How Should Web Analysts Spend Their Day?

ChallengeLast week I had the distinct pleasure of doing a interview with Alan Rimm-Kaufman of the Rimm-Kaufman Group. It was a wide ranging interview that covered insights analytics can provide with a focus on retailers, the 10/90 rule, multivariate testing, my lessons from blogging and more.

Life has been a bit rushed for me recently and with all that I forgot to answer one very interesting question that Alan had asked. Since I have a few minutes now I thought that I'll answer the question now.

Alan asked for my thoughts on how a full-time web analytics person should spend their working week in order to maximize their opportunities for massive success both for themselves and their company.

My answer is below, preceding that is some context about the 80/20 rule for reporting (that I had first mentioned at the emetrics summit a couple years back).  The 80/20 rule for Analysts is a perfect lead into to the next question, as you’ll see…….

ALAN: You've also suggested a 80/20 rule for reporting: analysts should spend 80% of their time doing analysis and only 20% reporting. How much data should a good web analytics dashboard be? How many key metrics should an online retailer track to understand their site? And which ones?

The stress on analysis is because with reporting all you are doing is throwing data out there, usually highly aggregated or deeply detailed, both good exercises to flex data flow muscles but rarely would they make you the lean mean fighting machine that you want to be. Analysis is the art of probing data, of discovering trends, digging beneath the surface, marrying the improbables and in the end finding insights. That’s how you make money.

Take any organization with remote success with analytics, none of them got there by having robust reporting programs. They got there by the sheer courage, hard work of solid analysts who took time to dig and probe and recommend.

I think I am on the record on the blog saying that you should only have eight to ten metrics on a dashboard, that you should be able to print it on one page, in eleven size font or greater. For more please see the post: Six rules for actionable dashboards.

There is no pat answer how many metrics each retailer should track. It depends. That’s not a cop out, rather it is a reflection at how there is little in common in any business.

Two retailers, say Best Buy and Circuit City, can have radically different strategies to leverage the web and their analytics strategy will have to fit around their unique web strategy. For example Circuit City will give you a $24 gift card if your online order is not ready for you to pick up in the store in 24 minutes. Best Buy will do no such thing. Tiny example of how your web analytics will be different in each case.

Ok there are some metrics I love and adore that everyone should measure. On the web we all do a very poor job of understanding the customer needs and wants and thus their experience on our sites.

ClickStream data is pretty sub optimal at representing customer experience, so using qualitative methodologies I am a fan of measuring Customer Satisfaction (“were you satisfied with your experience on our site today”), Primary Purpose (“why are you here today”) and Task Completion Rate (“were you able to complete the task today”).

Measure those three using Surveys on your site, you can do Site visits with your customers, you can do remote usability studies. You will find them to be a great complement to your web analytics clickstream data.

ALAN: Let's imagine a hypothetical full-time web analytics person working for a major online retailer. Best case scenario, in a typical work week, what activities would he or she be doing, and roughly how much time would he or she be spending on each?

    If it is a major online retailer the first thing I would recommend is that they also hire a young person, perhaps a intern, to take over the reporting responsibilities (or pay someone at your Vendor / Consultant to do it). It is important to realize that this is the first step.

    In any large organization you can’t get away from reporting demands from lots of folks (as in “our department needs these three reports every two days” or “we have to publish these standard metrics company wide” and so on). Your chances of massive success are low with just reporting and so please don’t expect your Analyst to do reporting and for that to in turn to bottom-line impacting results.

    A fresh person out of school should cost you a lot less than your Analyst, and they, Mr. or Ms. Fresh, will work enthusiastically on reporting (and all the while get great training on becoming a true Analyst).

    So if you are a Analyst then here is what I recommend you start with (customize for your organization as you see fit):

    20% Reporting – Sorry you can’t escape this, you are still going to do reporting. But on the bright side it is a great way to keep in touch with reality.

    20% Analyze Acquisition Strategies – What is your company doing to attract traffic to your website? SEM? Affiliate Marketing? Banners? Email Marketing? What else?

    There is no faster way to win the hearts and souls of your company stake holders than helping them understand how their efforts are performing.

    Focus your analysis on Outcomes (revenue?) that your company desires and you’ll do fine.

    20% Understanding On-site Customer Experience – Using a mix of ClickStream and qualitative methodologies analyze what the customer experience is on your website. Really. Not what you think it is, not what your company wants it to be. But what it is in reality.

    There is no better way to make money then this (and you’ll get happy customers as a bonus).

What Would a Analyst Do

    20% Staying Plugged into the Context – Most Analysts suffer because of a lack of context. They are put away in a corner with Omniture or WebTrends or HBX or Google Analytics and expected to produce earth shattering insights.

    We need to have our Analyst use 20% of their time simply to stay plugged into what else is going on, in the marketing organization, on the websites in terms of operational changes, with senior management (anyone higher then their boss) to know what their strategic pain points are (then imagine how web data can solve them), with the phone or retail (big box) channels, etc.

    Web analysis is not a silo and the analysts needs to be plugged into the context so that they can look at the right data, better and provide relevant insights (that they can’t possibly provide when locked in their ivory tower (!!).

    10% Explore New Strategic Options – I don’t know where your company is but you always want to move the ball forward, this chunk of time should be spent in experimenting with new and different ways to move your program forward.

    Think testing, competitive intelligence analysis, multi channel integration, usability etc. If you really are a one man band this is really hard to do (especially with 10% of your time) but think of tiny ways in which you can show that web analytics is not just about ClickStream, it is about creating better customer experiences and it is about creating a strategic advantage using data.

    10% Bathroom breaks , oh and lunch! I am generous aren’t I. : )

    I realize that each company is unique and each Analyst is unique, but I hope that the above picture provides a semblance of universal guidance for anyone how has the word Analyst in their title. Do a quick back of the envelope of how you spend your day/week and compare it to the picture above. What do you find?

Bonus reading material: Top Ten: Signs You Are A Great Analyst.

What do you all think? Am I being reasonable with how Web Analysts should spend their time? Is 20% too much time for staying plugged into gleaning the context? Not enough? What about the 80/20 rule for reporting success? Please share your thoughts and critique via comments.

[Like this post? For more posts like this please click here.]


  1. 1

    thats a good point. Maybe 15% for lunch is better anyway (we do eat mediterranean diet here in italy, not fast foods) =)

  2. 2

    I usually spend 20% of the time reading blogs, such as this one. I guess that falls into the "analysis" part of it all. But, I stay late every night. :). I wear multiple hats here, so it's hard to give a good estimate on how much analysis I do vs. how much reporting I do, but I always stress the importance of good investigative / analysis work.

    (Is there a way to make this message invisible to any of my bosses, in case they read it and say "Joe spends 20% of the time reading blogs??")


  3. 3
    Ned Kumar says


    I agree with the general areas of "focus", but would slightly differ on the breakdown :-)). I think understanding 'customer experience' on your site and the 'business context' you are in are by far the two most critical areas to focus on if want to have a sustained competitive advantage ('business context' here refers to understanding

    (i) the business your company is in,

    (ii) the various other initiatives going on in the company and how it might drive/affect web-traffic,

    (iii) the leadership thoughts/strategic directions from your C-level Execs , and

    (iv) if you have a good comp intel group, then understanding what your competitors are doing).

    The analyst should then spend his time/creativity to sythesize the info that would result in either

    (a) web-site changes that would further promote customer experience, or

    (b)him/her providing useful results to these other groups/Execs that would help their strategies and/or intitatives.

    Like you, I think in an ideal world, the time spend on reporting should be minuscule:-) — if a report can be automated and scheduled, just do it.



  4. 4

    I got a very cute email from a reader about what WWAD stands for, the question was if it stood for What Would Avinash Do! :)

    It was a great suggestion, one that I did not think about (!), but WWAD is a riff on WWJD (which I am sure many of you know) and it stands for What Would a Analyst Do.

    The thought being that ask yourself in any situation: "what would a analyst do vs. a pure reporting person".

    The abbreviation is in the image alt tag (img alt="What Would a Analyst Do" ) but it was too subtle.

    Now you know.


    PS: While I am adding a comment…..

    Joe: You are absolutely on the right track, there is too much great information on Web Analytics Blogs out there not to enrich yourself and stay current and get great new ideas. I applaud your commitment.

    Ned: Excellent adds. Your sub bullets add value to the conversation, thanks for taking the time to share. I am afraid that I have worked in too many companies as a Practitioner to think that we could totally automate "reporting"! :)

  5. 5
    John Edge says

    Avinash, excellent post. I have followed your advice and started a tracking spreadsheet to see how my own graph will look! :)

    I agree with the 80/20 rule as well, with a stress on analyss. Sadly it is not always possible becuase of the key stakeholders not being educated on what is possible with web analysis, they prefer web reporting.

    Keep up the good work here.

  6. 6

    hey avinash — how about doing an online survey of your readers to find out how they actually spend their time? (some might be uncomfortable reporting the time they spend checking email in the bathroom, though).

  7. 7

    Incidentally, last night I sent an email to Avinash to get his precious input on a project I had in mind for a while! I've been blogging about the "attention economy" and web analytics, and there's a good opportunity to demonstrate the concept.

    Adding up "How Should Web Analysts Spend Their Day?" with "AttentionMap" will provide us with a better understanding of how web analyst spend their day and which task requires the most attention.

    So please, spread the word about this survey, and take 10 minutes to fill it out!

    All the details at: Study: AttentionMap of Web Analysts


  8. 8
    Jia Adil says

    Hi Avinash,

    I totally have a non-article related question. I have always wondered where you find such appealing unique graphics for your articles. They add a nice touch to your articles!


  9. 9

    Jia : Good question!

    The first image you see on the post is always one of my own. I love taking macro pictures and this is my subtle way of sharing my passion with the world.

    The tables, charts, pies :) are ones I usually custom create for the post. I am a visual person and they are my humble attempt at explaining complex topics visually. Tools: Excel, PowerPoint!

    All other images I hunt for using Google Images or Stock.XCHNG ( When I write I usually have a concept and visual in mind, then it is just a matter of using the right keywords and clicking a lot!

    I am so glad that you noticed the graphics, it often takes me a hour (or more) to find just the right image.

    Thanks for the feedback.


  10. 10

    Great post, Avinash.

    I think one of the most important points was ensuring analysts have context. When I first started with my present company I was thrown into the deep end with Coremetrics and was providing a lot of reports with little understanding of what questions I was really trying to answer. It hit me one day when I was caught in the hallway and asked about some of my findings in the context of site design and I was unable to provide a cogent answer. I had become very close to the numbers but not what they represented. Since then I have made a large effort to step back and try to understand the direction of the business which has helped me a lot.


  11. 11


    This is a wonderful article. I started hitting from all areas with the reporting requests and I now I realized on how I should accomdate the stuff by breakin it down..

    Great stuff.


  12. 12

    As a web analyst, one area I spend a fair amount of time on is data tagging design and tagging integrity. I believe part of this is just a sign we need a working process instead of just fixing the issues as they occur. But it does seem like this is a legitimate area that requires some time investment. Examples of demands include when you roll out new pages for product review submission and want to set them up for optimal tracking or move to an AJAX approach on product pages, etc. Any insights you can share on how to minimize time spent in this area while still getting accurate and actionable data?

    I enjoyed your talk at emetrics last week.


  13. 13

    At what point during a visit would you suggest measuring the below 3 metrics?

    Customer Satisfaction (“were you satisfied with your experience on our site today”), Primary Purpose (“why are you here today”) and Task Completion Rate (“were you able to complete the task today”).

  14. 14

    I think your smart and the information you share has value….thank you

  15. 15

    Hi Avinash,

    Don't you think a analist should also give his thoughts about the tagging on the website because it is the first step before you can really measure things?


  16. 16

    Marco: Except in small companies, where an Analyst must be a jack of all trades, there are one or two different people, even if part time, who manage the business end of web analytics and the technical end of web analytics.

    That does not mean they don't work together or collaborate. They do.

    The skills required to be a great web analyst are more deeply rooted in business analysis and having a solid understanding of business and data. If that person is not deeply skilled in javascript tags or hacking code then that is not as much of a barrier as people think.

    Here is a blog post with the four careers, and their paths, in Web Analytics:

    * Web Analytics Career Choices: Technical, Business, People or Individual

    While they are geared towards people in medium to big companies I hope it will be of some help to you.



  1. […]

    Avinash heeft een leuke post deze week: hoe een Web Analyst zijn dag zou moeten/kunnen doorbrengen. Vaak hoor je de 80/20 regel bij consultants. 80% analyses maken en 20% rapporteren. Maar wat betekent dat nu in de praktijk? Waar moet bijvoorbeeld een goed KPI dashboard aan voldoen?

    Natuurlijk is elke organisatie uniek en elke Web Analyst ook, maar onderstaande indeling is helemaal zo gek nog niet. Lees hier de details van de verschillende onderdelen.

    Iemand aanvullingen?


  2. […] Avinash Kaushik posted an interesting breakdown about how web analysts should spend their day. Here's his ideal breakdown: • 20% Reporting – Sorry you can’t escape this, you are still going to do reporting. But on the bright side it is a great way to keep in touch with reality. […]

  3. […]

    De l’analyse, c’est plus que de savoir le « quoi » et « quand ». C’est de découvrir aussi le « comment », le « pourquoi » et extrapoler en se demandant des « si ». Par exemple, « que se passera-t-il si cette tendance continue? ».

    À mon avis, l’analyste web à un impact sur les affaires de l’entreprise. Il doit comprendre ce que fait l’entreprise ainsi que connaître les buts et objectifs de l’entreprise. Suite à son analyse, il pourra faire diverses recommandations qui aideront à avancer vers la réalisation des objectifs.

    Faire un rapport pour connaître la provenance des visiteurs n’est pas de l’analyse, c’est du reporting. Le reporting, c’est une partie des tâches de l’analyste. À ce propos, voici ce qu’à l’air la division du travail d’un analyste web (via Stéphane Hamel) :


  4. Projet W2 says:


    J’ai lu dernièrement dans le techno-blogue à Steph, un article très intéressant sur la fonction d’”Analyste Web” inspiré d’un autre post qui décortique la journée type d’un analyste web.

    C’est le genre de job que qui fait partie des nouvelles activités qui tournent autour du web et que j’avais évoqué ici.

    analyste web

    Je me posais la question de savoir dans quelle mesure, une activité d’analyste web peut s’insérer dans une activité de conseil. Est-il possible de proposer ce genre de service, dans le cadre de missions ponctuelles auprès d’entreprises n’ayant pas assez de moyens pour se payer un analyste web à plein temps.

    J’y vois deux problèmes. Le premier est que l’analyse demande une connaissance approfondie du domaine d’activité du client. Le second est que l’analyse doit être accompagnée d’un suivi sur le long terme, ce qui suppose un partenariat durable avec le client sans quoi, le rapport d’analyse serait inefficace.


  5. […] Eric Peterson in a recent post revises Avinash's 20/80 rule of web analytics to the 10/20/70 Rule for Achievable Web Analytics Success. I agree with both that the key to value and success in web analytics is actually taking action on the data. You don't get an ROI for web analytics by just distributing reports; you actually have to do something with the data […]

  6. Analytics Fights For The Soul of Online Marketing…

    Web Analytics is struggling for the soul of online marketing. At least it should be. There is far too much time and money spent badly, far too many users subjected to horrible web experiences, and far too many misplaced priorities – all the very things that good analytics and analysis can help prevent.

    And although they might not see it in these grand terms, many of the Analytics Elders have been talking lately about some fundamental issues that we as practitioners need to get right before what has traditionally been the tail can finally start wagging this dog.

    First we have the relative role of tools and talent. Avinash now famously proposed the 90/10 rule for allocating analytics budgets. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t meant to be the literal dictate some like to argue about but was intended to be a theoretical ideal and probably a little bit of an exaggeration intended to make the point that 10/90 split found in most companies was really wrong. The vital point here is that it doesn’t matter that you buy (or install) web analytics it matters that you do web analysis…..

  7. […]
    • ¿Por qué decidiste dedicarte a la analítica web? ¿Qué es lo que más te gusta/disgusta?

    Es el futuro, me llevo diciendo eso muchos años y creo que por fin y por pesao ya es presente. Lo que más me gusta es poder ver la inmediatez en las acciones aplicadas y medir su repercusión. Lo más difícil siempre es la dificultad que a veces conlleva poner en marcha las acciones correctoras (burocracia, problemas metodológicos, politiqueo, desconfianza, etc.)

    • Describe tu típico día de trabajo, así como tus principales responsabilidades

    Para saber mis labores podeis os recomiendo que leáis este post de Avinash Kaushik.

    • ¿Cuáles son los principales beneficios que obtiene la empresa con tu trabajo?

    Aumento en los ratios de conversión, reducción de costes, identificación de errores, optimización de procesos, descubrimiento de patrones, identificación de mejores prácticas, etc.

    • ¿Cuáles crees que son los mayores retos de la analítica web?

    Su integración como un canal más dentro del business intelligence de una empresa y la evolución de la analítica web hacia el web mining.

  8. […] Pour plusieurs, faire de l’analyse Web consiste à générer des rapports de fréquentation Web via un quelconque outil. Autrement dit, quelqu’un qui se sert de iMinR, de Xiti ou de Google Analytics fait de l’analyse Web. S’il s’agit d’une tâche essentielle à l’analyste, ce n’est qu’une petite partie de sa tâche. Analyser, c’est plus que de savoir le « quoi » et « quand ». C’est de découvrir aussi le « comment », le « pourquoi » et extrapoler en se demandant des « si ». Par exemple, « que se passera-t-il si cette tendance continue? Ainsi, l’analyste Web à un impact sur les affaires de l’entreprise. Il doit comprendre ce que fait l’entreprise ainsi que connaître les buts et objectifs de l’entreprise. Suite à son analyse, il pourra faire diverses recommandations qui aideront à avancer vers la réalisation des objectifs. Faire un rapport pour connaître la provenance des visiteurs n’est pas de l’analyse, c’est du reporting. Le reporting, c’est une partie des tâches de l’analyste. À ce propos, voici ce qu’à l’air la division du travail d’un analyste Web (via Stéphane Hamel). : […]

  9. […]
    4. Avinash profite également de cette courte interview pour faire s’étrangler les RH du monde entier (partisants du politiquement correct ou mysogines incurables) en affirmant que les femmes font de meilleurs analystes que les hommes (ahah ! ). Et les jeunes aussi (re-ahah ! ).

    Pas d’arguments à l’appui malheureusement… Mon patron (T pour ne pas le nommer ;) ) dans son grand souci de l’équité et de la preuve par les faits me demande donc de tempérer ce point. Voilà qui est fait :)

    En conclusion, on retiendra que l’outil ne fait pas le webanalyste. Quelqu’un de curieux, faisant preuve de fraicheur d’esprit, un peu détective, passionné par le web, sensible à l’expérience utilisateur et avec un bon esprit d’analyse conviendra parfaitement.

    Pour continuer sur ce thème je vous conseille de lire ce post d’Avinash sur Occam’s Razor (un blog à lire absolument) sur l’emploi du temps idéal d’un webanalyste.

  10. […]
    How a Web Analyst Should Spend Their Day (& the Occam’s Razor blog in general, by WA guru Avinash Kaushik)

Add your Perspective