An Honest Assessment: Finding Your Current State to Build a Strategy That Works

Over the last several years, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of Stratigent clients on their analytics strategy, and there is nothing more exciting and fulfilling than helping an organization map out their path to analytics greatness. While it is true that most organizations have similar goals for their analytics programs (targeting more relevant ads and content to their visitors, driving more revenue and leads through optimization, assessing the performance of high-profile campaigns and on-site initiatives, etc.), no two programs are exactly alike, and no two organizations take the same path to reach their goals. In fact, moving the needle on web analytics strategy can be a long and arduous process, and requires a defined approach in order to make progress on strategic initiatives while maintaining momentum through a series of quick wins.

Well, maybe all of that was obvious – you no doubt have goals for your organization, too, and you have no doubt looked at your current program and wondered, “How are we going to get from where we are to where we want to go?” You’re certainly not alone in wondering this – many of the organizations that I work with on a regular basis have been challenged when it comes to move beyond customizing their tool and generating basic reports – even gaining actionable insights can be very difficult if the right infrastructure is not in place. Adversity in analytics happens for a variety of reasons – a lack of an internal analytics champion, a shortage of available budget, a lack of qualified resources… the list goes on and on. So what can you do to help “unstick” your organization from some of these tough spots?

As Lao Tzu says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and unless you’ve recently assessed the current state of your analytics program (no, I mean REALLY assessed it, not just thought about it long and hard!), then that should be YOUR first step. Assessing your current state will allow you to gain insight into where the breakdowns in your program are today. Once you have identified these breakdowns, you can start to develop strategies to overcome these hurdles and advance your program.

So how do you go about assessing your current state and identifying the problems that are holding you back? Start by talking to everyone that you can – from the CMO who is responsible for your company’s brand vision to the web developer who puts tracking code on your pages, and from the analyst who mines your data to the marketing manager who places all of your paid search ads. Although you probably have a good sense of where your program is headed and where it is having trouble, talking to people who interact with all aspects of your analytics program will allow you to gain insight into processes and problems that you might not even know existed!

Once you’ve got some meetings scheduled, it’s time to start asking some questions. At Stratigent, we like to segment our questions into three main categories: People, Process, and Technology. Of course, you can use whatever methodology you want when you’re asking your questions – breaking it into some easily recognizable chunks just makes it easier to stay on task and ensure that you cover everything in your meetings. I could describe these to you in great detail, but instead, how about some sample questions?

People
o Who do you have on your team, and what roles do they play? Are there any roles that are not currently being fulfilled?
o What kind of training have your resources completed? Where are there knowledge gaps? What kind of training has been most successful?
o Are there any areas where resource shortages or team structures hinder your ability to make decisions based on data? Are there any places where you feel that the current team structure really fulfills your needs?

 Process
o What kind of processes do you have in place for your analytics initiatives? Does someone own each of these processes?
o Where do you experience process breakdowns that hinder your ability to get the data you need, and make decisions based on that data?
o What happens when your processes break? How do you update your processes so that they can survive in your current environment?
o Do you have a process in place for reporting? What do your reports look like, and who do they go to? Are you able to take action from these reports?

Technology
o Are you getting the data that you need out of your analytics tool? Can you use this data to make decisions?
o Can you easily make connections between the data points that you need, or is your data siloed? Where does this really affect your ability to make decisions?

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list – but hopefully it’s enough to get you moving down the path toward analytics bliss. Once you have completed your interviews, it’s time to assess the data that you have gathered and draw some conclusions. I like to go through my notes and group issues and successes into themes. Usually, I try to get this down to somewhere between 6-10 themes, and then I have a good starting point for formulating strategic goals.

At Stratigent we know what works and what to avoid when it comes to maturing your analytics programs. Thus we have developed a Strategic Roadmap Development service offering that is designed to help you set the right course for your analytics program. Have specific questions? Comment away or send me an email at info@stratigent.com
 

 

 

 

By Erin Cropper
About the Author:

Erin Cropper is the Director of Client Services at Stratigent.

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