Talk, Analytics. Talk!
Josh Chambers, Former Viget
"The nice thing about Web Analytics is that the data doesn't lie." Have you ever heard someone say that? Have you ever thought that yourself? Well, that's not entirely true. Sure the data itself is objective, but it's the subjectivity of the viewer that dictates how 'truthful' Web Analytics really is. You have a choice. You can: Allow Web Analytics to dictate your actions; or, Allow your actions to dictate how you use Web Analytics. What do I mean?Web Analytics produces mass amounts of data--enough data to validate just about any idea you think of regarding your web site. It is a complex process to connect the dots in order to produce accurate measurements. For example, let's say that you believe that a good web site is one that leaves no stone left unturned. In other words, you cram your web site full of details and lengthy text blocks. One day, as you are perusing your web site, you decide that it needs a change. Living up to your motto, you decide that your site needs more text, more details, and a smaller font to make it all manageable. You walk down the hallway to your marketing team and ask them, "How long does the average visitor stay on our site?" They glance at one another nervously and respond, "About four and a half minutes. Why?" "I knew it!" you say, much to the chagrin of your marketing team. You just received the validation you needed. You're convinced that because visitors spend so much time on your web site, they must be enjoying it. They must want more of the same. Not true. Here is what is really going on: Visitors spend so much time on your website because it's clunky, hard to navigate, and they cannot easily find what they are searching for. In fact, if you would drill into the data a bit more, you would discover that visitors spend four of those four and a half minutes bouncing around your site as they attempt to find what they are looking for. Your visitors do not want more, they want less. The moral of the story is this: Don't use Web Analytics to validate your bad ideas; instead, use Web Analytics to guide you into creating a better experience for your users. If Web Analytics is accurately interpreted, it is invaluable. If you find yourself unsure of what your pile of data means, speak with your marketing team, or get in touch with a certified Web Analytics consultant. In the meantime, ask yourself if you are allowing the data to be interpreted honestly. It may hurt a bit to change, but it will be well worth it for your users, and for your company.