5 Second Quiz: Are you an Analytics Superhero?

January 09, 2010

Posted in Marketing and Web Industry.

Take this brief quiz and make a mental note of your responses:

  1. Have you and your boss (or client) agreed on the important metrics for your website’s success?

That’s it. If the answer is yes, you’re on the road to being an analytics superhero. But if you don’t know the answer to that question, all of your analytics efforts are in vain.

NikkiMK at eduWeb 2009 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpg

Nikki Massaro Kauffman is a smart web marketer (and a daring thief of table skirts). She recently wrote about problems with data collection for eduGuru:

“Tools help you do the job, but they don’t do it for you. They require expertise. Do you even know what information you want to get from the application in the first place? Do you know enough about the data you are collecting to know how to get what you want from the tools? Do you know how to use the tools?”

“Reporting is not Analysis”

Avinash Kaushik has famously said that reporting is not the same as analysis. I believe this is because people mistake tools for intelligence. Just as a programmer is useless unless he has a project, reports are useless unless they are answering a question.

Too often are we asked to provide answers to unstated questions. The result, as Nikki asks, is whether we can read the minds of our bosses and clients about exactly what they’re trying to accomplish.

Analysis is about business intelligence. Web analytics software is supposed to help you make informed decisions. It starts with deciding what you’re trying to measure and how to measure it.

Fortunately, it can be easy to start (and gets harder the deeper you go). Begin by talking with your boss briefly about what you both consider success to be for your website, and then what you both consider the most important thing someone can do on your website. If you’re lucky, it’s as simple as a conversion goal – a checkout process, a signup, or a form. If not, look for ways to measure whatever task you have. Michael Notte has a great resource for defining your web metrics and KPIs.

This is the first step to moving beyond reporting and into analysis. And just as Mr. Incredible had to work out to regain his crime-fighting figure, you’ll need to practice and develop your skills. You’re on the road to becoming an analytics superhero.

1 Comment

  1. Shelby Thayer — January 11, 2010

    Really great post, Chas. It’s easy to install a tool and spit out visit reports and give them to your boss on a monthly basis. Stats don’t mean a thing without analysis.

    I think a lot of times it can be boiled down to lack of training, especially in higher ed where staff are asked to be jacks of all trades. So many times its, “you think web analytics is a good idea? Great, you own it now. You learn about it (in your spare time, of course), implement it, and get some useful insights out of it.”

    Your idea of starting small is so key, in my opinion. In St├ęphane Hamel’s Web Analytics Maturity Model, he suggests, “Posting a single or a couple of metrics on the cubicle wall, along with a comment or recommendation no longer than a phrase …” This is a great way to get started.