After having a few beers with an avid reader of the Diary on Friday, I realize that I haven't posted all the web metrics posts that were in queue….so here you go Mr. Baker, the vaults are opening.
I've been thinking recently about what makes a decent web metrics analyst, and I've scribbled down some keys for a Volume 1 on what skills a person probably needs to do this line of work. Again, there really isn't any how-to manuals on how to do this stuff, as I think we've all come to this from trial and error. So…here is the first edition of some skillz needed to be a relatively competent web metrics analyst…and in no particular order (I'm lazy like that)
1 – Understand Google, MSN, and Yahoo – This should come as no shock, but if you can understand generally how Google, etc. works, you can use it to bring in "better" traffic to your site as you study the results of what your External Search traffic gets you in ROI. This goes into understanding your natural search as well as paid search. For instance, why pay money for keywords where you already show up #1 in the natural search results? Also, if you can understand which handful of keywords drive the best conversions, you can focus your budget on those words instead of boiling the ocean and grabbing 400 keywords of which a majority don't get you jack.
3 – Know your site (navigation, technology, etc) – This seems like it would be obvious, but it isn't. I get a lot of questions on why people do certain things on our site, but its because a lot of times we don't take the time to really dig into our site to see how people would navigate it, or where pain points might exist. Just understanding how the flow is set up will help you analyze the data you collect. In addition, if you understand the underlying technology in your site (such as HTML, Flash, etc) you will have better insight in what the data is telling you.
4 – Throw out all the meaningless metrics – Every web metrics solution has a ton of crazy metrics and reports. Ditch the ones that don't drive your business. Yes, it might be cool to see how many left-handed Eskimos have checked out your site, but ultimately unless you are trying to drive more conversions with left-handed Eskimos, its meaningless and clouds driving the key metrics.
5 – Understand the objective of pages – My big thing is to see if a page is driving the kind of behaviour you want to see. So if this page is designed to get more orders, measure it against that criteria. But first, you need to ask yourself "what is the purpose of this page?" A lot of times, pages just get created without a real objective in mind. The more this happens, the more cluttered your site becomes. One thing an analyst can do is push back on the marketing, production, etc to make sure they have a goal in mind for every page they create. And measure them against this goals.
6 – Conversions, Conversions, Conversions – Again, nothing novel here. But the key thing to look at is not necessarily volume (such as visits, page views, etc) but what the traffic gets you. How do you increase your conversion rates if traffic remains flat? Make changes, measure that and see if you can keep growing the business. Continously improve and create a feedback loop within your management system.