Here are several excerpts from an excellent article by James Gurd, a freelance eCommerce and Marketing Manger, How To Get Your Web Analytics Implementation Right. For much more detail, check out the complete source article:
Analytics is the corner stone of online optimization, right? So why is that so many retailers I’ve spoken to have a limited understanding of what their analytics tools are doing and can do for them?
On the surface it would seem that indifference rules the roost and analytics is just another tick box on the requirements list.
However, on closer inspection, the criticism of apathy can often be harsh. More often than not, data obscurity lies in a lack of education amongst stakeholders uncertain as to what analytics really means and what it should do for them.
In my humble opinion (though I do love to voice it) the responsibility for getting the analytics implementation right lies with the person who runs business intelligence in-house and the agency selling the service.
Yes, the Client has to take ownership of the outcome but if you are selling a service, you should have your Client’s best interests at heart, not just an eye on the revenue stream.
Below are my recommended steps for effectively planning your web analytics implementation…
Understanding what analytics is: A web analytics tool is not a sales reporting tool Why? It collects data differently. If you want financial sales reports, take these from the web database. Analytics is about trend analysis.
Don’t sign-up with anyone who doesn’t audit your commercial requirements: This is not negotiable. It is impossible to implement an analytics solution that will cover your unique business needs without auditing requirements across stakeholder groups.
Many agencies will have an out-the-box solution but how do you know this satisfies your needs? On the surface the report suite may look comprehensive but believe me, the devil is in the detail and no two companies have identical requirements.
Identifying commercial goals: Your analytics solution must be tailored to your commercial goals. How does your e-commerce channel support commercial goals and how to you measure this contribution? If you have multi-channel aspirations, you need to factor this into planning. For example, what analysis will you require of the impact of your website on driving store visits and sales?
Understanding relevance: There is no point generating a complex web of data and reports that you will not have the time to analyze. Data is only useful if it is relevant and you can take action. Only collect information that you will use and that can help your business make intelligent commercial decisions.
Mapping out inter-dependencies with other systems: By mapping out these requirements you will get a more accurate idea of the cost of analytics and this will help the business decide how far to go with its implementation. Everything has a cost, either in upfront development or ongoing license fees, so this mapping exercise is important commercially to avoid blowing your budget and invoking the wrath of Finance.
Getting a comprehensive implementation specification: Before anything is done on your website you need a comprehensive specification that details what the analytics solution will deliver. This should cover the reports that will be supported and the implementation requirements for developers to follow.
Rigorous testing: A detailed functional spec does not guarantee a flawless implementation. e-commerce platforms are complex beasts, so you need to test the analytics implementation thoroughly to ensure that data is populating the reports in the right way and the page tagging is accurate.
Defining the support framework: What happens if something goes wrong? What level of support are you commercially entitled to? It is important that you know who will help with technical problems and who can support you with the commercial application of analytics from a business-user perspective.