center of attentionYou know exactly what is necessary in order for your company to achieve Web Analytics 2.0 greatness. You attend a conference and hear all the speakers share deep insights – that ends up depressing you rather than exciting you.

At the end of one of my speaking engagements you come up and say "Thanks Avinash, that was really great, you've opened our eyes. But."

I know that's coming next. . . .

"Our Senior Management won't let us do that."

Or "We have been banging out heads on this one for six years."

Or "I proposed testing / surveys / competitive intelligence / Analysts but I was shot down."

Or sometimes "My manager simply does not get it / Analytics / Web / Me / Anything."

Or one of many such variations.

the always right boss 1 Bottom line: It is not my fault, it is their fault.

Since I don't want to upset my loyal readers I'll agree that it is really not Us. It is just that we are too low on the totem pole or that our management is ignorant / opinionated / close minded / other things. We have tried but failed. We are great, sadly they would not know greatness if it hit them smack on the face.

(There, there. . . feel better? I am on your side! :)

So what do you do to move the ball forward? Certainly not buckle in and put in another five years on the job doing mediocre things and adding no value (you would never do that!).

Here is what you do: Embarrass your management!

Yes that does sound like career suicide. But stick with me.

Most of the time I have observed that we try to bring about change by trying to argue with our Management. Or we are insulted that they won't accept our recommendations, after all we are the experts here and that's why they hired us!!

Often no amount of our own credibility can drive change. You need to take you out of the equation.

That's because the HiPPO, highest paid person's opinion, at the table has her/his own priorities and experiences and context and opinions. They get priority over your experience, context and opinion.

While most HiPPO's won't yield to your Chinese Torture, they don't have to, there are two things that they will almost always yield to:

    Customers & Competitors.

When I say embarrass your senior management that's what I mean.

Use your customers and competitors to help you move the ball forward (buy a new tool, hire another analyst, kill hideous home pages, spend right amounts on SEM and SEO, publish rich media on your site, implement feedburner, or whatever else you want).

Senior Managers are biased towards themselves, but they bow to customer data and competitive opportunities.

Here are 6 strategies you can use to bring the voice of the customer and perspective from competitors to the table, and win big (!!). . . .

# 1: Implement a Experimentation & Testing Program.

# 2: Capture Voice of Customer. Surveys, Remote Usability, Whatever.

# 3: Deploy the Benchmarks I Say, Deploy 'em Now!

# 4: Competitive Intelligence is Your New Best Friend.

# 5: Hijack a Friendly Website (/ Earn Your Right to be Heard).

# 6: If All Else Fails. . . . .

Of course I'll be glad to share detailed execution tips with you, keep an eye out for real stories from my own experience. . .

# 1: Implement a Experimentation & Testing Program.

This is the biggest no brainer, and the killer of most stupid ideas. It is the best way to take yourself out of the game: "It is not my opinion that dancing monkeys, or grey text on black background, don't work. Here is data from our latest test."

It is hard to say no to a Executive idea. But it is easy to say: "Excellent idea, why don't we split traffic and send 50% of the home page traffic to your idea and get customer feedback on a no calls to action only video home page."

a b testing

Testing is great because you can get the most important person's opinion: The Customer's.

After a few times of being proven wrong even the biggest HiPPO will back off and give you all the support you need.

And now you have no excuse to avoid testing.

The Google Website Optimizer is free! It takes approximately six minutes to set up a A/B test with it (if your content is ready). Slightly longer to set up a multivariate test.

If you are looking for paid options then I like Offermatica a lot and Optimost gets good reviews too.

Want to learn about testing?

# 2: Capture Voice of Customer. Surveys, Remote Usability, Whatever.

Another excellent way to remove your opinion from the table and get the customer's to get your Senior Management to change.

Do something simple: implement my The Three Greatest Questions Ever survey.

In one shot you'll get Primary Purpose and help your Decision Makers understand that people don't come to your website to look at your worst selling highest margin products. You'll also get Task Completion Rate – how much your site is failing your customers.

know satisfaction

Quick story: The first time we got the task completion and customer satisfaction scores for a Support website the score was 21. Out of a 100. Yes 100.

Essentially it was saying that the site purely existed to create Net Detractors, not Net Promoters (as was the intent). The company would have been better served by shutting the site. Yes some Customers would be upset that the company did not have a support site. But atleast they would not be actively pissed off after experiencing the site.

Root cause? I.T. owned the site. Yes a site for helping customers was owned and run by I.T.! Not the support team. Not Marketing. It was I.T.

As soon as the first survey responses were reported to the Senior Management they were so embarrassed that they immediately appointed a Director level person to exclusively own the site, on the business side, and gave him a small staff to create a best in class support website (and of course reduce support phone calls).

See what I mean by embarrassing management? That site had existed as is for five years. Then a small effort by some rouge surveyors changed it all.

Do that.

Want to learn more?

# 3: Deploy the Benchmarks I Say, Deploy 'em Now!

You want time / money / attention / people for your website. Yet you get none. Time to benchmark against your competition (and hoping that they are doing better!).

Benchmarks can come in handy as a perfect way to set context around your own performance. Be it for in vogue metrics like Conversion Rates or for metrics that should be in vogue like Abandonment Rates. Sometimes this means being aware of how crappy your site is performing, and other times it means having the ammo you need to get a bonus.

You can use benchmarks such as the one dutifully provided by the Fireclick Index. . . .

conversion rate benchmarks fireclick index

Or from associations such as

Or from your survey vendors such as the ACSI or the iPSI benchmarks for Customer Satisfaction for various companies / industry verticals.

Often with benchmarks we get into silly arguments like how do they measure this and that etc. Remember comparing for one point in time is usually sub optimal. But trended over time some of the vagaries of time, seasonality, formulas etc can be reduced. So understand how the benchmark is computed, make sure you have access to the best possible data and then go compare trends.

So when you use the Fireclick index Last Week, above, might be less useful. But that trend for the year is very helpful. Just lay your own performance line on top of that. Better still you are in the Electronics sector, compare it to the same sector.

It can be amazing to step outside your own web analytics tool data, your little silo, and look outside and compare. You may be considered tall in China but not in the Holland.

With benchmarks we are solving for the same thing as above: Providing a external opinion that is often easier to digest by our Managers.

# 4: Competitive Intelligence is Your New Best Friend.

I love this one, nothing like specific reality to hit you on the face like cold water.

Here is a example. Our company "owned" a category term. There were only two companies essentially competing and this was the Category key term. We were happy to have our web analytics tool show it all the time in our top referring keyword report. Bunch of traffic too.

The first time I logged into a CI tool and looked at our "share of search" I was dumb founded. We had 6% share of all the searches coming under that key phrase and, this made me cry, the top five sites that were getting traffic for "our" keyword were ones we had never heard of! Someone was eating our lunch and we had no idea!!

That's what I mean.

After that I got all the money I wanted, and had been begging for, to do SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Here is another example. Say I work at LowesCompetitor.Com. I have been confident and happy. And my trends look nice.

home depot and lowes visits trend compete

But recently I have been learning a lot about changes to the site's acquisition strategy, we are also having trouble getting support to make the site better and execute on our multichannel strategy.

Sadly I simply can't get my executives to listen. Ahh but I have a friend, my competitive intelligence data! I locate it and show my executives this:

home depot and lowes pages per visits trend compete


Something is potentially dramatically wrong with LowesCompetitor.Com and potentially right with 11.8 pages per visit compared to 28.6! (Did I read that right 28! God I wish I owned!!)

You can see how the second graph would be helpful to me in my battle to get the Management team's attention. I bet no LowesCompetitor.Com Senior Executive would want the red trend to continue.

See what I mean? Embarrass your executives, in a good way.

Both examples above from a service with a ton of free competitive intelligence, and really really affordable deep search CI data.

There are other wonderful sets of data out there. I was trying to pull some from my HitWise login, which also has great data, but I kept getting access denied. See seven specific ideas in the first link below (tips & best practices).

Want more ideas of how to use Competitive Intelligence?

# 5: Hijack a Friendly Website (/ Earn Your Right to be Heard).

This was one of my early strategies when I kept getting resistance from "high levels". I could not convert Them with words ("evangelizing" :) so I tried to show them that I deserved to be heard (/ listened to).

I went around the company meeting various website owners and making a judgment call on their need for data, their willingness to cooperate and take action. Then I picked a small site where the owner wanted to drive change and more importantly was open to our help. Then we gave that site all our love. Tagged it right, integrated their humble campaigns, shared insights with them that they could action (vs. reports that were data pukes), did a few A/B tests and so on and so forth.

In three months the site's performance by every measure improved dramatically. Conversion went up, CPC and CPA's went down, ROI went up, Bounce Rate went down and what not. In short we made the website owner a hero in the company.

Here was the amazing outcome: He went around presenting to Executives and other Business Unit Leaders and even the CEO to show how great his little site was doing (and yes a little bit of how great he was doing).

When people asked him how did you do that? He told the data story and working with our team.

That was priceless. Now everyone wanted to work with us.

So here is my advice to you: Make someone else a hero (and the center of attention). Not you.

Stop beating your head against a brick wall. Three years of that is enough. Find a willing partner, inside your direct responsibility or outside. Find a small site (or a big one) where you can make progress.

Then show 'em what you can do. might be a small site for some sweet condo rentals when you are in San Diego. . . .

mission beach for rent

. . . . but it is full of tracking possibilities. Outbound link tracking, form submissions, non-ecommerce tracking, downloads, offline conversions and on and on. If I can do all that with this, imagine what you can do with your business!

Here is a worst case scenario: If no one in your company wants to work with you then go outside.

Start a blog and go crazy with analytics (tools are free!). Here is what my blog has taught me (just one small blog!): Blog Analytics.

Show them what you have learned, reports and insights. They will listen because you would have not just been begging / griping / bitching / gnawing but rather you would have actioned things.

Earn the right to be heard.

# 6: If All Else Fails. . . . . Call Me!!

This one's not as cheezy as it sounds.

Sometimes you need someone from the outside to show the vision, to throw some cold water on people's faces, to hold up a mirror, to bring credibility and gravitas, help create a roadmap, be a ally, to charge you large sums of money so your CEO will take them seriously (if you are in this camp definitely call ME!).

Yes I can poke fun at myself. From the absolutely brilliant . . . .

despair consultant

So true!!!

It can seem that many Consultants / Consulting Companies operate on the Despair poster mindset. But there some who can meet the criteria of tip #6, here is how you'll know who they are:

    They are battle hardened from years of being a Practitioner, not stuffed with non empathetic only looking from the outside experience, and they have their feet firmly planted in the future not the past.

If tips 1 through 5 don't work for you find the right Outsider and she/he can help, in case all of them are busy you can call me as a last resort.

That's it. Post over.

Ok quick summary: The problem with Management support is not that you have not tried hard enough of that your ideas are not good enough. The problem is you have not tried to leverage your optimal weapons: Customers, Competitors & taking action to earn the right to be heard.

Go forth and "embarrass them". I mean that in the kindest, gentlest way.

Good luck.

Now its your turn.

Please share your own lessons, perspectives, critique, bouquets and brickbats via comments. What works for you? What does not? Please add your voice. Thank you.

[Like this post? For more posts like this please click here, if it might be of interest please check out my book: Web Analytics: An Hour A Day.]

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