ACCM Reflections: What Matters To You & How Long It Will Take!

Fallenleaf Last month I had the privilege of participating in the Web Analytics and Conversion Intensive day at the Annual Conference for Catalog and Multichannel Merchants in Boston. This was first time I had presented at a DMA event and I want to thank Ellen Shannon and Kathy Bushman for the opportunity.

I very much enjoyed presenting, hosting the lunch discussion and speaking on the Rich Media panel (go Allurent!). The audience was wonderful and had lots of interesting questions and feedback.

I wanted to share two key ideas that I think deserve wider awareness, I hope you'll find them to be just as interesting.


Who? Daniel Cotlar, Chief Marketing Officer,
What? Web Analytics at
Why? Critical Few.

Our world is blessed with data overload (!) and on this blog you have heard the consistent drumbeat of "critical few", know what they are and just focus on that. Daniel takes the "critical few cake"! Here is his slide that I completely fell in love with. : )

know what matters most

As the CMO of Daniel has not only identified his critical few metrics, he has identified one singular metric against which he judges the success of his website. Just one metric.

In a world where we have so much data and confusion this comes as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. For it is Gross Margin Per Visitor. Everything they measure and optimize on their website is in service of that metric.

Amongst the benefits of this clarity is that now there is extreme focus on what everyone and everything is supposed to be solving for. It means that it is much easier to make choices about what is working and what is not.

It is great to have just a small number of critical few metrics but you can easily imagine how wonderful it would be for you if your CEO / Boss said the entire game was about Gross Margin Per Visitor, not KPIx and KPIy and KPIq and KPIm and anything else that might be relevant.

On the slide above Daniel also shares other metrics that are also monitored by his team (him). Did you notice how every single one of them also serves the master metric? An extremely cllear line of sight.

Does your business have a master metric? Could it use one?

Oh and next time you need blinds scoot over to!


Who? Bill Bruno, Principal, Stratigent, LLC
What? Framework To Gain A Competitive Advantage With Web Analytics
Why? How long to nirvana!

A while back I had written a post titled: Web Analysis: In-house or Out-sourced or Something Else?. It outlined the life cycle that any company has to go through to get to greatness and the role of consultants / outside experts in that process.

Someone commented on that post and asked for how long each of my four stages took. I politely side stepped because each organization is complex and the timing could be so radically different for different folks.

Josh Manion and the Stratigent to the rescue…….

stratigent-framework to gain a competitive advantage with web analytics-sm

Please click on the image above for a higher resolution version.

The framework that Bill presented shared four stages that each company has to go through as it evolves (Basic Reporting, Measurable Results, Advanced Analysis and Sustained Competitive Advantage), and what sorts of things have to happen in each stage. Most importantly perhaps are the two lines are the bottom of the graphic.

The first thing to note is how much efforts needs to be expended on Data Analysis (10/90 rule anyone?) in order to move your company forward to each subsequent stage.

The second is approximately how long it will take a company to evolve to the next stage (again hopefully empowered by either internal or external investment in 10/90 philosophy).

Wonderfully helpful.

There are four stages in the above picture: Basic Reporting, Advanced Reporting, Advanced Analysis & Sustained Competitive Advantage. The characteristics of each stage are clearly identified. My Recommendation:

  1. Consider doing a critical self diagnosis of exactly what stage your company is in

  2. Now ensure that you communicate clearly to your executives what it will take you to get to the next stage

  3. Now identify exactly what you need to get to the next stage (10/90?, 80/20?, In-house Web Analytics or Outsourced?, How to select a tool?, What really enterprise class?)

  4. Go execute you own unique strategy from this intelligent choice that will take you to the next level, this would yield exponentially better results a cookie cutter solution imposed on you from someone outside your company

Good luck.

What do you all think? Care to share your critical few metrics, or your master metric (anonymously if you want)? Have your leapfrogged from one stage to another in three months? Is the Stratigent timeline aggressive? Not aggressive enough?

Please share your feedback and critique via comments.

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PS: Do you have a copy of Web Analytics: An Hour A Day? Please consider sending me a picture of your copy of the book with a "interesting background" (you or your cat or your house or your country landmark or you on your country landmark!), in exchange you get a autographed bookmark! Here are a couple of the latest pictures….

Jake is delighted at what Mommy is replacing Good Night Moon with!! (Thanks Jake you are a sweetheart.)

Dawson & Garrett are already half way through the book and on their way to measuring Web 2.0! (Happy 5th Birthday Garrett, a day late.)


  1. 1

    Great post. I was glad to see the notes from Daniel Cotlar.

    We settled on a single metric very early on and used it to drive decision making on our site, and indeed the justification for my job. The argument was we have Coremetrics and aside from people marveling at LIVEview, no one was using the tool to drive business and merchandising decisions. Its potential was far from being tapped (and arguably still is, but that’s another story…). He wanted to hire 2 people to split the shops on our site and use Core to merchandise the site on a weekly or even daily basis instead of the monthly updates they were currently scheduled to perform. We could have used conversion, sessions, etc, but the metric we stuck to was sales per visit (SPV). This metric supercharges conversion in the sense that we see the value of the conversion rather than just whether it happened or not. Our KPIs are very straight-forward: Lift SPV by XX% over the prior year in each of our assigned shops. That’s it, one sentence with no caveats.

    We completely subscribe to that way of thinking; Your focus can’t be razor sharp if you are looking at a portfolio of metrics. We may be watching several for insight, but there is really one that we live and die by.

    Thanks again for another great post. Since I can’t be at every conference these posts help to keep me in the know…


  2. 2

    Hi Avinash,

    Ditto I love reading this stuff – because you are our eyes and ears so to speak and giving us the highlights of conferences we can't go to :)

    From my perspective, in-house versus out-sourced, in the UK anyway there are a ton of marketing agencies offering "analytics" as an add-on to their search/other marketing services. It is only when analytics is offered to the client as a stand-alone business unit (at worst) or completely separate independent analytics agency (at best) that one is able to offer the unbiased advice. I hear frequently of web directors of integrated marketing agencies specifically telling their analysts not to give their clients "the beef" (ie we can't have a survey there because our client has already approved the designs, can we put a spin on the disastrous performance of the banners/PPC generating actual sales). Has anyone else experienced this – or this a "taboo" topic?

    I got your book today here in London – expect a suitably charming photo of book being chewed (sorry meticulously dissected) by toddler.

    Web Analytics Princess, Marianina

  3. 3

    I am impressed!

    It is simply perfect and one can only be envious on organisations who has an ability like this to cut through the clutter and conclude on ONE overall METRIC! – What the heck, I am buying a set of blinds even though we have curtains – if that can support Daniel in his work, I am in :-)

    Dennis R. Mortensen, COO at IndexTools
    My Web Analytics Blog

  4. 4

    Another very interesting 1-KPI story, the classic one being one British Airways CEO who looked only at late departure rate. I think that if you start to look at more than 10 "important" numbers to know if your site is successful, you need to sit down and restate your strategy.

    As for Josh and Bill's framework, I have used it a lot in recent months to evaluate where an organization was in terms of its web analytics, which helps me a lot to know how best I can help them. I have in the past wanted to do a lot with companies that were not ready, just to end up in failure. I think Josh and Bill are onto something important, and their framework deserves to be considered and debated by all practitioners.

  5. 5
    Satnam Singh says

    Ah, a great discussion point – in fact, I am about to start my blogging life soon (I have an article penned and ready to go) and this was going to be one of the first few articles.

    I believe that for most of the companies the single metric is going to be tied to sales/margin. Whether it be:
    a) accounts booked (financial firms)
    b) sales/visitor (retail), or
    c) total downloads, of coupons, information (pharma, technology firms etc.)

    it has to eventually tie in to a larger business goal.

    Having said that, I strongly recommend that this metric be reviewed in the context of the following aspects:

    a) Repeat vs. new visitor
    b) quality of visitor
    c) source of visit

    Each of these is important for your overall business strategy. Allow me to explain why.

    a) provides you details on business growth. For example, I assisted a private jet company that kept adding new members but revenues were not growing in line with the member growth. A simple analysis (not web analytics) of the data revealed that people would fly for the first few months and then stop because of lack of service. We focused on that aspect and the business boomed.

    b) Most of the financial services company provide loans; even a credit card is an unsecured loan, right? Therefore, just the number of accounts booked by itself can be misleading to overall business goal. You need to add in the quality of the visitor – easily determined if you know the SSN, DOB etc. (be careful not to share since it's PII)

    c) Source of visit: Important if you want to know which partners to sign, where to market etc.


    – Satnam
    Senior Consultant, AvenueA-Razorfish

    (the views expressed are mine and mine only, so help me …)

  6. 6

    Satnam: I suspect the Master Metric and the drill downs will be website / company specific, though something directly connected to Sales or Margin might be top of mind for most ecommerce websites. The drill downs might still be different (for Daniel for example it is % of Sales to Private Label or Flee Rate).

    Personally I am still fighting the battle of having Customer Task Completion Rate (as measured by surveys) to be the Master Metric (becuase it forces a focus on all visitors, not just ones that might be there to buy). No one's biting, but I am not going to give up!! :)

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  7. 7

    Hi Avinash

    Please highlight web analytics scope in India in any of your article.

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