Web Analytics Tool Implementation

You may have heard that a proper implementation for your web analytics tool is vitally important to success in analytics. You may have heard a lot of alarmist talk and marketing speak about how catastrophic bad implementations can be, and how you can make the wrong decisions and your company can implode and you can wake up King Kong.

Well, for the most part, it’s actually true.

Now, I don’t believe at all in sensationalizing things for the sake of marketing. I think it’s fair to say that most of us are a) aware of our problems and b) mostly aware of the severity or consequences of those problems, so over-hyping the importance of a web analytics tool implementation in the midst of everyone losing their cool when numbers from a back-end fulfillment system and the web analytics tool are off by 8% seems completely unnecessary to me. But in the same breath, that’s a pretty good example of why this is important.

If you’re looking for help with your tool implementation, there are a lot of routes you can take. For one, you can make the long-term decision to train your people how to implement web analytics properly, and keep it that way. But unfortunately, many businesses have a more immediate need, and could use a partner to get it done as quickly as possible.

Before we get to finding that partner, let’s talk a little about what proper implementation means, and what it gets you.

To start, you should expect that all of your content is being tracked, and that the sources of all of your traffic are accurate and accounted for. You’d be surprised how often this most basic idea is a point of failure for implementations, irrespective of the size or sophistication of a business. The first step in analytics implementation is completeness. That is to say, analytics is on every page, everywhere people will enter, navigate to, or interact. Yes, that includes Flash, and also needs to work when AJAX and other dynamic setups fly new content into a page. No, it’s not as difficult as you may have been told.

Second, you have to forget about implementation for a second and get down to brass tacks about your business. You need to be realistic about what your company is capable of reacting to, and the remainder of your implementation and its customizations will need to satisfy the unique needs of your business and its various roles, objectives, priorities, and [sadly but surely] data hounds.

You do not enter this conversation with a list of reports you need. You enter this conversation with a list of decisions you made (or wish you could have made) in the last day, week, month, quarter, or year, and how you wish this tool could have helped you. This is a top-down approach, and it’s the only way to ensure that analytics is both a data success and (much more importantly) a cultural success at your company. Web analytics at its finest is a decision enabler, so focus on the decisions you’d like to be able to make when customizing the tool.

Finally, the tool will be set up based on stakeholder needs, capacity to act, various marketing tactics (which will need their own tracking issues fixed) and generic needs and accountability to figures. The best implementations are highly customized to each interaction users can take, but aren’t so complex that you can’t zoom out to see the greater ecosystem. If all you can see in your tool are microcosmic data pukes, that’s all the conversations will be about. Make sure you have good resolution in your analytics, all the way from tiny tactics to big strategies.

Finding a Web Analytics Implementation Expert

Nowhere else in our industry is more snake oil sold than web analytics implementations, and it’s very disheartening for me to see that. But the good news is that there are some truly awesome experts out there who can not only solve your implementation issues, but make you feel in control and confident about this often confusing area.

Please reach out if you need help finding someone to help you with your analytics tool implementation. If I can’t help you directly, I can certainly point you to some of the people I know personally and respect a great deal.