Creating an Action-Oriented Culture

Most experts in Web analytics dream of working for a business that makes data-driven decisions. Look at it as justification for our career choice. However, I think that this needs to be taken a step further:

We should be concerned with creating an action-oriented culture, not just a data-driven one.

Having access to advanced Web analytics tools, we can churn out meaningful analyses that management will most certainly use in making decisions. So, that means that we work for a data-driven company, which is a great thing indeed. The missing thing there is that the information isn’t nearly as useful if no action is ever taken. This can also be very defeating for people in Web analytics. No one wants to feel as though their hard work is never put to real, visible use.

So what can we do to help create an action-oriented culture when we don’t have direct control over resources and priorities?

Start A/B Testing

This is a slam-dunk, since action is one of the first steps here, and the payoff is pretty quick to see. Once you can get your company to buy into A/B testing (don’t worry about multivariate yet), more tests will follow as the return on investment becomes evident. Start easy with only A/B tests, where “B” is very different from A (to ensure meaningful results) and try out a tool like Google Website Optimizer (free) to help make ROI justification easier.

Focus on Change

Everyone delivers dashboards and standards reports. As I’m fond of pointing out, these eventually get ignored with all of the other noise that exists in inboxes. If you want people to stand up and take notice, and eventually act, then you’re going to need to get a little more manual and really dig into the “why” of your data and information. Like it or not, we Web analysts don’t know everything that marketing, Web design and the other teams on our site are doing. So, instead of just delivering dashboards on a regular basis, we need to start tracking significant changes in metrics, investigating with the necessary people, and finally delivering an intelligent analysis on the “why.” In addition, we need to make efforts to be more in the loop with all of our online efforts to understand and provide analysis on the efforts that are not making any significant changes on our site(s). After all, why waste effort on something that doesn’t even move the sales needle?

Understand Your Customer/Visitor

I just mentioned how important it is to understand the “why” in why things are changing or happening on your site. While traditional quantitative analytics is great, we must supplement our data with qualitative data. We must also do this at the visit level so that we can correlate the “why” to what visitors actually did (or did not do) on our site. If you can start to get survey input from your site visitors, then you can put some real, hard evidence that action needs to be taken and put it in front of the right people. These people might find it a little harder to not act on information from a person that has a proven purchase or visit history with your Web site. While there are a lot of survey solutions out there, you should at least start with something free like 4Q, which was created by Avinash Kaushik and iPerceptions. You may not be able to get the answers to the 4Q survey related to your transactional data (hey, it’s free!), but it’s a starting point in gaining qualitative knowledge about your visitors/customers.

Do you have any other ideas as to how data and information can spur action?

1 thought on “Creating an Action-Oriented Culture

  1. Web analytics are important and critical to any online organization. It is imperative to set aside hunches and egos when making changes. Jim Sterne’s comments fall in line with your blog post, “test, test, measure, segment, and test.” I fell victim to multivariate testing when I initially started using Google Web optimizer. I have since moved to A/B testing because we can achieve results more quickly. Selecting multivariate or A/B split testing should be a function of how many visitors are drawn to your site; in our case, our traffic is low. I would rather have actionable data in one month instead of waiting six months for a multivariate test.

    I did try the 4Q product; you can get some great insight about usability. We did not get much actionable data, but we did learn that our site is satisfying over 85% of our visitors (measured in terms of visitors completing their objectives). I think it would be great to get more than 85% to complete their tasks, but the few people who did not achieve their tasks gave much feedback. The 4Q product is great because it reminds us that, instead of using Web analytics to “guess” what is needed to improve usability, you can just ask your visitors in a non-invasive manner. I think I will try Kampyle next.

    -Darren

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