Need A Checkup? The Doctor Is In!
When it comes to your health, most doctors say that having a regular checkup is the easiest way to prevent major illness. By simply going to see your doctor once a year, you can get your vitals evaluated and see if your blood pressure is too high or low, check your cholesterol, etc… If you happen to be sick at the time you have your checkup, you can find out if it is serious or not and if you feel fine, the checkup is a way to confirm that you are in good shape.
However, when it comes to web analytics implementations, it isn’t always easy to know how “healthy” you are. You might wonder the following:
- Is my organization capturing the right data to ensure it can do the analysis needed to improve conversion rates?
- Do the configuration settings of our web analytics tool make sense?
- Are we maximizing the use of our web analytics tool or are we only using 20% of its capabilities?
- How does our web analytics implementation compare to that of my peers/competitors?
Over the past decade, I have been associated with hundreds of web analytics implementations, and the above questions were ones that often kept my clients awake at night. And, truth be told, based upon my experience, many of them had reason to be worried. More often than not, when I crack open a client’s web analytics implementation, I am shocked by what I see. Here are a few examples of problems I encounter repeatedly:
- Unusable pathing reports due to inconsistent page naming practices
- Unusable campaign reports due to inconsistent tracking code naming conventions
- Web analytic variables/reports defined, but with no data
- Cookie settings that don’t line up with business goals (i.e. Cookie using Last Touch when Marketing uses First Touch)
- Data inconsistencies resulting in reports that are highly suspect or untrustworthy
- Incomplete meta-data or look-up tables
- Lack of critical KPI’s and best practices specific to the industry vertical the website serves
- Lack of appropriate usage of key web analytics tool features that could improve overall analytic success
The remainder of this post will discuss a new service offering Analytics Demystified will be providing to address the preceding concerns. If you are interested in knowing the “health” of your organization’s web analytics implementation, please read on…
Introducing the Web Analytics Operational Audit
So how do you know if you are doing well or poorly? Like anything, the best way to know where you stand is to perform a checkup or audit. In this case, I am referring to an audit that reviews which web analytic tool features you are utilizing and what data your web analytics implementation is currently collecting.
Since there is no official “doctor” when it comes to web analytics, we at Analytics Demystified have created what we believe is the next best thing. Taking advantage of our depth of experience in the web analytics arena, we have created a Web Analytics Operational Audit scorecard that encompasses the best practices we have seen across all company sizes and industry verticals. This scorecard is vendor-agnostic and has over 100 specific items and categories that allow you to see where your current web analytics implementation excels and where it is lacking.
Over the years, I have done this type of scoring informally, but the Operational Audit framework we have created at Demystified takes this to a whole new level. Here is a snapshot of what the scorecard looks like so you can see the format:
Our goal in creating this Operational Audit project is to have a simple, yet powerful way to objectively score any web analytics implementation from a functionality point of view. Knowing where your organization stands with respect to its web analytics implementation is beneficial for the following reasons:
- If you think you have a robust implementation, but it turns out that you do not, you may be making poor business decisions today based upon faulty data and/or incorrect assumptions
- What if your implementation is worse than you thought? You can try and hide it, but I have found that in the long run, bad web analytics implementations are eventually found out…usually at the worst time when an executive needs something critical and you have to come back and say “sorry, we don’t have a way to know that…” Wouldn’t you like to know sooner, rather than later, what shape you are in so you can get your web analytics house in order?
- Maybe you have an awesome web analytics implementation, but your boss doesn’t know it! What would it do to your job/career if your boss was told by an independent 3rd party that all of the time and money they invested in your web analytics implementation have paid off! What if your web analytics implementation was in the top 10% of the general web analytics population? Promotion anyone?
- Your organization doesn’t have unlimited time and budget for web analytics implementation projects. When the stars align and you do get resources or budget, wouldn’t it be great to be armed and ready with the top things you should be doing so you don’t miss these golden opportunities?
Go Forth and Audit!
As I stated earlier, the unfortunate truth is that there is more bad than good out there. People change roles, priorities change, people leave your company, companies merge. There can be any number of reasons contributing to the devolution of web analytics implementations, but regardless of how you got to where you are, if you want to be successful, you need to grab hold of the reins of your current web analytics implementation and take ownership of it.
For example, when I joined Salesforce.com, I could have spent my time blaming our implementation shortcomings on my predecessors, but that wouldn’t help me get to where I needed to go. Instead, I chose to audit our implementation and identify what was worth keeping and what had to go! In the end, our company was better for it, and the audit led to an implementation roadmap for the next year, allowing me to know how long it would take to turn things around and what type of resources I would need.
It is based upon this recent experience that I highly encourage you to consider this Operational Audit service for your organization. Long term, one of my hopes is that I can audit enough companies, across various company sizes and verticals to enable me to create a benchmark of web analytics implementations so I can let you know how your scores compare to others like you. This way, even if most companies score poorly, you can possibly claim to be the best of what is currently out there (can you tell I liked being graded on a curve in high school?). I am also looking forward to re-scoring companies next year so they can see how their implementation has improved year over year.
Intrigued? Interested? Scared?
If you’d like to learn more about having your web analytics implementation audited, please contact me and I’d be happy to answer any questions. Thanks!