Measure Camp is coming this Saturday! For those of you who are blissfully unaware, Measure Camp is an ‘unconference’ held here in London for Web Analytics people. The unconference bit refers to the fact that we have no preplanned speakers and no preplanned presentations. Somewhere between 140 and 180 people are going to turn up on a Saturday at the Mozilla headquarters not quite knowing what to expect, but thinking that they might end up running a session themselves. At the beginning of the day there is a mad scramble as everyone who wants to do a presentation sticks it up on the board, then the rest of the people decide what session they want to go to. Some sessions have 80 or more people. Some have two or three.
What am I looking forward to on Saturday? Well if you think you are about to find out, you are sorely disappointed. Sorry. This is a top six Measure Camp sessions we won’t see this weekend, for better or for worse.
1. How to send your boss data
What your boss really needs is someone to send him or her more data for them to try and work out what to do with. This session will teach you how to download data out of your tool of choice and turn it into a spreadsheet full of rows of numbers that your boss can ignore.
Yes that is right. In this session you will learn the beauty of a ‘dashboard’ with visits, time on site, bounce rate and a nice graph. Your boss is a busy man or woman. Why waste his time with things like ‘analysis’ or ‘recommendations’ when you can send him or her a graph that tells a thousand words.
Why not turn up to this session and learn why it is pointless understanding what your business does, why it operates and what your colleagues do with their day. Your colleagues know all these things so they’ll be able to work it out from the reams of data that you send them. Why bother duplicating the effort of knowing all that stuff.
2. Why you should change your site to make your analytics tool work properly
There is nothing worse than setting up an analytics tool perfectly, only to discover that the site changes over time and suddenly your set up doesn’t work any more. How inconsiderate to change the site in a way that breaks your analytics!
That’s right, you will learn how to tell IT teams that they are only allowed to use standard set ups. Anything that is non-standard will need a new standard otherwise it won’t be allowed. Nothing should be manipulated in a way that will allow it be multi-purpose if it means that some bit of content gets misclassified.
Marketing teams are often building campaigns that do odd things. How dare they? Campaigns are only allowed to go to set pages and the names should fall into the standard format. Anything that doesn’t fit into that will have to be changed so that it can be reported accurately.
3. Segmentation is for losers
What your analytics system needs is more standard reports. This session celebrates not just the standard metrics of visits and page views, but also the standard dimensions of pages, campaigns and traffic sources.
They say that 99% of your analytics system is unused. This session shows that this figure isn’t high enough. Now that ‘hits’ is no longer a popular phrase in the business, we describe the best ways of showing page views using different names such as ‘instances’ or occurrences. Yes that is right, you can report on your highly complex site with nothing more than site visits and average time on site.
Why bother with segmentation when you can set up complex reports in advance based on ever increasingly complex and difficult to maintain tagging requirements. Instead of wasting your time hiring analysts whose job it is to look at the data, why not hire them to make sure your tagging is set up properly.
4. Visitor Level Data is possible
Cookies are just the start for this session or for any session in the online world. But they aren’t the end in this case. Yes we look at how you can tie together increasingly complex user interactions across a multiple of different devices in different locations.
So what if when the user finds out they run away from your brand screaming. So what if the incremental value that your business people get from the additional data isn’t significant. so what if you have to come up with increasingly legally dubious ways of making sure users can’t escape from their cookies. So what if we force sites to insist on login so that we can track the users, to their detriment. So what if we ignore all the ‘anonymous’ use, including from before the user logs in.
What we end up with is a very powerful bit of data. Yes that’s right, exact user interaction data that you can use to market to them. You can even print a picture from the users facebook profile and stick it on a balloon that you hang in your office to show that, despite the fact that you are treating them as a data point, they are real people.
5. I know what my customers want, so why waste money asking them
Years ago the head of a website told me that he, or his sales team, personally knew everyone who might possibly want to sign up to his subscription website, so why would he possibly need us to reach new audiences through SEO?
This wasn’t the same person, mind you, as the one who having been given a load of data on the performance of his online quote form and having had a lot of usability done by watching users go through the form decided that five minutes of looking through it himself was far more valuable. What do these people know – he’d worked in IT for ten years and knew everything about forms and so pushed for his changes to be made.
And they were both right. What a waste of money user research and usability is. You are far better off just coming up with ideas off the top of your head and then putting them live. If the users don’t like them, then they’ll learn to like them after a while.
6. Analytics should be an IT project
Once you’ve got your analytics tool live, then it produces data on its own, right? So why not make the implementation an IT project that can be delivered on time and to budget. That way you can get on with spending your budget on advertising.
Everyone knows spending money on analytics is basically just taking away money that your are going to be able to spend to drive more people to the site. Instead of spending on hiring people to do the measurement, we can put it into a new banner advert. Instead of hiring people to make recommendations, we can put a new PPC advert live.
In fact, instead of investing in a tool, why don’t we hire Kate Moss to be in our new TV advert? That has got to be more valuable.