Friday, January 07, 2011

Creating a Culture of Web Analytics

All those who have worked at companies which never used or do not use web analytics to make decisions about site changes, know how difficult it is to create a culture of web analytics. It is very hard. Building a culture of web analytics is a grueling uphill task.
After working with various client I have found that reasons for not using web analytics vary from company to company, some of the common ones are:
  • Gut feel has always worked or at least it seems like it has worked
  • It is an additional step in the process
  • New skills are required to use web analytics. They feel they don’t have the required skills for using web analytics
  • Fear of accountability i.e. now I will be measured and I don’t like that
  • The reports that they got in past were pretty useless
  • They didn’t believe in web analytics data because they have no clue on how the data was collected
  • They don’t understand how web analytics can help them
  • They don’t understand what web analytics is

The first reaction of many newly hired analyst/analytics manager is to start talking about KPIs, reports, what web analytics can do etc. But before you start digging into the data and analysis and start to talk about KPIs, dashboards etc. you need to understand the root cause of why analytics has not been used in the past. Understanding and tacking those issues will give you a better platform to build the culture of analytics on.

Here are few things you need to do before jumping into KPIs
  • Identify various stakeholders, who could benefit from web analytics, in the company. You don’t have to have a comprehensive list of every person but some that you think could immediately benefit and you can immediately help is also a good list to start with
  • Get a meeting with them, individually or grouped together in groups based on their roles/departments etc.
  • Agenda of the first meeting should be to understand why they have not used web analytics in the past and what they would like to see from web analytics group. Don’t talk about KPIs yet. This meeting is about hearing them, if they talk about goals, metrics etc. then fine but don’t jump to discussing KPIs
  • Make sure they understand that there will be a follow-up and you are there to help them not to use numbers to find faults. You need collaboration. Don’t let other people’s opinion about HiPPOs put you in an offensive or defensive position
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting to go over you analysis of the past meeting, address any concerns/issues that are preventing them to use analytics

The goal of this exercise is to make people feel confident that you can truly help them make data driven decisions without jeopardizing their job. You understand their concerns and are willing to address them.

During this process you will also find out who all (groups/individual) are more willing than others to help you build your case and will provide you small wins that you can use to garner more support. If you have an executive support e.g. your bosses boss then leverage that to help you.

At the end,remember, every company is different. The culture is different, challenges are different, political structure is different so it is critical you understand all those elements. It is not going to happen overnight so be prepared for a long rocky journey.


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    1. Hi Anil, happy new year.

      Would you use this first meeting as an opportunity to also ask/confirm all of the "properties" (and/or channels) that the stakeholder might be responsible for? I'm wondering if it's the right time to dig up all of the assets (eg, Facebook, mobile apps/sites, Twitter, videos, short URL services, etc.) to get them thinking of the bigger picture?

    2. Hi Anil, I was in the process of developing KPIs for one of my clients. Greta post for contemplation. The hardest thing, in my opinion, is how you set correct objectives and manage expectations.
      Thanks for the post.

    3. Hi Eric,

      Sorry for a late response and Happy New year to you too.

      Yes, that first meeting is a perfect one to ask for all the properties and channels that stakeholder might be responsible for. Though don't dig too deep because your goal is to understand why they have not used web analytics in the past and what they would like to see from web analytics group.


    I would like to hear your comments and questions.