Reading Atlanta Analytics

All of this business about paid tools vs free tools, and dare I say the whole concept of #measure, all boils down to the fact that today, we are a tool-centric industry, often to the detriment of being an expert-centric industry. — Stop giving web analytics tools the credit YOU deserve

Atlanta Analytics is a quite interesting blog – however, there aren’t so many posts. The author, Evan LaPointe, does have some nice visions and an interesting perspective, because he comes from a finance background.
I think he makes some important points, these are:

  • It isn’t about page views or uniques – it’s about money
  • Drive actions not data
  • Be a business person not a technologist
  • Demand your share – if you increase your company’s profit by $500,000 per year, you should demand a share of it

What is web analytics?

  • Quantify today’s success and uncover usability, design, architecture, copy, product, advertising, pricing and marketing optimization that will breed even more success tomorrow
  • Web analytics isn’t:
    • WA is not the measurement of something
    • WA is not defining success but translating it
    • WA is not Omniture, Google Analytics or Clicktracks
  • Web analytics answers the following questions:
    1. Who is coming to my web site?
    2. What are they trying to do?
    3. What is the gap between what they are doing and the ideal?
    4. What are some concrete ways we can close the gaps?
    5. How can we get more of these people?
  • These answers should be answered in context of growth and profitability
  • Analyst shouldn’t become married to one discipline otherwise they are losing the big picture
  • They are central and recommendations are driven by company impact and not by personal impact
  • Even if you cannot solve a problem by yourself, you have uncovered an important problem

Three enormous wastes of your web analytics time

  1. Analytics isn’t implemented in the dev process but afterwards
  2. You care about the correct unique visitors count
  3. You are trying to match two numbers from different tools: Trends not accounting

3.5 things that keep you from finding good web analytics people

  • 1: Good WA can be in your company
  • 2: A lot of experienced WAs are actually reporting writers
  • 3: Your interview process prevents you from hiring good people: if you fear change / that your flaws will be revealed and the application is able, then you probably won’t hire them
  • 3.5: Your salary is too low: increasing your conversion rate by 0.3% can mean hundreds of thousand of dollars additional revenue per month

Web analytics sucks, and it’s nobody’s fault

This is a handmade description for yet another propellerhead analyst who will sit around and run reports for people, get in arguments with other people (or those same people), “agree to disagree” with other departments, and will eventually call everyone else an idiot and will recede into their cave before ultimately quitting for a director-level position at a different, big, resume-enhancing company where the process will repeat itself.

It’s not their fault because a good position for a web analytics person does not exist in the companies that can use these people most. The bigger the company, the more important a small difference becomes. For a site with 10,000 visits a month, an analytics person would have to improve conversion by double-digit percentages to scarcely pay for themselves. For Wal Mart, moving the conversion needle a tenth of a percent probably pays their lifetime salary in a week

The effective web analytics person knows usability, they know some design, they know information architecture, they know HTML, they are good communicators and can thusly write good web copy, and ultimately they are businesspeople who realize the purpose behind all of these crafts is cash flow […] Rather than being careful, politically aware employees, effective analytics people are data-driven, quickdraw decision makers because they have two key assets:

1. Cold, hard facts in the form of data (and I don’t mean just Omniture data)
2. The ability to not have to decide: they can TEST

Big companies are ruled by coalitions of opinions, meetings, conference calls, and semi-educated executives. Data is actually a threat. Data is what gets people fired in big companies, not what gets them bonuses. Data is scary.

What are the REAL web analytics tools?

  • Question: How can you improve the long-term cash flow?
  • Where you need a decent degree of competency:
    • Usability
    • Information Architecture
    • SEO
    • Web marketing (PPC, display, email)
    • Social Media
    • Design
    • Copywriting
    • Website technology (HTML, CSS, SQL, JS, PHP/Ruby/Python/whatever)
    • Communication skills
  • Learn business goals -> department goals -> campaign goals -> personal goals

Have you lost faith in web analytics?

  • Make decisions as often as possible – aka fail faster
  • It isn’t about the newest technology – it’s about money
  • Don’t live in a vacuum – interact with different people and viewpoints

The purpose of web (or any) analytics

  • “We talk about being data-driven businesses. But these aren’t businesses built around a culture of measurement. They’re built around a culture of accountability.”
  • “The purpose of web analytics, or any analytics, is to give your organization the confidence needed to accelerate the pace of decisions.”
  • “We’re talking about being accountable to outcomes, not to some Tyrannosaurus on a power trip. That’s a big deal.”
  • “It’s about making big decisions often.” – Iterate, iterate, iterate

#31/111: UnMarketing

What is it about?

How do you really please your customer? Start engaging. Scott Stratten shows why it is important to talk with your customer and how you can use social media to take it to the next level. 

Key points?

Look out for big fishes: If you aren’t big on twitter or in the blogosphere, look for the influencers in your industry. Who are they and what do they talk about? If you can WOW them, they will probably be pleased and will do great marketing for you. For example, Stratten posted on twitter that he was looking for sandals. Rockport sent a message to him, asking if he wants a pair. After some weeks he received three different pairs for free. Of course he was astonished and decided to write about his experience. This is great marketing!

Pull and stay: Try to get someone information (e.g. email address) of your customers and build a constant stream of useful information. The second part is the important one. Often people collect a lot of business cards which will never be read again. He recommends to write within 24h to the persons and begin a steady relationship.

Try to eliminate your assumptions: If you act with persons, it’s important that you try to treat everybody the same. Especially if you work face-to-face it can be hard. However, behind this old lady could be a CEO of a big company. A young student could have his own startup, etc. If you or your employees are arrogant just because someone doesn’t look like a billionaire, your company won’t exist very long.


UnMarketing is a pretty solid book. Scott Stratten writes some chapters (of 56) about social media and twitter but I don’t think that this is the important information. More important are his experiences about great and poor customer service. You’ll almost never know who your prospect is and who he knows.

By the way, the back cover is really nice.

#12/111: Inbound Marketing

What is it about?

Do you want to boost your customer base? Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shan show you how. Inbound Marketing focuses on building relationships and delivering remarkable content to your customers instead of interrupting them with TV or radio ads. Furthermore there are several steps for each chapter which shows you how to execute these ideas.

Key points?

Track your progress: Whether you test a new layout or a new form of online activity, track your progress. Test what works and what doesn’t and act on this!

Remarkable content: It is important that you create content which is valuable to others. It should be so valuable that your readers decide to share your content with their peers.


What I really like about this book is that it gives you actionable advice. This point was missed by The new Rules of Marketing & PR. Additionally, there is one really cool list with about 20 points on how to promote your startup on social media or tips on how to name your blog/company.

In conclusion, Inbound Marketing gives you a great view about a lot of important topics in social media (marketing) and provides a solid base to work on. 

#7/111: The New Rules of Marketing & PR

What is it about?

In the first half of this book, David Meerman Scott explains different platforms, e.g. blogs, news releases or social networking. In the second half he writes about planning your marketing strategy and tips for execute them on these platforms.

Key points?

Segment your customers. Do not try to sell your product instead try to help your (prospective) customer. Give away valuable content and establish a relationship to your online community.


The first half is not that interesting for people who are not so new to the web. The second half includes some nice ideas. E.g. customer persona, i.e. you take one individual of your market segment and build a story for this individual. Also tips on individual topics like getting press coverage are quite useful.