Interview with Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik (Part 2 of 2)

If you missed it yesterday, please check out Part 1 of Compete’s interview with author, blogger and analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik, which discussed Web Analytics 2.0 and the best tools to use, among other things.

Are free tools really all that a company needs? When should you pay for premium content?


Scared you, did I not? 🙂

No, free tools are not all that a company might need. I covered some examples in a previous answer about cases where you might want to get a paid solution. Here is one more scenario, you really want to create a data warehouse environment where you merge your web data with the rest of your company data. In that case I would just go with Unica because it makes it easy to get a standard data model and provides an easily organized output that you can plonk in your data warehouse or in front of your BI tool.

What is important to realize that as Marketers / Website Owners you don’t have to live in a data famine, you don’t need PhDs to use web analytics tools, you can do an astonishing amount of tracking and analysis with even a free tool. Zero barriers to you becoming smart. So start there. Then let your needs evolve you into the right paid solution.

Here is my recommendation for a process: How to Choose a Web Analytics Tool: A Radical Alternative

How can organizations encourage more of their employees to use analytics (especially when they’re already paying for the solution)?

I recently wrote a post that focused on just this topic (and pointed out why Analytics is like Angelina Jolie!). Here were my recommendations:

  1. Do Something Surprising: Don’t Puke Data Out.
  2. Start With Outcomes / Measuring Impact, Not Visits.
  3. Create Heroes & Role Models (and no, not yourself, put your red cape back).
  4. Web Analytics 2.0 Baby! Use Your Customers & Competitors… 🙂

  5. If You Want Excitement, Make It Fun!
    Hold contests.
    Hold Internal "Conferences."
    Hold Office Hours.

Let me touch briefly on one of them here, Outcomes.

I find that most Analysts focus on visits and visitors and time on site and page views and what not. There is nary a sight of Outcome. I always implore them with this: "A million people came to the website, so what the heck happened? Did we make money? Did we create satisfied customers?"

Tying things to Outcomes means that people are focusing on things that matter, to their company (revenue), to their customers (satisfaction, net promoters), to themselves (bonuses!!!) – That is the key to your success.

How can people best use behavioral segmentation when gathering competitive intelligence?

Segmentation is key to truly finding any insights from your web data (be it yours or that of your industry/competitors). That’s because unlike old channels the web is used by a much more complex set of your customers and for solving many different types of problems those customers have.

We are quite used to using behavior as a key segment for our offline channels, think TV. Applying some of the same approaches on the web can be instructive.

Some of the ones I find to be insightful are types like: "people who visit this site also visit that," "people who use these keywords also look for those other things or end up at these places," "here are the clusters of behavior that are becoming more prominent in people who visit the biggest site in the industry," etc.

What’s your perspective on capturing the voice of the customer using web analytics?

It is quite simple really: If you are not doing this then you will not be successful. You might not quite die, but you won’t come any where close to being as big as you potentially could be.

There are so many limitations to what you can do in response to your customer needs offline, many of those disappear online. You can respond to segments of your customers (say using better content targeting systems), you can involve them in identifying the right pricing structures or the optimal website experiences (using experimentation and testing systems), you can get them to identify the core things you stink at on your website (using surveys), you can get them to help themselves by improving your tech support websites, and on and on and on.

If you don’t, at the minimum, have at least a simple but effective survey listening mechanism (like 4Q) and you are not doing at least A/B testing (using free tools like the Website Optimizer) then you are not playing the "online game" as well as you can. And you can bet your competitors will get ahead of you.

The web is a rare medium where you can truly practice customer centricity. It is time to shift the power away from the HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) in your company and to your Customers. Do it, you’ll love it.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered using Web analytics?

How very wrong we are about what our customers actually want / need.

Or put another way, overlaying our own intentions and our experiences on top of the clicks data is a huge mistake. Because we are not the customer. We need to involve our customers and listen to them to truly understand how best to interpret the massive amount of data we have.

And here is another fun thing: The web, through analytics, is amazingly awesome at getting out there fast, with mostly baked ideas, take a risk and learn very quickly. Traditional Marketers are deeply risk averse because it takes too long to find out you made a mistake.

Consider a catalog for example. You make a mistake and it will take three months to find out (from idea conception to approval to printing to mailing to customer reaction to you finding out). On the web you can find that out in less than 24 hours, because you have access to all the wonderful analytics data!

Who should we interview for the Compete Blog next?

My good friend Mitch Joel ( I don’t know of anyone else who has a better handle on all things Social Media and Web 2.0 and Marketing 2.0 and how the web is fundamentally altering our lives. He is a true evangelist, and a fantastic speaker to boot.

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