Report from the London 2006 Emetrics Summit

What the difference a year makes. At the 2005 London Emetrics Summit we were talking about key-KPIs, actioning analytics, achieving buy-in and getting anxious about cookie deletion.

The 2006 Emetrics Summit , led by Jim Sterne, was a global gathering of web analytics practitioners and vendors held in London in May 2006. I'd highly recommend anyone working in this area or looking to develop web analytics within their business to attend next year.

This year we were getting smelly with scent, segmenting our segments, trying hard to just get over it when it comes to accuracy ­ and generally taking analytics to the next level, towards business aligned insight.

And watch out folks over the pond, the Europeans are coming! It was great to see such enthusiasm for getting regional Web Analytics Association activity set up in so many different countries - if I didn't get to talk to you about and you'd to plan WAA activities in your region please get in touch.

So, here's my personal take on what I felt were the top 5 burning topics from the 2006 London Emetrics Summit.

1) Accuracy - "get over it"

The data with which web analysts have to work far exceeds anything that has ever been available to marketers before. The ability to track campaigns and optimise in almost real-time is new to this medium, and yet we are prone to fixate on the inaccuracies inherent in the technology, as opposed to significant advantages we are now afforded.

As someone from a direct marketing background, where we did really quite powerful testing, segmenting and tracking with vastly inferior data to that available to web analysts, I fully believe a little data can go along way in the right hands.

Provided attention is paid to implementation and ongoing quality control of page tagging, we have to appreciate that 100% accuracy is not attainable and then get over it. Wherever possible we should use trends and not absolute numbers and start to work to utilise the very powerful data that we do have.

2) How good is your scent?

On any web page, users have a goal in mind ­- they're looking for content that satisfies that goal or links to take them toward it. This means the relevance and user-centricity of every page is essential. It was interesting to see that good scent was particularly lacking in the pay per click and promotional landing examples that Bryan Eisenberg of Future Now, Inc showed.

It turns out that users are far more successful at finding their targets when the description words they saw before they arrive at the site were repeated on the landing page.

As Bryan said, "Every click is a person ­ so empathise"

3) You are not the customer

You weren't last year, you're not this year, you never were and never will be. Data and a good smattering of "whys" beats intuition any day.

At the Emetrics Summit this year, speaker after speak gave positive examples how combining web analytics with customer care and survey techniques was allowing them to benefit from increased "user-centricity" and make decisions based on data not instinct.

Avinash Kaushik of Intuit, Inc memorably said that "80% of the time we are wrong about what the customer wants from our site experience. Experiment"

Segmentation ­ in terms of scenarios, behaviour, personalisation ­ was seen as a critical step towards user centricity, for leveraging data to manage your customer lifecycle and in generating repeating business. As Neil Mason put it, the work is in getting from one sale to two - the art of converting people twice without the cost of acquiring them twice.

4) So what?

Avinash Kaushik also refreshingly told us that any half successful business could expect to see its basic web metrics graphs going up and to the right over time! So what? Bring a healthy dose of "so what" to you reporting and hone down to the real critical few business goals and KPIs. Does a simple page view/unique visitor graph really matter at all?

Know how satisfied the customer is at every interaction ­ understand how likely they are to recommend, how likely to purchase.

5) Show them the money

Graph of the summit goes to Nick Hill from O2 whose extraordinary simple comparison of web visits, retail footfall and call centre volume said more than any 50 page report ever could.

Patricia Gildea of npower demonstrated how to scale your learnings and actions to your company goals. Web analytics doesn't have to be shaping strategy to be effective. Nor does it only concern e-commerce. Patricia's use of web analytics to address bugs and quick fixes, and for retiring and priotising content, was particularly valuable for non e-commerce sites.

Going forward

Going forward from the summit this year, it is exciting to see that in terms of web analytics networking and development, Europe seems to be really up for it! WAA groups will be popping up all over the place in the coming months and I look forward to hearing from more of you.

One question for next year is whether it is finally the much prophesised RIP for web analytics? Is it becoming inseparable from business intelligence, are we in the business of "web value optimisation" as Matthew Tod suggests, or are we delivering "web insight" integrated throughout the business, sales, marketing and customer care processes?

Many thanks again to Jim Sterne for a great event.

Vicky Brock of HBR is International Co-Chair of the Web Analytics Association and can be contacted at:

View the report from the 2005 London Emetrics Summit