Congratulations! All of the sudden the powers that be at your company have taken a genuine interest in all things digital and you’re the lucky soul that gets to be a great web analyst. But first, you need to start by asking the right questions. Failure to do so risks generating a report and analysis full of useless data points that won’t do anyone any good.
Don’t worry, you don’t need this to get overly complicated. Start with four simple questions:
Question #1) Who is my audience? Who am I showing this data to? Some examples include:
- C-Level Executive
- VP of Sales
- Technical Development Manager
- Product Manager
- Key Decision Maker
- Key Decision influencer
Do not forget this first question because it is critical. The C-level, for example, needs to be treated like an 8 year old: simple numbers and big pretty pictures. This is not to demean the C-level at all. It’s just that someone at that C-level usually has so much going on that you’re lucky to get his or her attention for 5 minutes. Don’t make this person over think when interpreting your report. Make it simple enough for the boss to look at and make a decision to take at least some kind of action on what you’re recommending in your analysis.
Question #2) What matters to your target audience?
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What is their measurement of success? In other words, think specifically about who is going to be seeing the data you’re analyzing. How does that person get his or her bonus? Understand how they’re measured and you have a much better idea of what motivates them and how to make your data analysis useful.
Question #3) What do you need to show them?
Don’t give them too much or too little. Sounds obvious, but it’s hard to do (at least at first). When you log into Google Analytics (or whatever package you use), you’re tempted to over report data. Why? Because it’s there and you can! Make sure that whatever numbers you’re choosing to report on are useful to the audience you’re providing the data to. For example:
- Benchmarks (example: competitive, internal, year over year, etc.)
- Goals: One of the first things a C-level exec will ask is “Is this good? Are we on plan?” Does that sound familiar?
- Conversions: This is a big one. Make sure that your conversion measurements are very clear and easy to understand. For an ecommerce transaction, this is easy. For a B2B lead generation play, it gets a little more interesting. Think this through before you just plop conversion data on a dashboard.
Question # 4) Can the data in this report lead to an action?
It doesn’t have to be a “big” action. You’re boss isn’t General Eisenhower trying to decide on a go /no go decision for D-Day. The actions can range from the simple to more sweeping. For example:
- “OK, keep going. Let’s continue to give this a look”
- “Stop! Now. This is insane and we shouldn’t be wasting money and resources here”
- “Let’s spend more” (hey, it could happen!)
- “Spend less”
- “Let’s expand and scale this thing”
- “Let’s tweak”
- “Time for a wholesale change”
If the data you’re reporting can’t lead to action, it’s usually best not to bother. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but follow that general thought pattern and you’ll be fine.
Start with these four simple questions and you’ll quickly find that you’re able to make some serious headway towards providing a report that’s actionable and increase your value to the organization. Good Luck!
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