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The Secret of Successful Analytics?

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 12 May, 2015
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Brian Clifton and Avinash Kaushik on Customising Google Analytics to improve Digital Marketing

Successful Analytics is the title of a new book by Brian Clifton who you may know as the author of the Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics. Brian wrote this after his time as the first Head of Web Analytics at Google EMEA.

I'm keen to help businesses better manage their use of analytics to improve Digital Marketing. since I have found when training and consulting that many are missing the opportunity make the most of the insights available from their analytics. Although most businesses now use Google Analytics, or an equivalent to tag their sites to measure their online marketing, it's often not the customised for their business to get the most from reviewing the analytics. Brian's books focus on how to customise Google Analytics for a business, from a technical point-of-view (in the first book) and from a process and team standpoint (in the second book). So, as part of our regular 'Digital-in-Depth' webinars for Expert members, I asked Brian to share the most common mistakes he sees when businesses use Google Analytics - see details of Brian's Google Analytics Gotchas webinar.

To help 'spread the word' on approaches to manage analytics better, in this article from the foreword of Brian's new Successful Analytics book,  we feature advice from Google's Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik. You may know him as author of the Occam's Razor blog, another great resource for learning about Digital Marketing.

Avinash Kaushik on the 10/90 rule of managing analytics

Have you heard of the 10/90 rule?  With every passing year, I’ve come to believe in that rule more and more (and more and more). The reason is quite simple. Every facet of the business world is throwing off ever more data, and every facet of our personal existence (and insistence on sharing) is throwing off ever more data.

10-90 rule

Data, it turns out, is free; identifying specific actions business leaders can take based on rigorous analysis is not free. This is why I’m so excited about Brian’s book.

It dispenses with the normal OMG, OMG, look at how much data there is, and is that not amazing, let us spend 18 months on implementation, and gets to what it really takes to shift from data puking to recommending business actions based on data.

Here’s one of my personal examples of the difference in emphasis, and what ultimately drives success:

In every company, every leader wants a dashboard. “Get me a summary of the business performance. Decisions shall be made!” Analysts scurry around and an intense burst of data, manifested as tables and charts, is presented on a vanilla-scented piece of paper. Happiness? Job promotions? Sadly, no.

It turns out that the higher you go up the chain of command, the more analytical skills go down, and the context required to make sense of the numbers on the dashboard is also dramatically reduced. Few decisions are made, and if there is a meeting to discuss this it devolves into a discussion of the data quality, missing data, colors in charts, and everything except making a business decision. The answer? Words in English. More specifically: insights, actions, business impact.

Every dashboard in the world should include as few tables and charts as possible. It should include insights written in English (or your native language) by the analyst, followed by the recommended actions and—the most important critical must-have bit—the impact on the business if the actions are taken.

That vanilla-scented piece of paper will no longer drive one more awful discussion about the data itself; it will drive a discussion of which actions to take first. Hallelujah!!

It is incredible to realize that in the end, data by itself does nothing. It is just data. It is the $90 part—the big brains—that identifies insights, actions, and business impact that will push your company’s profitability and customer delight to new, incredible, heights.

Next time you receive a dashboard, look for the balance between tables, charts, and English text, and you’ll know if it will add value or waste time. That’s my little appetizer for you as you dive into Brian’s wonderful book.

The entire book is awesome. It is beautifully structured, and you should go from Chapter 1 to Chapter 10 on your we will make the most of data voyage. But if you wanted to be a little naughty and jump around, my favorites are Chapter 8 (you can read it anytime, and you can’t work on the recommendations soon enough!) and Chapter 10 (every time you find a task daunting, find hope in the success of others in the case studies).

I wish you all the very best. Carpe diem!

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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