Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Web analytics cultural exchange

First and foremost, I want to think everyone who helped out with the planning and logistics of height events in ten days. An aggressive schedule that got me to Utrecht (The Netherlands), Lille (France), Antwerp (Belgium), London, and back to Amsterdam - a bit crazy but proportionally exciting!

Creativity and analytics

I presented this topic as a brain teaser, a softer, more entertaining session which address creativity vs data-driven management and how constraints (which are often revealed through analytics) are the essence of innovation. The presentation starts by asking "what is business success?" and gradually leads toward the six critical process areas presented in the Online Analytics Maturity Model.

Workshops: "Online analytics: a managerial perspective"

The half-day or full-day workshop was presented in Lille, Antwerp, and Amsterdam. The workshop is built around the six critical process areas of the Online Analytics Maturity Model and presents several aspects that are too often neglected when doing online analytics. For once, we didn't even talked about the tools or specific tricks. Instead, we focused on learning the concepts that are essential in analytics and business optimization.

My KPIs: number of attendees and satisfaction level. The result: nearly 50 participants and expectations met at 98% (only one person was not satisfied... he was expecting some kind of Google Analytics training... let's call him an "outlier"!)

Rendez-vous des web analytics and social networking events

I also got busy at a couple of social events where I touched on similar topics but also took the opportunity to talk about the Web Analytics Association, our goal of developing a stronger international presence with the help of active members. I also shared one of the ongoing project called Web Analytics Without Borders, where WAA volunter members are actively helping Save The Children - a great opportunity to learn, collaborate and share in on a real web analytics project.

Private meetings

Since I'm a freelance and my model is to help agencies and organizations grow their own analytics practice, I was delighted to participate in private agency/client meetings. I was invited to share my insight but it also allowed me to witness several real-life practitioners and consultants challenges which will contribute to further refinement and improvements to the Online Analtyics Maturity Model.


Someone said something along the lines of "social media is not about marketing, it's about people". I can't agree more! The biggest conversion of social media is not sale, it's meeting people face to face! I came back physically exhausted but mentally energized by the immense interest and a genuine desire to collaborate on making online analytics easier.

Next week I'm heading to eMetrics Toronto, then it will be a local business intelligence conference in Montreal, eMetrics San Jose, London and Paris with a keynote appearance at the Webanalytics Congres in Amsterdam. Busy schedule for the coming months... it will be so great! See the full list of upcoming speaking appearance.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

eMetrics Toronto is coming up! April 6-9

15% discount: HAMEL15
Those who know me knows how passionate and how engaged I am in the web analytics community. The eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit is back in Toronto for a third year in a row and this time again, I'm on the Advisory Board and will be involved in many different ways.

Why go to eMetrics Toronto?

You are into online marketing, website development, SEO/SEM, PPC, mobile, video, social media? You manage ebusiness or simply want to join this high-demand, exciting and quickly evolving field? If you are serious about online optimization and measurement, there is no excuse!

Toronto or San Jose?

For Canadians, heading to eMetrics San Jose sounds way nicer (especially with our strong $CAD!). Nice weather and bigger show sounds appealing. Be aware the US market is very different from the Canadian one. If it's your first eMetrics, I strongly recommend coming to Toronto.

What about the speakers?

There's a great roaster of speakers but I don't want to duplicate it here. Just check it out, you will likely find familiar names and brands. Look at the topics and speaker bios, this will be a great mix of knowledge sharing, tips & tricks and great opportunities to talk to the pros.

Want to catch up?

I will do several things at eMetrics Toronto:
15% discount: HAMEL15

Monday, March 15, 2010

Book review: Advanced web analytics by Brian Clifton

Some time ago Brian Clifton asked me for my insight on his re-edition of "Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics". Brian published the 1st edition nearly two years ago while working for Google UK - since then, Brian moved on to become an independent consultant and Google Analytics greatly improved its offering.

Most books either address the broad concepts of web analytics or provide a long list of tips & tricks for a specific product. This is not the case with Brian's book. It's the first one I see that brings the concepts and apply them to a specific tool, namely Google Analytics.

Simply put, anyone starting in the field should have three books on their shelf:

  1. "Web Analytics an hour a day" from Avinash Kaushik
  2. "Advanced web metrics with Google Analytics" by Brian Clifton
  3. "Always be testing" by Bryan Eisenberg.
Don't just take my word for it, read others reviews and why a Brian wanted to publish a second edition.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Web Analytics Association: my take as a Director

A little more than a year ago I took the plunge and announced my desire to run for the Web Analytics Association Board of Directors and it's now time to enroll if you want to serve in a leadership capacity and help drive the strategic direction of the Web Analytics Association. I'm now halfway trough my call of duty. When I announced I was running for it, I quoted Tom Davenport and shared my views on the biggest challenge facing the digital marketing industry:
"three things are at the basis for competition: efficient and effective execution, smart decision making, and the ability to wring every last drop of value from business processes - all of which can be gained through sophisticated use of analytics"
In a subsequent post, I added:
Beyond stats, web sites and businesses, there are people. After all, some things don't change that much even after thousands of years. We still want to get around the campfire and listen to the sage, help the apprentice, be part of the group and make our mark. Maybe that's why, in essence, I'm running for the Web Analytics Association Board of Director.


What a year! During the past 12 months I became a Director and the Treasurer of the WAA. I participated on numerous Board meetings, comity discussions, email exchanges. I got actively involved in the Championship, UBC tutoring, along with other volunteers we launched Web Analytics Without Borders, I got involved in the site redesign, and I'm now going on the Certification advisory comity and we just confirmed the hiring of Mike Levin as a full time Executive Director. I did a number of social networking events, spoke at eMetrics, I reviewed the social media standard proposal and I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple of things.

It requires commitment and I'm not even getting paid to do it. Am I complaining? Absolutely not! The rewards are numerous: a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of doing something that can make a difference, a passion for the field. On top of that, you get to meet with the top influencer and most brilliant people in the industry. After all, when do you get to share lunch with managers from WebTrends, Yahoo! and Omniture? When can you share tips with practitioners from Dell, Microsoft and Sony or meet consultants from all around the world?

My take

When I hear people complaining web analytics is hard, or the WAA is too US centric and not present enough internationally, or UBC courses should be updated, or the recently launched site has broken links I have to bite my tong. It's a lot easier to wait for things to happen than it is to get involved and try to make a difference. It reminds me of the people who kept complaining about their job but stayed there for 20 years... It takes faith and guts to become a leader and a change agent.

Our industry is evolving fast and some of what we do might very well become irrelevant or absorbed in other disciplines. But before getting there - I should say while we get there - you can help. The Association is what we want it to be. You can be an outsider pulling on your side or you can be an insider genuinely helping the community. You can wait for things to happen or you can make things happen.

Maybe you don't have the time and energy to become a Board Member - become a member and get involved! If you do, the WAA is seeking committed and motivated individuals to run for election to the WAA Board of Directors. You have until March 15th to submit your candidature.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Web Analytics Maturity Model: feedback and workshops

I have received lots of great feedback following the release of the Web Analytics Maturity Model. If you haven't read it yet, go get it now - yes, it's free! If you've read it, I would love to hear from you!

Since it's initial publication, the document has been downloaded over 600 times and practitioners, consultants and students continues to engage in great conversations about the challenges of online analytics and how to succeed.

WAMM in the wild

To be useful, a model most be applicable "in the wild", it must be useful, used and abused! I'm continuing to work and enhance the concept with the help of a small group of people willing to share their insight & expertise. I have created a workshop that use the approach to cover the most critical process areas of developing and managing an online analytics culture. See the full list of upcoming workshops and speaking engagements.

Your take

Readers of this blog have noticed I often post "My take" point of views. Now it's your turn!

Socrates said "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance". But he also said "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." So help me please, I would love to get your feedback!

More specifically, think about the following statements:
  • "A model is a schematic and simplified representation of a more complex reality. What is included or abstracted stems from hypothesis about what’s essential or not."
  • "A maturity model contains the essential elements of effective processes for one or more disciplines. It also describes an evolutionary improvement path from ad hoc, immature processes to disciplined, mature processes with improved quality and effectiveness."
  • "The proposed model is based on critical success factors contributing to the use of analytics to make better decisions and extract maximum value from business processes."
Now, a couple of questions:
  • What do you think about the above statements?
  • Do you relate to the six critical success areas and five stages suggested in the paper?
  • What did you find most useful (or not) in the proposed model?
  • What do you think would be the next step to improve the model?

    • Workshops are available (if you feel alone because I'm not coming in your town, let me know and I'll see what I can do!)
    • A self-assessment and benchmarking tool is on its way
    • A book is coming up!
For all of the above, I'm seeking quotes, or better still, short case studies on how WAMM was useful and helped you.

Feel free to comment directly on the blog or contact me privately.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Book review: Analytics at work by Tom Davenport

I have mentioned the work of Tom Davenport numerous times on this blog. For those who don't know him, he is a Babson College professor, Accenture fellow, author, speaker and renowned consultant. I particularly liked two of his previous books: "The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business" and "Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning". His latest one, entitled "Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results", goes deeper in how leading businesses are gaining a competitive advantage through analytics.

First impressions

If you haven't read "Competing on analytics" go there first, it's a must for any serious online analyst. Also be forewarned this is about "analytics" not "web analytics" nor "online analytics" - a subtle but very important distinction.

Whenever I read a book I take margin notes and fold the page corners. This simple method is some kind "engagement" metric: 19 folded pages out of 188 (or 10%) - not bad! But be forewarned this is my own appreciation, biased by my experience and interests.

There are some gems worth noting, like the simple "Key questions addressed by analytics" table (ref. Figure 1-1) showing Past, Present, Future on the top, and Information, Insight on the left. For example, the intersection of "Information/Past" is "What happened? (Reporting)" but "Insight/Past" is "How and why did it happen? (Modeling, experimental design)". Neat and simple.

I also liked "the best decision makers will be those who combine the science of quantitative analysis with the art of sound reasoning". Seems obvious, no? But this is always a topic of passionate discussions among the tenants of "creativity" and those of "analytics".

DELTA - Data, Enterprise, Leadership, Targets, Analysts

The book is structured around the DELTA acronym. Certainly a good play on the Greek Delta letter which signifies "change". Each chapter introduces the requirement and characteristics of the acronym letters as well as a self-assessment of maturity stages. The remainder of the book talks about developing the culture of analytics.

In chapter six, "Analysts", Davenport defines analyst as "workers who use statistics, rigorous quantitative or qualitative analysis, and information modeling techniques to shape and make business decisions". He also provides definitions for various roles, including that of "Analytical Semiprofessionals" who "apply the models and algorithms developed by professionals" - which is probably the case of most web analysts today.

My take

It's a great book for organizations that wants to develop a competitive edge using analytics and an excellent academic reference. If you are into online analytics, as I suspect most readers of this blog are, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the topic. My concern is few of us are involved with truly analytical companies like the Expedia or Amazon of this world. If you feel "web analytics is hard", this book will be depressing! At best, if you are a web analyst you would probably qualify as "Stage 1: Analytically Impaired" or "Stage 2: Localized Analytics" in Davenports analytical maturity model. Basically, as stated in my proposition of the Web Analytics Maturity Model, Davenport model takes where the WAMM levels four and five ends.

All in all a good read with strong supportive arguments and an efficient way of assessing your maturity. However, probably not as interesting for those just starting up in web analytics or whose role is limited to online analytics and optimization.