Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hillstrom's open letter

I've been following Kevin Hillstrom's blog for a while. Kevin is a very experienced consultant in the field of multi-channel retailing and data mining, having worked for well known brands like Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, and Lands' End. Today, Kevin posted "An Open letter to the Web Analytics Community" where he ventures in some aspects of what I had covered in "Is Web Analytics too marketing centric?"

Kevin knows his stuff, you should definitely read his open letter. And I must say I agree with everything he is highlighting in his post:
  • data integration across channels becomes a must
  • move from reporting ratios to reporting revenues, benefits and costs. As he puts it "You will have to become good at calculating profit"
  • become political by crafting "a story that blends their (executives) challenges with your vision, providing a compelling narrative that the executive takes on as her own vision"
  • learn about all channels, not just the web
  • if something doesn't exist in your current tool, "make it happen", go beyond the tool
  • "stop doing what Google tells you to do", "start looking at your business the way your CEO or CMO wants to look at the business"
He concludes with "success is tied into your ability to link together all data within the company, to be able to tell a compelling story, and to be able to have executives trust you enough to make key business decisions based on your recommendations.". Very well put Kevin! :)

My take

I think one of the issue, just like in the early days of the web, is anyone and his dog becomes an expert at web analytics because they recently stumbled on Google Analytics. Web analytics has a good buzz, it's in high demand, and is quite young... so there are mistakes:
  • seeing the web as a silo, floating by itself in the deep ocean of the Internet, rather than leveraging its unique characteristics to listen to customers wants and needs and continuously optimizing the business
  • pouring money into marketing without optimizing processes, simply because measuring ROI on a PPC campaign is a lot easier than fixing that darn business process
  • thinking in terms of visits instead of being truly customer centric, just because the tools make a poor job at integrating with other sources of data and reports their numbers in visits or inaccurate number of visitors
  • thinking anyone in the office can be their web analytics guru without the proper experience, training, authority level and empowerment
When I do a web analytics maturity level assessment (see here and here), those are the types of issues I can uncover and for which I can propose realistic recommendations.

Kevin, you are right on, and I hope web analytics "experts" will embrace your recommendations as goals for 2009.