the paid tools. The API is well supported. There are so many reasons…

    And one more thing: when I look out over the bow of the ship, I see zero future cost.

    GA's use of URIs by default also puts tons of great tangential pressure on the organization like creating a better URL structure and organizing content more logically. Of course, you can (and sometimes have to) use custom names, bu this pressure is good pressure.

    In swapping out these implementations all the time, we save the organizations future money, save them current time in implementation, save UX and IT teams energy in trying to map analytics against new content, and get them all focused on that core 85%, rather than running a report showing the % of apartment shoppers in Waco, TX who have been to the site before but have not looked at a property with a rent above $1,000/mo by keyword correlated with how much mustard they like on a cheeseburger. And yes, minus the cheeseburger, I have seen this report.

    Long live GA! OMTR is awesome, but for 99% of businesses, its focus on the complex and its extensibility is a root cause of them completely ignoring the fundamentals.

    If you're AA, call me, call Avinash, call Eric, just call SOMEONE! :-)

  28. 28
    bob says:

    Excellent, thought provoking post. (I heard you speak this week in New York, and you're even better on the "page" than in person.)

    I'm an aging HIPPO/entrepreneur, but I'm also a career direct marketer, with a passion for data, so I bring a double perspective to this exercise. I do get the need for data, and I knew how to get it and use it before the web came and blew up my pretty world. (A key difference is that in direct marketing it is much harder to get front end data, but infinitely easier to see and measure the back end.)

    Figuring out the web has been a brutal, humbling experience, but in the final analysis hasn't totally killed my innate self confidence. There are plenty of folks in my company who will tell you "he doesn't get it." Others will tell you I do. I wish the former hadn't been as true as often as it has been.

    Here's my advice on how to convince this HIPPO.

    * Don't embarrass me or my peers, personally, in public, without having permission, implicitly or explicitly. Not to say you can't point out mistakes, etc. Or, even embarrass the company's strategy. Or, show how we're failing versus the competition. Or, show how we can improve. All that is ok and GOOD, but public humiliation is not the way you get to the next promotion. (I know that Avanish intended the same thing, but you can sense that a nerve was touched.)

    * When you have a project to propose, have a "start slow and build" strategy. I've been successful because I've made mistakes and lived to tell the tale. When people come in and want to bet too big a sum on an untested idea, and then resist a "let's figure out a way to test it" rewsponse, they lose me instantly when they say there's no way to test it. There is ALWAYS a way to control risk. If you can't identify it, you're not my guy.

    * Speak my language. Usually dollars, but not always. "There's lots of momentum here. We ought to be nosing around to see if it will mean something for us" will almost always work with me. (But that's me. Listen for clues from your HIPPO.)

    * Question me. If you just agree with me, especially if you're too quick at it, I won't respect you. On the other hand, if you just push back all the time, I won't respect you, either.

    But if you ask, "what are you trying to do?" Or, "Can I paraphrase to see if I really understand?" "Do you think this approach might work?" ETc. Then I see you're thinking. You're sucking up to me a little, but sucking up to the boss is not a real bad strategy. (Avanish loves his dating metaphors. I wont' go there other than to suggest that you don't get too many (desirable) girls or boys by telling them they're ugly, dumb, and sweat a lot. The occasional sweet nothing and "what do you think?" is a good thing.)

    Thanks, Avanish, I enjoyed the post.

  29. 29
    Kristy says:

    You know Avinash (if I may use the familiar), I enjoy reading your blog simply because you're such a good writer. Aside from the obviously good content, your posts have such incredible personality — they're just fun to read. I mean, who else can get away with "gr", and still be taken so seriously?

    Web Analytics 2.0 Rocks as well.

    Thanks!

  30. 30

    [Replies: Part 1/2]
    Kacey: Hidden in your comment is the implication that you are not able to get the optimum Return on Investment (ROI) from Omniture. I am inferring it from your sentence that "omniture is not worth the money".

    Site Catalyst itself is not very competitive with many clickstream tool but the Omniture Suite is powerful and more than competitive. If you have that and can't find ROI then it is possible that there are other things that are the root cause in your company (skills / org structure / focus / process / etc). Switching to GA won't fix that.

    But if you can't fix the root causes (and sometimes that does happen, nothing to be embarrassed about) then moving to GA, Yahoo! Web Analytics, will be free and save your money and give you the data you need to fix many things. You can use that time to fix the other issues.

    Alex: One company using multiple tools, but on different sites is a less corrosive issue than using multiple on one. But over the long run it is good to standardize on one (even in your scenario) because it provides efficiencies (system / people / process) and a career development path for Analysts (they can work on many different sites / businesses).

    I understand the spirit of your feedback on #10. But rather than looking for VOC that justifies our opinion I would recommend just reporting whatever the customers say are the biggest problems. I am sure they'll be embarrassing enough and fixing them will make happy customers! :)

    Rudi: In #2 I am not advocating for paid tools not to be used, I am stressing that they have never proven to be the "saviors and creators of data driven organizations".

    You are very very right about innovation.

    The release of Google Analytics as a free tool forced WebTrends, Omniture and CoreMetrics to rethink their front end experiences and features available in their clickstream versions.

    The release of free Yahoo! Web Analytics forced Google Analytics to really step up the game in advanced features (some which YWA already had).

    Then in Oct 2009 GA released Intelligence (something none of the other web analytics tools, not even close). This should force the paid web analytics vendors to innovate (or wither away!).

    That should force Y!WA and GA to…. well a virtuous cycle. :)

    A healthy web analytics ecosystem with a mix of paid and free vendors is a must.

    Thanks so much for adding to the thread!

    Avinash.

  31. 31

    [Replies: Part 2/2]
    Evan: There is nothing particularly unique about Site Catalyst (or the grander Omniture Suite, perhaps with the exception of Omniture Insight when you get into hardware and software and more) that make is harder to implement than WebTrends or CoreMetrics or Unica.

    Each of these vendors has been forced to develop for every corner case for very high paying client (or they'll stop paying!) which has made the products: 1. needless complex for almost all organizations and 2. much of the "power" (complexity) comes from the corner cases which remember only one company wanted in the first place (yet now every company is "punished" for).

    Google Analytics and Yahoo! Web Analytics (which only compete with Site Catalyst and not with the grander Omniture Suite or those of CoreMetrics and WebTrends etc) cannot do the corner cases and exceptional circumstances. This makes them easy to deploy and (with GA's front end ans UX) easy to use to find, as you say, 85% of the answers Every company needs to make decisions.

    Yet there are many many companies out there who think they need to corner cases and every little piece of data. For them the Omniture / WebTrends / Unica suites are the right answer because only they can deliver those exceptional pieces of information, GA and YWA cannot.

    Additionally if there are companies that have completely exhausted all the actions they can take from the clickstream tool and want to have a in-the-cloud data warehouse option of the clickstream data to move their organization to the next level of delivering ROI then the Big Four are the only option, neither GA or YWA are an option (because for them you have to build your own DW using the data taken from the free API).

    Bob: Thanks for adding the HiPPO perspective, I am positive that the readers of the blog will find your specific tips to be of incredible value! They are very actionable in the real world.

    I did want to mention that here are the strategies I actually recommend using to "embarrass" the HiPPO's:

    http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/02/lack-management-support-or-buy-in-embarrass-them.html

    As you'll note each encourages use of Customer and Competitive data to encourage tough thought, and recommendation #5 recommends "embarrassing" the hippo by actually proving that you, the Marketer/Analyst, can deliver the goods.

    I am not advocating public "humiliation", that is a very strong word, because that will be a career limiting move.

    That said I am usually happy to tell the emperor that he is naked, I'll start by trying to place a mirror where the emperor will be "embarrassed" all by himself. :)

    Thank you again for adding the specific and actionable tips for all of us from your experience, they really are very very valuable.

    Avinash.

  32. 32
    Shilo says:

    Thanks Avinash for the great post.

    As a relatively new reader of your blog, I also appreciate all of the references to your previous posts. This post in particular was a fun read because of everyone's comments. I was thinking I'd see someone from the big WA providers as you mention come in and counter your attack, but I guess the truth hurts.

    BTW: hopefully you can share some of the better applications to the Master Certification in WA contest.

  33. 33
    Steve says:

    Avinash, at last someone saying exactly the same things as us. We are not alone! Great post!!!

    We have been fighting for years for clients to spend money on the analysis rather than chopping and changing analytics vendors every 18 months or so.

    We have the new Online Measurement & Strategy Survey out now and it has some pointed questions regarding software v analysts we'll see what comes out of that.

    Keep up the great work.

    Steve

  34. 34

    Great post as always Avinash and I particularly liked Jim's number 11 as well. This ties in nicely with your number 2 (and number 1 to an extent). Part of the reason that people flip around with different implementations is that they don't understand their current one. Setting up new implementations often means getting someone in to set up, but this doesn't mean you need to move to a new tool. This cost can often be huge.

    If in doubt, get a paid consultant in (number 4) to come in and suggest how to use the current system better and make some recommendations on some updates to tagging. This will save you lots of money on implementation and you'll learn how to use the tool more effectivel! Plus they can do a bit of Jim's number 11 of teaching everyone else a good technique of using the tool.

    Cheers,
    Alec

    PS – I've been doing this for six years, of which zero have been as a consultant. Does that mean I'm the perfect person for consultancy? That could well end in some perpetual loop that as soon as someone wants to be a consultant they're instantly unqualified to do so… :)

  35. 35
    claudio alegre says:

    This advice pretty much applies to anyone willing to put in the work…

    In my opinion CEO's should have a pretty good handle on this, especially in a knowledge-base economy.

    Thx Avinash.

  36. 36
    Ryan says:

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you for the 10 fundamentals post and the contest opportunity.

    I sent an entry to blog kaushik.net but wasn't sure if that was the correct address. I also sent the entry as an attached word .doc so I wasn't sure if it would get filtered out in spam by accident or if I needed to send it another way.

    If you already received it please disregard/delete this comment, if not, please let me know what I should do to ensure delivery.

    Thank you Avinash!

  37. 37
    3R Online Marketing Consultant says:

    Hi Avinash, I'm right in the middle of reading your Web Analytics 2.0 and I really admire what you do – liked your story about convincing your wife to let you work late at night – your work definitely brings its fruit – and your wife is right – focus is the key, so that you still can enjoy life.

  38. 38
    April Thayer says:

    #44 – Happy April Fools Day.

  39. 39
    John Stansbury says:

    Avinash,

    Not surprisingly, another great post. There are some nuances to Point 2 that are important, though. (Now, I haven't read all responses in the thread, so apologies for repetition.)

    Full-disclosure, I'm an unabashed Omniture Optimization Suite fan-boy, though my employer is a medium-sized enterprise currently using GA. I do concede your point that at a macro level the functionality across the base WA solutions is comparable; however, truly significant differences revolve around: 1) data ownership, and 2) account management.

    Data Ownership
    My understanding is that Google retains ownership of Google Analytics data. I took a quick peek at the TOS and that does seem to be the case. I also looked for a GA-specific Privacy Policy, but couldn't find one (http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacy.html). Now, GA is a free solution, and beggars can't be choosers, but for businesses, this seems risky.

    Account Management
    This is the primary concern. What's your Google Analytics Account Manager's phone number? Will she or he proactively call you with ideas or questions about your business and possible optimizations? With first-hand knowledge of Coremetrics and Omniture, I know that's the case with their solutions. I'm fortunate in that our AdWords Rep is a Rock Star and has occasionally stepped in to pick up some GA issues, but I'd bet most GA implementations have to rely on the kindness of strangers or consultants, if anyone.

    Don't get me wrong, I am impressed with GA, and the combination of GA-data with an Excel utility like ShufflePoint definitely belong in the WA Ninja arsenal. But as business-people, it's not just the tools–as we optimize we must also manage risk. That's where paid solutions win.

    All that being said, it's a great time to be in WA (grepping log files all those years ago was not fun and not terribly enlightening), and your posts continue to challenge and ask the right questions.

    Cheers,
    j

  40. 40

    John: It is rare to find "fan-boys" in our industry, I am thrilled that you love analytics enough to be a fan-boy. I wish we had more of you!

    Let me try to unpack your thoughtful comment.

    For what it costs Omniture's Optimization Suite (Site Catalyst + Genesis + Discover + Test & Target + Insight + Iamforgettingothers) should be damn good. It is.

    For what it then additionally costs to contract with Omniture's professional services to make the whole thing work, it should be all only glory and ROI for a company. Having worked with many a Omniture (WebTrends, CoreMetrics) customer, I am torn on this.

    It is rare that the reason for the frequent failure of the latter is Omniture. It is the company's organization, skills, processes, decision making structure, HiPPOs.

    I am glad you compared Google Analytics and Yahoo! Web Analytics with Site Catalyst, and not the Omniture Optimization Suite. That is a fair comparison and most of the time Site Catalyst will be even or fall short (purely in a direct features and functionality comparison, once you remove the FUD :).

    To your two points….

    Data Ownership:

    I am not sure what this means.

    Is it where your data is stored?
    In case of all web analytics vendors the data is stored "in the cloud". There is no difference.

    Is it if your data is "private"?
    Google Analytics is the only tool that empowers you to legally designate who see's your data. You have privacy settings that allow you to tell Google: 1. You can look at my Google Analytics data anonymously. 2. You can look at my data named (know it's my site). 3. You cannot look at my data.

    Further more Google will not even connect your Google Analytics data to any other data source, like say your AdWords or AdSense data. You have to do it yourself (you have to log into the accounts, only if you are authorized with that level of access and join that accounts yourself).

    Is it if you can get at your data?
    If so Google Analytics has a free API (just like WebTrends, but unlike Omniture) where you can pull all your data out of the Google cloud, for free, and store it as you want to where you want to as long as you want to.

    Is it something else about "data ownership" that you were concerned with? It is an important point to consider for sure.

    Account Management:

    You are 100% correct, there are various ways to get support directly from Google (Forums, Help Center, Email Support, Your Google Account Manager etc) but, like Amazon, there is no phone number you can call to get tech support.

    Like in the case of Omniture and WebTrends and Unica and others there are a number of Global Authorized Consultants you can pay to answer your phone call to give you support. Often these are consultants that are authorized by all the companies mentioned in this blog post, so not just single vendor focused consultants.

    I do understand that some people will always want to be able to call the source company. If you are in that category you have to choose one of the other vendors and not the free web analytics vendors.

    I will quibble with one minor point.

    Not even Omniture, especially not Omniture/WebTrends/Unica, can: "proactively call you with ideas or questions about your business and possible optimizations". Not even if you are paying the exorbitant prices that the Professional Services team will charge you.

    They simply don't understand your problems, they do not know your industry, and they do not work with you every day. They implement. Yes I am well aware that they say they will: "proactively call you with ideas or questions about your business and possible optimizations". :)

    Proactive ideas will come from your own company and, after you have paid for the Paid Web Analytics Tools and Professional Services you still have money left (see I am biased! :)), they will come from your own Ninjas and Marketers. If you don't have that then they will come from the Practitioner Consultants I mentioned in Part 4 of the post.

    Google Analytics (or Yahoo! Web Analytics) is not the Omniture / WebTrends / Unica Optimization Suite. Probably never will be (thank god!).

    In the end success will come less from the power that comes will the tools or how many of 'em you have. It will come from your ability to build a organization where decision making is a way of life, where bureaucracy and politics are not a problem, where Ninja's can roam free. In that world tools that can get implemented fast and provide data that most number of people in the organization can use (now!) will win.

    Wait. I have heard that before. I think it was from you John!

    Thank you again for your comment and allowing me to write a mini-blog post in reply. :)

    Avinash.

  41. 41
    John Stansbury says:

    Avinash,
    On the data ownership topic, this may be completely apochryphal, but somewhere I picked up the thought that although you have free access (and yes, to your point, granular control of others' access) to GA data, you don't actually _own_ the data. With paid solutions, the licensee owns the data outright, and the license fees cover the storage and bandwidth costs.

    If this is all true, the "cost" of the free solution is trading outright ownership of the data for not having to pay for that data's collection, storage, and retrieval. Big honkin' caveat about data ownership here because now I'm starting to doubt myself (nicely done, Avinash!), but the nuances of difference between access and ownership seem important. It may be a moot point, or actually inconsequential. In any case, I appreciate your consideration of the questions. Now, time to go work on my multi-channel hit attribution model… ;)
    Cheers,
    j

  42. 42
    Alistair says:

    This is a great recap. Most of these I agree violently with.

    Here's a version of '"adapt faster" instead of fail; love the "clickstream monogamy"; pruning rocks, shame is your friend.' that's a bit more than 140 characters.

    I think it's more accurate to say, "adapt faster" rather than failing. Most websites — and the businesses behind them — should pivot along a dimension of the business. This is something Eric Ries talks a lot about. It's analogous to a rock climber, trying to climb a wall, experimenting with one limb at a time.

    This is experimentation on a larger scale: switching from a paid to a free service; from direct to channel; etc. It just seems disingenuous to say one of them is failing — it's a matter of constant upgrades, like Demming's TQM or Japanese Kaizen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_quality_management) applied to every element of your website.

    I love the clickstream monogamy. You're absolutely right that parallel data leads to failure. These days, however, you have several sources — clickstream is one, but you also have survey data, and heatmaps, and community data, and performance information. We need to align all this data. That can be as simple as plotting it all along the same timeline, or as complex as pulling the data into the clickstream and generating new reports.

    Your point on pruning is excellent. HIPPOs want "simple" reports — anything more complicated than a golf score fails. To keep it simple, we need to eliminate stuff that didn't matter. There's more: technology changes quickly, and metrics become outdated. Consider the shift that's happening away from page-by-page visits to a more event-centric, Flash-and-Flex-and-AJAX Web. That's going to change every major analytics package on the market, and when it does, we'll want to prune many KPIs on which we rely today.

    And shame: yes, shame is your friend. But shame is a peer behavior. You can't shame someone if their peers don't think the thing is shameful. Citizens of San Francisco are much less likely to be shamed by certain things than their counterparts in, say, Alabama. That means you need to pick data that can immediately be grasped as shameful by your victim's peers. Put another way, shame must be simple and obvious — pick your insults.

    Anyway, great roundup post that summarizes a huge number of ideas.

  43. 43
    Jorge Ezquerro says:

    Is the contest actually happening? :)…need to become a ninja!

  44. 44
    Solution Point says:

    A great eye opener for us and many of our greedy clients. Truly helpful.

  45. 45
    Mike says:

    I have read this article twice and still have not comprehended all the information in it. Great post and well thought out. Data is of great value but many times it lends to interpretation which creates the issues. I am firm believer in #4, we always can use help and the right consultant can help move things in the right direction. Thanks for the insight.

  46. 46
    Jen says:

    Aw, your tweet (5 days ago – see how behind I am?) said you were awaiting my, *yes my* feedback, but all I have is AMEN.

    I am simply not willing to be an analytics naysayer. Ever.

    I am glad you are keeping this good stuff coming, and I should really visit more often. I feel like a particularly bad niece or something. :)

    -Jen

  47. 47
    Brent Dykes says:

    Interesting post, Avinash. You make some decent points, and on a few of them we’ll have to agree to disagree. :)

    In terms of removing FUD, I want to clarify one point that Omniture does not compensate its consultants for upselling products. As you noted, all consultants (GAAC, Omniture, etc.) are encouraged to sell more consulting.

    Are we committed to making clients successful with Omniture products? Absolutely! No other consulting group can say it is more committed and better equipped than us to achieving this goal.

    Cheers,
    Brent.

  48. 48
    krishna says:

    Hi Avinash,

    it's good and impressive post, I am in the business of ware housing and web development, this post has given me a new direction.

  49. 49
    zoozoo says:

    Hi Avinash,

    I read your blog very regularly and soak in the knowledge like a sponge. Please keep writing.

    I have a different request today. I have started my own blog on tech, productivity.www.casavaidia.com. I was wondering if you could tell where do you get these pictures from. If you could suggest some of the sites you have been using for the pictures.

  50. 50

    Zoozoo: I use stock photography from Fotolia for most of the images on this blog.

    It is a paid service but their collection is exceptional and I love how quickly I can find just the right picture I want.

    I also use PhotoExpress from time to time as they have a decent collection and you can get some pictures for free every day.

    Good luck with your blog!

    -Avinash.

  51. 51

    Hi Avinash:

    You inspire me to dive deeper and deeper into analytics.

    Regarding your # 8, I am trying with one partner exactly what you have suggested. We are doing a direct mail campaign, and e-mail marketing campaign to compare the results.

    Another thing I have been trying is to have capture pages on the web site for other off line activities. For example, if going to a trade show… run a campaign before it to see how many people check us out. Correlate with who we saw and what happened, which is off course off-line, and by making friends with other groups in the company. We track the leads we get from the trade show, and then follow-up with more e-mail marketing and other channels.

    Two Questions –
    1. Is there an effective way to combine GA with e-mail marketing analytics? I get them from the two sources (GA tells me what happens on the web site, and e-mail marketing/CRM software tells me what happened to the e-mail campaign… who opened, unsubscribed …etc)
    2. PURL and its effectiveness in tying in analytics to the direct mail campaigns. Please can you give me pointers on that?

    Thanks,

    -Deven

  52. 52
    Sandy McConnell says:

    A different point here but I'm wondering what opinion out there is. New legislation being proposed in EU concerning use of cookies and e-privacy where it is proposed that an e-Privacy Directive affects the permission required for a website to use 'non-technical' or 'flash' cookies, i.e. those that are not fundamental in allowing the website to run. This must be implemented by UK law by May 2011. The current position is that users must be notified that a website uses a cookie and be told how to disable cookies through their browser preferences. Depending on how the Directive is translated into UK law, use of cookies could require a user's active consent before a website can place a cookie on a computer. How will this affect Analytics and point 2 on vendors? Will people have to re-consider their supplier?

  53. 53

    Sandy: I am afraid I am not an area of expertise of mine, I am but a simple Practitioner and Analyst of the data that has been legally and transparently collected.

    I do understand that the EU rules apply to all companies (Omniture, Google Analytics, WebTrends, Xiti etc) equally and that informed and smart people from the industry are working with the appropriate governments to resolve the issue.

    Please note that browser cookies (the kinds used by tools above) are different from "flash cookies" (which really is leveraging the flash cache) and that the adobe TOS actually prohibits you from using flash to "cookie" / "monitor" users of your websites.

    Deven: As long as you are passing the primary keys between the two courses, GA and your email campaigns, it is pretty straightforward to do the analysis, either in GA under Campaigns or by taking the data out of GA using the open free api.

    By Purl do you mean personalized urls? Perhaps you mean vanity urls? If so then it is pretty straightforward to use them and the do work well.

    Here are two posts on multi channel analytics that cover both of the above topics that you might find helpful:

    Online impact of offline campaigns: http://bit.ly/akoffon
    Offline impact of online campaigns: http://bit.ly/akonoff

    -Avinash.

  54. 54

    Just to interject into the conversation on the blog (sorry Avinash):

    Sandy – the EU cookie law was quite comprehensively discussed a couple of months ago in many places (personally I summarised it for the techie masses on Slashdot, if you want to read: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/11/13/1348222/Breathtakingly-Stupid-EU-Cookie-Law-Passes).

    The flash cookie debate is really just an extension of the current law, as far as I can tell, in that if you use cookies for monitoring, you are meant to explicitely tell your users before you do it.

    The real question is, will it be actively policed, or will it be policed by exception (ie if your are caught doing something naughty with the data then they'll prosecute you under the law, but if you're not caught/don't do anything naughty then you are fine).

    Currently no websites that I know of ask you to confirm that you are happy using cookies before you use their site (and more or less all sites do use cookies). I can't imagine the Government can prosecute every website.

    Happy to chat to you about it off the blog if you want to drop me a mail!

  55. 55
    Sandy McConnell says:

    Avinash / Alec – Many thanks for the comments, reassuring to know people are on the case, and in agreement. Looks like a wait and see perspective on UK law interpretation, and the industry. Its due in UK on May 2011 from my understanding. Many thanks again.

  56. 56
    DefunktOne says:

    I need a consultant just to decipher this ;) Great stuff and thank you!

  57. 57
    pere rovira says:

    amazing article, you read my mind avinash.

    as a consultant, i try to tell clients what i believe is true (stop looking at data, take action!) but i find it that they like to be lied to.

    they prefer that you lie to them, than changing their poor websites. people are lazy, data is easy to obtain, change is difficult to provoke.

    to be an analyst is more about changing culture and behavior than about interpreting numbers.

    the problem is that so much effort goes into changing the culture, that sometimes as consultants, we're burnt out. it's very hard (psychologically) to fight always the same battle, before you're able to actually help your clients' business.

    but when it works, it's such a big pleasure :)

  58. 58
    vishesh says:

    Thanks a lot for this. Need to explain to someone how all this works :) Some how, people who do 'tradtional' business always feel comfie spending money than looking at other alternatives. :)

  59. 59

    [...]
    There is a reason why Avinash Kaushik’s blog is on our fav’s list. The guy has a wonderful talent for cutting to the chase. The following post is an excellent one along the lines of Leslie Rohde’s mindset reminders series.

    My favourite is #3:
    [...]

  60. 60
    Santhosh Kumar says:

    This post will help me greatly as I have been looking for such detailed explanations.

    Now I can easily say the this is the opinion of the renowned expert like Avinash Kaushik.. :) Thanks for detailed descriptions for points #1 and #2 which will help me convince my peers.

  61. 61
    Ruslan says:

    There are some very good points made. I can relate Omniture experience with my own. Thank for the article.

  62. 62
    Marc says:

    2 Years old….. and still freaking phenomenal.

    Well done.

  63. 63
    David says:

    3 years on it would be good to address this topic again…

    Has anything changed in terms of DW and web analytics integration?

    • 64

      David: Just went back and read that part again.

      I would keep it exactly the same. Except perhaps I'll underscore how much harder this problem has become with the advent of "big data." The effort required to pull anything off has exponentially increased, the time to market of the value from such an effort has become much, much longer.

      I'll also add a hopeful note. If you look over the product releases from the web analytics vendors in the last year, say Google Analytics, they have massively expanded your capabilities in terms of what you can get into your web analytics tool. You have Cost Import (for true cross digital channels CPA), you have expansions like dimension widening etc, you have the ability to have true (hash powered) person tracking across multiple devices, you have the ability to send back offline conversions or coupon redemption, you are starting to see true unique user analysis and segmentation, and so much more.

      So your first step to do cool analysis does not have to be an expensive 18 month DW/Big Data boondoggle. You can actually do a lot more right there inside your web analytics tool. Earn all those wins quickly, prove to your company that you have the capacity to deliver insights that power action, then go for the boondoggle! PS: Boondoggle can be good at some point. :)

      -Avinash.

      • 65
        David says:

        Have seen a bit of boondoggle going on as well recently, that is nice, but agree with your philosophy on gaining many operational actionable insights inside the web analytics tool on a smaller budget first. Plus the nice features of importing cost data and offline conversion send, although haven't seen anyone actually utilising this feature just yet. A lot saying oh that is nice. Whilst I am still ranting about goal sets and goal copy add on!

        Don't see much point in extensive boondoggling and DW data modelling if you haven't already optimised your funnel journey, optimised your content (e.g. see, think, do), optimised your tagging for QA data, optimised your ppc campaigns.

        Think the challenging aspect is that most businesses strategically require/want a customised overall view of their business+online KPIs which they "don't think" the web analytics tool can quite provide. And to some extent with DW building there is tendency to believe that the value of having access to that level of detailed data in one place will propel their business more, whilst neglecting to think more about the smart graft at the coal face.

        If you are thinking of subjects for future posts would love to hear any thoughts on the future of data layers or examples of Google Analytics DW structures / methods for sending data directly to server/db by passing API.

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace 'Em & Win Big | Occam's … (tags: analytics data googleanalytics research tracking seo) [...]

  4. [...]
    Avinash's article starts off by addressing the fact that there are a lot of mistruths, fear, uncertainty and doubt out there about web analytics than he thinks makes sense. He uses his article as a call-to-action to make a change as well as a chance to share his 10 web analytics ground truths. Although Avinash's article may be a bit lengthy, I'm telling you, it's worth reading…

    Marketing Takeaway: There are a lot of myths regarding web analytics, so don't believe everything you hear.
    [...]

  5. [...] 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace 'Em & Win Big – Avinash [...]

  6. [...]
    Avinash Kaushik’s 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths might just set you free from the bondage of analysis paralysis (and just bad analysis).
    [...]

  7. [...]
    To help you make this transition, Avinash Kaushik is releasing a new book: Web Analytics 3.0 – The Greatest Hits. The new book (more of a thick brochure, really) is chock full of nearly 1,000 words on how to use hits to track your success. It’s your chance to learn how to hit from a true analytics ninja. Plus it’s much shorter than most of his blog posts.

    We’re looking forward to exploring the next stage of web analytics with you. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a hit counter to watch.
    [...]

  8. [...]
    Tengo que admitir que estoy algo sorprendido. En un post reciente, Avinash Kaushik nos habla de “la poca capacidad estadísitca” como causante de la mayoría de los miedos, dudas y desconocimientos existentes alrededor de la Analítica Web. Concretamente, en el post se menciona la poca capacidad para “cambiar de paradigma“, y que tal cosa es triste y frustrante. Evidentemente que lo es; Avinash, estoy contigo.
    [...]

  9. [...] 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace 'Em & Win Big – Occam's Razor – Mar '10 [...]

  10. [...]
    10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace 'Em & Win Big

    When Avinash speaks . . .
    [...]

  11. [...]
    It’s no secret here that I believe A/B testing is one of the the best ways to help your customer and quiet Avinash Kaushik’s HIPPOs (see Rule #10) (Full Disclosure: As the head of e-commerce, I can be something of a HIPPO myself in my day job. So, in some ways, I know the dangers even more. It’s easy to think you’re really smart when you’ve been doing something for a while – and really cool when a test a.) proves you wrong and b.) makes you a lot of money).
    [...]

  12. [...]
    9. Web Analytics: I wrote a whole post for “PR 2.0” leader Arik Hanson about the need for marketers to embrace analytics. The King of analytics is Avinash Kaushik. He’s a superior teacher who wants you to succeed. He’s also sincere and kind. Twitter: @avinash
    [...]

  13. [...]
    #3: The organization views test losses as “losses” instead of “learnings”

    This one is related to #6, but it’s more of a perception issue. Some organizations don’t give their marketers “permission to fail.” We agree with Avinash Kaushik that it’s perfectly acceptable to fail, so long as you get in the habit of failing quickly. Losing tests that happen quickly are often incredibly insightful, and lead to uber-successful follow-up tests. We’ve seen companies get all jazzed about CRO, run their first test, lose, and promptly settle back into their old ways. #FAIL.
    [...]

  14. [...]
    Y son: La necesidad de trabajar en base a unos objetivos, el problema que tenemos los analistas para convencer a los Hippos (Highest Paid Person in the Organization) de que esto es serio, y entender que no se trata de exactitud, se trata de tendencias. Así que como dicen que cuando el río suena agua lleva, voy a dedicar mis primeros 3 posts sobre analítica web a estas tres ideas.
    [...]

  15. [...] 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace ‘Em & Win Big – Avinash Kaushik [...]

  16. [...] 10 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths: Embrace 'Em & Win Big – Avinash Kaushik [...]

  17. […]
    Recuerdo una época en que la toma de decisiones basada en datos era incluso un concepto sucio, era un concepto sucio que no terminaba de funcionar. Sin embargo, hoy en día, el debate se centra en cómo extraer el máximo valor de todos los datos almacenados para favorecer el desarrollo y el futuro de la humanidad. Desde un punto de vista pavloviano, para mí, más tecnología significa más oportunidades para medir la conducta humana irracional.
    […]

  18. […]
    I remember a time when Data Driven Decision Making was a dirty concept, trumped away by experience and HIPPOs. Today, in 2014 and beyond, the debate has shifted towards extracting value from all this collected data in order to support growth and all of humanity’s future.
    […]

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