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Web Analytics, The Wonder Cure For Funnel Crappiness

Your site sucks at creating customers. Think not? If you won’t listen to me, maybe you’ll listen to Seth Godin.

In a September 15 post, What Shape is Your Funnel?, (go ahead, open it in a new window and feast on this mental treat) Seth explains a critical, but often ignored concept in marketing of all types—he challenges the conventional marketing idea of putting more customers in the top of the funnel and asks, for a second, is your funnel crappy? I think it’s particularly relevant in online marketing, where we are paying for every little exposure to our future raving fans.

Yes, your funnel is crappy.

Oh, you’re a Fortune 500 company? You’ve won a design award with your site? Congratulations, your funnel is probably even crappier. No, I’m not kidding.

Funnel crappiness (FC) is a disease caused by unfriendly debate, wild guesses, nephews that do SEO, and untamed bureaucracy, and affects many adults, even if they aren’t aware of their symptoms. FC is highly contagious, and can infect new companies if carriers of FC migrate from previous partners. If you think you or your company may have FC, there is help. FC can be cured, but side-effects are not mild.

Web analytics, if taken daily and used in conjunction with a healthy dose of reality, can completely alleviate FC and make an enormous impact on your company culture, productivity, and profitability. Let’s look at the three things good analytics will help you do, each of which eradicates FC.

Turn Down The Burner On Tactical Arguments

The first thing you’re going to do with analytics is find the places where your site (or marketing sucks), and brainstorm the solutions. Web analytics can and should be a great moderator when people of different (or even the same) disciplines have a disagreement about how to identify and handle a problem or improve something. Often, we approach the same problems from different perspectives—many of which feel that more traffic is the only (or first) answer—and the data and understanding that a good web analytics person brings to the table will help.

It’s important to recognize both the data and the understanding. The effective analyst will be gathering information from a number of places, but their method will be to scrutinize everything around central business goals, rather than tactical purposes.

A great example is a hypothetical site that has both ecommerce and advertising: these two separate goals will actually do direct harm to each other. The heads of these efforts both want to maximize their particular contribution, and often can’t understand or accept that a plus on their side means a minus somewhere else. The analyst will approach this problem from the perspective of the business, where user experience and ultimately cash flow will help everyone make the right choice, and accept the reasoning.

Improve Your Operations

One of the bigger operational issues on a site is the ordering and execution of IT tasks. Good projects get held up because other fixes and issues are taking a long time to complete. Critical site updates and bug fixes are stuck in the pipe behind nearly-valueless site functionality additions. Or the executive team will pull a Medusa on you, turning the organization into stone while IT has to get something done at a Nascar pit crew pace. These types of things happen all the time, and they’re refreshingly preventable.

An effective web analytics team can help the IT team order, execute and explain the methods to IT’s madness to the organization when there are disputes about how work is getting done. The real-world or potential impact of changes can be gauged and compared between projects, and specific use cases or issues can be delivered to IT to help them understand the scope and nature of issues (particularly if you have a solution like Tealeaf).

Besides ordering IT tickets, analytics has myriad other operational arrows in its quiver that are harder to implement, but incredibly potent. If web analytics can gain the attention of the COO, they can report on how teams collaborate on work, what knowledge gaps need to be filled, where organizational sticking and leak points are and can help solve debates between teams from an objective perspective. Unfortunately, today that’s a big if.

Help The People Upstairs Write Checks

It should be obvious, but it needs to be said: your web analytics organization should be an active part of the CFO’s life. When people are requesting budgets, extensions, or resources, they should be leveraging the web analytics team as much as possible to demonstrate their case in irrefutable terms. Likewise, the CFO should be interacting with the team directly to help prioritize ventures, not just in terms of strict ROI (which would put social media straight into the toilet), but qualitatively as well.

A good team will build the business cases for your portfolio of efforts, will measure and monitor execution, will help pass out the rewards after it’s all done, and will help get the next cycle of ideas rolling.

So: Do You Suffer From Funnel Crappiness?

If you think you may have funnel crappiness, don’t let it take over. Find out where things are broken, work to fix them, and pay attention to how you do everything. Hire an agency or consultant if need be, but just get going.

This issue infests your company culture, your productivity and your profitability, and it can be solved. And the great thing is that when you solve it, or even if you just try, it inspires the company in big ways. The days of, “every company has problems,” will turn into, “my company cares,” and if you have any doubt about what that means in terms of business, give Sergey Brin a call.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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