April 3, 2011 ↘︎

Tips to communicate your measurements.

There is a lot that can be measured these days, and getting the key success messages out can be difficult.  Couple that with the misconception that it’s just about the web site, and the task just got harder.

You’ve got visits, visitors, page views, time on site, bounce rates, unique (various), conversion rates, impressions, click throughs and so forth, and it’s often up to the online marketer to explain what they all mean to other areas of the business, who are still thinking in terms of “hits” to the website.

Hopefully the following will provide some ideas on how to better get the message out there; to demonstrate that it’s not just about the website.

Tip #1 – Are they even getting read?

I’m still surprised that many digital teams still send out basic web metrics reports on such things as visits and visitors, click throughs etc, to different stakeholders.

You need to tell a story and this method doesn’t.  In fact I can almost guarantee that if you’re sending out these types of reports, they’re not being read.  Two ways to know if they’re getting read:

  1. Do you get any questions about them shortly after you send them?
  2. Stop sending them and see who notices.

If they’re not getting read, you’re wasting your time and measurement is not providing any value to the organisation, and you’ll have a hard time justifying spend on analytics to get further value.

So you need to change what you’re doing.

If they are getting read, that’s a good thing, but are they providing real value to the different stakeholders?

Tip # 2 – One size doesn’t fit all

A better way than just sending out one report to all is to send out customised reports to each department or person that you’re sending them too.  For instance, the CMO doesn’t want the same information that the CIO wants.  Nor does the research department, nor the product department.  So what you send out must be different.

At the very least, you should understand what each stakeholder is looking for.  The products department is likely looking for product views and product sales.  The CMO is likely to want to know how their marketing efforts are doing, so will be looking at inbound traffic sources, campaign conversion rates, sales, engagement etc.

If you’re not sure what they want, go speak to them.  Find out what their KPI’s are.  Find out what interests them?  Find out what they would like to know and then try to incorporate that into your reports.

And be sure to include an “executive summary” describing insights that you see in the data.  This should be written in plain english and shouldn’t include any web metrics jargon.

Try scheduling a 30 minute meeting once a month with key stakeholders to take them through the information and answer any questions they have.

Tip # 3 – Don’t be afraid of questions

Many teams fall over at this.  They try to avoid the provocation of questions from senior leadership. That’s because the questions are often coming from people who probably don’t fully understand what they’re asking.

But herein lies an opportunity.  Your stakeholders’ questions means they want to develop an understanding of how the digital channel is performing.  And if they want to learn, then help them.  It will make your job easier.

But try to encourage business questions.  Encourage them not to ask about how many visitors the site had, but what impact on sales has the latest campaign had, or has brand awareness been lifted, or how is the site doing at acquiring new customers.  These are the things that add value, and the things that they understand.

Which is why your “report on reports” may not be getting read in the first place.

Tip # 4 – Think in terms of your customer

At the end of the day, it’s people that we’re having a conversation with online.  It’s people that we want to buy our products or services.  And those people are different.  They fall into different groups.  And you’ve got the information to start to group them.

You should be providing insight to your stakeholders about those different groups, how they react differently to different things like offers or marketing campaigns.

Segmentation is very powerful.  At the very least, you should be segmenting by different traffic source (search, social, mobile, etc), first time vs repeat, customer vs non-customer, etc.  Start reporting on those different audience types to your stakeholders.

But don’t stop there.  Talk to your research department to find out how they segment their data.  See if you can achieve the same segmentation model online.  If you can, align your segmentation to theirs you’ll be providing real value to them as they’ll have some visibility on how those segments are behaving online.

Tip # 5 – It’s not just about the web site

Web analytics is not just about the numbers.  It’s really about business optimisation, and today, most web analytics platforms can look at multi-channel data to measure overall impact.

You’ve got all of your digital channels – web, email, display, search, mobile web, mobile apps etc.  Ensure that you integrating all of this into a single view of activity.

For example, if you have a mobile site, does an increase to traffic across the web site correlate to an increase across mobile.  Does search impact mobile too?  Do customers read emails and click through to the web site or the mobile site?

Even better than just the digital channels, you can now measure interactions across call centers, point of sale (in-store), and many other physical offline channels.  If you can strive to include that data in your analysis, you’re providing real value.

Consider these five tips the next time you’re preparing to communicate your Web analytics data. It’ll produce more value for your audience and help solidify you as an expert in your field.

Share some thoughts with us about how you’ve got the message out about analytics.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on April 3, 2011.
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