Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book review: ReWork, by the folks at 37signals

After presenting my Roadmap to online analytics success workshop in Amsterdam in April (thanks to Siegert Dierickx at TheseDays!), Taco Potze, from GoalGorilla, came to me and kindly offered ReWork, from Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson - the 37signals folks.

For startups and open minds

The book is an easy read - short chapters covering everything from entrepreneurship to project management, productivity, competition, evolution, marketing, staffing, crisis management, and corporate culture. Overall, it's an inspiring book. Anyone familiar with the startups culture will easily relate.

More traditional organizations might find it a stretch... but still thought provoking and inspiring.

My take

Taco said some of the things I was talking about in my workshop were similar to what was presented in the book. In fact, there are some striking resemblance! This isn't only reassuring, it's also a reinforcement of the Online Analytics Maturity privileged approach to web analytics and online business in general.

For example, the guys are not fans of long term planning - "plans let the past drive the future". I also have to agree with "what you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan".

They also touch on the topic of creativity - something often debated in the analytics community - "constraints are advantages in disguise" and they "forces you to be creative". Right on! Some of the thoughts readily applies to the field of analytics: "don't make things worse by overanalyzing and delaying before you even get going" and without stating it, they borrow from the "lean" philosophy of "constantly look for things to remove, simplify and streamline". As one of my former boss used to say "make it easy to do business with"!

The book is full of useful tips and nuggets of wisdom. I'll leave you with two I particularly like:
A lot of companies post help-wanted ads seeking rock stars or ninjas. Lame. Unless your workspace is filled with groupies and throwing stars, these words have nothing to do with your business.
Although "ninja" might be trendy, it is certainly not the best job title if you want to reach out to c-level. This was my #1 advice from a recent post.
We all have ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever. What doesn't last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: it has an expiration date.
As an analyst, you have to make the complex easier, and if you want to get somewhere, "decide what you're going to do this week, not this year".

I have a hint for you: this week, read ReWork!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quick tips for better business analysis (from the IIBA)

I couldn't resist but repost the great tidbits of wisdom included in the latest International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) newsletter.

Quick Tips for Better Business Analysis™ are licensed by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Quick Tip 17: Improve Your Written Communication

These rules can improve your business writing. Like all rules, think before you break them.
Simple over Impressive
Use short words if you can. Long words may seem impressive—but are you trying to impress, or to help stakeholders understand? Examples:
  • "If you can" (3 words, 3 syllables) vs. "Whenever possible" (2 words, 6 syllables)
  • "Given the indeterminate nature of the participant's internal motivations, as well as the way he managed to not understand the conundrum, no decisions were undertaken." (25 words) vs. "He didn't understand the problem. We didn't know what he wanted. We did nothing." (14 words)
Active over Passive
Use the active voice by default and the passive voice when necessary. Active phrases make better requirements. Passive phrases may be useful for touchy topics. To use the active voice, put the subject first, verb second and object third. "Someone does something" and "actor—action—acted-upon" are other ways to describe this. Passive phrases are longer, may hide the actor, and are often unclear. For example, "the event was triggered" should not be in a requirement, but may be part of an email about a mistake someone made.
Necessary and Sufficient
Cut meaningless phrases like "managed to" and "in fact". Some phrases, like "as well as" can be replaced with single words, like "and". For example, "In fact, Alex managed to write a response as well as phone Bess," vs. "Alex wrote and phoned Bess."
Color vs. Monochrome
Adjectives change the meaning of a phrase. In most business writing—and in all requirements—adjectives can make text ambiguous, and should be removed. Carefully consider the rest.
The Mom Rule
To test how well your text flows, read it out loud. To test how easy it is to understand, read it out loud starting with, "Mom, ..."

My take

Those tips also applies to any types of communication: speaking at conference, writing blog posts, or presenting web analytics insight! The traditional "essay" format is pretty much dead - do we really have time for fancy writing in this day and age of 140 characters Tweets? On the other end, excellent writing skills seems to be something we are collectively loosing (and I feel I'm contributing to this decline since my mother tong isn't English).

I have tutored to hundreds of students, spoken two dozens times at conferences in America and Europe, seen hundreds of PowerPoint presentations, written hundreds of blog posts, read thousands others... When teaching, listening, watching I'm often very impressed by the communication efficiency. Other times... well... I have to wonder how this person can even claim to be an analyst if he/she can't articulate a clear thought, demonstrate and analytical mindset, problem solving and synthesis skills of what is essential and worth to communicate. How many times have we seen boring PowerPoint presentations with long phrases of small text? I spare you the times I have received long and lethargic litany of text without any type of headlines or even simple paragraphs breaks!

As a member of the jury to the WAA Championship we came up with the six fatal flaws of analysis. The tidbits above should be considered the five golden rules of efficient insight communication.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random thoughts from eMetrics

eMetrics London is over, Paris is next! It was my 11th time speaking for eMetrics since 2007. Over time, some thoughts have emerged... make your pick and please, jump in and lets have a healthy conversation!
  • Forget about web analytics and marketing - welcome analytics and business optimization
  • Forget about multivariate testing, behavioral targeting, multiple data source integration - you are not a Fortune 1000
  • We will revolutionize business optimization trough analytics - what makes you think so?
  • Social media is not about marketing - it's about people

Forget about web analytics and marketing

Welcome analytics and business optimization.

I've never been a fan of the term "web analytics", nor am I of "marketing optimization". As if the only thing we had to measure and optimize was a web site and online marketing campaigns. The reality is much broader and complex than that: we need to look at the online ecosystem and beyond, we need to dive into business processes - we need to evolve toward business intelligence (the expertise, not the technology) and business analysis. The limits of marketing lies in its ability to dump a truckload of visitors into a broken business process. Marketing ends where you can't figure out how to deal with IT - those who have the expertise and the knowledge of business processes automations that are far less trendy than measuring sentiment on Twitter but immensely more important to the business bottom line!

Forget about multivariate testing, behavioral targeting, multiple data source integration

You are not a Fortune 100 (...if you are, I'm glad you are reading my humble blog!)

At conferences we are inundated with showcase from the best of the best - those who are fully and thoroughly leveraging online analytics, we are speechless witnesses of double-digit improvements anecdotes, carefully rehearsed messages of wisdom carefully crafted to fit in 140 characters. We drool at multivariate testing and behavioral targeting, happily slicing and dicing data from a ton of different sources, amazing visualizations created off dynamic segments... Those "maturity model atheists", as someone once put it at eMetrics San Jose, simply do not need an Online Analytics Maturity Model for the simple reason they are beyond that - they are competing on analytics and have achieved online analytics nirvana (well... kind of). For the rest of us, we have to get down to earth and learn about the most optimal and realistic path to online optimization through analytics. Be it Europe, Canada or most organizations in the US, there is an immense need for guidance and best practices.

On the bright side: tip of the hat to Michael Gulmann from Expedia for revealing how analysts became the decision makers of anything related to site and process improvements - and how they made mistakes and learned from them.

We will revolutionize business optimization trough analytics

What makes you think so?

At the end of eMetrics Toronto I was moderating a panel on the future of web analytics. Although it was a very interesting panel and the crowd participated very well, it left me with a bitter taste. Ask a bunch of hockey fans in Montreal who will win the Stanley cup and you are bound to hear it's the Canadians, no doubt. Ask a bunch of marketers doing web analytics about the future of the industry and you are bound to hear them claim they will do better than the "white coats in the basement" (aka business intelligence people)...

Our industry suffers from its small scale and navel gazing - happily nodding at unison when someone says web analytics is hard. At eMetrics we see more vendors and consultants than practitioners - let alone managers and true decision makers. Everyone is very polite, doesn't want to make any waves - so there is no real debate, not even an "agreement to disagree" - and as a consequence, our industry remains marginalized and evolves too slowly. This is not a critic of eMetrics, this conference plays an important role in the market, but if we are to redefine the future of analytics and business optimization, it would be about time to invite the rest of the team to the lobby bar!

Social media is not about marketing's about people.

A shorter rant to finish off. I'm a bit frustrated with all the craze about Facebook and Twitter. As if businesses couldn't exist without them, as if the soul of any customer was hidden somewhere in social networks and would be revealed by some clever marketing tricks or astroturfing tactics - the picture of worms coming out after rain comes to mind!

Ok, now we've got a couple of topics to think about and get the conversation going!

And if you don't, you are forewarned, I'll post other random thoughts! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

eMetrics Paris, 14-16 juin et gagnez un entrée

I usually write all my blog posts in english - this one is an exception to promote my workshop and keynote at eMetrics Paris! Please bear with me or head to eMetrics London or the Web Analytics Congress (Amsterdam)!
Rabais 15%: IMMERIA010
eMetrics Paris approche à grands pas et il est temps de faire un peu de bruit dans le marché!

Lundi 14 juin: atelier "Roadmap pour un web analytics gagnant"

Après le succès de cet atelier au Canada, aux États-Unis, aux Pays-Bas, en Belgique et présenté pour la première fois en français à Lille en mars dernier, je réitère l'expérience sur Paris!

Cette formation propose une approche méthodologique efficace pour réussir la mise en place stratégique et opérationnelle du web analytics. Vous apprendrez notamment comment:
  • faire une évaluation stratégique de votre situation,
  • identifier les six dimensions de succès d’une entreprise orientée analytique,
  • définir des objectifs réalistes en lien avec vos impératifs d’affaires, et comment en mesurer le succès,
  • identifier les ressources et les investissements en analytique,
  • communiquer efficacement, être un agent de changement et naviguer à travers les pièges politiques,
  • éviter les difficultés auxquelles font faces de nombreuses entreprises.
La journée sera agrémentée d'une multitude de retours d’expérience basés sur plus de 20 ans de métier en analyse, dont les 15 dernières en stratégie ebusiness et web analytics.

Cette formation s’adresse à tous ceux qui touchent, de près ou de loin, au web analytics: responsables marketing, communication, e-commerce, e-marketing et responsables des systèmes d’information et bien sûr, professionnels du web analytics. Aucune connaissance technique d’utilisation d’un outil de Web Analytics n’est requise.

>>> Information et inscription à l'atelier 

Mardi 15 juin: keynote "Vers une culture des données en France"

J'aurai le plaisir de partager la vedette avec Julien Coquet, de Hub'Sales, afin de parler de la culture des données en France. Mais que vient faire un Québécois pour vous parler de ce sujet? Là réside l'intérêt! J'y partagerai une vision unique du marché grâce aux résultats cumulés de l'autoévaluation "Online Analytics Maturity" ainsi qu'un portrait du web analytics en France grâce aux données recueillies avec WASP.

>> Inscription au eMetrics Paris 

Gagnez une entrée au eMetrics ou à mon workshop!

Deux options:
  1. Julien propose le fameux concours de haïku, limite de participation le 20 mai.
  2. Contribuez à mes travaux sur le Online Analytics Maturity Model:

    • Jim Sterne a accepté d'offrir une entrée pour 2 jours au sommet eMetrics Paris, une valeur de 1990€.
    • J'offre à une autre personne une entrée gratuite à mon atelier du 14 juin, une valeur de 495€.
    Le tirage aura lieu au hasard, le 25 juin, parmi les participants résidents de la France qui auront répondu à l'autoévalution Online Analytics Maturity.

    >>> Effectuez une auto-évaluation de votre maturité analytique 

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    eMetrics London, May 17-19 and more!

    15% discount: SPEAKUK010
    eMetrics San Jose is just behind us, so was Toronto a few weeks back as well as my initial little tour of Europe.

    But wait! My spring tour is not over: eMetrics London is coming up May 17th and 18th, plus a workshop on the 19th.

    Session: "Advanced tagging techniques, tips & traps"

    Most people know me as the creator of the Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP). Over the years I plead Jim Sterne, the conference chairman, if I could do a session on tagging techniques and pitfalls. Probably perceived as "too technical" and not really catering to marketing folks, I never got to do it. However, insights are garnered from good analysis. Good analysis is predicated on good data. Good data can only be had through proper tagging.

    So here you go! I will share years of implementation experience with leading tools, horror stories and anecdotes, and hopefully demystify web analytics tags! Don't miss my session, in the Advanced eMetrics track, Monday May 17th, at 5:20pm.

    Workshop: Road Map to Online Analytics Success

    This workshop stems from my work on the Online Analytics Maturity Model. I've done it several times already with an amazing satisfaction rate of 98%! The premise is simple: properly tagging and configuring the tool is a challenge in itself but even when done successfully, unexpected issues surface and the value of online analytics quickly fade. Once you've got your training or education, once you have gone trough the initial learning curve, you probably feel web analytics is pretty hard!

    This workshop is about taking a step back, looking at the bigger picture of analytics and business analysis and optimization, and understanding the six critical process areas that will make your web analytics life significantly  easier. It's still time to register for this unique workshop!

    And more!

    Please fill out the Online Analytics Maturity Assessment survey, see what is your online analytics footprint and help me in my ongoing research to make web analytics easier!

    Coming up

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Tatvic enhances immeria's Excel web analytics dashboard

    Some time ago I released "Web Analytics Dashboard Fun in Excel 2007", a free Microsoft Excel 2007 dashboard example I created as a demo, sample and starter kit for web analytics students and professionals. Some of the features are:
    • Current vs. previous periods - month to month, year to year
    • % Change in form of Indicators via conditional formatting
    • Spark lines
    • Control limits and Significance
    • Different Sections like "General Statistics", "E-commerce" and "Conversions"
    • Automation & Customization
    • Data Analysis and recommendations.

    I released this dashboard primarily as an example for students enrolled in the UBC Award of Achievement program I’m tutoring as well as the Laval University course I’m teaching. I also use it as a demo in the Roadmap to Online Analytics Success workshops. Based on the numerous feedbacks I got since its release, I realized lots of analysts and agencies are using it as a starting point. Some of them had asked for Google Analytics automation and I referred them to Tatvic GA Excel plug-in. With this enhanced version, Tatvic actually just made this job very easy!

    Some of the important features are:
    1. Trends and % change indicators: the up/down red/yellow indicators are based on 5% variations of month-to-month or year-to-year values. Those should be updated to your own threshold sensibility and set to their according positive/negative significance. For example, increase in visits is usually a positive thing (green/up) but increase in bounce rate is typically a negative thing (red/up).
    2. Segmentation, Automation & Customization: once you understand how to add any metric to your dashbord it becomes very easy to tailor this sample dashboard to your own needs. Adding a new segment is more complex but can be done if you look how they are configured in the spreadhseet.
    3. Control limits and Significance: Based on any given metric, the spreadsheet will automatically calculate upper/lower control limits and show them beside the sparkline. Furthermore, the sparkline itself use +/- 1.5 Standard Deviation – a statistically valid way to define the control limits range – and make it easier to spot outliers.
    Whilst many used this template as a guide and customized it to incorporate clients’ data to present Monthly Dashboard, Tatvic realized that:
    1. As an analyst the amount of time it takes to get large volumes of data counts for a lot and
    2. Extracting the data from Google Analytics interface and putting in the back end of template was a tedious and time consuming process. Also copying and pasting data in exact cells was prone to human errors.

    Tatvic enhancements to the Excel web analytics sample dashboard

    With Google’s release of its API and thanks to the Tatvic Google Analytics Excel Plug-in tool which seamlessly integrates in Excel, the sample spreadsheet was enhanced for:
    • Predefined Date range features
    • Segmentation Availability via Advance Segments
    • Time period Granularity
    • Edit Functionality
    • Filter and Sorting Functionality
    • Higher Data Import Capacity (approximately 10k) in one Query
    But one of the most important features which need a special mention is the "Refresh" functionality. With a single click all your dashboard data gets updated much quickly and without much hassle!

    Here is the step by step process that you can follow to refresh your dashboard periodically with just a single click:
    1. Download the enhanced version of the dashboard (for Excel 2007 only)
    2. Download and install the Tatvic GA API Excel Plugin
    3. Open the dashboard and login with your Google Analytics credentials into Tatvic GA API Plug-in
    4. Go to "Background sheet" and replace the profile name from to desired one. Follow the same method for start and/or End date and/or advance segment.
    5. Click Refresh and see your dashboard getting update within few seconds!

    Your dashboard is ready, you can update it on monthly basis or any intervals required. All you have to do is follow the method described above and the data gets updated quickly. Moreover you can customize it with your own KPIs.

    Please share comments / feedback / critique / about it.

    Do you have any dashboard tricks to share? How do you think this sample dashboard could be improved?

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    GA + 4Q: Free clickstream and voice of customer integration from iPerceptions

    At last, I can reveal what iPerceptions has been working on recently (note: since I sold WASP to iPerceptions, I'm on their product advisory council). Today at eMetrics, CEO Claude Guay announced enhanced features for the popular free 4Q Survey Voice of Customer.

    What is 4Q you might ask? When it came out two years ago Avinash qualified it as the "greatest survey in the world".

    With this integration, you will be able to combine web analytics clickstream data with 4Q voice of customer data points including:
    • Purpose of Visit: why visitors came to a site,
    • Task Completion: whether they were able to complete their tasks and
    • Overall Satisfaction.
    Once data integration is activated, you can go straight into your Google Analytics profile and easily slice and dice the data, create custom filters and reports to measure the site’s performance against online business objectives:
    • Track satisfaction rates for specific segments
    • Measure conversion rates against task completion rates to gain a better view of the conversion cycle.
    • Compare satisfaction rates by time on site, pages visited, sections visited and geographic region.
    • Examine time on site by task completion to distinguish between visitors struggling to find information and those positively engaged on the site.
    iPerceptions is also enabling greater flexibility in 4Q by introducing full customization of purpose of visit choices. Users can now choose from existing choices or immediately add their own selections and translations.

    My take

    Of course I'm a bit biased, but I think this is amazingly good for our industry. At last, we can very easily merge voice of customer and web analytics data. We can see the What and the Why. In my Roadmap to online analytics workshop I always stress there are three fundamental things you need to check:

    • clickstream
    • voice of customer
    • performance monitoring
    And it seems Google is pretty much in agreement on this since Brett Error just mentioned the benefits of iPerceptions data integration into Google Analytics as well as the focus on aync tags and the role of performance in Google Search results ranking.

    Additional info: Google Analytics users get a new way to analyze voice of customer data by Internet Retailer.