With the landscape of business analytics becoming increasingly more saturated with programs and partners offering their expertise on specific specialties, you might find yourself struggling with the complexity of creating a solid BA framework.
As an industry professional with many years in consulting for companies such as Vevo and Target, I am going to provide you some inside knowledge on building a strong ground-floor for your analytics framework. This will help you not only process and manage your data, but also allow you the time and ability to develop insights into that data. This can be a tricky process but following these simple rules will help you choose the best fit for your needs…
1. Know what you want to track.
This sounds simple but knowing what you want to track will play a key role in choosing an appropriate analytics vendor. For typical sites with basic pages and a few click events, any solution will do. However, if you want to heavily track customizations such as keywords, channel attribution to understand how visitors navigated to your site, etc., you will want to pinpoint these valuable customizations upfront.
If you have only a handful of customizations you would like to track, then Google Analytics Basic will work just fine. Odds are though, your needs are more complex or will evolve as your business grows. In that case, you will need to either upgrade to GA Premium or investigate using more sophisticated providers like Adobe SiteCatalyst or comScore Digital Analytix. Although there are many more solution providers out there, these 3 are my favorite due to their ability to solved complex issues and contribute directly to the optimization programs within my client organizations.
What kind of content you track is also significant. If your site is media heavy, a tool like comScore DAx will be incredibly useful since they have built several advanced packages for devices such as Roku players and Apple TV. You will also want to know whether or not you want mobile/tablet data tracked as some vendors are better than others. This will add an extra layer of complexity and you’ll need to consider how many custom variables/segments/events the vendor supplies you with as the mobile environment is event-driven.
2. Determine a reasonable budget.
Defining your budgets for analytics vendors will very quickly narrow down your choices. Overages can get costly very quickly; you will want to ensure that any caps on server calls are not surpassed by the expected level of traffic to your site. You can ballpark how much a tool will cost in the long run by asking this simple question:
How many visitors on average come to my site and what is the estimated growth?
If you use your analytics tool correctly, you will inevitably increase traffic to your site. That’s really the whole point, isn’t it? Most vendors tend to have monthly service costs that go up or down depending on the level of traffic your site received that month. So, you don’t want to end up “punished” for success in your pricing model. You will want to be highly cognizant of this and make sure you have a plan for how to handle the increased traffic. Here’s an inside tip - be sure to share this concern with your vendor and see what they can do for you! Vendors are willing to work with you on evaluating and accommodating traffic fluctuations that occur on your site but most people don’t know to ask.
3. Do your own research.
You may have attended ALL their certification classes, sat through seminars and read the ‘how-to’ on your analytics tool but when working with any new program, questions are bound to come up. You will still get stumped. This is when a good service provider will step in to help you navigate through any issues. Knowing you can call a reliable service desk will be a godsend. Be sure to check service ratings and reviews for each vendor you are considering!
4. Build a BA framework.
This is one step that is often overlooked simply because companies and clients are far more interested in the “NOW”. Well, in my experience, building a solid analytics foundation, even if it takes longer than a quick setup, will go a long way in ensuring accurate date and that you’ll be confident in that data in the future. There will be less of a need for adhoc reporting and adhoc implementations if you spend time thinking about building a program and not just implementing a technology (Stratigent’s mantra).
Ask yourself this important question:
How do I want my data to look 5 years down the road?
Whether it’s a simple excel or pdf document or if you want to get automated and send data to a cloud-based visualization vendor, you will want to ensure that you can extract data in the way that works best for you. This way, as your business grows, you will be able to actually interact with the data to become a proactive agent of change for your organization. Simply put, the more work you do upfront to set-up your analytics framework, the less structural work you do down the road.
5. Know your options.
The data analytics industry is growing as businesses continue to realize the value their data holds and as technologies continue to revolutionize how we gather, process and view that data. This means more options, more saturation of niche vendors and ultimately, more confusion. However, there are the key players that provide excellent services to help you step in the big data ring. As I work closely with a large list of these vendors, I’ve compiled my list of favorites due to their ability to help clients become data-drive and contribute to maturing analytics programs.
Our Top 5 (in no particular order):
What has your experience been like while partnering with these, or similar vendors? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!
For more information or to receive a specific recommendation on the best analytics providers for your business’s needs, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!