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By now, most companies should have already gotten themselves acquainted with web analytics. To them, having web analytics means they now have a better understanding of their online users, opening up more possibilities for reporting. Number of site users, number of sessions, bounce rates, yada yada. Is that really what web analytics is about? Or is there more to it?
5 stages of Web AnalyticsIn terms of adoption, web analytics is similar to most technologies out there. Companies would try it out before attempting to figure out how it can fit into the big picture. What makes web analytics unique is that, it is currently one of the most misunderstood technology that has been around for ages. Ever read those articles telling you that you are using everyday products in the wrong way? Yeap, the same goes for web analytics.
Stage 1 – Getting Feet WetMain Goal – Get familiarized with Web Analytics Parties Involved – Vendors Outcome – Obtain a huge amount of data I believe most companies with a decent website would already have some sort of web analytics in place. Many would have started off with Google Analytics, while for those with more ambitious goals to support end-to-end personalization, they probably would have Adobe Analytics in place. Regardless the tool, Stage 1 companies would engage vendors to come up with a web analytics plan and give them the green light to implement the tags accordingly. And usually, the plan will be to “tag everything”. Yea. What do we get? A huge amount of data that might or might not be useful and not much else.
Stage 2 – Value SeekingMain Goal – Getting value out of the data collected Parties Involved – In-house analytics person & vendors Outcome – High-level reporting Now that you have access to a whole new set of data, what’s next? Typically, the vendors would provide some basic reports and dashboards. Most of which are… not very useful. Number of users. Number of sessions. Overall bounce rate. Page views. Demographics. Device types. Not saying those metrics are completely useless, but on their own, there’s really nothing much you can get out of them. Congratulation, you are now at Stage 2! Not wanting to let the data go to waste, you hire an analytics person to make sense out of it. More likely than not, you will get more reports and dashboards out of him. This brings us to the next stage…
Stage 3 – Major CleanupMain Goal – Ensure data accuracy and consistency Parties Involved – Data governance team Outcome – Data that can be trusted for safe consumption “Why is the conversion rate greater than 100%?” “Why are there 3 different names for the same product?” “What does XXX represent?” “Is the bounce rate really only 0.7%?” Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As more and more stakeholders look at the reports and dashboards, they will realize that the numbers are not exactly dependable. This is mainly due to the “tag all” mentality, and poor implementation practices. In web analytics, it is especially important to have a game plan upfront. Most importantly, a data governance strategy. There are 4 desired traits that we are looking for in our web data:
- Full audit of existing data and implementation
- Data governance strategy
- “Fixing” the existing implementation
- Rebooting the data collection process