Web Metrics – Have We Finally Figured it Out?

Data can be captured everywhere on the web, but is there any intelligence that interprets this data and makes it available for critical decision making?

And what do I mean by critical decision making? Those decisions that you have to make when you either build that new mobile app or launch a social media program for your clients. These are the decisions that give you the best return on your investment.

You shouldn’t feel like a metrics failure. In fact, you join most of those struggling with the overwhelming amount of data and lack of information in the web analytics universe.

So, what is the real problem? Part of the problem is that data is really easy to get.  In fact, you can add, subtract, multiply and divide this data to satisfy every potential question about the web.  The rest of the problem relates to the old adage - just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

So…why do we?

Like overachieving hoarders, we collect data and stack reports believing that, someday, an executive will ask a question about the web that can be found buried in your metrics.  We continue this behavior until the monthly report takes three weeks to build and disseminate. We avoid being nimble and agile, because we might “miss something." We collect everything because we are afraid of making the choices about what is important. We fear the answer that we might have to give the executive: “We made the decision that collecting and analyzing the data to answer your question was not a priority, or not cost-effective.”

The key to all of this, of course, is to make logical, rational decisions about what to collect and understand why you are collecting it, by engaging the business and responding to their information needs. These have to be the metrics that give us insight into what functionality we fund on the web to get the best ROI.

There is a simple question that you can ask yourself to determine if the metrics you are collecting have any significance for your business: What action(s) will you take, now that you have the information captured in this metric? Based on this simple question, if the answer is that the metric is  “nice to know,” or it was suggested by a consultant, or “we have always measured this,” or it just flat out “sounds important,” but still doesn’t result in action, then it is just another overhead activity that you can do without.

We don’t want metrics just because we can collect them, or they are nice to have. We want them to relate to business questions that need answers, ones that then lead to actions that positively impact the bottom line.  If you can’t link a metric or small group of metrics to a specific business question, then stop collecting them!

One last thing to keep in mind…..metrics should be dynamic.  Yes, I understand that need to normalize data and capture trends over time.  But as the maturity of your websites evolve, as well as the maturity of the business in leveraging the technologies, your information needs will change. Your metrics should change too.