I’ve stated before that web analytics, as a whole, belong to an organization, and not to the web department, or an analyst. Deep within all the numbers and charts are facts. Some of those facts can be understood by the analyst, but some need prodding and coaxing from a third party to truly comprehend. So the right questions need to asked by stakeholders, no matter what their role might be. Here’s a joke to put this in perspective.
A duck walks into a bar.
He waddles up to the bar tender and asks, “Do you have any string?”.
The bartender is a bit perplexed, and shakes his head. “No. We don’t have any string here…”. His voice trails off as he ponders the purpose behind the question.
The duck says “Ok.” and waddles back out of the bar.
The next day, the duck returns, and poses the same question to the same bartender. “Do you have any string?”. The bartender peers down at the water fowl, incredulous. “No. No string here. This is a bar. We have beer and liquor. No string.”
This goes on for several more days, with the same question, and the same response. No one is getting anywhere.
Finally, on the 5th day, the bartender snaps.
“Look. I’ve told you 4 times already. No string. If you waddle in here tomorrow and ask for string, I’m going to take your little bill, and nail it to the bar. Understood?”
The duck is taken aback, but nods and waddles out.
Day 6. The bar door opens. In comes the duck. The bartender can’t believe it.
The duck looks the bartender square in the eye and asks……. “Got any nails?”.
The bartender is stunned, and says “No….”.
“Got any string?”
What are the Right Questions to ask about Web Analytics?
If you’re the analyst, you need to be coaxing people out of their misunderstandings about what you do. There are no “web stats” anymore. What Google Analyics, or Piwik, or Omniture are telling you is organizational intelligence. You need to yell and scream until all of the stakeholders are asking you the right questions.
For local brick and mortars:
- How many of our web visitors live close enough to shop here?
- What are they searching for ON our site once they get here?
- What products are viewed the most, so we can stock up or advertise them?
For B2B organizations:
- What landing pages are generating the BEST quality leads?
- What landing pages are attracting non-starting leads that never pan out?
- What size companies are interested in our services, but not contacting us?
You get the picture.
Stakeholders, from sales, to customer service, to ownership, all have to generate their own lists of what they need to know about website visitor behavior. They need to ask the right questions so that we can get away from “data puking“1, and into generating action directing reporting. (I know… that’s a lot of gerunds in a row).
It’s not fair to expect one person to think up all these questions. It’s an organization’s data, and it’s an organization’s responsibility to think about it.
1 I linked to an Avinash Kaushik article there, because he uses the term data puking a lot. I’m not sure he invented it. In essence, think of data puking as a spreadsheet. Tons of numbers, but no context. Or ask yourself this: If someone new started working with us tomorrow, and I handed them this, would it make ANY sense at all? If not, it’s a data puke.