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Mar 01
2014

The Sochi Winter Olympics just wrapped up. It’s always an amazing sight to see – the greatest athletes from around the world, not only competing in unbelievable physical challenges, but excelling despite bitter frozen climate conditions!

Olympic-Rings

Both Google Analytics and the Olympic Games expose the true meaning of its subjects, bringing about their underlying value to the surface. One shows the resilience of the human spirit, and the other shows the true value of a digital property.

Cold Exterior Hiding a Path of Perseverance and Meaning

Data by appearance (and also by itself) is cold, hard and composed. But like an athlete, under all the apparent focus and seeming only talent, there are hidden trials and accomplishments that has led them to this point – the pinnacle of their careers. In that same vein, data at a glance doesn’t give away all that it encompasses. Not until the hidden stories are picked apart and sorted through does it reveal its insights and true value.

When you look at all the different sporting events in the Olympics, it’s hard at first to pinpoint the similarities amongst them. Every event has its unique challenges. There’s a part on the course for alpine skiing, where skiers take what is called the Russian Trampoline, a jump that covers almost 60 yards if set up correctly. In Figure Skating, if the momentum isn’t gained properly for the axel jump, there is a possibility of skater can falling through the ice. For the luge, everything is dependent on how relaxed the luger is as well as slight changes of pressure on the sled for changing directions. At first all these events seem very different but we start seeing the common thread. In each, to succeed, the athletes have to prepare effectively.

Similarly, in Google Analytics, at first the data seems disparate and specific parts don’t seem to relate. But once you see the entire picture, you realize to see how it is all connected. Also if your analytics is set up effectively, a lot of ground can be covered.

Let’s draw this comparison further. If Google Analytics is to the Olympics Games, then data are the Athletes. What similarity does every Olympic Athlete have? We present the holistic approach on how to make your Analytics as robust as Olympic Athletes.

1. Elite Physical Shape = Clean Data and Solid Foundation

Every athlete works hard to get where they are and has a body in top condition to handle the physical demand and challenge of their sport. Just like that, you have to have the right instrumentation on your website or mobile app to handle the aggressive measurement for insightful marketing. Having that custom code set up for your site is akin to preparing your body for the rigorous physical demand.

A robust implementation includes:

Segmentation: Once you have your measurement solution designed and your code set up, know your segments. What will you be segmenting for? Prospects vs customers? Are you an international website? Perhaps you would like to see interest in your winter department on the East coast vs. the West coast. What products were more popular?

Attribution: Keep attribution in mind – What upper funnel activities are influencing your sales and conversions? If visitors are coming to your site: How are you going to engage your mobile traffic vs. your website traffic? How do you measure and optimize your user experience on each platform? How will you join all your data in your BI platform? What personalization methods will you be using?

Trending: Athletes always have their goal in mind and consistently work toward increasing their performance by watching “tapes” of their past performances and then drawing comparisons so that they know where to make improvements. Trend your reports to see how you are performing compared to last week, last month or last year, which allows you to recognize where you need optimizations.

Suggested Resource: Download our Reporting Framework Whitepaper

2. Perseverance = Overcoming (Implementation) Obstacles

An athlete doesn’t succeed with just hard work. They persevere and push through struggles that might come in any shape, be it physical or mental. They understand their competition and thus train accordingly. Perseverance evolves from a mindset of knowing what you are facing and then facing it.

Analytics is not a one-off effort – it requires persistent coordination and cajoling pf different silo’s within your organization, including IT, Executive management, sales, support. At the strategic level, often you will meet resistance from many different directions, but like the athletes, you must continue to push through to rise above and get your medal.

Tactically, you will run into other challenges, but you have to meet them as they come and persevere.

For example, when tracking, should you track everything? If you are tracking events, what should trigger events? If you are tracking every little interaction, every click of a button, within your mobile is going to overwhelm you — especially if you are just starting. Don’t track everything, walk before you run.

Some may suggest to you that obstacles can be overcome with technology. For instance, “Let’s deploy Google Tag Manager, so we won’t need IT anymore!”. That’s naive. Technology is a helpful tool, but preparation, strategy and planning can help you overcome much of the obstacles thrown in your path – plan what to track, what to measure, using proper naming conventions, identify your conversion points (and being good friends with IT :) ).

Suggested Resource: Event Tracking in Google Tag Manager – Universal Analytics

3. Support = The Right Team

The last key element that an athlete has is support. They have their coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists and finally support from the family. The entire support team works together to help them gain Olympic glory. With the right people for support, athletes also have the right gear for their sport.

Similarly, for Analytics, you can’t have any progress without the right team: Marketers, Designers, Developers, and Analysts. Take testing for example. You want to run an A/B test to optimize your landing page design. Your marketer will come up with attractive offers/promotions and give you insight into your visitor personas. Your designer will translate that into landing page concepts that you plan to test. Your analyst will set up the Content Experiment within Google Analytics and will stitch all the data into your BI tool and later impress you with sexy visual reports.

Suggested Resource: 5 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths for a Data-Driven World

Conclusion

There you have it—how to make your Analytics as sturdy as an Olympian Athlete!

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  1. Marketing Day: March 3, 2014
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