Forming an Analytics Habit

Mark  Ryan

May 12, 2008

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We always recommend that our clients review their site analytics with us at least once a week. Reviewing the data often requires some leg work in marrying information from disparate sources. From there, our dedicated analysts interpret the data to explain fluctuations, identify opportunities for improvement, and make predictions (forecasts). Every review and analysis results in progress towards the primary KPI’s of the site. Piece of cake, right?

The difficult step for most organizations seems to be in forming an ‘analytics habit.’ Reviewing web analytics regularly and drawing useful conclusions from it should be a requirement of every company that has a website and should be followed as web marketing 101. We frequently notice that marketing departments with limited resources managing campaigns across all channels have a difficult time giving analytics review cycles the priority it deserves. Most companies are great at starting the process and performing the weekly reviews for the first 4-6 weeks. After that, it is a battle with other priorities to get everyone’s time and commitments. It has never been difficult showing that regular analytics analysis results in huge benefits for the organization. It has been difficult getting people to sit down regularly, over an extended period of time, to gather and analyze the data. Many of our clients would prefer to outsource 100% of this work, but it really needs to be a team effort in order to be successful.

Almost all organizations perform regular maintenance on their web sites. Adding content, making updates to product information, freshening up the homepage, adding new job post and press releases have all become an ongoing part of having a web site. Performing maintenance without analyzing the analytics behind the site has the potential of actually making the site worse. Interpretation of the analytics shows what site visitors are looking for and how they want to find it. At least 20% of all updates to a site during maintenance should be focused around optimizing the content and the functionality of the site to serve the requirements of the organization and the perceived interests of visitors.

After a company has performed an analytics analysis every week for several quarters, it becomes a very healthy analytics habit. These are the companies that start to think of new ways to use analytics and integrate analytics from several channels (i.e. offline). We find that these are the clients that receive the most benefit (ROI) from their web initiatives and are the most likely to have successful initiatives moving forward.