Give web analytics the human touch

by

iMedia Connection

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/18905.asp

Getting the right web analytics tool is only half the battle; the real focus of your web analytics program should be the people who work with it.

Web analytics solutions can be automated to track and then deliver data to individuals in an organization, but people need to set up the solution in the first place, and people need to make key decisions regarding the data. The tool itself — its cost and acquisition, etc. — used to be the analytics industry’s primary focus, but the focus is now moving towards the question of what to do with the tools and data once you have them. While the tool is automated, most of the value of web analytics is a function of the people who work with the numbers.

Inception
As an analytical solution is born, a huge amount of human interaction is necessary to get it off the ground. Someone in the organization will need to assume responsibility for the project, effectively becoming the stakeholder who will be in charge of setting the key business objectives, evaluating the different tools and eventually driving web analytics within the company. This person is pivotal to the success of the rest of the project; laying a solid foundation will ensure that the solution is as close to spec (business needs) and as reliable as possible. This person is likely to be someone who has an excellent understanding of the business and its objectives and who wants to see the project work.

Implementation
Once the tool has been chosen, it is now necessary to engage with a technical resource within the organization. This person will need to interpret the KPI’s that have been passed down from the stakeholder and make sure that the tagging solution and blueprint match these objectives as closely as possible. This requires a strong understanding of the technology, as well as of the infrastructure it will run on and the methods for its deployment. This individual is also likely to be involved with strategies relating to page and campaign tracking and integration with external data sources. This ensures that the solution is installed with minimum negative impact to business as usual.

Analysis and optimization
Once a good repository of historical information has been created, an analyst is engaged. This is the person that finds trends in the data in order to predict items like churn, click fraud and likelihood to convert/engage with the site. Based on expertise, he or she will be able to make the call on items that are likely to affect the objectives of the web business, and he or she will report to the key individuals who can take action. This person would also be able to set up testing and optimization strategies to assess campaigns, landing pages and content to determine which are improving and degrading the customer experience. There is a perpetual need for human interaction at this stage, as the individual will be involved in constantly testing and optimizing elements and content of the website.

Training
Training is one of the biggest pain points, and there is definitely a huge correlation between knowledge and the subsequent adoption of any tool. There are applications out there that can provide simulated training, but these are very rigid and only provide generic data. Interactive training provided by a person that can interact, engage and inspire users is more effective. This person will be able to look at specific data that excites the audience and field questions from the participants as the training progresses.

Training related to implementation of the tools, tagging concepts and analytics terminology can facilitate the uptake of web analytics within a business. Many vendors offer certification training, which offers the dual benefits of imparting knowledge and helping the individual’s career and credibility.

Internal adoption
Internal adoption is vital to analytics being accepted throughout an organization. It is necessary to maintain a key stakeholder that will champion the cause throughout the company. They may hold sessions with individuals in the company, set up a road show to highlight the analytics key points or illustrate how the tool can increase throughput or ROI.  They will be responsible for establishing the web analytics team, definition of roles and responsibility, executive mandating, business process integration, data adoption and opening the communication channels to ensure timely delivery of credible and relevant data.

The examples above highlight just some of the reasons that human interaction is related to web analytics today. The list is by no means conclusive, but it makes clearer that the knowledge that comes from people power is essential to the success at all stages of the analytics process. Furthermore, training and empowerment is necessary to ensure these key skills remain where they are needed, within the organization.

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