There are tools that allow the measurement and compilation of information from various sources. Usually we analyze and apply data exploration techniques that generate knowledge focused on improving decision making … Well, at least that’s what we expect to happen, but what happens in real life?
Author: Ricardo Díez – Chief Analytics Officer de Analytics Town
Companies nowadays generate a lot of complicated information. The intention is good: “Make better decisions”, but when the complexity of the data is so great they become difficult to understand and even more difficult to use if proper preparation is not available. A clear example is Google Analytics and the “sense of information” it provides to many users.
Now, why do I say “feeling of information”?
The reality is that I have been advising companies on issues related to measurement and analysis of their results for 10 years and the techniques of analytics applied to decision making have always been a rock in the shoe for many companies. We all get excited when we see a well-armed dashboard (well, not all … I accept). But few know what each bit of data they are observing means and even less know what to do with that information.
We can start from a very simple premise: The data, by themselves, are of no use. What serves is the knowledge extracted from them and the application we can make of it.
Now, why am I so hard on these assertions? Is not a note like this supposed to be more motivating? The reality is that we can not deny reality. From the moment we recognize the root problem, and see it directly, is when we can finally solve it … and that’s where I can help you.
The world is full of good intentions, but unfortunately this is not enough to achieve results. That is why you need to know what to look for to make real decisions based on strategic data. Based on this it is necessary that the tools of analytics and business intelligence that we use are implemented properly and that facilitate the extraction of data to take advantage of them. Not all data is useful for our purposes, so we must learn to be selective and focus on problem solving.
The implementation of these tools of Analytics can be a challenge both in the technical as well as in the conceptual. This is because a detailed and detailed analysis is required so that the data we obtain become concrete actions to improve the ecosystem of work.
Let’s start at the beginning:
What is Digital Analytics?
Digital Analytics constitutes the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data of the business, company or organization, as well as of its environment and competence to take to the one who has to make the decisions to reach a continuous improvement of the online experience that the present and potential clients have Future customers and thus seek the fulfillment of objectives both online and offline.
What is Web Analytics?
Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data and information on the web for purposes of understanding and optimizing your sites. (Digital Analytics Association, 2007)
Are Digital Analytics and Web Analytics not the same?
Web analytics and digital analytics are intimately linked and one forms a fundamental part of the other. However, as there are very subtle differences, there are also marked features in the approach that gives life to each of these concepts.
In itself, web analytics focuses more on the measurement and analysis of a website or a particular element to know its operation and the behavior that the users have about it. In this way, Web Analytics focuses more strongly on the understanding of a precise and particular element existing on the web. To achieve this, simple and complex statistics are generated that combine to give form to the learning dedicated to the fulfillment of one or several specific objectives.
On the other hand, digital analytics is conceived with the bases of Web Analytics, but its approach is more holistic and conciliatory, since it aims to generate knowledge, always based on statistical data, but extends its range of scope to the formation of integrated ecosystems that Can provide complementary knowledge between the different points of contact with users, customers or prospects.
As you can see, it is possible to do Web Analytics without knowing much about Digital Analytics, but it would be almost impossible to do Digital Analytics without knowing Web Analytics. One forms the basis of the other.
And where does Google Analytics go in all this?
Google Analytics is Google’s tool with which you can generate Analytics measurements from both websites and mobile applications. This tool requires a technical implementation and then an intensive analysis. But the real magic lies in a pre-measurement strategy that focuses all our efforts on real decision-making, so every analysis we make should be focused on generating knowledge and providing the necessary weapons to achieve the goals of the company .
So let’s think: In my work environment are we actually applying this level of knowledge to make decisions? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is likely to be “no.”
Recall that a tool like Google Analytics or any of its competitors (Omniture, Comscore, Coremetrics, etc) will only generate information depending on the technical implementation that we make. But the most valuable thing is to know what information to generate and how to use it.
This goes far beyond just evaluating visitors, visitors and page views. It is not productive to spend time seeing how many visitors come from Eastern European countries if I only sell products in Argentina. If we are not clear what we are looking for, these tools can become a sea of curiosities.
OK, I understand the problem, now how do I solve it?
It is important that you apply at least the following tips to improve your ability to make decisions and properly use your data to achieve your business objectives:
Start with Asking the Right Questions:
In order to put together a good measurement strategy and subsequently technically implement a tool such as Google Analytics, it is necessary to know the information needs of each of the actors that will consume this information and how they intend to use the data to support their daily work. These questions will allow you to know what information you need to generate according to what the information should be used for.
To find the best set of metrics to include, you need to consider the following points:
- What are the main objectives of your organization?
- How do your efforts contribute to achieving these goals?
- Do you have data that can provide a solution or improvement for those objectives?
- Is this metric really necessary to explain the contribution to the objectives?
- Does this metric provide any additional knowledge needed?
Keep the information as visual as possible:
The human brain usually understands information more quickly and more quickly when presented graphically and visually attractive. It is important when generating reports or dashboards, keeping the distribution of the elements as visual as possible to achieve a more instinctive, fast and natural understanding effect.
Try to have an appropriate balance to not fall into visual over-stimulation, to the point that it is too loaded with graphical elements to the point of not perceiving a logical or hierarchical order so that whoever uses that element can not draw clear conclusions.
Generate Custom and Interactive Information:
One of the reasons why online reports and dashboards have become so popular in recent years is that they allow the generation of interactive information, allowing the analyst to delve deeper or view complementary information on demand.
This increases the level of interest of those who are using this tool and allows to expand the information in both specificity and understanding of the context. This increases the chances that information users will engage with it and use it for decision making with the advantage that it requires little training and is provided with a controlled environment of the kind of information it will acquire so as not to complicate the experience.
Keep the information up-to-date or do not bother generating it:
Make sure you keep your information current and that your metrics reflect the current situation or challenges. Whether this quarter, this month, this week, today, or whatever the period to analyze, it should contribute to a current situation to make it relevant.
Outdated information is not very different in its importance to not having information. On the other hand, making decisions based on outdated information can be dangerous, since you could be relying on a situation that no longer necessarily describes the reality you are facing that is no longer representative or relevant.
Keep information simple and easy to use:
Making your information easy to access is essential to encourage its use. If the access to the reports or dashboards that contain the necessary information or if it is reflected in a difficult way to understand runs the risk that the users are no longer willing or interested in accessing it, causing decisions to be made without considering the information Support them or give them meaning.
Always tell a trusted person to advise you on how to proceed:
Obviously my whole life I lived from this point, since my job is to advise clients in both their measurement strategy, technical implementation and the analysis and preparation of reports to help them make better decisions so that they can focus on what they are good. The idea is that, if you are not the specialist in the subject, it is always advisable to have someone who gives you those “Aha moments”, osea those moments of enlightenment in which you can see the insight that was hidden between the large data sheets . Have someone to help you, to give you their experience on this topic. It’s impressive how much you shorten your learning curve and raise the quality level of the final result.
And now how do I go?
It’s best to go step by step. Order your priorities and those of your team based on your business needs. Create a plan of action thinking about what information you need to facilitate the achievement of your goals and focus on providing that, with the recommendations of opportunities and threats that you consider relevant.
If you are attracted to the idea of having someone to support you in the process remember that in Analytics Town we are specialists in Analytics, SEO and Big Data and our job is to provide information for decision making in a fast, simple and easy to understand. You can request a situation diagnosis without commitment.