manyWe have more web metrics and data than there are stars in the universe (slight exaggeration!).

Yet we stink at informing decisions. Our reports are ignored. Sites & online marketing continue to suck.

A large part of the reason is that a large part of our job seems to consist of glorified data puking, hoping someone will be impressed. After all there is so much data in those reports!! #fail

This blog post encourages you see the forest, the much hyped big picture, and shares a framework that will help you ensure that every single moment of your day is spent on activity that will be:

    1. of value to your organization, hence appreciated and acted upon

    2. has a clear line of sight to the one thing that matters: profit

If you don't want your professional life to be frittered away then please come along this short journey.

First some context…

If you have seen one of my keynotes recently then you have heard my near evangelical fervor when it comes to trying to convince you to compute Economic Value.

If you have Web Analytics 2.0 then you already know who much attention is paid to this concept in the book (jump to page 159 for how to compute it for your website).

soccer match win plan

The reason for this emphasis is to help fix our miserable failure at at creating data driven organizations.

To steal your energy away from being just in the report / data production business.

To encourage you to do better than spend a lifetime implementing analytics tools, building data warehouses, chasing the next shiny object.

My recommendation has been:

1. Identify your Macro Conversion (focus on this a lot!).

2. Report revenue. Report like crazy on the 2% conversion rate.

3. Identify your Micro Conversions.

4. Compute the Economic Value (see page 159). Show your bosses and HiPPO's the complete value of your website.

That last one will get any organization to sit up and pay attention.


Because for the first time in their young and passionate life they'll see the complete value your website is adding to the business. And because my dear it will be a huge number that no one can ignore! You are going to tie your work to the bottom line!

Revenue = Good. Economic Value = God! [Also slight exaggeration :)]

Professor Ken Wong's Magic Potion

Prof. Wong is the award winning Commerce '77 Teaching Fellow in Marketing at Queen's School of Business (and an awesome speaker, you should hire him for your next event!).

He took the stage after my talk and said, I am paraphrasing here, "Avinash did not go far enough in his keynote. Economic value is important but the only thing that matters is Profit!"

That was awesome!

One of Prof. Wong's key points was how the success of our work, as Marketers, is measured based on a lot of things but not often enough based on perhaps the most important metric of them all: Net Income.

Prof. Wong covered a lot of key points (as a MBA with a minor in Marketing I wanted to take off my clothes and jump for joy when he said the 4P's of Marketing are killing Marketing!).

I wanted to share two of his slides that left a lasting impression on me.

They are particularly applicable in the web analytics context. In sharing my interpretation of them my hope is it will change a little bit how you think about your work and success.

The very first slide, "Profit: The Ultimate Client Need", shares the key elements that need to function for the outcome (ROI) that causes companies to remain in business.

ken wong roi flow chart

My interpretative points.

Net Income is driven by two important variables:

Unit Margins (how much you make on each X you sell or Y service you provide)

Unit Volumes (how many of X or Y you sell)

Margin times Volume gives you the golden metric Net Income!

[Keep this formula in mind, your life should be revolving around it else you are wasting everyone's time.]

Peel the onion back one more.

Unit Margins is in turn driven by two more variables:

Price (how much you charge for X product or Y service)

Cost (how much it costs you to make X or provide Y)

Price minus Cost equals Unit Margins.

Get it?

So if you want to have very high Margins you have two variables you can control. You can charge lots for your product or service (think of a Vertu phone).

You can also make it at the cheapest possible cost (no phone costs $100k, you make it for $300 and sell it for $100k).

You can of course also charge lots and lots and it costs you a lot to produce (think of a Tesla car). But give some thought to how you'll stay in business.

Continuing the onion peeling…

Unit Volumes, our other variable to have high Net Income, is driven by two variables:

Market Share (is your share 90% or 5%?)

Market Size (is that share of a market the size of Maldives or China?)

Both share and size are important.

You'll sell lots of X or Y if you have a high market share and the limit you'll hit is the size of the market (you can then play in the current size or grow the pie).

line of sight

Line of Sight.

Having a clear line of sight means that you are able to map every metric you report on (or better still torture with segmented analysis to find insights) every single day directly to the strategic objective of the company.

Prof. Wong is suggesting, rightly so, that that strategic objective is Net Income.

And you have only one of four things that you'll move through actions your company takes: Price. Cost. Market Share. Market Size.

Here's my crystallizing question for you. . . .

When you report the metric Page Views Per Visit which of the four are you solving for?

How about with Bounce Rate? Or Time on Site? Or % of New Visits? Or Visitor Loyalty? Or…..

Is there a direct line of sight between what you as a Marketer are being incented on, or you as an Analyst are spending time analyzing?

If not, are you surprised that no one loves you? Sorry… I mean… no one loves your work?

Here is a simple exercise you could go through: Pick out all the metrics you are reporting today (on your dashboards and top reports). Try to put them into one of the four important buckets from Prof. Wong's slide.

The clear line of sight exercise. . . .

web metrics line of sight framework

Were you able to cleanly bucket all metrics you currently report? Time on Site and Conversion Rate and Task Completion Rate and % Internal Site Search Exits and Cart Abandonment Rate and % of the Page Scrolled and % of Visitors Refreshing Pages and all the other sweet things.

Some of the metrics in the above paragraph are complete crap, you are wasting your time and everyone else's time with them. And you'll now discover that very quickly because you won't have a place where you can bucket them.

Other metrics will make you think harder. Where do you bucket Conversion Rate? Are you impacting Price or Cost?

What about Customer Satisfaction? Or Page Rank!

Not every metric will map cleanly, and that is ok. I had to think really really hard to bucket each of my metric in the above picture. Some of the metrics were controversial. But bucket I did.

If it turns out your web metric has no line of site then it might be time to kill.

If the work you do can't be mapped into Price, Cost, Market Share or Market Size then why are you doing it?

Before you dip your hands into Omniture or WebTrends or Surfaid, :), answer that question.

I know it seems like a lot of work for a "lowly" Analyst to do. It is. But without it there is little hope for your personal success (promotions / bonuses) or your company's success (higher Net Income).

"What Matters Most" Fishbone Analysis

As you look at the picture above it is amply clear that the metrics I have chosen in each of the four buckets are perhaps unique to me/my business.

The reason is simple… they are a reflection of the strategy my company is currently executing, i.e. our "world domination via an effective data driven online marketing plan".

This simple truth, that metrics should reflect current business strategy, is the reason I loved another slide from Prof. Wong's presentation.

It leveraged the same framework, but added "what matters most". . .

marketing what matters most sm

[Click on the image above for a higher resolution version.]

The focus is still on Net Income driven by, hopefully, improved Margins and Volume which in turn are driven by much beloved 4 levers of Price, Cost, Share and Size.

What is awesome about the "fish bone" above is that it drills down to the 14 specific strategies that most businesses will use to become great (or simply survive).

You Ms. Web Analyst now have a framework you can take to your Marketing Directors and CMO's to discuss which of the 14 strategies they are currently executing to drive the 4 beloved levers.

Ask any Web Analytics "Guru" or "Professional Speaker" or "I am so important you are paying me $5,000 an hour to give you generic advice Consultant" and they will always tell you that all good journeys in web analytics start with asking your bosses this question: What are the goals of the organization?

The advice is sound (and well worth $5k/hr). The problem is that we never get an answer from the customers of our data / our management. You are $5k x 8 hrs short and still none the wiser.

Get off the slow train to nowhere…. You now have a new BFF: Prof. Wong's "What Matters Most" slide!

Don't ask the generic "What are the goals" question. Ask "Of these 14 specific strategies which are we currently executing".

Once they tell you which ones (be patient, it might shock them that you are giving them something tough and specific to think about), you'll be in business.

The 5 strategies they pick from the right-most column will help guide you in terms of picking the right Key Performance Indicators / Web Success Metrics for your business.

And you know why a win now is guaranteed?

Because each metric you identify starts with a specific business strategy which has a direct line of sight to the 4 beloved levers which will have a impact on Net Income!!!

Minorly orgasmic right? [Trust me, you do this and you'll agree. :)]


Recommendation #1: The Web Analytics Maturity Mandate!

For far too long we have been like toddlers… bumping into things, having a limited vision, working just what we know (which is little).

What I love about this approach is that it forces us to grow up. It forces us to understand what we are solving for: Net Income. It forces us to have a line of sight between our work and the ultimate goal: Net Income. It forces us to not live in our dungeon but rather take a well defined framework to enable the discussion that will yield wins all around.

No lip service to how important process is. This blog post shares what you specifically must do to succeed!

industrial evolution 1

Recommendation #2: Win With Web Metrics: Steps

Here are the specific steps I recommend you follow for optimal execution of the recommendations.

Step 1: Learn Finance 101 and the terms outlined in the slide titled "Profit The Ultimate Client Need".

Step 2: Don't pick any metrics, don't run reports, resist the charms of Google Analytics, Omniture Discover2 etc.

Step 3: Meet with your Management team (or the senior most Marketing person) and identify which strategies outlined in "What Matter's Most" the company is executing (/wants to execute).

Step 4: For each strategy identified in step 3 identify the Web Metrics / KPI's with a clear line of sight to the 4 beloved levers.

Step 5: Use the Web Analytics Measurement Framework as the foundation of all your reporting.

Step 6: Spend you work day on focused segmented analysis to identify actionable insights you can report using the Web Analytics Measurement Framework that will help drive data driven actions on "What Matters Most" so that your company will improve in the one thing that matters: Net Income.

Step 7: The happiness you'll get from leading a meaningful professional life will make you irresistible to the opposite sex which in turn will lead to happiness in your personal life! Enjoy it.

A simple but effective 7 step process.


Good luck.

Ok now it's your turn.

Do you agree that a focus on Net Income and a focus on "what matters most" is key to success in web analytics? Can Web Analytics tie the work they do, the metrics they report, into Price, Volume, Market Share & Market Size? Or is our work simply not that important? In your job today how do you ensure line of site? Will you change anything based on the recommendations from Prof. Wong?

Please share your feedback / critique / ideas.



Zach Olsen, who blogs at By Data Be Driven, has taken the Clear Line of Sight framework outlined in this post and applied it to a medium sized eCommerce website. It is so wonderful, take a look:

zach olsen web analtyics framework sm

[Click on the image above for a higher resolution version.]

Zach's effort is awesome for these key reasons:

  • Really clear line of sight from Business Objective to Net Income.

  • Clean flow from What Matters Most to 4 beloved levers (Price, Cost, Share, Size).

  • (This one I love the most…) Identifying of Targets for each metric! You can't be serious about Web Analytics without doing this!

I hope you are as impressed by Zach's effort as I was.

He has also done something sweet for all of us… he has created a excel spreadsheet that you can download and customize for yourself, and hence get a jumpstart! You can download it at this blog, bottom of this post: Web Analytics Framework Example. Please download it!

My thanks to Zach for his effort and for his permission to share it here.


Couple other related posts you might find interesting:

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