I have just finished reading one of the most intriguing web analytics books I have ever read. And don’t let the title fool you. ‘Web Analytics – An Hour a Day’ by Avinash Kaushik sounds like it’s a beginners book (that’s the reason I hadn’t read it sooner), but its actually one of the most in depth, business minded web analytics books I have had the pleasure of reading.
What really struck a chord with me was his emphasis on the not just the ‘what’ of web analytics, but the ‘why’ of web analytics, and the way he looks at things from a macro level. He introduces a great concept called the ‘Trinity Approach’, which highlights three keys to gathering great actionable web analytics ‘insights’ as he calls it. I strongly believe every company that is serious about web analytics should follow the 3 elements of this trinity approach:
1: Behavior . This is the ‘what’ element, which too many companies only focus on – the clickstream data. The key emphasis points of this are segmentation and site overlay analysis, and not just the basics like pageviews and time spent on website.
2: Outcomes. This is the real goal and focus of successful web analytics – what the actual outcome of the visitors behaviors are. For example, conversions, orders, custom support satisfaction. Without understanding the outcomes and the true goal and outcomes of every website, then web analytics becomes a shot in the dark.
3: Experience. This is where Avinash really brings it home – by focusing on the ‘why’. Too many companies seem to think they know what the user web needs are based on ‘what’ they do. Without implementing surveys, A/B and multivariate testing and usability testing, they don’t get real feedback from the user, thus ignoring the real needs of the web visitors and ‘why’ they are doing the things they are doing. This really is the most critical part of web analytics, and is all too often missing. Everyone should at least put a survey on their website, asking the reason the visitor has arrived, and whether they have achieved what they came for. Go ahead. You may be surprised to learn your website visitors come to your website for something entirely different than you initially thought!
Avinash takes this approach a step further, by telling us that you need to bring all these trinity metrics together. Which makes total sense- too many companies do the trinity metrics outlined above, but they all live in their own little silo worlds. Make all your analytics data ‘talk’ to each other – it reveals great actionable insights!
I also love his ‘so what’ approach. Go ahead, look at your so-called website KPI’s – if you can say ‘so what’ as a result of reading one, then you have an ineffective KPI. All KPI’s should be meaningful and drive actionable insight. Who really cares about your pageviews and time on website if you can’t drive actionable insight?
I really could go on further and reveal more of his great mind and this book – but I suggest you read it for yourself. Avinash Kaushik really does have an amazing understanding of web analytics – I would love to interview him and pick his mind. People think that Eric Peterson is the current guru of the web analytics world, but I would honestly have to put Avinash right up there.
I strongly suggest that every web analytics wannabe buys and reads this book – and here’s a little tip. Read it in a week, then re-read it. Don’t spend the 6 months or so that it would take to read the whole thing the way he outlines it by day. I found it really helps bring it all home reading it all at once. I know its certainly helped cement my understanding of web analytics! Great job Avinash – I believe you are having such a positive impact on the world of web analytics! Oh and don’t forget to go ahead and subscribe to Avinash’s great web analytics blog too!