spoke about best practices in Web analytics with two of the best minds at Accenture. Perry Kamel is executive director of Accenture Interactive. Jeanne G. Harris is an executive research fellow at Accenture and the co-author of the book “Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results” (Harvard Business School Publishing Corp., 2010
), about how companies are making data-base analysis part of their decisions.
BtoB: What should marketers be looking at when it comes to Web analytics?
Focus on measuring the minimum you absolutely must to drive the maximum relevant impact. That sounds like a simple principle, but it's in stark contrast to what people have done for the past 15 years, where there has been a tendency to measure everything that's measurable just in case you might need it. Focus on collecting outcomes that matter, which are aligned with and enable the achievement of your visitors' objectives as well as your business goals. If you can do that with fewer amounts of data, good on you. It's not about quantity, it's about quality and actionability.
We focus in the book on the need to develop more proprietary and unique metrics to focus not only on what happened in the past, but on what ought to happen next.
Web metrics have been around a long time, and I think we're at an inflection point in the industry where there is a new direction emerging. People are saying, “Wait a minute, what we've been doing all this time may not be the best way for us [going] forward.” For example, if you look at something like page count or session time, historically these things are associated with engagement, and often many organizations believe that the greater the session time, the higher the engagement. Well, the truth is if visitors are there to buy a discrete product, then shorter session time is arguably better than longer. If they're there to shop and research, then maybe more session time is better. So one of the emergent practices that I think is showing real promise is to discern, hopefully at the point of entry, what the visitor's purpose is and how can I dynamically optimize the experience to fit that purpose. —M.W.