The Free Analytics Reporting You Inherited Isn't Worth the Money

Web & App Analytics get a bad rap. Most every issue with bad web & app analytics comes from companies who’ve never considered what they wanted to measure before they deployed app tracking or web analytics.

There are two ways to create useless analytics at your company:

  1. Utilize the ‘out-of-the-box’ basic analytics integration available from your free analytics provider. Begin reading and sharing the performance reports built upon this default analytics configuration.
  2. Take the approach to ‘measure everything’ about everything simply because there exists the technical know-how, toolset, and capacity to do so. Provide this endless measurement data model to your stakeholders as ‘self-serve’ analytics, where anyone can look up anything they want.

Though polar opposite in approach, these methods produce identical business value – none.

Generate Meaningful Data By Measuring What Matters

Your web, app, and customer analytics become useful once you’ve answered a few critical questions about your digital customer experience:

  • What do you want a customer to do once they get to your website or app?
  • Once you know what you want customers to do, what things do you want to know about customers who engage?
  • If you could know said things about your customer engagement, what would you change about your online customer experience? What would you change about the methods in which you attempt to acquire more customers?

Only after answering the above questions, capture the technical requirements

How should you answer these critical questions? Simple – do not overthink it.

Do you sell things online? Then you want customers to buy things from you…online.

Are you operating a platform or an ecosystem? Then you want customers to engage with your platform…frequently and positively.

Are you generating interest for an enterprise purchase or business-to-business service? Then you want prospective buyers to view your offering as a potential solution….and engage you in a follow up discovery conversation/demo.

Are you managing the digital presence for a physical place of business? Then you want customers to go there, purchase, and do so frequently.

There are certainly additional behaviors you’d want to create depending on your business. For example, you want repeat purchases. You want customers to tell their friends. You want them to review & love your brand. You might want to know geo, timing, and audience insights about your best customers, but in reality you just need to understand their intent, and how/why you resonate (or don’t) with that.

Following this game plan, everything that comes out of your web and app analytics will measure critical behaviors and tell you how your customer experience, content, and marketing contribute – or don’t – to those behaviors.

Mythbusting: Hidden Patterns Do Not Exist In Your Data, And You Don’t Need AI To Find Them

Your business isn’t folding protein chains.

Your business isn’t identifying a pickle from a hot dog.

Your business isn’t beating people at Go.

The most corrosive thing in marketing and business analytics today is the pervasive myth that by collecting data on everything and giving a tech platform access to all of this data, that magically out will come business-altering analysis, actions and results.

99% of the examples marketed in MarTech today as “Artificial Intelligence” or “ML” are neither. Scheduled regression analyses with anomaly detection is something an undergrad could configure for you without the fanfare. You’re a customer of one of these wastes of time and electricity if you sort through auto-generated insights on a daily basis that look like…

“Traffic spiked 17% last Tuesday, which was 50% above the expected range of results!”

More importantly, you need to understand the following: your business is not a mystery. Your business leaders / domain experts know how your business operates. They have a very good causal model of your entire enterprise. Please utilize this model by capturing their understanding in the key behaviors, events, and measures you should be collecting and tracking in your web or app analytics environments.

If you follow this approach, actionable insights will not be hidden in your web and app analytics data. Your reporting will bring them right there they should be – in plain sight.

About the Author

Matt Butler
Ex-Googler of 12 years, Matt was a founding member of Google’s analytical consulting team, developing analytics, statistical forecasting, auction modeling, and machine learning for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Kohl’s, Best Buy, and many more. He went on to lead global technical partnerships before leaving to found Bonsai in February, 2020.