How often does new functionality get pushed live on your website, with no tagging in place to measure its performance?  I saw this when I worked on the client side, and now as a consultant, I see this happening with my clients.  The business gets frustrated because they can’t get any numbers for their new functionality and the web analytics team gets frustrated because they weren’t told anything new was going live so they weren’t able to tag it.

The good news is that it usually only happens once or twice before the business starts including the analytics team.  The even better news is that with a process in place, this situation is completely avoidable.

The web analytics team should be involved from the get-go when the business is defining and designing new functionality for the website.   Creating a clear measurement plan up front will save time and energy.  The measurement plan should:

1. Document the project objective(s) and the measurement(s) of success.   Documenting the project objectives will give the analytics team clear understanding as to what the new functionality should do.  The team will know exactly what to focus post launch analysis on.

By documenting the measurements of success, the analytics team will have a clear understanding of what needles the business is trying to move.  This will ultimately aid in determining success of a project. Ideally, the measurement(s) of success should be quantifiable.  For example, the new widget should increase conversion by X%.  Or the rebranded site should increase the number of repeat visits by X%.

2. Document the business questions.  It is important that the business owner documents the questions they want answered about the new functionality.  This allows the analytics team to understand what they need to implement from a tagging perspective in order to meet the reporting needs of the business.  Examples include:

  1. How many products are purchased from the new holiday gift guide?  How much revenue comes from each of these products?
  2. How many visitors are reading our new blogs?  Which blogs are read the most?
  3. How many people use the new product comparison tool?  How many of these people buy a product

Taking the time to document the business questions limits and defines the scope for reporting.  The business knows the data that they’ll get and the analytics team knows the data they need to deliver.

3. Determine the reporting method and frequency.  As a web analyst, what you don’t want is a bunch of people coming up to your desk several times a day, asking you how the new site is performing.    As part of the measurement plan, outline the report delivery expectations:

  1. What will be delivered (i.e. reporting, analysis, and/or optimization)
  2. When will it start (i.e. the go live date)
  3. How often will it be (i.e. daily)
  4. Who will the data be communicated to (i.e. a list of recipients) and who will be communicating the data (i.e. which web analyst)

Tip: To ease reporting needs, create an automated report in Excel using ExcelClient or Report Builder.  Ideally, this can be created before the new functionality goes live by using a development report suite.  The report suite can be easily changed to production once the widget is live. Your reporting is ready on day one.

Working with the business owners to create a sound, comprehensive measurement plan, will ensure both the web analytics team and the business owners are fully aligned.  The business questions documented in the measurement plan will feed directly into the business requirements document.  The business requirements document will be used to define the tagging solution.  And the post launch reporting will be possible because of the tagging solution put in place.  The measurement strategy is the key first step in the implementation process and one you don’t want to skip.