The Most Important Post on Web Analytics You'll Ever Read
When John Lovett joined Aurelie and I here at Analytics Demystified earlier this month an awful lot of people said, “Hey, nice job getting such nice guy on board,” “We love John, he’s great,” and “Man, what a great addition to your team!” Clearly John has the respect of the industry, but one thing that remained an open question in some people’s minds was “how will John make the transition from the ivory tower an analyst sits in to the ground floor where consultants actually do work?”
I admit, I wondered that too in a way, having made a slightly different transition myself years ago. It’s not easy to come away from a situation where you provide advice but are tasked with, honestly, doing very little real work. During my own tenure at JupiterResearch years ago I ensured my own connection to practical web analytics by writing my second and third books. But John had been an analyst for nearly 10 years … and so wondering how he’d hit the ground was a reasonable question.
Wonder no more.
While John has already contributed greatly to the businesses bottom line and helped out with one of our largest new retail clients, he absolutely floored me this morning when he published his post Defining a Web Analytics Strategy: A Manifesto. I asked him to elaborate on some comments he made at Emetrics where he essentially poo-pooed the use of so called “Web Analytics Maturity Models”, describing the almost religious zeal some people seem to have when talking about models and declaring himself as a “Model Atheist.”
Having written the original Web Analytics Maturity Model back in 2005, I have had first-hand experience with their failure to produce anything more than a generalized awareness that most companies simply don’t “get” web analytics, something that we more or less all know already. But honestly I was surprised when John took this position on the subject because, well, in my experience those that don’t do, teach, and models are a classic teaching tool.
I had assumed that as an analyst John was a teacher, not a do-er like I have been for years now in my capacity as a practice leader, consultant, and web analyst. Man was I wrong …
John’s “Manifesto” is perhaps the most lucid yet succinct explanation I have ever read detailing the steps required to make web analytics work for your business (as opposed to the other way around.) I almost asked him to edit the post for fear that he was opening our kimono too much, but if Social Media has taught us anything it has taught us that transparency is king. The fact that he managed to encapsulate what others have been trying to explain with long-winded speeches, tangential arguments, and downright rude behavior is a huge plus.
Some of you may read John’s manifesto and think “Gee, this seems to point to the need for outside consultants” which is a fair criticism. But before you react consider two things:
- Consultants (like us) have a tendency to, you know, recommend consulting. Everyone’s perspective arises from their own personal biases, regardless of how many times they declare the contrary. We are consultants, consultants who want to feed their children. Forgive us our bias and we will forgive you yours …
- Consultants in the Enterprise are like death and taxes, we are more or less inevitable. Often times an outside perspective is exactly what the business needs to actually start to act upon the message that otherwise great employees have been stating for years. Other times the business simply stops listening to their employees and won’t make a move until McKinsey, Bain, or Demystified come in and charge big money for insights that were already there. Either way, ours is the second (or is it third) oldest profession and it must be for a reason …
I would challenge you, dear reader, to spend some time reading John’s post and considering what he has to say. Think about how you could apply his ten insights to your business regardless of whether you turn to consultants for advice or not. Listen to your business partners needs, put away your models and roll up your sleeves, transcend mediocrity, establish your own waterfall and embrace change!
When I said “web analytics is hard” I meant it, I really, really did. But I wasn’t trying to box anyone in or establish myself as some kind of amazingly wonderful “guru”, I was simply telling you all the truth based on my dozen years of experience in the sector. Yes, getting started can be easy; yes, making Google Analytics do stuff can be easy; and yes, you can do an awful lot in an hour a day if you simply apply yourself to the task … but the problem is that within any business of size, complexity, or nuance — which is to say all businesses everywhere — the act of getting from raw data to valuable business insights that you can repeatedly take action upon is apparently so freaking difficult that almost nobody does it.
How is that “easy?”
You all know I love a good debate so if you disagree with my comments here please let me know. If, however, you have something to add to John’s manifesto, I would encourage you to comment on his blog post directly.
Happy Holidays, everyone.