As I was discussing an e-Commerce Google Analytics project last Thursday with Julien, I saw the ZAAZ’s Web Analytics book lying on his desk. I quickly gleaned through the index as Julien was finishing up his emails to Omniture and noticed in the last chapters a mention of Interactive Agencies.
Julien promised to hand the book over as soon as he’s finished as I’m quite curious to read what the ZAAZ boys have come up in their position as an Interactive Agency and long term Web Analytics professional consultants. Jason Burby has always been a beacon of light in my web analytics journey, ever since his first presentations landed on my desktop through the help of WebTrends. So, I’ll have to be patient until Julien finishes the book and I’ll keep on reading Naom Chomsky’s Failed States, which seems to be costing me some sleep lately.
In this post, I just wanted to share my experiences over the past couple of years as a web analytics consultant, through different projects, within multiple sectors and using different tools as well as multiple actors, ranging from IT to marketing, including other Web/Interactive Agencies. Please don’t worry, clients and vendors, I won’t get specific as I do respect confidentiality.
My first worse nightmare is a lead generation website.
It’s a good concept, a growing company in the right business, using different channels effectively.
As they are acquiring customers and the market is still quite open and growing, real need for optimization for a very small portion of the marketing budget is apparently not worth the hassle.
I’ve been waiting for 18 months for correct integrations of tags…
Correct integrations of tags by third parties are usually quite a burden. This also counts for internal IT departments that consider that Web Analytics is still a very low ranking priority if a solution has already been installed some months/years ago.
Thankfully, other companies are coming to the rescue and recently mainly SEM companies.
As adequate building up of URLs and title pages as well as H1/H6 SEO friendly tags are becoming the standard for search engines top rankings, making use of such updates is also a good way to tackle Web Analytics along. Apparently, we’re on the same side, SEM companies and Web Analytics specialists and Google, for one, has understood that quite well.
Personally, I must admit not really caring for SEM as I’m just in for the CPC bottom line and how it generates revenue, compared to other traffic acquisition methods.
Up to the SEM company to show me ROI: generated revenue minus costs. Organic search results and branding KPIs are another aspect where, when their job is done well, interesting insights appear about further online communication opportunities.
Media buying agencies are another breed I come in contact with lately. But they don’t like me very much as they see my little business unit more and more as external auditors, putting a clear price tag on their online – and sometimes off line – traffic acquisition efforts.
So, I’ve got aligned goals with SEM companies and love/hate relationships with vendors and media buying companies.
Life is like a box of chocolates 😉
But what about the other Interactive Agencies?
First of all, let’s be honest, when there’s another Agency in the picture, you can smell trouble. But it doesn’t always have to be so!
But first, why do I often sense trouble?
Because I’m in the accountability business and I know darn well that a banner CAN NOT, NEVER, EVER cost as much as 20.000€ !!!
Shame on you for having customers pay such a ludicrous price.
I also very well know that adding Google Analytics basic tags to a, fairly pricy but still basic, content management system – that doesn’t even integrate a newsletter module or maps – can not make the system “unstable”. Would you please? With over 1 million GA accounts worldwide, who would have allowed that?
Interestingly enough, I discovered a new way of working this week.
A way in which collaboration is at hand when we are talking about integrating technical, navigational, design and marketing initiatives in the online world.
Each party is responsible for his own thing and we are willing to contribute, together, to the responsibility of the bottom line.
An interesting concept and a first, I must admit. Looking forward to learning and sharing knowledge with some cool Dutch people. It will also allow me to visit my sister in Amsterdam so I’m really excited.
So I did my homework and picked up one of my very recent ecommerce websites, trying to convince my client that a 2% visitors conversion rate for a retail website would be a worthwhile target.
Yes, I know Avinash, we shouldn’t obsess with conversion rates but hey, I’m at 0,04 so would you mind?
Interestingly enough, the party responsible for the technical set-up of the website is an Interactive Agency. Yes, a competitor even though different from OX2.
In the meeting I held with the PM of this company, I wanted to emphasise our will to support their technical team in the changes that needed to be made.
Heck, I won’t charge for a couple of basic questions so you might as well pick up your phone.
To be honest, it doesn’t really happen a lot unfortunately. Knowing my boys, they’d love to show off and after all, it’s good for the overall online community right?
If the IT is internal to the company, while tagging, they will sometimes send the odd mail or 2. But when we’re talking to external agencies, forget it, no communication what so ever even though we set-up meetings and deliver literature to the extreme.
And what to say about external agency who finally do get down to tagging the websites or applications but do it wrong?
You could even go one step further: what about those agencies that claim to do professional web analytics services but don’t even set-up any kind of tagging strategy, let alone long term data collection in line with company objectives. Not only does the client suffer from lack of vision while building up the online communication as no measurement strategy has been set-up. They also have to support multiple inefficiencies while setting up the basic beacons of measurement in order to identify ROI opportunities, once the online communication has been set-up.
What happens for example to a client that is unsatisfied with the web analytics services of an agency and asks it to adapt tags according to their professional web analytics auditors? Usually, this unfortunate client still pays both parties to do the job and prays for the tagging to be adequately done. On our side, we’ve added a quality control step to our service offerings as we’ve spend far too much time going over and over and over the tagging to make sure that no “;” is lying around, that the right DCS tags are in place and you name it.
I still find it bewildering to see so many Interactive Agencies not bothering about the project bottom line and how their developments actually work out compared to initial objectives.
Often, they’re just in for the sell of the Web Analytics product and then clients come back to us about a year later, demanding results.
Yes, fine, glad to help out but as we are not the ones that built the website or application in the first place, the best we can do is set-up clear descriptions of what is needed and support their IT as much as possible.
This is a call for all those Interactive Agencies that have received documentation about adequate tagging of their client’s websites.
Read the documentation! Don’t just put tags out there to “test it out”, you’re wasting everybody’s time.
And call the writer of these documents if something is not clear. As there is not always a clear cut way to integrate tags and the environments are getting more and more complex, adding tagging to specific pages can indeed be a hassle and needs to be well thought of in order to allow for further evolution. Again, OX2’s specific positioning as an Interactive Agency still building its own Content Management Systems will be really glad to help out related to (automatic) tagging.
Furthermore, clients should be made aware that they should require accountability from their agencies right from the start and if not, enforce them to do the job of correctly integrating tags. To be honest, their position is the worst one as often they have already paid the agency for the project.
I don’t see a clear cut, optimal sales process here for the moment. The most efficient way to work is clearly to integrate monitoring and definition of KPIs when you’re actually building the websites or applications. Get your Web Analytics external auditor into those discussions right from the start in order to make sure you avoid unnecessary additional costs and loss of time, thus setting up and creating new processes when you are releasing new online collateral.
I’m not saying it’s too late when you’ve already something online. I’m just saying that if you’ve already encountered such problems, you should seriously think about how to avoid them in the near future and thus add another step to your online projects: KPI definitions in order to adequately determine ROI. Process, process, what can I say?
I recently picked up a new quote for my email signatures for this great guy I recently met, which goes like this “Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and let him know you trust him”. It’s Booker T. Washington’s quote and I’m willing to live by it. Will you?
Let me know of your thoughts, I’m always open for suggestions.