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How to build governance around your Web Analytics data? – Part 1

Who Owns Your Web Analytics Data?

Who Owns Your Web Analytics Data?

Every year, we conduct series of Web Analytics, Conversion Optimization and Digital Marketing workshops in collaboration with our strategic Partner ConversionPath in Asia Pacific for leading Financial Institutes, Insurance Giants, Multi-Channel Retailers and Brands, Telecommunication Companies, Agencies and Online Travel Portals. Almost 60% of our workshops are onsite while, 40% of them are regional where, we invite online players from different industries, and give them an opportunity to interact with each other and share their day to day problems and frustrations around online data, and learn from each others experiences.

In last 2 years, all of these workshops were conducted in APAC region, and were very well received by both pure-play and multi-channel players in the market. While conducting these workshops; we got an opportunity to come closer to the Ecommerce, Operations and Digital Marketing Teams, and  learn about their quarterly and years goals, their frustration around data quality and inconsistency, their desire for a centralized reporting platform and most importantly, lack of process and governance around online data. Here are some of the facts that came out of these workshops, and we would like to share this with our valuable readers:

  • FACT – Still, majority of the online companies perceive Web Analytics like, any other Tool or Solution on their website.
  • FACT – Still, the role of a Web Analytics Professional is not clear in the organization. Should they be product specialists or data crunchers or data strategists?
  • FACT – Still, their is a wide chasm between business and technology when it comes to Web Analytics. The question is; should their be a standard protocol between these 2 departments?
  • FACT – Irrespective of how well you have implemented the Web Analytics solution on your website; exactly after 6 months it becomes CRAP. The question is why and who is responsible for this?
  • FACT – Sorry, but the developers don’t give a damn to your Web Analytics Tool. They already have too much on their plates.
  • FACT – Both Marketing & Operations loves to crib about data quality issues in every management meeting but, neither of them is committed to maintain consistency and quality of Web Analytics data month over month.
  • FACT – Majority of the online players are still skeptical about investing in process and governance around Web Analytics data.

Let’s take a step back and discuss on; how the organizations plan out their Web Analytics solution roll-out, and during this process; what all mistakes they do, and what are the major contributing factors behind data inconsistency and day-to-day frustration.

5 Most Influencing factors behind Analytics Vendor selection:

  1. Marketing & Ecommerce Teams got influenced by the Enterprise-Level Analytics Vendor in a Conference or a Summit. (By the way; who says, the sexy powerpoint decks don’t work?)
  2. Let’s follow our immediate competition.
  3. Suggested by a HIPPO in the management team based on his past experience, comfort level or, intimate relation with the Vendor Account Manager.
  4. Sick of existing Web Analytics solution.
  5. Let’s follow an enterprise-level Web Analytics brand offering a centralized reporting platform.

5 Most Common Techniques for gathering Web Analytics requirements

  1. Let’s look at the best practices and recommended reports and metrics list from the Analytics vendor; and choose among them what we need and what we don’t?
  2. Let’s ask the marketing team because, they are the major driving factor behind this implementation and also handling the P&L too.
  3. Let’s ask “Joe”, our Web Analytics Manager about this because, he was working with our competitor in his last job, and he must have some ideas around what all reports and metrics we need.
  4. Let’s track each and every ON CLICK activity on the website and make sure, every page on the website is tracked because, last time we missed few pages on the website.
  5. Let’s engage a Web Analytics Consulting firm, and ask them to do an audit of our website and suggest us some of the best practices reports and metrics.

3 Most Common Prep-Techniques for Web Analytics Solution roll-out

  1. Let’s buy 50-100 Consulting Hours from the Analytics Vendor Consulting team, and ask them to collaborate with the in-house Technical Lead and assist him in rolling out the Best Practices.
  2. Let’s engage an external Web Analytics Consulting firm as a retainer for 2-3 months, and ask them to work with the in-house Technical Lead and assist him in rolling out the Best Practices.
  3. Let’s hire a Web Analytics Product Specialist, and ask him to lead the Web Analytics solution roll-out based on Vendor Rec0mmendations.

How the implementation is carried out?

  • The Technical Lead in collaboration with an external consulting team carries out the implementation process. After the implementation is over, the consulting team quickly audits the tags on the pages, and looks at few customized reports in the tool and give a green lit.
  • The Technical Lead after getting an assurance from the consulting team, starts the roll-out process with the help of Release Managers.
  • The Analytics Tool gets configured by the consulting team on Production prior to launch.
  • After the solution gets rolled out, the external consulting team performs a quick audit of the reports in the tool, and stops the engagement after 2-4 weeks of maintenance window.

After-Effects of Implementation

  • Business and Marketing team requests for the User or Implementation Training from the Web Analytics Vendor either, right after the implementation is over or, with-in 3 months of launch. Since, the regional trainings are economical as compare to on-site, most of the clients prefer going that route.
  • In the regional workshops, the focus is always on how the tool works and the discussion on out of the box reports from the vendor.
  • After the training is over, when the clients go back to their offices and start using the solution; following are the 5 questions that comes to their mind most often:
    1. How to apply our learning to our current implementation?
    2. How to find relevant reports and metrics specifically for our department?
    3. How to run those reports and interpret the data?
    4. How do we ensure that we are looking at the right data?
    5. How to find opportunities and act on the low-hanging fruits?
  • Since, this is the first time the clients got the taste of what they have implemented, the confusion and frustration creeps in because of the following 3 major reasons:
    1. The regional training workshop didn’t talk about the custom reports implemented for their business.
    2. The client has no idea about underlying implementation business rules.
    3. The client is confused about why the data is presented this way in the reports, and how they should be looking at?
  • When the frustration level reaches it’s threshold, the client is left with the following 2 options, which opens-up the can of worms:
    1. Client makes a call to the Account Manager and request for a customized on-site implementation training class.
    2. Engage an external Web Analytics consulting firm and request for an audit of their current implementation.
  • Irrespective of whichever option the client chooses; it opens up a can of worms and results in finger pointing and creates chaos in the organization.

It’s really sad that, majority of the companies we have engaged in the past 2 years in the APAC region have encountered the above problems, and are really struggling to get a ROI from their Web Analytics investment. In the second part of this post, we will talk about how the organizations can make small changes in their organizational processes, and gain significant ROI from their Web Analytics investment apart from maintaining consistency and quality of their online data month over month.

As always, we value the constructive feedback of our dear readers so; please feel free to share your experiences.

FACT – Still, majority of the online companies consider Web Analytics as a Tool/Solution.
FACT – Still, the role of a Web Analytics Professional is not clear in the organization.
FACT – Still, their is a wide chasm between business and technology when it comes to Web Analytics
FACT – Irrespective of how well you have implemented the Web Analytics solution on your website; exactly after 6 months it becomes CRAP.
FACT – Sorry, but Developers don’t give a damn to your Web Analytics Tool. They already have too much on their plates.
FACT – Both Marketing & Operations loves to crib about data quality issues but, not committed about maintaining consistency and quality of web analytics data month over month.

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This post was written by sushantajmani