Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resources for #measure

Up until now, the Yahoo! Web Analytics forum as proven to be a great resource, so are dozens of blogs by practitioners, consultants and vendors. Nowadays, the Twitter #measure hashtag is an invaluable gold mine, but you have to be there at the right time. Various tools will let you know who are the #measure leaders to follow on Twitter.  But let’s face it, unless you are already “well plugged” in the network, it’s hard to find the most valuable resources.

Useful resources for the web analytics community

Over the years, several people tried to build lists of useful resources but the way TwtPickin handles the social aspect and the ease of contributing is just brilliant. If you think of other useful lists to create, go ahead (but please be willing to maintain it as there is no way to share ownership in TwtPickin – for now) or let me know and I’ll do it for you.

Get involved!

  1. Bookmark those lists
  2. Vote for the most valuable resources
  3. Add missing resources
  4. Spread the word!

Online Analytics Maturity Model: 2010 year end review

In his “web analytics year in review 2010” on, Garry Przyklenk wrote:
Although Stephane Hamel's Web Analytics Maturity Model is a product of 2009, he really garnered significant attention in 2010 as organizations took stock of their capabilities and enacted changes to transform themselves from "analytically impaired" to "analytically integrated.
This time of the year is ideal to look back, think, and start to plan for next year objectives.

eMetrics & Jim Sterne

I first wrote about the concept of online analytics maturity in November 2008. I was back from the “Industry Insight” day at eMetrics where Jim Sterne asked three simple questions:
  1. What’s the hard part?
  2. What do we need from the tools?
  3. How do we convince upper management?
Those questions remains, to this day, very relevant and pretty much untamed.

Looking back, I tried to address those questions in what would later become the proposal for the Web Analytics Maturity Model. My gratitude goes to Jim for lighting up the little spark in my head and allowing me to share my progress by speaking nearly twenty times at eMetrics.

"Web analytics is hard" - Peterson vs Kaushik

Back in 2008, Avinash Kaushik and Eric Peterson were debating whether web analytics was hard or easy. I was tired of hearing the “web analytics is hard” refrain – certainly not a good way to foster the growth and credibility of our discipline. I was very much into Avinash camp – with all due respect, not to the extent of oversimplifying things as he sometimes does…

Some diverging opinions, when respectful, are a great mean of mutual growth. I wish Peterson and I had never got to the point of "agreeing to disagree" because after all, it's not about any individual in our little field of expertise, it's about the growth of our community through constructive dialog, respect, and sharing. "It's not about you, it's about the community"... Who said that?

Anyway, I'm digressing... I spent months looking at other fields of expertise, listening to practitioners, consultants and vendors, asking questions, reading a lot, and looking into my own experience as a practitioner and consultant. Had it not been of this “debate”, maybe I would not have dug into this subject – so I'm grateful to both Avinash and Peterson!

An Online Analytics Maturity year in review

Fast forward to the end of 2010 – here’s a roundup of what I did in regard to the OAMM:
  • A keynote appearance at the Web Analytics Congress, Amsterdam
  • 8 workshops for a total of over 100 participants.
    • 97% satisfaction - when asked “where your expectations met?”
    • “understanding of the issue” rose from 57% before the workshop to 79% after – which means that participants are coming out of the workshop with a much better understanding of what are the weak points in their practice and how to overcome them.
  • 16 conference sessions in the USA, Canada, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and UK.
  • Taught 60 students in the newly launched graduate-level web analytics class at Laval University and the feedback is simply amazing!
  • Nearly 200 entries in the Online Analytics Maturity self-assessment tool.
  • Appearance in the Beyond web analytics podcast, a number of videos [and here] and mentions on numerous blogs
  • A number of clients, large and small, hired me to help them conduct a maturity assessment of their organization and make some unbiased, honest and realistic recommendations.
As I mentioned in a recent post, I was astonished at the level of interest for “models” and “maturity” at the last eMetrics. It is irrelevant if it is “my” model or someone else’s – as Bill Gassman, author of one of the early web analytics model once said “the first benefit of a maturity model is the conversation it sparks. It puts the team in a mindframe to imagine what could be and to measure where they are”.

Planning for 2011

Other than usual consulting, my new gaAddons project, tutoring UBC and teaching at ULaval, here's what I'll look into for OAMM in 2011:
  • Conferences:
  • A dedicated site for OAMM is coming up - I should have done it long ago!
  • I will publish a summary of the findings from the maturity self-assessment in a paper to be published in the coming weeks.
  • In the fall, the ULaval online, graduate-level web analytics class will be available in English
  • Expect a revision of the white-paper in the coming months
  • I’m working on a textbook – a very long process – to be published eventually… in the meantime, the content is being used in my workshops and the ULaval course.

It's your turn now

Have you applied some elements of OAMM at your workplace? Was it positive?
What do you think is the most beneficial in the OAMM concept?
Constructive feedback is welcome - what do you think should be improved?

For a model to work it needs to be used and abused - it needs to be put to the test of fire and be as widely accepted by the community as possible.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Google Analytics cross domain tracking made easy: gaAddons v2.1.1 released!

Let's face it, unless you are very skilled at JavaScript, have perfect control over the tagging of the sites and have achieved a level of understanding of Google Analytics that you could be a GAAC, cross domain tracking with Google Analytics is a real pain!

gaAddons v2.1.1 stable version available

Thanks to the growing list of supporters of gaAddons, this version fixes many annoying bugs and introduces _setXDomain.

Bug fixes
  • Fixed issues with handling of right-click vs regular click for _trackOutbound and _trackDownload
  • Outbound links and downloads should open in the _self window by default, unless a TARGET is specified
  • Fixed bug with _trackLoadTime where it was always triggered even when onBounce:false
Enhancements and other changes
  • New _setXDomain call
  • Tested for compatibility with Mootools
  • Added wmv, mp4 and flv to the default list of tracked file types in _trackDownload
  • Enhanced options:debug to provide more complete info when using Firebug
  • _trackOutbound and _trackDownload now support a "format" option which gives greater flexibility to track with the taxonomy you want (this is cool!)
  • _setHourOfDay is deprecated since this is automatically handled by GA

_setXDomain: cross domain tracking made easy

This feature handles the most common scenarios for cross domain tracking with Google Analytics:
  • One domain & subdomains
  • Multiple domains & subdomains
  • One domain & sub-directories of another domain
  • A single sub-directory
The same snippet of code is simply added to all pages, on all domains you need to track, and gaAddons takes care of calling _setDomainName, _setAllowLinker, _setAllowHash and _setCookiePath as needed and automatically set the outbound _link and _linkByPost where required.

Lets look at the "Tracking Across Multiple Domains and Sub-domains" from Cross-Domain Tracking on Google Analytics help center.
Credit: Google Analytics Help Center
It could hardly be easier with gaAddons:
_gaq.push(['_setXDomain', {
     domainName: ''

That's all you have to do!

Now, imagine there is a blog on Easy!
_gaq.push(['_setXDomain', {
      domainName: '',
      include: /(

"domainName" is always the main domain under which you want everything to be tracked, "include" is a regular expression that specifies the other domains, directories of other domains or just the directory that needs to be tracked.

I want it!

You can give it a try! gaAddons is free for personal use and non-profits. See Pricing for commercial rights of use for corporate websites, freelancers and agencies.

Please use Support to report issues or just send feedback & ideas for future releases.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Web analytics business education at ULaval (MRK-6005)


I was nearing the completion of my eBusiness MBA at Laval Univesity (Quebec-city). Instead of going the traditional thesis route the program required us to apply our learning in a real business environment. The head of the department, noticing the experience I had in the online field, my passion for analytics and my presence on the honor roll, suggested I could develop a new online class on the topic of web analytics.

The initial version was a classic approach aimed at undergraduate students, starting with "history of web analytics" and addressing the various aspects of analysis: traffic sources, on-site behavior, outcomes, etc. Although the University liked it, the "analytics is hard" debate was raging on - so I went on to study why so many organisations are failing at web analytics and few really achieve outstanding results. The concept of the Web Analytics Maturity Model emerged. Six key process areas were identified - things that must be present to achieve success. This became the basis for one of the first graduate level, full semester, business oriented, 360 degree view of online analytics. The term "Web" was later replaced with "Online", as highlighted by the course objectives.

MRK-6005: Analytiques web

3 credits - graduate Level - 100% online course, available in the following programs (in French):
Language: The course should be available in English very soon, maybe as soon as January.
Licensing: I fully own the rights to this course and collaboration with other approved universities is welcomed.
Fees: Quebec residents ~275$, Canadian residents: ~650$, international students: ~1,500$

Course objectives

If analytics is the science of analysis, and analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it (1) - online analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and transformation of various sources of data (qualitative & quantitative) into insight for the purposes of understanding and optimizing online business processes. Online analytics can be viewed as a subset of business intelligence: the skills, processes, technologies, applications and practices used to support decision making (2) - and business analysis: the discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems... process improvement, organizational change or strategic planning and policy development. (3)

Specific objectives

  • Develop a data-driven approach to ebusiness and interactive marketing management
  • Allow future managers to make decisions based on the most optimal and realistic solutions in a fast paced and continuously evolving environment
  • Demonstrate how business performance measurement, user-centered design, effective communication, and an analytical approach to problem solving can be leveraged to better understand who are the online users, their goals, and how the business can and should fulfill those needs more effectively.

Learning approach

Each module introduces a new concept, ranging from introductory to more complex business situations, that can be readily applied in a real working environment thanks to the precious collaboration of business partners. Selected lectures, discussion forums, quizzes, weekly short assignments, live chat sessions and videos contributes to the learning environment. A final assignment, based on a real, live business environment, offers the greatest opportunity to put theory into practice.


The course length is 15 weeks/modules:
  1. Introduction: basic concepts of online analytics
  2. Technologies: logs, tags, cookies and other considerations
  3. Concepts: from business goals to online objectives, user-centered design, personas, persuasion architecture
  4. Developing analytical skills: the role of statistics in online analytics
  5. Developing analytical skills: base metrics, multiplicity and conversions
  6. Developing analytical skills: key performance indicators, dashboards and effective communication
  7. Developing analytical skills: optimization through a/b and multivariate testing
  8. The analysis process: leveraging problem solving and methodologies (SixSigma/Lean, Wireframes, BPMN)
  9. Analysis: marketing analysis & optimization
  10. Analysis: social media and mobile analytics
  11. Analysis: site optimization, workflows and competition
  12. Managing analytics: change management, developing the culture and adoption of analytics within political & ethical boundaries
  13. Business intelligence and business analysis
  14. Synthesis: course review, innovations and the future of online analytics
  15. Semester assignment delivery & grading
Additional information and inquiries: visit Université Laval - Formation à distance: MRK-6005 (in French) or contact Stéphane Hamel

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

gaAddons v2.1.1: open beta!

Thanks to those volunteering for the early beta of v2.1.1, I'm now confident to open gaAddons v2.1.1 for wider testing.

The main focus of this release is _setXDomain: a way to make this darn cross-domain tracking easier to implement and make it work! :)
  • Easy cross-domain tracking
  • Handles all common scenarios
  • Takes care of outbound links automatically

Bug fixes

Enhancements and other changes

  • New _setXDomain call
  • Tested for compatibility with Mootools
  • Added wmv, mp4 and flv to the default list of tracked file types in _trackDownload
  • Enhanced options:debug to provide more complete info when using Firebug
  • _trackOutbound and _trackDownload now support a "format" option which gives greater flexibility to track with the taxonomy you want
  • _setHourOfDay is deprecated since this is automatically handled by GA
Note: When participating in the beta, always make sure to take the latest build from the site.

Coming up!

  • YouTube video tracking!
  • eCommerce micro-format support!

Interview on OAMM, the WAA and gaAddons

(if you don't see the video above, please visit the blog page directly)

Daniel Waisberg interviewed me for his great marketing measurement and optimization site, Online Behavior while we were at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit – Washington DC, 2010.

1:50 - I speak about the Online Analytics Maturity Model, what I've been working on for years in order to help companies to succeed in Web Analytics. The model is aimed at sparking discussions and raise awareness. A paper is available and the self assessment tool is a great way to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

3:50 - I provided my perspective and some tips on Web Analytics consulting, both for external consultants and for Analysts inside a company that need to interact with multiple teams. The major takeaway is my belief that our expertise is evolving toward business analysis and business intelligence: answering the needs to understand and optimize online business processes (beyond marketing) and the obvious need to look at more than clickstream data.

6:00 - My role as a director of the Web Analytics Association and the Get - what you can get as a member of the association, Do - what you can offer to the community, and Be - what you can become: better educated about web analytics, become a Certified analyst, become a speaker, etc. This strategy was discussed at our last Board meeting.

8:15 - And I concluded with some info about my latest project, gaAddons: a collection of useful enhancements to improve the default Google Analytics implementation.

Thanks again to Daniel for the opportunity, you can watch more eMetrics Summit videos in the dedicated channel. I will be speaking about the Online Analytics Maturity Model again at eMetrics Toronto and San-Francisco, and maybe Paris and London (hint, hint - bug Jim Sterne & Mattew Finlay to get me there!). I just confirmed my presence at the Click Summit in Charlotte, NC, April 14-15. See the complete speaking appearance list. The schedule for spring 2011 is getting loaded but I'm open to other speaking opportunities.