On Decem­ber 20, 1981, Doug Smail of the NHL’s Win­nipeg Jets set the record for the fastest goal from the start of a game — five sec­onds. His hockey team went on to beat the St. Louis Blues 5–4. If you take a moment to look at your watch and count out five sec­onds, you real­ize how fast that goal was. The St. Louis goalie prob­a­bly still had the Cana­dian national anthem ring­ing in his ears. Smail’s quick goal would have ener­gized the entire Jets bench and caused an early momen­tum shift in their favor.

Just like in ice hockey, it is also impor­tant to score early — and often — in web ana­lyt­ics by deliv­er­ing quick wins to the orga­ni­za­tion. When choos­ing a new web ana­lyt­ics solu­tion, most com­pa­nies go through a thor­ough busi­ness require­ments gath­er­ing process involv­ing var­i­ous key stake­hold­ers and then an equally long eval­u­a­tion process to select the right ven­dor. After decid­ing upon Site­Cat­a­lyst, Insight, Test&Target, or other prod­ucts from Omniture’s Online Mar­ket­ing Suite, many peo­ple who were involved in the afore­men­tioned process will be eagerly await­ing the antic­i­pated improve­ments to their web­sites and online mar­ket­ing efforts. In other words, many eyes will be watch­ing to see what hap­pens. While they may be ini­tially patient, their excite­ment will start to wane if they fail to see tan­gi­ble value from the new solu­tion after a rea­son­able period of time and their ini­tial enthu­si­asm will quickly turn into dis­ap­point­ment, resent­ment, or apathy.

Time to Value

Mar­keters and start-ups are famil­iar with the term time to mar­ket. How quickly can we con­vert an idea or con­cept into an actual prod­uct sit­ting on a store shelf? In web ana­lyt­ics, time to value is an equally impor­tant phrase as it under­pins the need for quick wins. How quickly can we con­vert insights from web data into valu­able enhance­ments to our online busi­ness? Indi­vid­u­ally, quick wins may not encom­pass the full value that will be received from web ana­lyt­ics, but they will help to build cred­i­bil­ity within the orga­ni­za­tion and demon­strate a pos­i­tive return on invest­ment to senior exec­u­tives. Tony Brad­shaw and his ana­lyt­ics team at Dav​er​am​sey​.com have been able to string together a series of quick wins that have resulted in 589% ROI. As Yosemite Sam would say, quick wins prove “there’s gold in them thar hills!”

What is a quick win?

Let me start with what quick wins are not. Although report­ing and dash­boards are impor­tant mile­stones in terms of get­ting web ana­lyt­ics in place, they are not quick wins. They may ini­tially feel like quick wins as data-starved teams may cel­e­brate when they receive a new cus­tomized report or dash­board. This report­ing may be the first vis­i­ble out­put to the orga­ni­za­tion after decid­ing to go with Omni­ture. How­ever, the cel­e­bra­tion is usu­ally short-lived and for­got­ten when they real­ize they need more than just reporting.

Insights gained from a deep-dive analy­sis may also feel like quick wins, espe­cially when they’re warmly received and devoured by var­i­ous inter­nal teams. But they’re not quick wins … not quite yet. The only last­ing and mean­ing­ful quick wins are analy­sis insights or rec­om­men­da­tions that are acted upon and result in a pos­i­tive return for the com­pany. For exam­ple, you may have iden­ti­fied a prob­lem with your check­out process that when fixed increases your con­ver­sion rate and rev­enue per visit, result­ing in $150k in addi­tional annual rev­enue. This is a quick win. In sum­mary, quick wins are not data, report­ing, or analy­sis — but data-driven action that cre­ates a pos­i­tive return.

Quick wins build data-driven momentum

For com­pa­nies that are striv­ing to become more data-driven, quick wins play a key role in strength­en­ing or chang­ing their inter­nal cul­ture. Quick wins turn into suc­cess sto­ries that build momen­tum for orga­ni­za­tions to become more data-driven. In their ground­break­ing book “Made to Stick”, authors Chip and Dan Heath illus­trate how sto­ries are one of the most effec­tive ways to make ideas sticky (ideas such as being more data-driven). They high­light how sto­ries pro­vide sim­u­la­tion (knowl­edge about how to act) and inspi­ra­tion (moti­va­tion to act). Quick win sto­ries fuel enterprise-wide edu­ca­tion efforts as they cre­ate curios­ity and inter­est in web ana­lyt­ics across the business.

Web ana­lyt­ics teams often feel under­staffed (“if only we had another ana­lyst”) and under­equipped (“if only we had Dis­cover or Test&Target”). For web ana­lyt­ics teams, quick wins feed team growth and the addi­tion of extra tools. As the orga­ni­za­tion sees tan­gi­ble value from its web ana­lyt­ics invest­ment, it will want to invest in more web ana­lyt­ics staff and tools. Work­ing with dif­fer­ent clients as a con­sul­tant, I’ve seen sev­eral suc­cess­ful web ana­lyt­ics teams build momen­tum, grow their teams, and lever­age mul­ti­ple prod­ucts along the way. I’ve also seen stag­nant web ana­lysts, who are prob­a­bly still churn­ing out the same Site­Cat­a­lyst reports they were three years ago.

Another key ben­e­fit of quick wins is that they buy time for web ana­lysts to focus on larger, more time-intensive “high-value” projects. If a new direc­tor came along and said they wanted four years and a $300 mil­lion pro­duc­tion bud­get to pro­duce a 3D sci-fi block­buster, most stu­dios would show this auda­cious direc­tor the door. How­ever, James Cameron had a few wins under his belt (e.g., Ter­mi­na­tor, Aliens, Titanic) when he made the same request to 20th Cen­tury Fox in 2006.

In the next part of this arti­cle, I will focus on how quick wins relate to your imple­men­ta­tion and what to do if you haven’t been focus­ing on quick wins up until now.